a word occurring in the Auth. Vers. only in Lu 23:33, and there not as a proper name, but arising from the translators having literally adopted the word czlvaria, i.e. a bare skull, the Latin word by which the κρανίον of the evangelists is rendered in the Vulgate, κρανίον, again, being nothing but the Greek interpretation of the Hebrew GOLGOTHA SEE GOLGOTHA (q.v.).
1. Import of the Name. — Many have held that Golgotha was the place of public execution, the Tyburn of Jerusalem, and that hence it was termed the "place of a skull." Another opinion is that the place took its name from its shape, being a hillock of a form like a human skull. It is true, there is no express mention of a mount in either of the narratives. SEE CRUCIFIXION. That the place, however, was of some such shape seems to be generally agreed, and the traditional term mount, applied to Calvary, appears to confirm this idea. Such a shape, too, it must be allowed, is in entire agreement with the name, that is, "skull." To these considerations there are added certain difficulties which arise from the other explanation. So far as we know, there is no historical evidence to show that there was a place of public execution where Golgotha is commonly fixed, nor that any such place, in or near Jerusalem, bore the name Golgotha. Nor is the term Golgotha descriptive of such a place; to make it so, to any extent, the name should have been "skulls," or "the place of skulls." Equally unapt is the manner in which the writers of the Gospel speak of the place: Matthew calls it "a place called Golgotha; that is to say, a place of a skull;" Mark, "the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, the place of a skull;" Luke, "the place which is called Calvary;" John, "a place called of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha." In truth, the context seems to show that the Roman guard hurried Jesus away and put him to death at the first convenient spot; and that the rather because there was no small fear of a popular insurrection, especially as he was attended by a crowd of people. This place, we may suppose, was not far from the judgment-hall, which was doubtless either near Fort Antonia or in the former palace of Herod. SEE PRAETORIUM. In either case, the crucifixion would most naturally have occurred at the north-west of the city. Somewhere in the north, it is clear, they would execute him, as thus they would most easily effect their object. But if they chose the north, then the road to Joppa or Damascus would be most convenient, and no spot in the vicinity would probably be so suitable as the slight rounded elevation which bore the name of Calvary. That some hillock would be preferred it is easy to see, as thus the exposure of the criminal and the alleged cause of his crucifixion would be most effectually secured. Dr. Barclay is at great pains to show (City of the Great King, p. 78 sq.) that the vicinity of the garden of Gethsemane is the more probable location of Calvary, but his arguments are made up of a series of the most uncritical conjectures. Indeed, the very fact that of the arbitrary positions assigned by all those who (chiefly from an ultra Protestant prejudice apparently) reject the traditionary site, no two agree, while all are alike destitute of any historical basis, is an important evidence in favor of the current identification. SEE JERUSALEM.
2. Scriptural Notices of the Locality. — The account in the evangelists touching the place of the crucifixion and burial of our Lord is as follows: Having been delivered by Pilate to be crucified, Jesus was led away, followed by a great company of people and women, who bewailed his fate. On the way the soldiers met one Simeon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, who was compelled to bear Jesus's cross. When they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified him. This place was nigh to the city; and, sitting down, they watched him there. They that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads and scoffing. Likewise also the chief priests mocked him, with the scribes and elders, and the people stood beholding. The soldiers, too, mocked him. There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, and Mary Magdalene; and all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things. In the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher hewn out in the rock; there laid they Jesus, and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews adds that Jesus suffered without the gate, subjoining, "Let us therefore go forth to him without the camp (or the city), bearing his reproach" (Heb 13:11,13). We thus learn that the crucifixion and burial took place out of the city, and yet nigh to the city, apparently at the north-west, and probably just on the outer side of the second wall. It is also clear that the place was one around which many persons could assemble, near which wayfarers were passing, and the sufferers in which could be seen or addressed by persons who were both near and remote; all which concurs in showing that the spot was one of some elevation, and equally proves that "this thing was not done in a corner," but at a place and under circumstances likely to make Calvary well known and well remembered alike by the foes and the friends of our Lord.
