BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Where Is Golgotha, Where Jesus Was Crucified?

Does the Church of the Redeemer hold the answer?

church-of-the-redeemer

Does the Church of the Redeemer (pictured here) provide evidence that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the authentic site of Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified? Where is Golgotha today in Jerusalem?

According to the New Testament, Golgotha was the name of the site where Jesus was crucified. Where is Golgotha located in Jerusalem? In their Archaeological Views column “Golgotha: Is the Holy Sepulchre Church Authentic?” in the May/June 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Marcel Serr and Dieter Vieweger discuss past and current investigations into the site where Jesus was crucified.

Where is Golgotha today? The exact location where Jesus was crucified is disputed. In the fourth century C.E., the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built at the site of Golgotha as identified by Roman emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena. However, scholars began to question this identification in the 19th century, since the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is inside the city walls of the present-day Old City of Jerusalem. Golgotha would have to have been located outside the city in accordance with Roman and Jewish customs of the time. The Gospels, too, seem to suggest that Jesus was crucified outside of the city (Mark 15:20; Matthew 27:31ff; John 19:17ff). So where is Golgotha located?


In our free eBook Easter: Exploring the Resurrection of Jesus, expert Bible scholars and archaeologists offer in-depth research and reflections on this important event. Discover what they say about the story of the resurrection, the location of Biblical Emmaus, Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb, the ancient Jewish roots of bodily resurrection, and the possible endings of the Gospel of Mark.


 

ritmeyer-old-city

Where is Golgotha? Was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site where Jesus was crucified, located within or outside of the city walls when it was built in the fourth century C.E.? The drawing here depicts the present-day Old City of Jerusalem (shaded in gray) as well as the proposed location of the so-called Second Wall that would have stood during Jesus’ time. Drawing: Leen Ritmeyer.

It’s important to note that the current Old City walls are not the ones from Jesus’ time. As Serr and Vieweger note in their Archaeological Views column, “Efforts to find a so-called Second Wall south of the Holy Sepulchre Church that had served as the northern wall of Jerusalem in Jesus’ time (and would have moved the site of the church outside the city in Jesus’ time) proved elusive—although Josephus, the knowledgeable first-century Jewish historian, does refer to such a wall (The Jewish War 5.146).”

Eminent scholars Conrad Schick and Louis-Hugues Vincent thought they had found the Second Wall in 1893 when a wall was uncovered during the construction of the Church of the Redeemer just south of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. For almost a century this seemed to solve the problem of authenticity—the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was located at Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified!

But in the 1970s, German archaeologist Ute Wagner-Lux of the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology in Jerusalem excavated under the Church of the Redeemer and determined that this wall could not have been the Second Wall. Why? “This wall was only five feet thick—far too narrow to be a city wall,” say Serr and Vieweger. So the search began anew.

All was not lost, though. The excavations at the Church of the Redeemer do reveal clues that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located outside the elusive Second Wall.

To learn what evidence leads Serr and Vieweger to believe the Church of the Holy Sepulchre could be the authentic location of Golgotha, read their full Archaeological Views column “Golgotha: Is the Holy Sepulchre Church Authentic?” in the May/June 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

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BAS Library Members: Read the full Archaeological Views column “Golgotha: Is the Holy Sepulchre Church Authentic?” by Marcel Serr and Dieter Vieweger in the May/June 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.


This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on May 23, 2016.—Ed.


 

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Tour Showcases Remains of Herod’s Jerusalem Palace—Possible Site of the Trial of Jesus

The Terra Sancta Museum: A New Stop on the Via Dolorosa

The “Strange” Ending of the Gospel of Mark and Why It Makes All the Difference

On What Day Did Jesus Rise?

Pilgrims’ Progress to Byzantine Jerusalem

Virtually Explore Jesus’ Tomb at the National Geographic Museum


 


20 Responses

  1. […] is brought with the cross to Golgotha, at a location we are unsure of today. It may not even be the traditional view of the burning […]

  2. Brianroy says:

    “And the bodies of them [ the Two Witnesses]
    (will lay) upon the Great City’s Plateia,
    which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where our LORD —
    was indeed — crucified.” Revelation 11:8, Translation mine

    n locating the Plateia (or “street of Egypt”) in Jerusalem, “where our LORD was crucified”, we revisit Matthew 13:22 with Jeremiah 46:7-8, and surmise that “Egypt” in Jerusalem deals with the Kidron Valley.

