Thursday, November 10, 2016

Places where Jesus might have been buried?

HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY? These are the places where people think Jesus might be buried — including Japan (Tom Murray, Business Insider, UK).
Last week, the tomb of Jesus Christ was opened for the first time in centuries, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Except that it might not be the tomb of Christ. In fact, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is just one of the places where people think Jesus might have been buried.

As per the nature of the Bible story — that Jesus was resurrected then ascended to heaven — it's pretty much impossible to say definitively what or where the Tomb of Christ is, as it won't contain any remains.

Although there will never be any archaeological evidence of Jesus' body, there are other factors that make certain sites look more probable than others.

In accordance with Jewish custom, researchers know that Jesus would have been buried outside of Jerusalem's city walls. However, soon after Jesus' death, the walls were expanded — meaning that Jesus' burial site could now rest within the modern-day 'Old City' of Jerusalem.

Over time, researchers have found over a thousand 'rock-cut' tombs that match those that Jesus could have been buried in, but only a handful have laid a convincing claim on the son of God's resting place.

See them below ...
Two of these, the ones in India and Japan, just have fanciful legends about Jesus associated with them and aren't in the running in any historical sense. And, as the article notes, the Garden Tomb really is not in the running archaeologically speaking. The Talpiot Tomb is at least from the right time period, but specialists in the New Testament and archaeology have not found the arguments for any connection with Jesus or his family persuasive. On that, see most recently here, here, here, and here, with links to many earlier posts.

The tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Holy Sepulchre) seems to be from the right period as well, and if we know the place of Jesus' burial, it is the only possibility in the running. But for that matter, it is possible that the tomb narratives in the Gospels are partly or completely legendary and that the place where Jesus was buried is entirely unknown or even that, as was the norm for crucified criminals, his body didn't have any formal burial at all. We just don't know.

It is interesting that when Paul talks about the resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15, he refers to Jesus being buried (v. 4), but says nothing about a tomb. If he knew about a tomb tradition, it doesn't seem to have been important to him.

For more on the recent restoration work on the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, see here and links.