The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

Holy Relics, Holy Places, Wholly Fiction

I recently watched a television show alleging the fascination Hitler, Himmler, and the Nazis had for certain holy relics and their desire to possess them. Among these were the Ark of the Covenant, containing the stone tablets Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai; the Holy Grail, the chalice Jesus drank from at the Last Supper and in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the blood of Christ at the Crucifixion; and the Spear of Destiny, the lance that pierced the side of Jesus during the Crucifixion.

Of course, the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail call to mind two of the Indiana Jones movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. While these films are acknowledged as fiction, the three relics the Nazis supposedly desired are thought by many to be real. And throwing in Nazis is a convenient hook to hoist up sales in just about any medium on just about any subject.

The Spear of Destiny

Before considering the validity of the physical evidence, let us examine the origin of the legend of the Spear of Destiny. In the account of the Crucifixion in the Gospel of John, a Roman soldier thrust his spear into the side of the (apparently) already dead body of Jesus as it hung on the cross (John 19:31–34):

The Jews, therefore, because it was the day of preparation that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day (for the sabbath day was a high holy day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers and broke the legs of the first and the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already, they broke not his legs; but one of the soldiers, with a spear, pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

This incident is recorded only in the Gospel of John. There seems to be no point in the soldier spearing Jesus in the side, since the soldiers had already determined he was dead. Rather, the reason this gospel adds these specific details of Jesus’ legs not being broken and him being speared is so that the author could claim (in John 19:36, 37) the fulfillment of two Old Testament prophecies:

For these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled. A bone of him shall not be broken. And again, another scripture sayeth they shall look upon him who they pierced.

The first such scripture is Exodus 12:46. It describes how the flesh of the roasted Passover lamb is to be eaten:

In one house shall it be eaten. You shall not carry forth any of the flesh out of the house; neither shall you break a bone thereof.

Early in this gospel, John the Baptist, upon seeing Jesus, exclaims (John 1:36), “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Thus, the author of John’s gospel seeks to symbolically depict Jesus as the Passover lamb. His death represents sacrifice on behalf of humanity, atoning for our sins. And so, if he is to be the Passover lamb, Jesus’s bones cannot be not broken.

While this allusion to Exodus 12:46 stretches the symbolic nature of Jesus as seen by the Gospel of John to fit the literal treatment of the Passover lamb, the reference to the Roman soldiers looking “on him who they pierced” pulls another prophecy, Zechariah 12:10, completely out of context. It reads:

And I will pour upon the House of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication; and they shall look unto me because of him who they pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns an only child and they shall grieve bitterly for him as one grieves a first born.

This is how the passage is rendered in the Masoretic Text (MT), the official body of the Jewish scripture. However, since the MT was only edited between CE 600 and 900, its rendering of the passage may not represent the original form. It is rendered in the Septuagint (LXX), the Jewish scriptures translated into Greek for the benefit of Jewish diaspora communities of the Hellenistic period that had become culturally and linguistically Greek, as:

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and compassion: and they shall look upon me, because they have mocked, and they shall make lamentation for him, as for a beloved and they shall grieve intensely, as for a firstborn.

In both of these renderings of the passage the people are looking either to or on God (“me”), one who is not the one they have pierced. The rendering of the passage is notably different in Christian versions. Here is how it is rendered in the King James Version (KJV):

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Here, the “me” is now the one they have pierced, representing Jesus as God incarnate, a Christian spin on a Jewish scripture. The word “me” is, however, eliminated in the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the passage:

And I will pour out a spirit of compassion and supplication on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that, when they look on the one whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

Regardless of whether or not a Christian gloss is put on the prophecy in Zechariah, those looking on “him who they pierced” are the people of Jerusalem, not Roman soldiers. Clearly, the author of the Gospel of John has taken this passage out of context in order to force upon the reader his invention of the Roman soldiers spearing Jesus as the fulfillment of a prophecy.

