The Religious A priori
Have Tomb, Will Argue
Dare We Trust Eusebius the "Lair?"
Most of the early evidence for the CHS site comes fro Eusebius. For this reason,I'm sure we can expect this statment, "Dare we trust Eusebius the 'liar'" as the first and major argument of sketpics. Skeptics on the internet, those who fequent organized atheist sites such as Secular Web, have a special hate for Eusebius. This is probably because he's such a lynch pin of early chruch history, but their arguments are based upon a total pack of lies which have been refuted easily by Roger Preice. Be that as it may, I urge the reader to read that page. But let's go on with Eusebius' track record on the CHS and the tomb site, we will see that he was an honest and fine historian.
C. Confirmations of Eusebius
(1) Eusebius knew the contemporary site.
Of course the major recourse of the skeptic will be to just assume that Eusebius made it all up.But what did he make up exactly? Well, the major evidence for the oral tradition of the tomb location comes from a Pilgrim named Melito of Sardis. We do have writtings by him, but we do not have those writtings where he speaks of the Jerusalem elder's revealing to him the traditional locale of the site. If those writtings exist today, I cannot find them. But that doesn't mean Eusebius made them up out of whole cloth. I'm sure teh sketpics will say it does, but why would he?
Why use a writter whose writtings exited in his own day, and then just fabricate that he wrote soemthing? He had no idea that we in this age would not have those writtings. He had no way of knowing that the information couldn't be checked out. Why not just say the Jerusalem elders told him the tradition orally, instead of attributing it to a writter who might otherwise be verified?
Moreover, the descriptions he gives of the stie in his day reflect the kind of work that we know would have been in progress at the time.
The Churches of Jerusale
by Asher Ovadiah
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was investigated for the first time by trial soundings during 1933/34 and has been re-examined from 1960 onwards by various scholars. It is a huge and sophisticated architectural complex consisting of four units: an outer atrium, a basilica (or Martyrium) an inner atrium and a rotunda (around the Anastasis), a circular domed structure separated from the basilica by an second, inner atrium. This latter structure solved the problem of linking the Martyrium (the basilica) to the church complex. (13)
The basilica (martyrium) and the domed structure above the tomb constituted two separate architectural features with the second, inner atrium between them as the connecting feature. On the Madaba Map the entire complex is shown: a propylaeum begins west of the colonnaded street (the cardo maximus), and behind it there is a basilica with three entrances and a domed structure (the Anastasis). (14)
Eusebius' brief description of the rotunda contrasts with his long and detailed description of the basilica (Martyrium), which at that time was already completed. Eusebius' fragmentary description of the rotunda appears to be due to the fact that during his visit to Jerusalem the rotunda was still under construction and surrounded by scaffolding. (15)
I understand that the author is actaully saying that Eusebius account contradicts the nature of the site. But read carefully, he actaully says that due to construction the nature of the site would have appeared this way to Ebusebius at the time. Had he just made it all up, and gotten a general description of the lay out from someone else, chances are he would not have been consistant with the construction going on but would have reflected the pre-construction condition.
Thus, in the time of Constantine the basilica was built and construction of the Anastasis (rotunda) was begun, but this was not completed until the end of the fourth century. It is possible that this is why Eusebius does not mention the structure of the Anastasis. On the other hand, Aetheria-Egeria, who visited the site at the end of the century (395), does give a description, which obliges us to conclude that a structure already stood there. (16) It is plausible to consider that if a straight wall around the aedicula, according to Couasnon's isometric plan, (17) did exist on its south, west and north sides, at sometime during the building of the rotunda, it was almost certainly meant to isolate the ongoing construction of the rotunda and the peripheral wall, to prevent pilgrims or visitors from being injured. This may be another reason for Eusebius' brief description of the rotunda. It would seem that Modestus' building projects after the Persian conquest were limited to repairs and restoration only, and did not include the construction of new buildings. Thus the structure which Arculfus saw in 670 was actually the fourth-century structure, which still stands today in large part.
