The Authenticity of Golgotha and of the Most Holy Sepulchre *.
The public edifices of the Paschal
Chronicle were conjecturally explained (artistically) by Father Germer Durand
/1/. He hypothesized that the "tetranymfo" should be the spring of Siloam,
which was mentioned by the pilgrim of Bordiga as "quadriporticus", namely, as
four arcades. Of course there is the assurance that the Emperor in the area of
the Jewish temple built the temple of Capitolian Zeus and erected within it his
statue /2/. The pilgrim of the Bordiga (333) says, he saw two statues of
Adrian (?).This view was later proved to be wrong but managed to trap even the
German professor of Bohn, Krafft, who from the description that was available,
concluded that the gate at that place was the work of Adrian. Also, A. Thierry,
in a like manner maintained that the two statues were by Adrian /3/.
There are many who believe that the two statues were attributed to Adrian. One of these two, depicts Anthony the Pious, because from the outside of the yard of Haram-ech-Cherif at the right and against the gate on the furthest side of El-Aksa appears an inscription on the wall which forms part of the base of the statue.
TITUS AEL. HADRIANO
ANTONINO AVG. PIO
This inscription means: "In honour of the Emperor Caesar, Titus Aelius, Adrianus, Antoninus Augustus Pius, Father of the Country, Pontificus, and Prophet by decision of the deputies" /4/.
From the gods, apart from Zeus, they
worshipped Bacchus, Serapus, the Dioscouries and Aphrodite. It is not however
known when the worship of these gods was introduced, but it is undoubtful that
these temples in fact existed in Jerusalem
Eusebius says that at the Holy Lands, impious men erected a statue of Aphrodite, while the Conqueror Constantine in his letter to the Bishop of Jerusalem writes that at the sacred area there was a most inappropriate statue. The same is repeated by the historians Socrates, Sozomenus and Alexander the Monk, though, without indicating the time of construction of this statue. Only Jeronymus ca 395 /5/ says that from the time of Adrian to Constantine, there was a statue of Zeus at the place of the Resurrection and of Aphrodite over Golgotha. Lately the English Palestinian Department researched the view that after the destruction by Titus, the idolaters in Jerusalem erected a temple of Astartis in the place of the Most Holy Sepulchre /6/.
For this reason there is the objection to an overwhelming degree which is noted by Crome and others, that the Romans never built their temples on the places of executions which the religious conscience considers vile and sacrilegious.
The truth is that the area of Golgotha was not even by nature or by law a place of executions. Simply that is where the crucifixion of Christ and of the robbers took place. However, after this area was incorporated in the city with the new walls of Adrian, it was considered to be sacred even by the same idolaters without this single event of crucifixion affecting their superstitions. Apart from this, Golgotha from the crucifixion of the Lord and beyond is no more a horrible wooden contraption for criminals. Here at Golgotha every sin is blotted out, salvation springs out and because of this in the Christian conscience it is considered majestic and simultaneously a solemn altar. What is disgusting to the idolater and to the Jew becomes desired and precious to the Christians /8/. For this Golgotha from the moment of Crucifixion is the most sacred place. The aversion on the other hand, of the idolaters towards the Christians could best be explained by the construction of the idolatric temple on Golgotha. The same history testifies to the conversion of the idolatric temples to churches and of churches to temples. Roufinus (345-410) says that the statue of Aphrodite was erected on the spot where Jesus was crucified, so that the Christians who venerated this place, instead of directing their worship to Christ would direct it to Aphrodite. Paulinus from Noli (353-431) writing to Severus /10/ says that Adrian, because he obviously wished to extinguish the Christian faith through the obliteration of the Holy Places, erected a statue of Zeus. Soulpicius Severus (363-420) declares that the statues of demons were in the temple, in the place where the Lord lived His passions. Amvrosius (340) in psalm XLVII (47) is mentioned in Golgotha due to the statue of Aphrodite "Venerarium" /11/ which was there.
The existence of such temples at this place, apart from the historical evidence that has been mentioned above, is also authenticated monetarily /12/. Besides even the same word Golgotha which is related with the cosmetic adjective "Calva" of Aphrodite indicates some sort of connection with the Capitollio. This word derives from the word "Caput" meaning head and "olus" or "tolus" which means the head of king Olus or Tolus which was discovered at the peak of the Capitolian hill in Rome, when they were building there the foundations of the temple of Zeus. Therefore both words Capitolio and Golgotha have the same meaning and thus we can say that the Capitolio of Jerusalem was Golgotha.
At the Capitolio hill was also the temple of Aphrodite Capitolina or of the Syrian Astartis and was named Venus Victrix or Calva from where Calvaria is derived and is explained by the word Golgotha. Let's therefore continue with the etymology. In the East, Aphrodite was worshipped in Cyprus and especially at Golgus, a town which derived its name from Golgo, son of Aphrodite, whom she had from an illegitimate union. According to Sepp /14/ the city was thus named by the conoid form Heb? galgal golgol which form was centre stage at the celebrations connected with the worship of Aphrodite whom they called "golgon anassa" (= queen of golgon).