3. Line of Tradition respecting the Spot. — Was it likely that this recollection would perish? Surely, of all spots, Calvary would become the most sacred, the most endearing in the primitive Church. Nor did the Jew, with his warm gushing affections, feel on such a point less vividly than his fellow-men. "The tombs of the prophets," "the sepulcher of David," were we read (Mt 23:29; Ac 2:29), reverentially regarded and religiously preserved from age to age. That of "David's Lord" would assuredly not be neglected. It was a season of public religious festivity when our Lord suffered. Jerusalem was then crowded with visitors from foreign parts. Such, too, was the fact at the time of the effusion of the Holy Spirit. These pilgrims, however, soon returned home, and wherever they went many carried with them the news of the crucifixion of Jesus, and told of the place where he had been executed. Perhaps no one spot on earth had ever so many to remember it and know its precise locality as the place where Jesus died and rose again. First in Jerusalem, and soon in all parts of the earth, were there hearts that held the recollection among their most valued treasures. Accordingly, we learn from the passage in Hebrews that, far on in the first century, the tradition was preserved in so living a form as to be made the subject of a figurative illustration of Christian doctrine. The memory of distinguished places is among the least perishable of earthly- things. Fathers would convey their knowledge and their impressions to sons; one generation and one Church to another. The passage in the Hebrews would tend to keep alive the recollection. Moreover, it was the fate of Jerusalem, after its capture by the Romans, to become a heathen city; even its name was changed into Colonia AElia Capitolina. In the excess of their triumphant joy, the conquerors made Jupiter its patron god, and erected statues of Jupiter and Venus on the place where Jesus had been crucified (Solomon, 11:1). This was done perhaps not so much to insult as to conciliate. New-comers in religion have always availed themselves of established feelings, and therefore erected their sacred edifices on places already consecrated in the minds of the people. The mere fact of a temple to Venus standing on Calvary suffices to show that Calvary was the place where Jesus suffered. The temple thus takes up the tradition, and transmits it in stone and marble to coming ages. This continuation of the tradition is the more important, because it begins to operate at a time when the Christians were driven from Jerusalem. but the absence of the Christians from the Holy City was not of long duration, and even early in the third century we find pilgrimages from distant places to the Holy Land had already begun for the express purpose of viewing the spots which the presence and sufferings of the Savior had rendered sacred and memorable (Hist. zierosol. p. 591; Euseb. Hist. Fccies. 6:11). A century later, Eusebius (A.D. 315) informs us that Christians visited Jerusalem from all regions of the earth for the same object. Early in the fourth century, Eusebius and Jerome write down the tradition and fix the locality of Calvary in their writings. Eusetius was born at Caesarea in Palestine about A.D. 270. In 315 he became a bishop in his native country, and died in 340. He was a learned man, and wrote a history of the Christian Church. About 330 he composed his Onomasticon, which was expressly devoted 'to the business of determining and recording the sites of holy and other places in Palestine. This work of Eusebius, written in Greek, Jerome afterward translated into Latin, and thus added his authority to that of Eusebius. Jerome took up his residence in the Holy Land in the latter part of the fourth century, and remained there till his death. (For an estimate of the value of these geographical authorities, see Reland, Palcest. p. 467 sq.) Pilgrims now streamed to Jerusalem from all parts of the world, and that site was fixed for Golgotha which has remained to the present hour.
