Have Tomb, Will Argue part 1 of 2

In response to the empty tomb book published by the ensemble of internet infidels. My arguments are found in several pages that disprove any assertion of a late developing tomb myth.


I have two major arguments both of which demonstrate the historicity of an early claim of an existing empty tomb.

(1) The pre Markan redaction includes story of empty tomb as early as AD 50

(2) archaeological evidence indicates the tomb is under the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

This is the second argument:

One of the major skeptical arguments against the Resurrection of Christ states that no tomb was ever venerated as the site of the Resurrection until Constantine arbitrarily chose one in the fourth century; that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the oldest traditional site, was just a fabrication. None of this is true. While it cannot be proven conclusively that the CHS is the actual tomb site, there is a strong probability that it is, and there is good evidence to suggest this. The tradition can be traced back to the first century. Thus a tomb was venerated in the first century.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is owned jointly by three major Christian denominations: The Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and the Armenian Orthodox. The site was chosen and "discovered" to be the original tomb of Christ by Constantine in 336 AD when he accompanied his mother to the Holy Land in search of the true cross and other artifacts.

My argument is not that we can prove that the CHS is the tomb, but that the strong probability that it was venerated as the tomb in the first century, destroys the skeptical claim in books such as The Empty Tomb. The skeptics contributing to that book must disprove the possibility of the CHS before they can dismiss historicity of the empty tomb.

My arguments will be presented in three major areas:

I. The modern site of CHS is the site Constantine chose; its place in the surrounding city is an exact fit for the physical and social environment of the tomb.

II. Oral tradition guided Constantine's choice, passed down from the Jewish Christian community to the Gentile Christians.

III. Modern archaeological verifies the claims of this tradition.

I. The modern site of CHS is the site Constantine chose; its place in the surrounding city is an exact fit for the physical and social environment of the tomb.

A. Validation of Constantine's site two sources:

(1) The description of the site itself

The descriptions given by Eusebius, and by Crusaders in the Middle ages, match the actual site.

Carbo Excavation.

Church of The Holy Sepulcher -- Government of Israel site, visited 6/7/01


"This courtyard, outside the present-day Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is partly supported by a large, vaulted cistern. The northern wall of this cistern is very impressive, consisting of large blocks with dressed margins, still standing several meters high. It has been suggested that this early wall served as the retaining wall of the second century Hadrianic raised platform (podium). This appears to support Eusebius' statement that the Temple of Venus, which Hadrian erected on the site of Jesus' tomb, stood here before the original church was built."

"The Basilica: Early masonry below the catholicon of the Crusader period was exposed during the excavations. This made possible the reconstruction of the original design of the 4th century basilica. The position of the two central rows of columns in the basilica (out of the four rows) may be determined by the remains of their foundations, which can be seen along the northern and southern sides of the chapel of St. Helena. In a small underground space north of this chapel, a massive foundation wall of the early basilica was exposed. On a large, smoothed stone which was incorporated in this wall, a pilgrim to the original church left a drawing of a merchant ship and the Latin inscription: "O Lord, we shall go." Beneath the apse of the present-day catholicon, part of the apse that marked the western end of the original church was exposed. Eusebius described this apse as being surrounded by twelve columns, symbolizing the twelve apostles."

"The Rotunda and Sepulcher: The most important element of the complex is the rotunda which contains the sepulcher itself. The sepulcher stands in an elaborate structure within the rotunda, surrounded by columns supporting an ornamented, domed roof. Some masonry remains were revealed below the floor and around the perimeter of the rotunda. Wherever bedrock was exposed, there were indications of stone-quarrying in earlier periods. The quarrying operation lowered the surface level around the sepulcher, which thus stood well above its surroundings. An architectural survey of the outer wall of the rotunda - 35 m. in diameter and in some sections preserved to a height of 10 m. - shows that it maintains its original 4th century shape. The sepulcher itself is surrounded by a circle of twelve columns - groups of three columns between four pairs of square piers. It is possible that the columns for the 4th century rotunda were removed from their original location on the facade of the Roman temple. Renovation of the piers exposed evidence that the columns had originally been much higher and that the Crusaders cut them in half for use in the 12th century rotunda.The renovation of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is still in progress, but after generations of neglect, the building has already regained most of its former beauty.

"The survey and excavations were conducted by V. Corbo, Ch. Coüasnon, M. Broshi and others, on behalf of the Christian communities which control most of the Holy Sepulcher: the Roman Catholic; the Greek Orthodox; and the Armenian Orthodox."

Of course, Corfeld says that these pagan monuments, intended to defile the site and make it unfit for veneration, only served to mark the location, so that Christians could remember where it was by marking the pagan monument. There are more serious considerations which I do not have time to address here. I suggest that the reader click on the link above and read the entire article. But the point here is that, unlike what many skeptics try to claim, the situation is not that no one ever heard of the site before Constantine; he did not pull it out of think air. There is a traceable tradition going back to the fist century. [Gaalyah Cornfeld, Archaeology the Bible Book by book 1976, 1982 paperback edition by Harpercollins;]


Jason Pratt said…
Always great to do the archaeological argument for the venerated tomb! -- although watch for the switches between likelihood and certainty.

(Also, I typeproofed your article a little.)

Joe Hinman said…
thanks Jason. appreciate it

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