So, the scriptural underpinnings of the “Spear of Destiny” are tenuous at best. Despite that, an elaborate extra-biblical mythos grew from this passage in the Gospel of John. Not only does the legend involve the spear, but also the Roman soldier wielding it. One of the sources of this legend is a work in Latin titled Gesta Pilati, or, in English, The Deeds of Pilate. The work seems to have been written in stages, and the earliest parts may have been written as early as the late second century.

Gesta Pilati identifies the Roman soldier who pierced the side of Jesus with a lance as Longinus. The name Longinus is probably derived from longche, Greek for “lance.” As the extra-biblical legend of Longinus grew during the Middle Ages, he was conflated with the centurion witnessing the Crucifixion who, in Mark 15:39 and Matthew 27:54, says, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.” He was also represented as being nearly blind. When he speared Jesus, blood from the wound spurted into his eyes, curing his blindness. Thus, metaphorically, he was spiritually blind until the blood of Jesus made him see. Finally, he converted to Christianity, was martyred, and became St. Longinus.

What is purported to be the spear of destiny, or at least its point, now resides in the hofsburg museum in vienna as part of the hapsburg royal treasury.

The spear itself, according to legend, was subsequently possessed by various notable kings and conquerors. The Emperor Constantine supposedly wielded it at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 where he defeated Maxentius, his rival for the office of emperor. It was reputed to have fallen into the hands of Attila the Hun. Since he was a pagan, it didn’t afford him any success and he cast it aside. It later came into the possession of Emperor Justinian (482–565). Others, including Charlemagne and the Anglo-Saxon king Athelstan also eputedly owned the spear. Believing the legends—or so its proponents would have us believe—both Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler sought to possess it.

What is purported to be the Spear of Destiny, or at least its point, now resides in the Hofsburg Museum in Vienna as part of the Hapsburg royal treasury. The earliest verifiable account of this particular artifact is that it was used in the coronation ceremony of Rudolf I as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1273. He was the first Hapsburg to attain that office.1 The artifact is a bronze spear point, part of which has been wrapped in gold. However, the lance or pilum used by the Roman army was a javelin over six feet in length that consisted of an iron shank—not bronze—about two feet long that fitted over a wooden shaft. In most battles it was hurled just before the legion closed with its enemy. However, at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BCE, Julius Caesar ordered his troops not to throw their spears, but to hold them and thrust them at the faces of Pompey’s cavalrymen. The spear point in the Hofsburg Museum bears no resemblance to this Roman weapon. It is, therefore, as lacking in substance as the legend on which it was based.

The Holy Grail

Even more tenuous in its connection to the gospels and their Passion narratives than the Spear of Destiny is the Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus drank wine at the Last Supper and in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the blood of Jesus shed during the Crucifixion. In popular modern fiction, the Grail is either the cup of Christ now residing in the Near East and guarded by a mysteriously long-lived crusader (as in the 1989 movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), or a living descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (as in Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code). The plot of Brown’s novel is largely based on the theory expounded by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln in their 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. These authors argued that the medieval French San-graal (or san-gréal), meaning “Holy Grail” was actually a corruption of sang réal, meaning “Blood Royal”. The “vessel” containing the royal blood of Jesus was the womb of Mary Magdalene. This theory is based on legends that, after the Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene fled Judea and was brought to southern France by Joseph of Arimathea, who, in the legend, finally brought the Grail to Glastonbury in England.

The legend of the Grail can be easily traced through its paper trail. The earliest tale of the Grail was an unfinished poem by Chrétien de Troyes written in Old French circa 1190 titled Perceval ou le Conte du Graal (Perceval, the Story of the Grail). In this story, Perceval, an ingenuous young man who, though of noble birth, was raised by his mother in a forest in Wales, becomes a knight at the court of King Arthur. He has been warned by a mentor not to speak or ask questions in social situations, so as not to reveal his ignorance. While journeying to visit his mother, Perceval meets the Fisher King who is lame and spends his time fishing in a boat. The Fisher King invites Perceval to his court, where the young knight witnesses a strange procession in which young men and women bear various objects from one chamber to another. First, a young man enters carrying a bleeding lance. This is followed by two boys carrying a candelabra. Then, a beautiful young girl enters bearing an elaborately decorated graal. Finally, another maiden passes carrying a silver platter.

