Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Garden Tomb: a grave from the Iron Age?

Doubtless non-Catholics (and some Catholics, as well) would have heard of the so-called Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. First proposed as the actual tomb of Jesus by Major-General Charles George Gordon, who spent time in Palestine in 1882-83, this site has become very popular as an alternative to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Church of England originally committed itself to the site as the place of Jesus' burial and "Gordon's Tomb" became the "Garden Tomb." The Church has since withdrawn its formal support, but the Garden Tomb continues to be identified by popular Protestant piety.

However, this popular identification is now questioned by a number of scholars, including Professor Jeffrey R. Chadwick, Associate Professor of Church History at Brigham Young University. While believing that Gordon got it right in identifying Gordon's Calvary as the Golgotha of the Gospels (as opposed to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre), he presents an argument, based on archeology, that the Garden Tomb is centuries too early - dating somewhere from Iron Age II (1000–586 BC)! - to be that of Jesus, and that some of its features are actually from the Crusader period.

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