I marvel at the many archaeological discoveries made in Jerusalem and elsewhere over the years that lend credibility to the Scriptures and traditions surrounding the death of Jesus, including an ornate ossuary that may contain the bones of Caiaphas, an inscription attesting to the rule of Pontius Pilate, and a heel bone driven through with an iron crucifixion nail, found in the Jerusalem burial of a Jewish man named Yehohanan.
Just yards from the tomb of Christ are other rock-hewn tombs of the period, affirming that this church, destroyed and rebuilt twice, was indeed constructed over a Jewish burial ground. I was overwhelmed by all the questions of history I hoped this brief and spectacular moment of exposure would eventually answer.
Today, on my Easter visit, I find myself inside the tomb again, squeezed alongside three kerchiefed Russian women. The marble is back in place, protecting the burial bed from their kisses and all the rosaries and prayer cards rubbed endlessly on its time-polished surface. The youngest woman whispers entreaties for Jesus to heal her son Yevgeni, who has leukemia. A priest standing outside the entrance loudly reminds us that our time is up, that other pilgrims are waiting.
Reluctantly, the women stand up and file out, and I follow. That quest will be endless, full of shifting theories, unanswerable questions, irreconcilable facts. But for true believers, their faith in the life, death, and Resurrection of the Son of God will be evidence enough. Read Caption. The shrine attracted global attention in when restorers uncovered remnants of an ancient tomb behind its ornate walls.
What Archaeology Is Telling Us About the Real Jesus
By Kristin Romey. Photographs by Simon Norfolk. This story appears in the December issue of National Geographic magazine. In Jerusalem, Jesus healed a paralyzed man at a ritual pool surrounded by five colonnades called the Pool of Bethesda, reports the Gospel of John. Many scholars doubted that the place existed until archaeologists discovered clear traces of it beneath the ruins of these centuries-old churches. Palestinian Christians parade through the streets of Bethlehem at Christmas, which different denominations celebrate on different dates: Roman Catholics and Protestants on December 25, Orthodox Christians on January 7, and Armenians on January 6, or, in the Holy Land, on January Some scholars regard Jesus as a social revolutionary whose true mission was regime change rather than the salvation of souls.
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The columns of a partially restored, second- to fifth-century synagogue in Capernaum lie atop an older structure very likely visited by Jesus, according to some scholars. Nearby, archaeologists discovered a dwelling that was venerated by early Christians—possibly the home of the Apostle Peter. Here, according to the Gospels, Jesus miraculously calmed a storm, walked on water, and blessed his disciples with boatloads of fish. Showbread table.
Depicts the curtain that hid the most sacred room of the Temple, the holy of holies. Seven-branch menorah. Burnt offering altar. Reliefs show the altar and menorah in the Temple court.
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Chariot wheel. Flaming chariot wheels symbolize the divine presence. Columned arches.
Case for the Resurrection, NIV, A First-Century Reporter Investigates the Story of the Cross
Oil lamp. Scenes from the life of Christ—including his infancy, triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and Last Supper—adorn a small Coptic Orthodox chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Several Christian sects warily share the cavernous sanctuary, each laying claim to a chapel or other space. Keys to the church are entrusted to a local Muslim family.
Just hours before his arrest and Crucifixion, according to the Gospels, Jesus prayed in a garden called Gethsemane, probably from the Aramaic words for oil press. Sharp, painful point on seat.
The only crucifixion victim ever discovered had a nail driven through his heel. Iron nails were rare and valuable, so the Romans used ropes more often than nails. Church tradition says that the Apostle Peter was crucified upside down. Foot support prolonged death by asphyxiation. Jesus is traditionally depicted with his hands and feet nailed to the Cross. Throngs of pilgrims from many nations converge on Jerusalem at Easter—a potentially volatile mix and a tempting target for terrorists. To ensure safety and keep the peace, Israeli security forces deploy throughout the city, including along the famous Via Dolorosa.
The idea that the empty tomb is the result of some hoax, conspiracy, or theft is simply dismissed today. So the guard story has become sort of incidental. There were no guards!
Are all of Strobel’s arguments relevant?
After all, the dis- ciples were surprised by the whole thing. Plus another objection came to mind. I was initially inclined, for the reason you men- tioned, to think that the guard was Jewish. So there is precedent for Roman guards reporting to Jewish religious leaders. It seems plausible that they could also be involved in the guarding of the tomb. Consider this summary by Dr. Michael Martin of Boston University, which I read to Craig that morning: In Matthew, when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary arrived toward dawn at the tomb there is a rock in front of it, there is a violent earthquake, and an angel descends and rolls back the stone.
In Mark, the women arrive at the tomb at sun- rise and the stone had been rolled back. In Luke, when the women arrive at early dawn they find the stone had already been rolled back. In Matthew, an angel is sitting on the rock out- side the tomb and in Mark a youth is inside the tomb. In Luke, two men are inside. In Matthew, the women present at the tomb are Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.
In Mark, the women present at the tomb are the two Marys and Salome. In Matthew, the two Marys rush from the tomb in great fear and joy, run to tell the disciples, and meet Jesus on the way. In Mark, they run out of the tomb in fear and say nothing to anyone. In Luke, the women report the story to the disciples The Evidence of the Missing Body 45 who do not believe them and there is no sugges- tion that they meet Jesus.
But the tougher the question and the more piercing the challenge, the more animated and focused he gets. Clearing his throat, Craig began.
The Tomb Was Empty — You Can Trust the Easter Story
They see a vision of angels saying that Jesus is risen. Let me give you a secular example.
Yet no classical historian doubts the fact that Han- nibal did mount such a campaign. It was around dawn, and they were describing the same thing with different words. As for the number and names of the women, none of the gospels pretend to give a complete list. They all include Mary Magdalene and other women, so there was proba- bly a gaggle of these early disciples that included those who were named and probably a couple of others.
I asked. Jesus was in the tomb Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and on Sunday morning — under the way the Jews conceptualized time back then, this would have counted as three days. The gospels agree that the empty tomb was discovered by women who were friends and followers of Jesus. Any later legendary account would have certainly portrayed male disciples as discovering the tomb Peter or John, for example. The fact that women are the first witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausi- bly explained by the reality that — like it or not — they were the discoverers of the empty tomb!
This shows that the gospel writers faithfully recorded what happened, even if it was embarrassing. This bespeaks the historicity of this tradition rather than its legendary status. Lee, I strongly feel that scholars who have not known the love and devotion that these women felt for Jesus have no right to pronounce cool judgments upon the feasibility of what they wanted to do.
If there were guards, maybe they thought they would. In preparing for my interview with Craig, I had heard more than one skeptic claim that a major argument against the empty tomb is that none of the apostles, including Peter, bothered to point to it in their preaching.