The object referred to as a graal is a shallow vessel used for serving fish at medieval banquets. The word may be an extreme corruption of the Greek word krater, which was Latinized as crater and further altered to cratalus, then corrupted in medieval Latin to gradalis and to graal in Old French. Finally, its spelling was altered to “grail”. Another possible origin of the word is the Latin gradus, meaning “step,” which in medieval Latin became gradualis, the source of our word “gradual.” In reference to banquets, this would refer to multiple courses, served gradually, of which one would be fish.

As instructed by his mentor, Perceval remains silent during the procession. The next morning, he awakes to find himself alone and resumes his journey. He meets a maiden who upbraids him for not asking the Fisher King whom the graal serves. Had he done so, he might have found the way to heal the Fisher King. The vessel in this tale contains a single communion wafer that sustains the king.

The myth of the Grail is of entirely Western European origins and was unknown before the high Middle Ages. There neither is—or ever was—an actual relic of the cup of Christ.

The Grail became the vessel bearing the blood of Christ in Joseph d’Arimathie ou le Roman de l’estoire du Graal; (Joseph of Arimathea, the Romance of the history of the Grail) a poem written in the 1200s by Robert de Boron. In the story, Joseph of Arimathea used the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper to catch some of the savior’s blood at the Crucifixion. This association of the blood of Christ with the cup from which he drank wine at the Last Supper comes from the institution of the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:24, 25, bracketed material added for clarification):

And when he [Jesus] had given thanks, he broke it [the bread] and said, “Take, eat. This is my body broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same manner, he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do you as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.”

So, by having Joseph catch the blood of Jesus in the very cup he drank from at the Last Supper, Robert de Boron made the symbolic blood of Christ (the wine) physical. Joseph, in the poem, along with his sister and her husband, flee Jerusalem and eventually end up in England at Glastonbury.

It is possible that the grail originated as a pagan vessel, either a cauldron or platter in which rested a severed head. This is how it is presented in the story Peradur, Son of Efrawog.2 The names of both Peradur and Perceval derive from the Welsh root per, meaning “cup.” The surviving written versions of this story come from the fourteenth century, among them the White Book of Rhydderch. However, the story does hearken back to pagan Celtic motifs and could derive from ancient oral traditions. Regardless of whether Chrétien derived his story from pagan sources or not, the myth of the Grail is of entirely Western European origins and was unknown before the high Middle Ages. There neither is—or ever was—an actual relic of the cup of Christ.

The Ark of the Covenant

Compared with both the Spear of Destiny and the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant has far more substance as a historic artifact. In his 2017 book The Exodus, Dr. Richard Eliott Friedman makes the case that the Exodus was a historical event, only minus the plagues devastating Egypt, and Moses himself parting the waters of the Red Sea, and instead involving only the Levites.3 Among the evidence that Levites—who became a priestly tribe among the Israelites and did not hold a tribal territory—originally came from Egypt are the prevalence of Egyptian names in that tribe, and the similarity of the Ark of the Covenant as described in Exodus 25:10–15 to ceremonial boats carried in Egyptian religious processions. The placement of the Ark in the first temple is described in 1 Kings 8:6–9. In 587 BCE, the Chaldeans, under Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, sacked the city, deported its population, and utterly destroyed the temple housing the Ark. This is described in 2 Kings 25:8–16. Not only did the Chaldeans destroy the temple but, according to 2 Kings, they also smashed the various priestly brass implements and melted down the brass. While this account details the temple’s utter destruction, it doesn’t mention the Ark, thus leaving its fate open to speculation.

