“Revisiting Golgotha and the Garden Tomb”


The Garden Tomb, just outside Jerusalem’s Ottoman wall


The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem
(aka, in Arabic, al-Qiyama, “The Resurrection”)


As it happens, I’ll actually be revisiting Golgotha and the Garden Tomb tomorrow.  That is, I’ll be revisiting the Garden Tomb tomorrow, and, if my friend Jeffrey Chadwick is right, I’ll be revisiting Golgotha, too.  If he’s wrong, I may have revisited Golgotha already this morning.


The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which I find simultaneously fascinating and rather repulsive and which encloses the traditional site of Golgotha or Calvary as well as the traditional tomb of Jesus, was even more crowded than usual today.  Pretty awful.  I had been starting to warm up to it over the past several years, though — increasingly convinced that it represents the actual burial place of Jesus, and, thus, the place of his resurrection.


Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, not far from Saladin Street


The “skull feature” near the Garden Tomb,
behind the Arab bus station in East Jerusalem


Somehow, I had missed Professor Chadwick’s article until now.  But he mounts a powerful — in fact, a seemingly lethal — case against the Holy Sepulcher’s claim.  He also rejects the Garden Tomb, though he believes that the nearby “skull feature,” as he calls it, is very likely the site of Christ’s crucifixion.  (I’m comfortable with that.)  He thinks that Christ’s tomb, if it still exists at all, remains undiscovered, probably under modern buildings on the west side of Saladin Street.  Professor Chadwick’s article, for anybody interested in the question, is well worth reading:




 Posted from Jerusalem



  • Nancy Hymas

    I’m curious about your reasons for ‘warming up’ to the idea of Christ’s tomb being within the confines of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Could you elaborate?

    • danpeterson

      I can’t elaborate right at the moment, as I’m headed out the door for a long day and then proceed directly to the airport. Maybe after I get back.

      In the meantime, Jerome Murphy-O’Connor’s Oxford guide to the Holy Land has a good entry on the Holy Sepulcher that might help. Still, I think that Jeff Chadwick raises a potentially lethal objection to the site’s claim.

  • http://yourestatematters.blogspot.com Michael R. Loveridge, J.D.

    Thanks for referring us to this interesting article! I can’t help wonder why such a significant site as Jesus’ tomb stays undiscovered. Perhaps to shelter such a holy site from commercialism? Perhaps to make us reflect more on the living, resurrected Christ than on His death? As I visited the Garden Tomb several years ago, I was mildly disappointed that I felt no special spiritual confirmation that it was Christ’s resting place. Exiting the burial chamber, however, I read the sign on its door (visible to visitors as they departed), “He is not here – for He is risen.” Then, I experienced a precious moment as the Spirit confirmed to me, again, that Our Savior truly had risen and lives to love and guide us.

    • danpeterson


      There were several interruptions in Christian presence here, and I suppose that fact might help account for the loss of the site. Of course, advocates of the Holy Sepulcher contend that the site was never really lost at all. It’s been venerated since very early times — which is one of its strongest arguments.

  • Laura Ainsworth

    Wish we had been there with you again. Enjoyed Jeff Chadwick’s article on his findings. GBWYTWMA

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    There is a special feeling of the solid reality of Christ when you stand at an attested place where he appeared, in the Salt Lake Temple, the Kirtland Temple, or the Sacred Grove on the Smith family farm. I think that is why the Palmyrs Temple has a clear glass window facing the Sacred Grove, incorporating it into the sacred space of the temple. I am not proposing that it is independent evidence of the narrative in each case, but rather that the reality of each event is understood and envisioned more clearly and immediately and merges with your own experience of being in the place. It is akin to finding a previously unknown photograph of Oliver Cowdery, the face that looked into the face of Christ in Kirtland. As the face becomes more real to me, the things it saw become more real.