    We are required (by Scripture) to first locate this geography of Jerusalem that is called “Egypt”; and then to intersect that location with the geography called “Sodom”. The manner in which the location of “the street of Sodom”, in Jerusalem, is identified as the Hinom valley — is quickly dispatched with the fact that the Hebrew Ge-Hinom (“Valley of Hinom”) is transliterated in the Greek as Ge-henna (“the Valley of Burning Fires”).

    This part of the valley of Hinom to which we are most concerned, is directly SOUTH of the Temple, and runs in an east-west direction. Therefore, we need only to find the next intersection point: the Hinom valley representing Revelation 11:8’s “Sodom”, which Scripture describes as a place associated with “fire, brimstone (sulfur)… and great smoke as from a furnace” (Genesis 19:24,28). That intersect with the Kidron Valley, a Wadi in the First Century A.D., and formerly much deeper and with bridges that spanned the Kidron between Olivet and the Temple Mount were clearly obviously there, from Gethsemane to the Temple Mount and from just south of the Water gate over to Olivet’s third peak base.
    There are other indicators. King Josiah took the idols brought into the House of YHVeH, took them East into the Kidron Valley, and burned them in the “fields of the Kidron” (2 Kings 23:4). He broke down all the altars and idols of Jerusalem, and beat them to dust. For Josiah, as a type of Christ and forerunner of Messiah, he was also the keeper of the greatest Passover Israel had ever seen from the days of the Judges to those times after him (2 Kings 23:21-23). Christ was the greatest and eternal Passover Sacrifice upon which all humanity in the theology of the Bible is judged by, past, present, future.

    Gematriac insights to Azal [actually, the relationship of Azal in prophecy to its forthcoming valley that shall be created through Olivet’s third peak to the East at the end of the Great Tribulation for Israel’s last few thousand Jews on earth to flee to and through] and the Cross

    “And you shall flee into the Valley of My Mountains,
    for the Valley of My Mountains shall reach unto Azal.” (Zechariah 14:5a)

    The word Azal {Alef-Tzaddai-Lamed) is valued at 121 in the Hebrew, and the holder of a pil’ly (Pe-Lamed-Alef-Yod), that which is “a remarkable, and wonderful secret.”

    That secret concerns an “unripe” (or aphiyl {Alef-Pe-Yod-Lamed}),
    “pressed or urged” (alats Alef-Lamed-Tzaddai),
    “Oak of the king” (allom melek Alef-Lamed-Mem-Lamed-Kaf)
    that is “slender like a lotus tree” (a tse’el Tzaddai-Alef-Lamed).

    The Cross also is unripe and slender like the lotus, upon which a King was hung, which also acts as a shade tree of sorts to which all the nations press upon (cf. the Cross with Lamentations 4:20). And yet, the Cross, the slender and unripe oak of the King, (revealed by Scripture as the acacia,) which is pressed, and holds a remarkable and wonderful secret.

    Through Gematria, in the word Azal, we see that Messiah is given to us by GOD, through His Holy Word, a value through the descent of YH (being a yod י of 10) as Ya’ala (Yod-Ayin-Lamed-Alef), which divided means “the wild goat (Yod-Ayin-Lamed) of GOD (א).” This is the sacrifice of the Scapegoat, whose life is to be given for the sins of all Israel (cf. Leviticus 16:20-22; John 11:49-53). This activity directly links with the Torah’s example of the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, in which a ram (or wild goat prophetically) was provided in his place. From this “base” to the non-believer, but “pedestal” to them that believe (the mekownah Mem-Kaf-Vav-Nun-He), there rested Nineveh (Nun-Yod-Nun-Vav-He, “the one of offense”), who in Gematria is “The Son”, i.e., “the perpetuation” (Nun-Yod-Nun) “of VeH” (וה) – the Spirit of GOD.

    It was from the west-most portion of this valley of Azal, at the gate of Siloam, in which the “bereaved” Messiah was “discarded and forsaken” (alman (Alef-Lamed-Mem-Nun), and to which the bride of Jerusalem, by way of a few corrupt rulers forced “widowhood and bereavement” (almon – Alef-Lamed-Mem-Nun) upon the nation of Israel. The Cross is a hammenek (He-Mem-Vav-Nun-Kaf), it is “a necklace or ornament ” of faith to the believer, but a chain of bondage to the unbeliever.

    The word Azal indeed holds a pil’ly or “wonderful secret”, for it is the combination of the Hebrew letter Alef (א), and the word for “shade” in Hebrew, being “Zal” or “Tsal” (צל). Therefore, GOD’s “shade”, or the “Shade of the Right Hand” as told by Psalm 121:5, is directly and prophetically linked to this passage from Zechariah 14:5.

