A Travellerspoint blog

Journey through the Holy Land

Jerusalem and Bethlehem

semi-overcast 75 °F

Today we started the most spiritual portion of our Journey.

We started at the Garden Tomb.
The Garden Tomb is a rock-cut tomb in Jerusalem, which was unearthed in 1867 and is considered by some Protestants to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus. The tomb has been dated by Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay to the 8th–7th centuries BC. The re-use of old tombs was not an uncommon practice in ancient times, but this would seem to contradict the biblical text that speaks of a new, not reused, tomb made for himself by Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57–60, John 19:41). Also, the trough in front of the tomb and the nearby cistern, described by proponents of the Garden Tomb as part of the tomb's sealing system and as the surrounding garden's source of water, respectively, have both been archaeologically dated to the Crusader period (12th–13th centuries). The organisation maintaining the Garden Tomb refrains from claiming that this is the authentic tomb of Jesus, while pointing out the similarities with the site described in the Bible, and the fact that the Garden Tomb better preserves its ancient outlook than the more traditional, but architecturally altered and time-damaged tomb from the mostly crowded Church of the Holy Sepulchre; for all of these reasons, they suggest that the Garden Tomb is more evocative of the events described in the Gospels. The Garden Tomb is adjacent to a rocky escarpment which since the mid-nineteenth century has been proposed by some scholars to be Golgotha. It has since been known as Skull Hill or Gordon's Calvary.

large_P1001104.jpglarge_P1001110.jpglarge_P1001111.jpglarge_P1001113.jpglarge_P1001114.jpglarge_P1001117.jpglarge_P1001115.jpglarge_P1001121.jpg

We then went to the birth place of John the Baptist. The Church of Saint John the Baptist is a Catholic church in Ein Karem, Jerusalem, that belongs to the Franciscan order. It was built at the site where Saint John the Baptist is believed to have been born. In 1941–42 the Franciscans excavated the area west of the church and monastery. Here they discovered graves, rock-cut chambers, wine presses and small chapels with mosaic tiling. The southern rock-cut chamber contained ceramic datable to a period stretching from approximately the first century BC till 70 AD, an interval that includes the presumed lifetime of Zechariah, Elizabeth and John. The community living here has been dated by the archaeological findings back to the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods. Unfortunately the church was not active as it was undergoing restoration.

large_P1001123.jpglarge_P1001126.jpglarge_P1001129.jpglarge_P1001134.jpglarge_P1001136.jpglarge_P1001137.jpg

We then headed to the Church of the Visitation which is a Catholic church in Ein Karem, Jerusalem, and honors the visit paid by the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:39–56). This is the site where tradition says that Mary recited her song of praise, the Magnificat, one of the most ancient Marian hymns. From the Crusader conquest of the Holy Land onwards, three different locations in Ein Karem became connected with the life of St John the Baptist and turned into points of interest for pilgrims: a cave within the village, a site on a hill south of it, and the village's main water fountain. The events connected to the sites are the meeting between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, the home of Zachary and Elizabeth, the birth of John, and the hiding place of Elizabeth and John. The Crusaders erected two main churches in Ein Karem, the precursors of what are today the Church of St John the Baptist and the Church of the Visitation.

large_P1001149.jpglarge_P1001154.jpglarge_P1001157.jpglarge_P1001158.jpglarge_P1001163.jpg

We then entered the Palestinian Territory on the West Bank and Bethlehem - currently 40% Christian. After lunch we entered the Church of the Nativity. The Church of the Nativity, or Basilica of the Nativity, is a basilica located in Bethlehem in the West Bank, Palestine. The grotto it contains holds a prominent religious significance to Christians of various denominations as the birthplace of Jesus. The grotto is the oldest site continuously used as a place of worship in Christianity, and the basilica is the oldest major church in the Holy Land. The church was originally commissioned by Constantine the Great a short time after his mother Helena's visit to Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 325–326, on the site that was traditionally considered to be the birthplace of Jesus. That original basilica was likely built between 330 and 333, being already mentioned in 333, and was dedicated on 31 May 339. It was probably destroyed by fire during the Samaritan revolts of the sixth century, possibly in 529, and a new basilica was built a number of years later by Byzantine Emperor Justinian (r. 527–565), who added a porch or narthex, and replaced the octagonal sanctuary with a cruciform transept complete with three apses, but largely preserved the original character of the building, with an atrium and a basilica consisting of a nave with four side aisles.

large_P1001172.jpglarge_P1001183.jpglarge_P1001187.jpg

The holiest place on earth for Christians:

large_P1001184.jpg

Posted by rpickett 15:36 Archived in Israel Tagged and jerusalem bethlehem

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login