We may conclude, therefore, that the rotunda with its two rings, the inner ring of columns, the dome, (18) and the outer ring (which is three quarters of a circle) with the three semi-circular niches, belong to the period of Constantinian construction. These conclusions are based on scholarly opinions, the schematic description of the church complex on the Madaba Mosaic Map, (19) and the absence of references in literary sources to changes and/or repairs and restorations of the rotunda between the reigns of Constantine and of Justinian, as well as recent archaeological discoveries. This form was adopted by the Patriarch Modestus in the third and fourth decades of the seventh century, when he restored and repaired the complex after the damage wrought by the Persians. Perhaps the twelve columns, mentioned by Eusebius as symbolizing the twelve Apostles, are those which form the inner ring of the rotunda and supported the hemisphere or the dome. (20
What this all means is that Eusebius either went to the site personally, or he consulted someone who did, and took such amazing notes that he could describe the site so well that it truely reflects the kind of work that would have been done on the site at the time. Chances are, he was an eye witness to the site, and to the discovery of the tomb. That also means he had ample opportunity to research the claims of the oral tradition first hand.
Another example of Eusebius' first hand knowledge of the site is the fill dirt over the tomb and the vestage of the pagan temple; including the fac that it was a temple of Venus.
franciscan cybrespot, the basillica
Christian literary sources recount how the Garden of Golgotha was filled up to level off the area for the construction of the new Roman temple. Here is how Eusebius of Caesarea (265-340 AD), a native of Palestine, describes these events in his Life of Constantine:
"This sacred cave, then, certain impious and godless persons had thought to remove entirely from the eyes of men, supposing in their folly that thus they should be able to effectively obscure the truth. Accordingly, they brought a quantity of dirt from a distance with much labor, and covered the entire spot; then, having raised this to a moderate height, they paved it with stone, concealing the holy cave beneath this massive mound. Then, as though their purpose had been effectively accomplished, they prepared on this foundation a truly dreadful sepulchre of souls, by building a gloomy shrine of lifeless idols to the impure spirit whom they call Venus, and offering detestable oblations therein on profane and accursed altars. For they supposed that their object could not otherwise be fully attained, than by thus burying the sacred cave beneath these foul pollutions." (III, XXVI - see also the account by Eusebius about the Holy Sepulchre)
compare with modern archaeology:
Th.M. DTS, Ph.D. Middle Eastern Studies Univ. Texas.
"Excavations conducted in the late 1970's at the site revealed further evidence for this being the place where the original Easter drama was performed. In the lower sections of the Church were discovered the foundations of the Roman emperor Hadrian's "Forum," in which his Temple of Aphrodite had been erected around A.D.135. Hadrian followed Roman custom in building pagan temples and shrines to supercede earlier religious structures. This was done at the site of the Jewish Temple, located not far from the Holy Sepulchre Church, and the fourth century church historian and Bishop of Caesarea Eseubius confirms that it was also done in this case: "Hadrian built a huge rectangular platform over this quarry, concealing the holy cave beneath this massive mound." If the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the actual site venerated by Christians as the tomb of Jesus, it would explain this location for the Roman building."
This shows that Eusebius was right about the fill dirt, the nature of the pagan temple, as well as the platform and other matters.
(2)The Nature of the Claims
(a) The description of the sites and its' place in the community.
Tomb of Chist
Israel Review of Arts and Letters
Wesite belonging to:Israel Ministry Foreign Affairs
Biddle:"But is this indeed the Tomb of Christ? All we can say with absolutely certainty is that this is the tomb which has been recognized as such since 325-6. Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea, was surprised by its discovery. It was "beyond all expectation," and he hailed it, apparently without any doubt, as the place where Christ had risen from the dead. Why did he do this? What was the evidence? Eusebius, using the Greek word antron, says only that it was a cave. Perhaps, like the tomb of St. Peter in Rome, found below the papal high altar in the 1940s, the rock-cut tomb in Jerusalem bore inscriptions or graffiti: "Jesus, save us!", or "He is risen!" Eusebius does not say and we do not know."
