Could the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem be the Site of Jesus’ Resurrection?

August 23, 2020

Jerusalem is an ancient city, founded as the City of David in 1010 BC, but there is evidence of settlements going back to 4500 BC. It has been conquered more than 40 times by various nations, including the Ottoman Turks, Persians, Romans and the British. As a result, it is home to religious sites that are considered holy to three global religions. One of its most popular sites is the Garden Tomb, the place where Evangelical Christians and Protestant denominations believe Jesus Christ was buried and from where he resurrected – key events in the Christian faith .

The History of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

In the New Testament of the Bible, it is recorded that Jesus was betrayed by Judas and was crucified on the hill known as Golgotha (meaning ‘skull’ in Aramaic). He was buried by the Apostles in a tomb in Jerusalem. The exact location of the tomb is not referred to in the Christian Gospels, but it was adjacent to Jesus’ place of crucifixion.

The Christian texts state that Jesus rose from the dead and when his followers searched the tomb, they found that it was miraculously empty. According to the Christian Holy Scriptures, he later ascended into heaven. For many years the location of the tomb was lost. This was possibly a result of the great destruction wrought on Jerusalem during the First Jewish Revolt , the first of three major rebellions against the Roman Empire.

In the 8 th century AD, a Christian saint searched for the site but was unable to find it. The location of the tomb of Jesus remained unknown despite it playing a fundamental part in the Christian religion. In the 19 th century, archaeologists conducted a search and in the 1860s a tomb was located.

Based on the Biblical narrative of events, many scholars believed its location to be the place where Jesus was entombed. Because it was near a hill that was potentially Golgotha, it was claimed that this tomb was where the body of Jesus lay before he was resurrected. General Charles Gordon, one of the great heroes of the British Empire and best known for his death in Khartoum, popularized that the newly discovered tomb was where Jesus was interred after his crucifixion. 

The belief that the tomb was that of Christ gained traction among many Protestant denominations. Since 1894, a Protestant non-denominational charitable trust based in the United States named The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association, has overseen the site.

Controversy Over the Garden Tomb, Jerusalem

In the 20 th century, various archaeologists have claimed that the Garden Tomb could not be the place where Jesus was entombed. Based on its typology and certain features, it dates to the First Temple Period, roughly 6 or 7 centuries before Jesus died. It is very possible that the tomb was reused by his followers and there are precedents for such practices. The Gospel, however, makes it clear that Jesus was buried in a new tomb. Moreover, many Christians, including Catholics, hold that the place where Jesus of Nazareth was actually buried was near the present-day Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

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