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Strange Timing: Tomb In The Holy Sepulchre To Be Opened

Conservationists have just begun a nine month repair of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City - specifically repairing the tomb that many believe is the actual tomb that Our Lord was buried in and rose from three days later.  After several centuries the chapel is beginning to collapse in on itself and without these repairs nothing will stop the collapse.

What is intriguing about the timing of these repairs, which will run from now until early 2017, is that there is speculation the conservationists may stumble across something of interest because they will be moving the massive stone slab that covers the base of the tomb - a slab that has not been moved since 1810.  From The Washington Post:

And at the heart of the heart of the edifice, in the center of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, they will lift the slab where millions of pilgrims have knelt and prayed, where the salt of tears and the wet of sweat have smoothed and worried the hardest stone.

And for the first time in more than 200 years, they will look inside.

The ruins of what is believed to be a rock-cut tomb are being breached because the chapel built above is falling apart.

Its repair is decades overdue. After years of squabbling among the Christian communities who occupy the site, work to restore the edifice began earlier this month.

The conservationists — whose jobs have included repairing the Acropolis in Athens — are not sure what they will find.


“We will see what we see,” she said.

The conservation team has already probed the chapel and tomb with ground-penetrating radar and laser scanners.


They have detected a fracture in the rock of the tomb, unknown until today.

They believe that the crack is the result of stresses put upon it by the columns supporting a cupola above. Still. No modern scientist has ever looked inside.

What will they see?


What is there?

The British archaeologist Martin Biddle, who studied the site in the 1990s, speculated that there could be ancient graffiti left by pilgrims somewhere around the Holy Rock or beneath the floor under the rotunda, perhaps scribbles of “He is risen!”

Or maybe the small, scratched crosses left in the caves of Christians in the first centuries after his death.

Or maybe just cut stone.

Whatever evidence exists, the conservationists won’t know until they get there — and even then, will it prove definitively that this was the tomb of Jesus?

I find it fascinating that the workers and other observers will see, for the first time in over 200 years, what is left of the original tomb (right now it is covered in Crusader-era stonework).  What they find may be exceedingly mundane - more rock, Christian graffiti, ancient crosses...

But what if they find something more?  Could it authenticate the tomb?  Or perhaps even play a part in the Great Delusion?

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