From the more contemporary researchers, Mommert, maintains the authenticity of Golgotha as follows:
"Without doubt the place of Golgotha and of
the Most Holy Sepulchre was known to the people who lived during the death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ, whether they were His friends or His enemies.
This is testified by John and Mary and the pious women who stood by the Cross,
the swearing at Christ by His enemies, the deposition from the Cross, the
guards around he Tomb and the visit by Peter, John and the pious women to the
region as is narrated in the Holy Bible.
From those contemporaries, many of whom were of course still alive, when approximately ten years after the Crucifixional death of the Lord, the city was extended by the wall of Agrippa and included Golgotha. Some survived the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70AD. Specifically someone named Symeon, son of Cleopa, who ascended the bishopric seat of Jerusalem in 64AD, we know very well that he lived to the age of 129 years and suffered a martyr's death in 108 during the emperor Trajan. So the testimony of the contemporaries of Jesus Christ extends to the first quarter of the second century. It is without doubt that after the expansion of the city and the erection of the so called third wall of Agrippa, the memory of the Holy Places was not extinguished as Golgotha was located close to the so called second wall and close to the gates of the city and the buildings which existed in this place would have made the defense of the city more difficult. Even until the reign of Adrian no edifice was built on Golgotha as concluded from what Adrian had said, namely when he built the edifices there in 135 he did not level any buildings.
It is without doubt that the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus could not blot out the memory of the Holy Places. According to the narration by the Romans, the Christian community of Jerusalem left and settled in Pella, beyond the Jordan River. Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus during 367, informs us that after the departure of Titus, the Christian community returned again to its country and settled in the ruins of the city.
Without a doubt is also the fact that in 135 when the Emperor Adrian after quelling the revolt of Bar Koheba, built over the ruins of the ancient Jewish Jerusalem the Roman colony of Aelia, the holy lands of Golgotha and the Most Holy Tomb were well known and the Christians venerated them, for otherwise the idolaters would not have turned their attention to this place and defile it with the erection of the temple of Aphrodite. Also without doubt is the fact that Christians did not forget the Holy Places, even when they could not worship there. The faithful performed their holy worship in Jerusalem, the educated continued to be engaged with the Holy Places as it becomes obvious from the authors Tertullian, Origen, Cyprianus, Athanasius and Jeronymus. But also many skeptic authors agree as possible the rescue of the tradition relating to the holy places until the Great Constantine. For truly if any reference concerning Golgotha had disappeared, then how could the Emperor Constantine write to the Bishop of Jerusalem, Makario to decorate with an edifice the known holy Place? Therefore, the site of Golgotha was well known to all /15/.
From all the research it follows as indisputable, the conclusion that the genuineness of Golgotha and of the Most Holy Sepulchre is as truthful and certain as is the Christian truth, saved by the Church of Jerusalem intact and undefiled.
Magazine New Zion volume 4, 1928
*) See Volume 4, 1928, p. 193
- 1) Echos D'Orient 1904 p. 65-71, Revue Biblique 1 p. 369-387. More on the Aelia see Deyling's de Aeliae Capitolinae orig. et historia. Munter's History of the Jewish war under Trajan and Hadrian. This work was translated at the Bibliotheca Sacra of Robinson p.393-455.
- 2) Dion Kassius LXIX, 12
- 3) Saint Jeronymus, translation Nic. I. Stamatiadou, Samos, p. 168
- 4) F. de Saulcy, Jerusalem, Paris 1882 p. 87-88
- 5) Epist. 49 ad Paulin
- 6) The camp of the tenth Legion at Jerusalem and the city of Aelia by W. Wilson in Pal. Exp. Fund 1905, p.138-144.
- 7) Coquerel, Topographie de Jerusalem p. 130-131.
- 8) This turnabout reminds naturally the "he sent away the atheists" of Holy Polycarpus and the power of Origen. At the idolatric temples there was a custom to share branches of palm trees. Origen having been forced to go to a idolatric temple and having given such branches, immediately said: "Come and take not the branch of the idols but the sprout of Christ".
- 9) Ecclesiastic History X, 7.
- 10) Epist. XXXI.
- 11) "Dominus secundum coeli tractum in Venerario passus est, qui erat locus in parte aquilonis".
- 12) F. de Sauley, Jerusalem, Paris 1882. De Sauley Num. de la Terre Sainte p. 374. Palestine Exploration Fund 1903 p. 242.
- 13) Pal. Explor. Fund 1902 p. 67-70.
- 14) Das hellige Land I, 419.
- 15) C. Memmert, Golgotha, 4-10 Booklet New Zion 1914,33