BAR 12:02, Mar/Apr 1986
The Garden Tomb and the Misfortunes of an Inscription
On November 7, 1889, the Northern Christian Advocate (Syracuse, New York) published a note from an anonymous correspondent in Jerusalem: There are strange rumors afloat about an inscription found at St. Stephens [St. Étiennes monastery] (north of Damascus Gate). It is said that the Romanists are anxious to hush up the discovery, as it would damage the credit of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Its contents are to the following effect: I, Eusebius, have desired to be buried in this spot, which I believe to be close to the place where the body of my Lord lay.
Those who believed the Garden Tomb to be the burial place of Jesus were overjoyed. Here was unambiguous evidence that General Charles George Gordon had been correct, because St. Étiennes monastery lay immediately to the north of the Garden Tomb, the tomb Gordon had identified in 1883 as the burial site of Jesus. Protestants, who had never been permitted to worship in the Holy Sepulchre, scented victory. The pious fraud of the traditional sitethe Church of the Holy Sepulchrewas on the verge of being exposed. Only this climate of thought explains why secondhand and highly dubious information printed in an obscure American newspaper should have been reproduced by the prestigious British-based Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) for the benefit of English readers.1 The PEF went further and commissioned Conrad Schick, a German architect living in Jerusalem, to look into the facts.