Traditional Tomb of Jesus on Verge of Collapse

A two century-old structure covering the traditional location of Jesus’ tomb is ready to collapse, prompting rare collaboration among rival priests inside Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Aedicule, a small shrine covering the tomb, suffered damage from a 1927 earthquake and its cracked stones have been held together by a metal cage since 1947.

Space in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is partitioned in a tense status quo among priests from the Roman Catholic, Armenian, Syrian, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Greek Orthodox churches. This complicates any repair or restoration work since such action implies ownership and may pique one group against another. Disagreements sometimes degenerate into fistfights among the priests.

The New York Times has the complete article with several photos.

Version 2

The Aedicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, covering the traditional location of Jesus’ tomb. On the left are bars of the metal cage mentioned in the article. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Is this the actual site of Jesus’ tomb? Probably, though we cannot prove it. The Holy Sepulcher fits all of the physical details from the Gospels. (Outside the city walls, Roman-period tombs, a nearby garden, a candidate stone for “Golgotha”) The tradition for this location is very early. The Roman-period tomb under the Aedicule was destroyed long ago, so there is nothing visible that could possibly connect to Jesus.

The article mentions a rival tomb location. This is the Garden Tomb north of Damascus Gate. It is a beautiful and peaceful location but is not the site of Jesus’ burial. The Garden Tomb dates to several centuries before Jesus’ time, disqualifying it as a “new tomb” used for Jesus’ body.


Dr. David McClister demonstrating one of the Roman-period tombs within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. (Photo by Luke Chandler)


The Stone of Unction, a marble slab in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that commemorates the traditional spot where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial. (Photo by Luke Chandler)


About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister with the North Terrace Church of Christ and has participated in multiple archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke leads informative, meaningful tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in Ancient Architecture, Interesting places to visit, Israel, Jerusalem, Jesus and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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