    And what is the “wonderful secret”? “Zal” or “Tsal” is the shortest form of “Tselah” (צלעה ): “a rib”, or “the side” of a person. This refers to Adam, to which Christ is the “Second Adam”, whose “rib” (as it were) is to be His Church.
    It is through this Valley of the mount of Olives that the river of YHVeH shall flow until it reaches the Jordan, and then will flow both north and south from there (Ezekiel 47:1-8). This river from in origin from the Throne of YHVeH: from the throne of YHVeH Father and YHVeH the Lamb (Revelation 22:1). Jesus tells us that it shall flow forth from the innermost part of His being (John 7:38). The waters that flow out of the city of Jerusalem will teach us to trust in the Salvation (literally “Yeshua” or “Jesus” in Psalm 78:22) of GOD: Psalm 78:20,22. To not acknowledge Jesus as the True Messiah, IN THAT DAY, will be to provoke the immediate wrath of GOD (Psalm 78:21).

    “And as they led (Christ) away, they [the Roman guards] laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and they laid the cross on him, that he might bear (it), following behind Jesus.”
    (Luke 23:26) KJV

    The combined accounts of Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:20c-21, and Luke 23:26, in the Literal Greek to English Translation would read as thus:

    “And brings out and leads Him so that He may be crucified;
    and after having searched, found a man returning from the wild fields,
    a certain Simon,
    –who by name and reputation is the father of Alexander and Rufus —
    this one they beat about with the knees violently,
    in order that he would take up, raise the Cross, and bear it;
    which he did take up, bear, and endure
    behind the back of Jesus.” (Translation mine)

    The emphasis in this verse is where Simon was coming from: the “country”. The word for “country” in the Greek, is the anarthous noun αγρου, “agrou”; or literally, “a field”. When this usage is examined in relation to Jerusalem, it is directly used of that region which lies south of Jerusalem.

    Meanwhile, the Passover rituals clean-ups are happening in and about Jerusalem….

    And what was Simon the Cyrenian doing? It is all but a certainty, on the day of Pesach, that Simon the Cyrenian was carting ashes from the Temple Altar from out of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem (lest they defile the Temple) earlier in the day. Simon was coming north on the Dung Gate road as Jesus was heading east on the Siloam Gate Road, when Simon was kicked about with the knees by the Romans and pressed into service to carry the Cross. Another indicator Golgotha had to be to the EAST.

    There are many other passages in prophecy and in Hebrew words and Hebrew tradition that indicate East and south and east of the Temple Mount. The location being just north of the well of Rogel, on Olivet. Anyone who thinks Jesus was crucified NORTH of the Temple is either Biblically illiterate on this subject, or an intentional LIAR. It is time that the Church Universal know the truth that the Bible is fully accurate, and there is a conspiracy of unbelief in every generation and at every quarter to deny the Scriptures for whatever nefarious reasons of sin on the part of those in denial.

    In 2006 I copyrighted the information I am sharing, but never published outside free sharing of my work product on the internet. If the world ever realizes the true location of the Cross and the empowerment of the Faith to eternal salvation, Jerusalem will be such an overnight burdensome stone of contention, that the whole world system will have economic ramifications that will nearly fully alter the state of peaceful profit the West enjoys now…another reason why the unbelieving world that controls religious topic magazines and so many religious discussions fears the truth of the matter on this topic.

  3. Rob Palmer says:

    For the dedicated alcoholic/traveler: Weekend at Golgotha. Sorry, but I cannot resist. Life is for the living.

  4. John says:

    The Bible says that we should commemorate the death of Jesus Christ, certainly not the instrument of his death………..if Jesus had been put to death by a sword or spear, would Christians wear the symbol of a sword or spear around their necks and plaster their churches in swords and spears???

  5. John says:

    Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says:

    “STAUROS….denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake. On such malefactors ware nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroo, to fasten to a stake or pale, are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed cross. The shape of the latter had it’s origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used of the symbol of of the god Tammaz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name in that country and adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration of faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in it’s most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the cross of Christ”

  6. Virginian Wolf says:

    I would love to go there!

  7. Virginian Wolf says:

    If I was able to go there, I would look for the place, where he died!

  8. Virginian Wolf says:

    What piece of Earth, where he was crucified, on the cross?

  9. Virginian Wolf says:

    Wow, extremely fascinating!

