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Eusebius on the Discovery of the Holy Sepulchre

September 19, 2014

Will Oswald writes:

imageThe Church of the Holy Sepulchre constructed 327-330 AD. Eusebius provides a description of what was seen when excavation of the tomb was complete and those individuals present saw. It sounds like a human figure like the Shroud of Turin has.

In his book, The Life of Constantine Book 3 Chapter 28, Eusebius wrote about the discovery of the Holy Sepulchre:

This also was accomplished without delay. But as soon as the original surface of the ground, beneath the covering of earth, appeared, immediately, and contrary to all expectation, the venerable and hollowed monument of our Saviour’s resurrection was discovered. Then indeed did this most holy cave present a faithful similitude of his return to life, in that, after lying buried in darkness, it again emerged to light, and afforded to all who came to witness the sight, a clear and visible proof of the wonders of which that spot had once been the scene, a testimony to the resurrection of the Saviour clearer than any voice could give.

Follow the link here Eusebius of Caesarea

and then find “Most Holy Sepulchre” in the text or scroll down roughly 3/5 of the way.

In a follow up email, Will adds:

Also, when I looked at pictures inside the Edicule there appears to marble on top of the bench where Christ’s body must have been laid.

I wonder if the marble was lifted up we could see a blood stain that matches the blood stain on the shroud. I doubt anyone would lift the marble to check…but someday I believe it should be done since it would not permanently damage anything.

  1. September 19, 2014 at 7:55 am

    “It sounds like a human figure like the Shroud of Turin has.” I don’t follow this. The meaning of the passage seems to be that just as Jesus had been in darkness and then returned to light, so the sepulchre had been in darkness and was now exposed to light. There is no suggestion of any actual ‘human figure.’

    And yes, vast areas of the sepulchre and its surrounds are covered in marble. The chances that the ‘bench’ underneath is still covered in blood are, I think, rather slim.

  2. daveb of wellington nz
    September 19, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks, Dan for the link to the Eusebius translated text. I found it a fascinating document and scanned quickly through most of the 75 individual chapters.
    Eusebius has his critics; some say he was undiscriminating and uncritical in the choice of some of his sources. He is said to have been a little iconoclast in his consideration of images. I have heard of no traditions saying that the burial cloths were ever left in the tomb. On the contrary, there are a few traditions that others had them, including Peter, St Luke and PIlate’s wife. If they were ever taken, it would seem unlikely they were ever returned to the tomb. On the other hand, given Eusebius’ reputation against imagery, would he have been likely to have specifically mentioned the images if the cloths had been there?

    Interestingly, it is Eusebius, who in his Ecclesiastical History, mentions his discovery of the Doctrine of Addai with its reference to Abgar V Ukkama in the archives of Edessa, but again he does not mention any reference to the portrait mentioned in later versions.

    On the other hand, he does specifically describe the details of Constantine’s battle standard in his ‘Life of Constantine’.

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