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Keys to JerusalemCollected Essays$
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Jerome Murphy-O'Connor

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199642021

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199642021.001.0001

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The Authenticity of the Holy Sepulchre

The Authenticity of the Holy Sepulchre

(p.159) 10 The Authenticity of the Holy Sepulchre
Keys to Jerusalem

Jerome Murphy‐O'Connor

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the authenticity of the Holy Sepulchre. The analysis focuses on two individuals, Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem/Aelia Capitolina (c.313–34), and his metropolitan, Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea (c.313–40). Clearly Macarius would have been willing to identify as belonging to Christ anything remotely resembling a tomb that he found at the bottom of his trench. The question related to him, therefore, is: how could he have been so confident of the traditional site identification of his community? Eusebius, on the other hand, had been trained as a historian, and was constitutionally sceptical regarding relics and holy places. In principle, he would have accorded little confidence to the Jerusalem tradition. Thus, the question regarding him is: what convinced him, rather against his will, that the cave brought to light by Macarius was in fact the tomb in which Christ had been laid? In order to answer these questions, responses to a further series of questions must be found. Did first-century Christians in Jerusalem know exactly where Jesus died and was buried? Did they have an interest in passing that knowledge on to subsequent generations? Were there any factors that intensified this interest? Were there any impediments to that transmission, for instance, breaks in the history of the community?

Keywords:   bishops, Macarius, Eusebius, Jerusalem, Caesarea

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