  10. Ann Adams says:

    According to Israeli Archaeologist of Tel Aviv University – Gabriel Barkay, The Garden tomb is not the correct age to be early 1st Century AD tomb of Jesus. He believes that it is much older as it reflects burial customs from 1st Temple period.

  11. Joe Cantello says:

    Anyone who’s been to Jerusalem, while the Garden Tomb does fit some of the brief description in John’s Gospel, knows that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the oldest place attested to by tradition. It is doubtful that when Helena, Constantine’s mother, would have gotten something as significant as the place for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus–wrong. However, remember, as most of us believe–He Is Risen and the tomb is empty; no matter where you believe it to be.

  12. TL says:

    I just had an amazing read, and I just can’t understand if it’s actually even possible, but I think I just got an inside look at the cross of Golgotha, or actually parts of it burried in a church in Finland, city of Rauma.

  13. Melisa says:

    The Garden Tomb is not considered a legitimate site, since it has no historical evidence for it. (Someone looked over in the 19th century and said, “That looks like a skull!” Not accounting for 1800 years of erosion on the hill side of course.) The Church of the Holy Sepulcher does. In fact, it’s not that Helena claimed the site, its more accurate to say that the 4th century Bishop of Jerusalem told Constantine of it and asked to dig there (under a Roman temple put up in the 2nd century). He said it was put on top of the empty tomb/ Golgotha. They dug down and found empty tombs, one of which matched the description in John. (Helena then claimed to find the cross there.) Protestants, like myself, may not find the decor appealing, but the location is most likely accurate.

  14. Jared Morgan says:

    The garden tomb has been proven to be much later than Jesus time. That’s why it’s not been taken seriously.

    But the church of the holy sepulchre sure doesn’t seem like the right spot, but maybe it is.

  15. john penna says:

    Why isn’t the Garden Tomb ever discussed as the burial place of Jesus? Anyone who has seen this site and the caves on the outside facing the bus station can’t help but think tis could be the location. The question I have is has this area changed at all since 33 AD? If not this could well be the correct location. It is on the road to Damascus and in full view of everyone in the area at that time which is what the Romans would of done.

  16. Juniper says:

    Juniper says
    I think that America will never be great agian untill we put God first

  17. Ani Ashpa says:

    I been to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, it’s the cheapest place I’ve ever been in. Why was the Garden Tomb not mentioned. It matches the description in the Bible perfectly.

  18. Linda says:

    Actually Jesus’s was not crucified.the bible itself states that he was put upon an upright stake.
    The Greek word generally translated “cross” is stau·rosʹ. It basically means “an upright pale or stake.” The Companion Bible points out: “[Stau·rosʹ] never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle . . . There is nothing in the Greek of the [New Testament] even to imply two pieces of timber.” just to set this straight.thankyou for reading.

  19. Terry says:

    Frankly, I am surprised that professional archaeologists are still asking this question. This site was discovered more than twenty years ago. Amateur archaeologist Ron Wyatt also found evidence of crucifix posts holes in the rock in this area.

  20. Andrew G Roth says:

    Another very interesting thread, although, I am not convinced that any tradition has this right because it seems very possible Gethsemene in Matthew and Mark is NOT the same place as the “garden” mentioned in John 18:1. The confusion is very understandable, since both places are just past Jerusalem’s eastern boundary and across the Kidron Brook. However, Messiah’s words in John 17 are clearly given indoors, whereas Matthew and Mark have the disciples sleeping outside just before the arrest, meaning the speech in John 14-17 comes first, then they go out singing the hallel psalms (115-118, usually done at Pesach), which in turn synchs up with Matthew 26:30-36 and the parrallel passages in Mark and Luke.

    As a result, once they went out from the seder meal (and there is no doubt in my mind the Last Supper was just that) they probably stopped at Gethsemene first, then moved a little further to the garden in John and then Messiah got arrested. The confusion of several hundred yards between the two places may cause other issues when trying to locate Golgotha.

    So for the Tomb of the Holy Sepulchre, the lower parts of the structure (where the public is not allowed) are loculi Jewish tombs, and their presence in that spot proves it was outside the city walls, since Torah prohibited them being inside. So yes Messiah’s tomb is within the church, but no, it’s not where the public goes inside the church. The real place of Golgotha no one is allowed to see.

    I therefore think there is no “Garden OF Gethsemene” per se but merely an olive press in one place and a garden nearby but in another place.
    Andrew Gabriel Roth
    Translator of the Aramaic English New Testament

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