"It is not as if it was the only tomb there. Some eight rock-cut tombs have so far been found below the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Some have kokhim (Heb.), the deep niches at right-angles to the wall into which a body could be inserted as into the drawers of a modern mortuary. At least one of these tombs (now below the Coptic Patriarchate) seems to be very like the tomb whose remains are still today covered by the edicule. Perhaps Eusebius identified the tomb now preserved within the edicule as the Tomb of Christ because it was near to Golgotha. This is suggested in St. Johns Gospel when it says that there was a "garden" at the place of Crucifixion, and that in that garden there was a tomb. But it may also have been because of the features of the tomb then discovered: a movable rolling stone, a low entrance through which it was necessary to bend down to look in or enter, and a bench on the right-hand side where Christs body could have lain and the "angel" could have sat, matched those described in the Gospel.
What we can say is this: if the events of Jesus arrest, trial and execution in Jerusalem are to be taken as historical fact, then there is no other site which has any significant claim to be the place of his execution and burial.
Some points are crucial to note. First, the site was outside the city walls at the date of the Crucifixion in 30 or 33 CE. Second, the tomb was in an existing Jewish cemetery of rock-cut tombs typical of the Jerusalem area in the Second Temple period. Third, the place-name Golgotha seems to have lived on in local memory, despite the vast changes in the area brought about by Hadrians foundation of Aelia Capitolina in 132 CE. Before the end of the third century, Eusebius wrote in his Onomastikon, the "Place-Names of Palestine," that: "... Golgotha, place of a skull, where the Christ was crucified ... which is pointed out in Aelia to the north of Mt. Sion."
In other words, the site of he CHS fits the site descriptions we have in relation to Eusebius site and it fits what we would expect of the tomb location, including the name Galgotha which has been associated with that place for a very long time. But this is not the best evidence. New evidence has come to light throuh Dr. Biddle
(b) New Evidence that Oral Tradition was Indepdent of Euebius
"It is only in recent years that study of Eusebius text has shown that the writing of his Onomastikon should be dated to the late third century, perhaps to the 290s, long before Constantines workers cleared the Rock of Golgotha and uncovered the tomb.
There was thus a landmark to guide Constantines workmen. They removed the Roman temple covering the site and the masses of earth and rubble forming the platform on which it stood, cleared the Rock of Golgotha and then, to their surprise, found a tomb which fitted the Gospel descriptions. The position is best put by the Israeli scholar Dan Bahat, former City Archaeologist of Jerusalem:
"We may not be absolutely certain that the site of the Holy Sepulchre Church is the site of Jesus burial, but we certainly have no other site that can lay a claim nearly as weighty, and we really have no reason to reject the authenticity of the site."
What happened to the tomb thus discovered? Constantines engineers dug away the living rock leaving the block in which the tomb was cut standing as an isolated monolith in the middle of a broad flat area. They cut away the partly covered forecourt in front of the tomb a feature typical of Jewish tombs of the Second Temple period in the Jerusalem area and surrounded the rock with marble columns to form a small rotunda covered by a facetted conical roof, and in front of it, in the place of the forecourt, erected a pedimented portico.
In other words, Eusebius could not have made up the site and then fit the evidence to the facts, because it was already called "Galgotha" and thus thought to be the place, before any work was done and before Contantine's men even went to the Holy Land. This means that Eusebius was working from a prior tradition. We may now have no reason to doubt his word about the sources from which he derives the oral tradition, or that the Christians of Jerusalem always knew the location of the tomb by the temple of Venus above it.
(c) Eusebius had Multiple Sources
There was certainly no need for Eusebius to make up the information that M of S had provided the oral tradition about the site from pilgrims and Jews (and Jewish Christians) when he also had the Mayer of Jerusalem and others to guide him into the tradition. All he had to do was to say that his sources were not written and they would not need to be confirmed (nor could they disproven to exist).
The mayor of Jerusalem had to have access to this tradition, otherwise, would have dared to ask Constatine to clear the city of pagan cites which were over sacred Christian sites? Doesn't it just stand to reason that if he asked the emperor to do this, he would have a way of providing him with information to the cites? If it was just a matter of making things up, why go thorugh the pretense of asking? Clearly there are multiple sources here with each its own roote into that oral tradition of saved sacred sites.
