Church of Jesus’s Tomb Dates to 4th Century

Last year scientists conducted a first-ever examination of the traditional tomb of Jesus inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Test results now reveal that the mortar used to secure a slab over the traditional burial bench of Jesus dates to the 4th century. This confirms that this is the tomb venerated by Christians when Constantine built the first church here.

The story is reported by various sources, including National Geographic. This paragraph is the most important:

While it is archaeologically impossible to say that the tomb is the burial site of an individual Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth, who according to New Testament accounts was crucified in Jerusalem in 30 or 33, new dating results put the original construction of today’s tomb complex securely in the time of Constantine, Rome’s first Christian emperor.

Elsewhere the article several times mentions “surprises” from the investigation. But I think those are best understood either as journalistic editorializing or perhaps the researchers trying to justify the expense. The best word for this study is “confirmation.” We now have physical evidence for what historians have long thought: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was first built in the 4th century over a tomb believed to have been used by Jesus.

HT: Wayne Stiles, Ted Weis


One thought on “Church of Jesus’s Tomb Dates to 4th Century

  1. This finding confirms previously known evidence that 4th century Christians believed the Church of Holy Sepulcher to be the site where Jesus died and rose.

    Some of this previous evidence is discussed in an article, "The Holy Land in Christian Imagination," by Robert Wilken, published in Bible Review (April, 1993, issue 09:02:

    "Christians from all over the Mediterranean world began coming to Palestine on pilgrimages. For, from the mid-fourth century, Palestine was not simply part of the Roman empire, Christianity was its official religion and would remain so until the Arab conquest in the seventh century. Evidence of at least one of these Christian pilgrimages came to light in 1971 in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Excavators uncovered a graffito of a pilgrim ship with an inscription reading “Domine ivimus,” Latin for “Lord, we went.”

    The first written account of a pilgrimage to the holy places of Palestine was written by a man from Bordeaux in Gaul, usually referred to as the Bordeaux Pilgrim, who arrived in the East in 333 C.E. The record of this anonymous pilgrim’s journey is a brief, almost stenographic, account, noting where he went, what he saw, where he changed horses, distances from one place to another (a selection appears in the sidebar to this article). His pilgrimage took him all over Palestine, not simply to Jerusalem. He visited not only scenes from Jesus’ life, but also obscure places where little-known biblical events occurred."

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