4. Erection of the "Church of the Holy Sepulchre" over the Site. — The acts of the Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena gave a permanent and public expression to this tradition. This empress, when very far advanced in life, visited Jerusalem for the express purpose of erecting a church on the spot where the Lord Jesus had been crucified. The preceding details show that the preservation of the memory of the locality was any thing but impossible. Helena would naturally be solicitous to discover the true spot, whence ensues the likelihood that she was not mistaken. She had previously heard that the holy places had been heaped up and concealed by the heathen, and resolved to attempt to bring them to light, εἰς φῶς ἀγαγεῖν (Theoph. in Chron. p. 18). "On her arrival at Jerusalem, she inquired diligently of the inhabitants. Yet the search was uncertain and difficult, in consequence of the obstructions by which the heathen had sought to render the spot unknown. These being all removed, the sacred sepulcher was discovered, and by its side three crosses, with the tablet bearing the inscription written by Pilate" (Robinson, Bibl. Res. 2:14; Theodoret, 1:17). This account of her proceedings, taken from one who labors to bring into discredit the whole of Helena's proceedings, and who is far too indiscriminate and sweeping in his hostility to the primitive traditions of the Church, shows sufficiently that Helena was cautious in her proceedings; that there did exist a tradition on the subject; that by that tradition the empress was guided; and that she found reason to fix the site of Calvary on the spot where the heathen had erected their temple and set up their profane rites. That no small portion of the marvelous, not to say legendary and incredible, is mixed up in the accounts which the ecclesiastical historians have given, we by no means deny; but we see no reason whatever, and we think such a course very unphilosophical, to throw doubt unsparingly over the whole, as (by no means in the best taste) does Dr. Robinson. However, on the site thus ascertained, was erected, whether by Constantine or Helena, certainly by Roman influence and treasure, a splendid and extensive Christian temple. Socrates (Ecclesiastes Hist. 1:17) says, 'The emperor's mother erected over the place where the sepulcher was a most magnificent church, and called it New Jerusalem, building it opposite to that old deserted Jerusalem" (comp. Eusebo Vit. Const. in, 33). This church was completed and dedicated A.D. 335. It was a great occasion for the Christian world. In order to give it importance and add to its splendor, a council of bishops was convened, by order of the emperor, from all the provinces of the empire, which assembled first at Tyre and then at Jerusalem. Among them was Eusebius, who took part in the solemnities, and held several public discourses in the Holy City (Euseb. Vit. Const.; Robinson, 2:13). The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was burnt by the Persians in A.D. 614. It was shortly after rebuilt by Modestus with resources supplied by John Eleemor, patriarch of Alexandria. The basilica or martyrion erected under Constantine remained as before. The Mohammedans next became masters of Jerusalem. At length Harfin er- Rashid made over to Charlemagne the jurisdiction of the holy sepulcher. Palestine again became the scene of battles and bloodshed. Muez, of the race of the Fatimites, transferred the seat of his empire to Cairo when Jerusalem fell into the hands of new masters, and the holy sepulcher is said to have been again set on fire. It was fully destroyed at the command of the third of the Fatimite caliphs in Egypt, the building being razed to the foundations. In the reign of his successor it was rebuilt, being completed A.D. 1048; but instead of the former magnificent basilica over the place of Golgotha, a small chapel only now graced the spot. The Crusades soon began. The Crusaders regarded the edifices connected with the sepulcher as too contracted, and erected a stately temple, the walls and general form of which are admitted to remain to the present day (Robinson, 2:61). So recently, however, as A.D. 1808, the church of the holy sepulcher was partly consumed by fire; but, being rebuilt by the Greeks; it now offers no traces of its: recent desolation.
5. Objections to the Identification. The sole evidence of any weight in the opposite balance is that urged by lobinson, that the place of the crucifixion and the sepulcher are now found in the midst of the modern city. But, to render this argument decisive, it should be proved that the city, occupies now the same ground that it occupied in the days of Christ. It is, at least, as likely that the city should have undergone changes as that the site of the crucifixion should have been mistaken. The identity of such a spot is more likely to be preserved than the size and relative proportions of a city which has undergone more violent changes than probably any other place on earth. The present walls of Jerusalem were erected so late as A.D. 1542; and Robinson himself remarks that a part of Zion is now left out (p. 67). If, then, the city has been contracted on the south, and if, also, it was after the death of Christ expanded on the north, what should we expect but to find Golgotha in the midst of the modern city?
