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Jerusalem, Israel - Walked in the final steps of Jesus

Jesus,burial site,Jerusalem,Isreal

As one of billions around the world I have heard of Jesus Christ, but not so many know much about the places he walked, ministered, lived, and become arrested, executed and buried. Jesus's final steps in Jerusalem are still discussed by historicans. The New Testament covers places associated with Jesus, but are they really identified?

Photo. The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem - an ancient Jewish tomb which many believe is the site of Jesus of Nazareth’s burial and resurrection. The real burial shroud of Jesus?

I eagerly explored holy sites around Jerusalem in July 2019, where the stories of the New Testament come to life for millions of pilgrims each year.​ Especially I found the places related to Jesus very interesting. Standing in on these places supposed to give me a special feeling and a certain state of awe, but could I know for sure that these places really have something to do with Jesus? Do the pilgrims pray, touch and kiss the right places? And these places don`t tell anything about Jesus how he was as a person. 

Two thousand years after his death, Jesus of Nazareth remains one of history's most influential and fascinating figures. Attracting people to places, and a life that would forever change the world. 

Believers call Jesus the Son of God. Other consider him as a social revolutionary who wanted a regime change rather than saving souls. Wandering through the old town of Jerusalem I was thinking of all the amazing stories I heard about Jesus in my childhood. Are they really true and did they happend at places as Getsemane, Golgotha, Via Dolorosa, The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem, Church of the Holy Sepulchre? Where did they actual happen? What can archaeology tell about Jesus?

It`s the same with relics. A number of relics are claimed to be associated with Jesus and displayed at holy places around the world. Some of them are the Holy Grail, The Crown of Thorns, The Spear of Destiny, and The shroud of Turin - believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus. These relics attract a huge number of pilgrims. But are they authentic?

After I returned home someone asked me: "Did you feel someting special being at the places Jesus walked? Then I answered: "No, why should I? I don`t know exactly what happend in ancient time or where it exactly happend. Who knows? But generally, walking around in the old town gave me a special historical feeling". So many things have happend in Jerusalem in the past, and it`s amazing how these stories have been spread around the world. Today there is nearly 500 Bibles (or versions of the Bible) telling their own stories. A big literaty hoax or evidence of that a real person named Jesus once lived?

Main steps of Jesus in Jesus in Jerusalem: 
Final week in Jerusalem. The final part of Jesus' ministry begins (Matthew 21 and Mark 11) with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem after the raising of Lazarus episode which takes place in Bethany. The gospels provide more details about the final portion than the other periods, devoting about one third of their text to the last week of the life of Jesus in Jerusalem which ends in his crucifixion (source: Wikipedia).

No documents written by Jesus exist, and no specific archaeological remnants are directly attributed to him. The 21st century has witnessed an increase in scholarly interest in the integrated use of archaeology as an additional research component in arriving at a better understanding of the historical Jesus by illuminating the socio-economic and political background of his age. National Geographic has previous year issued several magazines about Jesus` life.

  • Located at the foot of the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane is the site where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept, according to Christian tradition, and subsequently became an important pilgrimage site. Gethsemane was the name used by the evangelists Mark and Matthew for the place where Jesus went after the Last Supper. The word comes from the Aramaic gat semãnê. St. Jerome, interpreting the biblical name of Gethsemane as “vallis pinguendinum” (valley of abundance), emphasized the fertility of the location, which presumably was the site not only of numerous olive groves but also vineyards. Today the term Gethsemane refers to three sites, watched over by the Franciscans, which commemorate the agony and arrest of Jesus during the night in which he was betrayed: the Grotto of Gethsemane, the Garden of Olives and the Church of All Nations.
  • The Golden gate is located on the east walls of the old city of Jerusalem, leading to the temple mount. It is regarded as a Holy site for all faiths - Jewish (arrival of the Messiah) and Christian (entrance of Jesus on Palm Sunday) and Muslim (site of future resurrection). The gate was built in the 6th/7th C AD over the ruins of the second temple  gate,  and sealed since the 16th C.  
  • The Via Dolorosa, the “way of sorrow,” is the stone street in the Old City of Jerusalem along which Jesus carried the cross to his own crucifixion, according to the New Testament.
  • Golgotha, or Calvary was, according to the Gospels, a site immediately outside Jerusalem's walls where Jesus was crucified. Matthew's and Mark's gospels translate the term to mean "place of [the] skull".
  • The Garden Tomb is a site of Christian worship and witness located in the heart of historic Jerusalem, just outside the Old City walls. Within this peaceful and contemplative garden there are several antiquities of interest, including an ancient Jewish tomb which many believe is the site of Jesus of Nazareth’s burial and resurrection.
  • The site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is identified as the place both of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. According to the New Testament, Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, “the place of the skull” (Matt. 27:33–35; Mark 15:22–25; John 19:17–24). This has been identified as an area of abandoned stone quarries just outside the city wall of the time. About 10 years after the crucifixion, a third wall was built that enclosed the area of the execution and burial within the city, and this accounts for the Holy Sepulchre’s location inside the Old City of Jerusalem today. This church has long been a major pilgrimage center for Christians all around the world.

Some sources about Jesus` burial places and othes sites related to Jesus: 

  • The earliest accounts of Jesus' burial come from the Canonical Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, which are believed to have been composed decades after Christ's crucifixion around A.D. 30 (source: National Geographic). Archaeologists have discovered that Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands on the site of a Jewish cemetery dating to the time of Jesus. The shrine at the heart of the church, known as the Edicule, encases remnants of a tomb revered since the fourth century, imagined here.
  • Archaeologists have discovered that Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands on the site of a Jewish cemetery dating to the time of Jesus. The shrine at the heart of the church, known as the Edicule, encases remnants of a tomb revered since the fourth century, imagined here. The site that may be Jesus` tomb. National Geographic, 28th November 2017.
  • New theori about the Jesus` burial place: Findings Reignite Debate on Claim of Jesus’ Bones.
  • How genuine are the sites marketed to Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem? Jesus Sites in Jerusalem: Are They Real?

It`s probably unrealistic to expect archaeological proof for a specific person who lived 2,000 years ago. I have no doubts about that Jesus was a historical figure. Anyway the most important lesson I learned during my stay in Jerusalem is that nothing is as it was told in school and churches. The feeling of wandering through the old town of Jerusalem was amazing, but it destroyed my childhood fantasy. Jerusalem`s history holds many clues of Jesus. Nothing is really verified, and that`s make it even more interesting. 

Stein Morten Lund, 18th July 2019

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