In 325, during the first ecumenical council of Nicea, the bishop of Jerusalem, Macarius, invited Emperor Constantine to destroy the pagan temples built atop the Christian holy sites in the Holy City. The Emperor, now Pontifex Maximus of the whole Roman Empire and strong in his position decreed the demolition of the pagan temples built atop the Christian Holy Site. This is how Eusebius describe s the event:
"He judged it incumbent on him to render the blessed locality of our Saviour's resurrection an object of attraction and veneration to all. He issued immediate injunctions, therefore, for the erection in that spot of a house of prayer: and this he did, not on the mere natural impulse of his own mind, but being moved in spirit by the Saviour himself.....but calling on the divine aid, gave orders that the place should be thoroughly purified, thinking that the parts which had been most polluted by the enemy ought to receive special tokens, through his means, of the greatness of the divine favor. As soon, then, as his commands were issued, these engines of deceit were cast down from their proud eminence to the very ground, and the dwelling-places of error, with the statues and the evil spirits which they represented, were overthrown and utterly destroyed.....Nor did the emperor's zeal stop here; but he gave further orders that the materials of what was thus destroyed, both stone and timber, should be removed and thrown as far from the spot as possible; and this command also was speedily executed. The emperor, however, was not satisfied with having proceeded thus far: once more, fired with holy ardor, he directed that the ground itself should be dug up to a considerable depth, and the soil which had been polluted by the foul impurities of demon worship transported to a far distant place".(III, XXV-XXVII)
The claims of Eusebius are verified by modern archaeology. That proves he didn't make it up. It can't be proven that there was a resurrection, it can't be proven that there was a tomb, not absolutely, but he odds are strong since the facts stack up with the claims made, and the oral tradition is coming from a veriety of sources (see pervious page).
D. CHS fits the consensus on Holy Sites
Archaeology, New Testament, and Early Christianity
Alviero Niccacci, O.F.M
Tomado de la página del "Estudio Bíblico Franciscano"
"In the fourth century emperor Constantine dismantled the Capitolium and erected a splendid mausoleum on the tomb of Jesus, or Anastasis (resurrection), a basilica called Martyrium (testimony), while the rock of the Calvary remained on open air, having a cross on its top. Around the Calvary Christian legends flourished, especially two of them called “The cave of the treasures” and “The combat of Adam and Eve”. These legends have a strong Jewish background. Theologically they aim to link the first Adam to the second, sin to redemption for all humanity. This first group of holy places is authentic beyond reasonable doubt because we witness a large convergence of data - biblical, archaeological and literary both of ancient authors (such as apocrypha) and of pilgrims during the centuries (different itineraries to the Holy Land)."
Bib Arch. Review
Did a Rolling STone Close Jesus' Tomb?
"Scholars generally agree that the site of the Holy Sepulchre Church marks the location of Jesus' burial.*** But the aedicule (shrine) inside the church, which marks the traditional burial site, bears no signs of a first-century burial. The burial shelf in the aedicule is covered with a later slab, which does not appear to be part of the local bedrock and was probably imported into the cave.(15) Until recently, only the bench on the right side of the aedicule was thought to have been original. (The aedicule itself dates to the beginnning of the 19th century.) Recent studies at the site, however, have not shed light on the relationship between the rock, the foundations and the aedicule as they exist today and the original burial cave.(16) The only indication that the spot where the aedicule now stands might once have been a tomb is the presence of a burial cave with loculi a few yards away.(17)
It is worth noting that the profanation of the site by Emperor Hadrian targeted an existing place of worship of the Judeo-Christian community of Jerusalem both at the tomb and on Calvary. This early worship lies at the roots of the apocryphal writings of this primitive Judeo-Christian community of Jerusalem (these writings are known as the Adam and Eve cycle comprising "The Cave of Treasures" and "The combat of Adam").
Next: part 4, conclusion summary.
The Religious A priori