That, at least, is the case for the Masoretic Text (MT). Since the Protestant Old Testament (OT) is based on the MT, it too, lacks any further mention of the fate of the Ark. However, the Roman Catholic Douay Bible’s OT is based on the Septuagint (LXX), which contains a number of books excised by the editors of the MT. Among these are 1 and 2 Maccabees, which deal with the revolt of the Jews against the Seleucid Empire, ruled at that time by Antiochus Epiphanes, and 2 Maccabees does contain a passage concerning the fate of the Ark (2 Maccabees 2:4–7):

It was also contained in the same writing, how the prophet, being warned by God, commanded that the tabernacle and the ark should accompany him, till he came forth to the mountain where Moses went up, and saw the inheritance of God. And when Jeremias (Jeremiah) came thither he found a hollow cave: and he carried in thither the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door. Then some of them that followed him, came up to mark the place: but they could not find it. And when Jeremias perceived it, he blamed them, saying: The place shall be unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people, and receive them to mercy.

The Maccabean revolt took place from 167 to 141 BCE, and 2 Maccabees is estimated to have been written between 150 and 120 BCE. Thus, the assertion that the prophet Jeremiah hid the Ark in a cave on Mt. Sinai is a late and unreliable tradition. It is not, however, the latest tale of the fate of the Ark.

Ethiopian Christians claim the Ark still resides there in the Church of Mary of Zion. There it is guarded by a group of virgin monks, who, once ordained, are forbidden to leave the chapel grounds for the rest of their lives.

According to the Ethiopian national epic, Kebra Nagast (Glory of the Kings), written sometime in the fourteenth century, the ruling dynasty of Ethiopia was founded by Menelik I, son of Solomon and Makeda, the Queen of Sheba. She gave birth to him after she returned to Ethiopia. Thus, he grew up not knowing his father. However, as a young man, he traveled to Jerusalem and was united with King Solomon. His father wanted him to stay and rule over Israel as his heir. However, Menelik wished to return to Ethiopia. So, Solomon gave his son the Ark, which Menelik transported to Aksum, then the capital of Ethiopia.4

Ethiopian Christians claim the Ark still resides there in the Church of Mary of Zion. There it is guarded by a group of virgin monks, who, once ordained, are forbidden to leave the chapel grounds for the rest of their lives. Since these guardians are the only ones who are allowed to view the Ark, the validity of this claim cannot be verified.5

The story of the romance between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is itself an elaborate embroidery of a tantalizing passage in 1 Kings about her visit to Jerusalem (1 Kings 10:1–13). In that story the Queen of Sheba (most likely the ancient kingdom of Saba in present day Yemen) at the head of a fabulous caravan, visits King Solomon. She asks him many questions, which he, in his celebrated wisdom, answers. After this display of Solomonic sagacity and after viewing its possessor’s worldly riches, the Queen is left breathless (or in the language of the Bible, verse 5, “There was no more spirit in her”). She then gives him gold, spices and precious stones, he gives her “all her desire” (v. 13), and she returns to her country.

In the Targum Sheni of Esther and in the Qur’an, the story of Solomon and Sheba is greatly expanded. Targums are translations of books of the Jewish scriptures into Aramaic, with various elaborations. The earliest likely date for this one is sometime in the fourth century CE and may date from as late as the eleventh century. The story as told in the targum is roughly paralleled in Surah 27 Al Naml (“The Ants”) in the Qur’an. However, the latter makes no mention of carnal relations between Solomon and Sheba, while the former does.6

Since the story of Menelik taking the Ark to Ethiopia in Kebra Nagast hinges on his being the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, an extra- biblical elaboration on a biblical story of doubtful historicity, it is—like the stories of the Spear of Destiny and the Holy Grail—historically unsubstantiated. The most likely fate of the Ark of the Covenant is that it was destroyed along with the temple that housed it in 587 BCE.