Jerusalem, in the days of Christ, had two walls, termed the "first" and the "second." It is with the second wall that we are here chiefly concerned. It began at a tower, named Gennath, of the first wall, curved outward to the north, and ended at the castle of Antonia. The third wall embraced a wide suburb on the north and north-west. This comprehended a sort of new city, and was built in consequence of the large population which by degrees fixed their abode in the space which falls between the second and third walls. This wall was begun under Claudius, at least forty-one years after Christ (Josephus, War, 5:4, 2; comp. Tacit. Hist. 5:12). This third wall, then, did not exist in the time of our Lord; and Robinson allows that if the present site of the sepulcher fell without the second wall, all the conditions of the general question would be satisfied. Many travelers and antiquarians have decided that this was the case, while others, more numerous perhaps, but not better qualified to judge, have come to the opposite conclusion. SEE JERUSALEM (Topography). (It is worthy of remark that Dr. Kiepert, of Berlin, the most experienced cartographer probably, especially on this and kindred subjects, has vacillated on this point in the maps of his own construction, some of them including and others excluding the contested site along the course of the wall in question.) The whole question turns upon the position of the gate Gennath: if this was at the extreme northwest angle of Zion, then the second wall, in order to be at all "circling" (κυκλούμενον), could not well have excluded the site in question; but if, as is more probable, it was some distance east of the tower Hippicus (for while Josephus, ut sup., expressly begins the first and third walls from this tower, he begins the second from this gate, situated along the northern part of the first wall), then the second wall could hardly have bent sufficiently to the west to include it. SEE GENNATH. The city bulred out on the north, as it contracted on the south, thus bringing Golgotha into its central parts. Robinson, however, asserts that the second wall must either have excluded the Pool of Hezekiah, which (as he thinks) was in the city, or included the site of the sepulcher, which was out of the city. This alternative, however, although by no means a fatal objection, is not absolutely necessary, as may be seen on reference to various plans of the city that have been constructed, in which the second wall leaves both where the Scriptures place them. SEE HEZEKIAH'S POOL. But the distance from the western point of the Temple to the present site of the sepulcher Robinson considers insufficient, it being only about a quarter of a mile. We know not that there is any thing in scriptural account which gives support to this notion. A distance of a quarter of a mile appears quite enough for the recorded events, to say nothing of the essential weakness of such a position; for how can Robinson know that his measures extended along the same ground as our Lord was hurried over? But reason has already, been given why the Jews should have taken no very protracted course.
Two or three additional facts in confirmation of the identity of the present place may finally be adduced. Buckingham (Palest. p. 283) says, "The present rock called Calvary, and enclosed within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, bears marks in every part that is naked of its having been a round nodule of rock standing above the common level of the surface." Scholz (De Golgotha situ, p. 9) states that he traced the remains of a wall, which ran as the second wall on the plan runs, excluding Golgotha, and taking in the Pool of Hezekiah (Raumer, p. 352). It may also be remarked that, since the publication of Robinson's work, Raumer has put forth a piece (Beitrige zur Bib. Geog. 1843), in which he revises his Pa;istisca so far as Rolinson's ascertained results render necessary; but lie remains of the same opinion in regard to the possibility of the present Church of the Sepulchre being out of the city. At most, a very few hundred yards only can the original Golgotha have lain from the present site, and the evidence in favor of its identity, if not decisive, is far stronger than any that has been adduced against it. At the best, then, very small is the reason for disturbing the convictions and distressing the hearts of the sincere believers who visit the Holy Sepulchre in order to give vent to their tearful gratitude and cherish their pious faith. A similar conclusion is warmly contended for by Dr. Olin (Travels in the East, 2:276 sq.), and still more at length by Mr. Williams (Holy, City, vol. 2, ch. 1 and 2). It is also ably examined and maintained by Thrupp (Ancient Jerusalem, Lond. 1855). It has, however, been either stoutly denied or lightly sneered at by many other writers, who may be styled as belonging to the modern and traditionary school. At the head of these is Dr. Robinson, who takes every occasion to impugn the authenticity of scriptural localities in general, 'as now pointed out. SEE GOLGOTHA; SEE SEPULCHRE OF CHRIST.