Recently, there has been a lot of hoo-ha about a book titled “Temple” authored by Robert Coruke, which apparently claims the old city of Jerusalem is buried underneath what is presently identified as the “Old City”, and the Temple Mount is not the site of Solomon’s Temple, and the “Wailing Wall” sacred to the Jews, is a fake. Excavations by a renowned archaeologist seem to support such claims. However, the recent unveiling in Jerusalem of the marble slab of the tomb in which Jesus’ body was placed between what Christians recognise to be as “Good Friday” and “Easter Sunday,” and the formal opening of the tomb may be the consequence of this new discovery!
From about 4th century AD, it was acknowledged that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is revered by the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic denominations, was the site of the tomb in which Jesus was placed after His crucifixion till His resurrection. However, Archaeologists and historians question the authenticity of the location, as all the Gospels state that “Jesus was crucified and placed in a tomb nearby in the absence of the city walls, meaning outside the city walls, which is more conceivable as the crucifixion would not have taken place in the centre of the old city where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located.
A friend of the writer, who has visited this Church a few times and travelled quite often to Israel on business in the 1980s, says it never evoked any emotions in him, unlike the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where he climbed down into the Grotto, which is meant to be the site of the stable in which Jesus was born.
“That was an incredibly emotional experience”, he exclaims. “What was most disconcerting was that the priests of the different denominations had set up kiosks in the environs of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and, in their robes, were competing with each other to sell relics and souvenirs to the tourists, like our Pettah pavement hawkers!Apparently “this practice has now ceased – thank God!”It is also said that “if all the pieces of wood that have been sold over the ages as chips off the cross on which Jesus was crucified are put together, it would be of such gigantic proportions that it would be many times bigger than the entire State of Israel”! As Jesus said during His Ministry on earth, “these charlatans have turned My Father’s Temple into a den of thieves”.
In the mid 19th century, what is referred to as the “Garden Tomb” was unearthed and is recognized by the Evangelical Anglicans and other Protestant denominations as the site of the burial and the resurrection of Jesus. According to the writer’s friend, “it is some distance outside the old city walls and is located close to a hillock, which resembles the shape of a skull. Calvary, which is the hill on which Jesus was crucified, was called Golgotha, meaning “the place of the skull” on account of its shape. This too, has been questioned by a Jewish archaeologist who has dated it to the 7th or 8th century BC, and argues that it had probably been used numerous times for burials before. The tomb in which Jesus was placed is said to have been a new tomb, never used before!
The Old City covers 0.9 square kilometres of walled area within the modern city of Jerusalem. When the Jewish neighbourhood Mishkenot Sha’ananim was established, this area constituted the entire city of Jerusalem, until 1860. The Old City has been home to several sites of religious importance, whereas the Temple Mount and Western Wall were for Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, and the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims. In 1981 UNESCO added this to the list of World Heritage sites.
During the six-day war in 1967, which saw hand-to-hand fighting on the Temple Mount, Israeli forces captured the Old City along with the rest of East Jerusalem. Subsequently, they annexed it as Israeli territory and reunited those along with the western part of the city. Up to date, the Israeli government controls the entire area, which has become a part of the state’s capital. However, United Nations Security Council 478 declared East Jerusalem as null and void to Israel, which was annexed under the Jerusalem Law of 1980. Today, East Jerusalem is regarded as part of the occupied Palestinian territory. The US has been historically supporting the establishment of an international regime for Jerusalem. In December 2017, President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital.
The writer’s friend makes a note by stating that “if one were to visit Israel, one will be taken to a spot along the border near the Jordan River to show the place where Jesus is supposed to have been baptised”.Ideally, this spot is inside Jordan with laid down anciently broken marble flooring extension, and as time went on, the river seemed to have changed its course and the exact spot on the old riverbed is now in Jordan. One is able to see, he says, a dry old riverbed now with a board displaying: “Saint JP’s visit to the place” (John Paul).
A variety of people have a wide range of ideas about the “Temple” discovery. Mathew 24:1-2 states, “Jesus went out and departed from the Temple, and His disciples came up to show him the images of the Temple. And Jesus told them -“ Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down”.
Titus referring to the Wearing Wall claimed, “I was at the Wearing Wall 70 AD. Jews destroyed the Temple by burning it down.”Flavius Josephus claimed, “no one would have known that a Temple was there”, which some believe was accurate. Further studies have shown that Josephus’ descriptions were based on a Jewish-Christian “gospel” that has since been lost.
For the Jewish community, the world over Jerusalem has been the core of their sentiment, established as the Capital of Jewish people around 3,000 years ago by King David. Jerusalem has been the pivotal argument during 2,000 years of Jewish Diaspora as they longed for their ancient homeland. For Christians, Jerusalem is particularly significant as it is the ancient Jewish city where Jesus walked, taught, lived, died, and rose again. The Muslims believe that Prophet Mohamed ascended from there on his ‘Night Journey’.
The problem is not in the close proximity of holy sites belonging to three different religions, but when one of those religions show disrespect for the others. The Muslim Jordanian armies destroyed all of the synagogues in the Old City of Jerusalem and refused access to Jews who wanted to pray at the Western Wall.
The Jewish Israeli government has shown respect to all three faiths and allowed freedom of access to all sites. The only religion not having free access to all of their holy sites is the Jewish faith, whose believers cannot pray on top of the Muslim-controlled Temple Mount!
It has thus become possible to prove that the account of Jesus cannot be a complete forgery, and even to identify, which parts were written by Josephus, and which were later added by an interpolator
pic Credit: Ceylon Today Newspapers