Holy Landmarks of Jerusalem and the Moon

Along with the fascination many people have for these holy relics is the veneration they show for holy places. For example, if you to go to Jerusalem with a group of evangelical Christians, tour guides might well show you the upper room where Jesus and his disciples ate the Last Supper. They might also take you along the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrows), the path along which Jesus is said to have made to walk bearing his cross on the way to the crucifixion. They will also guide you to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher alleged to contain the notably empty tomb of Christ.

The one thing all these sites have in common is that they are utterly bogus. In the year CE 70, the Roman army, under the direction of Emperor Vespasian, utterly flattened Jerusalem, the final devastating loss that marked the end of the Jewish revolt that began in CE 66. Flavius Josephus, chronicler the revolt, wrote of this in his Wars of the Jews:7

Caesar now gave orders that they should demolish the entire city and temple but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is Miriamne, Phasaelus and Hippicus and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared in order to afford a camp for those as were to lie in garrison; as were the towers spared in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited.

So, there was no upper room left standing after the year 70. Likewise, whatever path Jesus might have walked on his way to be crucified was obliterated at the same time.

As to the tomb of Christ, family tombs at that time were often dug into hillsides, with a main chamber in which the body of a recently deceased family member was laid on a raised slab and left there to decay. Once the body was reduced to disarticulated bones, these were placed in limestone boxes called ossuaries, which were then placed in niches.8 According to the gospels, the body of Jesus was laid in just such a tomb, freshly carved into stone and belonging to Joseph of Arimathea.9 Any such tomb in Jerusalem would have been buried in the rubble of the flattened city. It would be virtually impossible to locate a specific family tomb in such a situation.10 Also, though the gospels say that Pontius Pilate gave the body of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea for burial, it is quite likely that the Romans would have left the bodies of those crucified hanging on their crosses to rot and be eaten by vultures in further degradation and humiliation as a deterrent to would-be malefactors. Whatever remains remained after several days would likely have been disposed of into the valley of Gehenna, Jerusalem’s garbage dump.11

In fact, the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 would have obliterated all sites associated with the Passion of the Christ. Any remaining evidence of the event that might have existed would have been further eradicated when Emperor Hadrian built a Roman city called Aelia Capitolina over the ruins of Jerusalem in CE 130.12

Of course, not all holy places are in Jerusalem. Perhaps the most unusual site of an alleged miracle is…on the moon! In response to the publication of photographs of the lunar surface taken by the Apollo 11 mission, a number of Islamic websites have claimed that one of them confirms the miracle of Muhammad splitting the moon in two. The source for this claim is an interpretation of a verse in the Qur’an and its possible reference to a legendary episode in the life of Muhammad, as recorded in one of the hadiths, a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad. The passage in question can be found in the Qur’an, in the first verse of Surah 54, Al Qamar “The Moon” (Q54:1). It would seem to refer to the day of judgment. But the interpretation varies, as can be seen by comparing three translations of it into English:13

The Hour has come near, and the moon has split [in two]. (Sahih International)
The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder. (Yusuf Ali)
The Hour of Resurrection drew near, and the moon split asunder. (Abul Ala Maududi)

So, according to the Qur’an, the moon being split in two may refer to the time of the Last Judgment, which is also a Christian concept. However, according to at least one hadith, the split refers to an episode in the life of Muhammad, in which, to convince skeptical members of his tribe that he was indeed the true messenger of Allah, the prophet, by his words alone, split the moon in two and then fused the halves together (Sahih Muslim book 39, hadith 6725):

This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Abdullah b. Mas’ud (who said): We were along with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) at Mina, that moon was split up into two. One of its parts was behind the mountain and the other one was on this side of the mountain. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to us: Bear witness to this.

Muhammad died in CE 632, and there is no written evidence of any astronomical observations made in the seventh century (or any other time in history) that can be construed as a record of the moon seeming to be split in two.

