Tag Archives: Holy Sepulcher

Church of Holy Sepulcher — The Syrians and the “Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea”

While visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, I had a chance to observe portions of a Syrian Jacobite Service in the “cavern-like” chapel just to the west of the Tomb of Jesus.

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Syrian Jacobite service near the “Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.”

Most Christian groups visiting Jerusalem will visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem.  A few of them will visit the small cavern-like chapel that is located west of the Tomb of Jesus.  If they do, the following is what they see and many will pronounce it “uglee.”


Syrian Chapel — without a service!  Contrast the image above when it is prepared for the worship service of the Syrian Jacobites!

On the left is the wooden altar—where the priest above was serving—and in the lower right portion of the image is the low entrance into the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (see following).


View of two of the niches (kokhim) of a first century A.D. tomb, into which bodies were placed. The entrances were then sealed.

This tomb is entered via the Syrian Chapel and is sometimes called the “Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.” The tradition is that Joseph of Arimathea was buried here, after he had given his original tomb for Jesus to be buried in (see, for example, John 19:38-42). For an additional example of a typical tomb from the first century A.D. – from the Mt. of Olives – click here.

I believe that “technically” this area is under the authority of the Armenians, but they permit the Syrian Orthodox to worship here.

Church of Holy Sepulchre — Animated in 3D!


Pilgrims at the traditional site of Calvary
inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Click on Image to Enlarge

Wayne Stiles has drawn our attention to a great 14 minute computer animated video of the history of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher/Resurrection entitled “Holy Sepulchre 3D Journey back in time.”   This video is very well done and traces the history of the building and the site on which it rests from the present day back to the days of Jesus—first century A.D.

Many of the items in the video helped clarify things that I had known but was now able to visualize.  I was particularly fascinated to see representations of the church including the tombs of the Crusader Kings that were removed after the fire of 1808.

This video is without verbal explanation but is clearly labeled.  I found myself pausing it very frequently to take in the data that is wonderfully presented on the screen.

Wayne Stiles posts very informative/useful blog entries three times a week.

To view 78! High Resolution images of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and commentary Click Here.