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GARDEN TOMB CROSS
AND
THE PLACE OF THE SKULL

 

 
 
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Garden Tomb cross
   
  In Jerusalem there are two places people believe might have been the Tomb of Jesus. The most famous is inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The other is referred to as the Garden Tomb. At this time I'm not going to go through all of the arguments for and against each site's claim to be the actual tomb, but I will say that I was influenced, factually and spiritually, to believe that the Garden Tomb was the actual tomb used by Jesus.
   
  The picture above was taken by me during my trip to Israel in 1995. The cross is carved (and then painted?) on the inside of the Garden Tomb. You can plainly see the symbols of Alpha and Omega under the bar of the cross on the left and right sides, respectively. (The "w" was how one wrote a lower-case omega in case you are more familiar with the more common horseshoe representation.)
   
  Now, what is really interesting about this I will recount to you from my recollection of the story told to me by the guide at the Garden Tomb. From whatever histories of Jerusalem he knew this from, the guide told me (and my tour group too) that the area where the Garden Tomb is was covered with debris from the period of around the second century until the late 1800s. The guide said that tomb area was a rock quarry that was turned into a garbage dump, and was used as such from after the Jewish War of 132-135 until uncovered in the late 1800s.
   
  Now back to the picture. If the tomb was buried from 135 to 1880, who carved the cross, and when? It had to have been carved by some early Christians using the site as a meeting place. Perhaps even by the apostles?
   
 
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  What's also interesting about the Garden Tomb is its proximity to what is shown in the pictures below (which might also qualify for the Top Ten Most Fascinating Images in Christianity). It is said in the gospel that Jesus was entombed near the place where he was crucified, near Golgotha, the place of the skull. You can see in the pictures what they might have been referring to.
   
  The guide said that the formation in the hillside had been there for a very long time. There are pictures from the late 1800s showing the same image with very little change (i.e., from erosion). In fact the Englishman who first purchased the land made the Jesus connection between the discovered tomb and the proximity to the skull image in the hillside.
   
  I'm sorry if the full skull-like similarities are hard to see in these pictures. Now that I look at them I see that they really don't do credit to actually being there. I remember thinking to myself when I was there, "If I had lived here in the time of Jesus, I probably would have called this place the place of the skull too," because of the similarity.
  skull 1
skull 2
   
  John 19: 17, 41--Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha)....At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.
   
 
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  Another interesting feature at the Garden Tomb is an ancient carving of an Anchorite Cross just to the left of the tomb's door. The carving is so old that it's barely visible. My photo was taken with an ordinary 35mm camera, but the folks at the Garden Tomb have taken more detailed pictures which show the features of the cross that have faded so that we know that this was a real Christian carving and not someone's creative viewing of cracks in the wall.
   
  You'll have to use your imagination a little bit with these photos. The bottom photo shows the general outline of the cross just in case you can't make it out in the top photo. (Click on the photos to see the larger versions.)
   
 
   
  Be sure to check out: Pictures of the Garden Tomb on the Fun Pictures page
   
  Also check out: Pictures of the Garden Tomb on Pilgrimage 97, Part 5
   
  Also check out: Pictures of the Garden Tomb on Pilgrimage 97, Part 9
   
  Also check out: The official Garden Tomb Website
   
   
   
 
   
   
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