Where was Jesus actually buried? Unfortunately Jerusalem hasn’t been marked out with signs the way a theme park might be, with arrows pointing to the various sites or attractions. In fact, centuries of conflict has destroyed or buried significant areas. As we observe Easter, let’s take a look at where Jesus could have been buried and what we know!
Of the different lists out there on the web citing possible places for Jesus’ burial, there are a lot outside of Israel, so for simplicity’s sake (and accuracy’s sake), we’ve just listed the local possibilities…
1. Talpiot Tomb
The Talpiot Tomb was discovered in 1980 upon demolition of an apartment complex in Jerusalem. Can you imagine if you had been living, having coffee, and going to bed above this artifact?! Upon excavation, it was determined that this tomb is from the 500BC-70AD period. Located just 5 kilometers outside of the Old City in Jerusalem, the Talpiot Tomb contains 10 ossuaries, 6 which have epigraphs. The kicker here is that one of the epigraphs has the following inscribed:
“Yeshua bar Yehosef” (“Jesus, son of Joseph”)
Pretty convincing, right? Well, maybe not if we look at the selection of names that existed for Jewish people in the first century. Mathematicians and historians have run statistics about the chances that these names would be found in a grave and the odds are pretty high. This could still be Jesus’ tomb, but the numbers make it likely this could have been another Jesus whom also had a father named Joseph.
Though a widely disputed location by academics, a documentary and a book has been produced about this particular location.
2. The Garden Tomb
One of the more popular sites for Christian pilgrimage, the Garden Tomb is maintained by a charitable non-denominational Christian trust based in the UK. The Garden Tomb is located near a rocky escarpment which some claim to be the site of Golgotha. Though the tomb itself has been dated around 8-9th century BC by prominent Israeli archaeology Gabriel Barkay, it’s possible that the tomb could have been reused through the ages.
The date rules out the Garden Tomb for many experts, but it remains to be a popular pilgrimage site for Protestants and Evangelical Anglicans.
3. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, described as “the most illustrious edifice in Christendom… grand, reverend, venerable” by a famous American writer who visited the place in 1867 (Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad) was erected on ground strewn more with tradition than fact. Yet all reasonable evidence points to this building–or at least places in the general vicinity–as enclosing the likely spot of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The church has been enveloped by the Old City of Jerusalem since it was first built by Constantine in the fourth century AD. Today’s building is largely a Crusader “downsizing” of the Byzantine structure.
A “Golgotha” can be seen in the church behind glass. A tomb beside a skull-shaped hill is pretty convincing evidence. There is some debate about whether or not this is the true burial place of Jesus due to its location within Jerusalem’s city walls…
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This “Evidence for the Resurrection” eChart responds to 5 of the most common objections that skeptics have about Jesus’ resurrection. It contains compelling evidence from archaeology, history, and culture. This eChart presents skeptics’ most common claims, for instance, that “Jesus’ Followers Made It All Up,” and provides reasons why people can believe in Jesus’ authenticity.
This eChart is for anyone interested in apologetics, anyone wondering why the resurrection of Jesus remains so central to Christianity, or anyone wanting to know how to answer skeptics’ questions.