While Muslims consider the Qur’an to be the word of God transmitted to Muhammad, the hadiths are said to be transmitted by Muhammad to his companions. Not surprisingly, there is considerable controversy within Islam regarding the hadiths, including disputes between Sunni Muslims and Shi’a Muslims as to which hadiths are valid. Also, some Muslims, calling themselves “Quranists,” reject all hadiths.

The failure of observers in Muhammad’s time to witness the splitting of the moon and the subsequent fusing of its two halves, and the rather meager scriptural support for it from the Qur’an notwithstanding, considerable number of Islamic websites have claimed that photos of the Ariadaeus rille are evidence that Muhammad did indeed split the moon in two. Rilles, from a German word for “groove”, also called by the Latin word rimae, are long, narrow depressions in the lunar surface resembling channels. Here is what reporter Mohamed Ali wrote in Jafariya News:14

NEW YORK, United States: Recent scientific research has confirmed the miracle of Prophet Muhammad Al-Mostafa (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) regarding “moon splitting”. It has been proved through a picture captured by NASA which was published throughout the world. The photo from NASA using Apollo 10 and Apollo 11 shows a clear indication (a line) that the Moon was split in the past.

The Apollo 11 photograph referred to above was of the Ariadaeus Rille, which is 300 km (186.4 miles) long. Since the circumference of the moon is 10,921 km (6,786 miles), the Ariadaeus Rille comes nowhere near girdling the moon and is hardly evidence of the moon having been split in two, either by natural forces or by Muhammad. This fact has yet to dampen the enthusiasm shown by these Islamic websites any more than the report by Josephus of the total destruction of Jerusalem in CE 70 has had on Christians touring modern Jerusalem. It appears that the grip holy places, like holy relics, hold on the minds of their respective believers is not grounded in any verifiable facts.

* * *

The myths and legends surrounding holy places and holy relics become more opulent seemingly in inverse proportion to their historical validity. So, there are today ardent seekers after the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, as well as earnest pilgrims who flock to Jerusalem to visit sites associated with the Passion of Jesus or waltz into Vienna to view the Spear of Destiny. Modern purveyors of pseudohistory in quest of book sales, television ratings, or internet hits, can always add yet another layer of nacre to the pearl of legend grown up from the irritating sand of dubious history. We are, so it has been said, a story-telling species. END

About the Author

Tim Callahan is religion editor of Skeptic. His books include Secret Origins Of the Bible, and Bible Prophecy: Failure or Fulfillment? He coauthored the award winning UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens. He has also researched the environmental movement, and his article “Environmentalists Cause Malaria! (and other myths of the ‘Wise Use’ movement)” appeared in The Humanist.

  2. This story can be found in: Rolleston, T. W. (1910). Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race.
  3. Freidman, R. E. (2017). The Exodus. Harper One.
  4. Ullendorff, E. (1974). “The Queen of Sheba in Ethiopian Tradition.” In J. Pritchard (Ed), Solomon & Sheba. Phaidon Press.
  5. Raffaele, P. (2007). “Keepers of the lost Ark?” Smithsonian.
  6. Silberman, L. H. “The Queen of Sheba in Judaic Tradition.” In J. Pritchard (Ed), Solomon & Sheba. Phaidon Press.
  7. Flavius J. (circa CE 70). Wars of the Jews. Book 7, Chapter 1, item 1.
  8. Ronny, R. (1999). “Jewish Burial Customs in the First Century.” Jerusalem Perspective. and Lemaire, A. (2002). “Burial Box of James the Brother of Jesus” Biblical Archaeology Review 28:4.
  9. Mark 15:4; Matthew 27:59, 60; Luke 23:53; John 19:40.
  10. The Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall, an important site of pilgrimage and religion devotion for Jews is often described as a remnant of the Jerusalem Temple. In fact, it is part of the retaining wall of the platform and foundation upon which that temple, its courts and enclosing wall were built.
  11. Ehrman, B. D. (2014). How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (pp. 133–165) HarperCollins.
  12. Metcalf. W. E. (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage (p. 492). Oxford University Press.

This article was published on September 13, 2022.

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