Explore Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, his trial, passion, death and burial, and the disciples’ astonishment and confusion as they encounter the resurrected Jesus. Why did the Romans arrest Jesus? What happened at Gethsemane? Which route did Jesus follow to Golgotha? How did the earliest Christians interpret his passion? Where was Jesus buried? In this special section, archaeologists and Bible scholars come together to discuss what happened to Jesus—from the Last Supper to the empty tomb. Plus, learn how Jesus’ cup from the last supper became the Holy Grail.

The articles below were hand-selected by Biblical Archaeology Society editors especially for members of the BAS Library.



What Did Jesus’ Tomb Look Like?
Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2006 By Jodi Magness

According to the Gospels, Jesus died and was removed from the cross on a Friday afternoon, the eve of the Jewish Sabbath. A wealthy follower named Joseph of Arimathea requested Pontius Pilate’s permission to remove Jesus’ body from the cross and bury him before sundown, in accordance with Jewish law. Because there was no […]

Did a Rolling Stone Close Jesus’ Tomb?
Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 1999 By Amos Kloner

We should have a very good idea what Jesus’ tomb looked like, with the references in the Gospels and our knowledge of contemporaneous tombs found in and around Jerusalem. Yet until now, most of the reconstructions of this most famous of tombs have, I believe, been wrong. The most surprising of my findings is […]

The Garden Tomb: Was Jesus Buried Here?
Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1986 By Gabriel Barkay

First-time visitors to Jerusalem are often surprised to learn that two very different sites vie for recognition as the burial place of Jesus. One is, as its name implies, the Holy Sepulchre Church; it is located in a crowded area of the Christian Quarter inside the walled Old City. The other, known as the […]

What Really Happened at Gethsemane?
Bible Review, April 1998 By Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

The scene has stimulated the imagination of great painters. The light of a full moon accentuates the shadows in a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives. A lonely figure prays in anguish. Deep in careless sleep, his companions ignore his agony. The swords of the approaching soldiers appear on the […]

The Garden of Gethsemane: Not the Place of Jesus’ Arrest
Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1995 By Joan E. Taylor

When visitors to Jerusalem are shown a large cave called “Gethsemane” on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, they usually give a perfunctory look and hurry on to the famous Garden of Gethsemane, the small garden of olive trees adjacent to the Church of All Nations. Here pilgrims can sit and reflect […]

Jesus’ Triumphal March to Crucifixion
Bible Review, February 1997 By Thomas Schmidt

30 Scholars have long recognized that the Evangelists do not simply report the events of Jesus’ life. They select, arrange and modify material at their disposal to stress important themes—like the connection between Jesus and the Old Testament, the inclusion of gentiles in the kingdom and the nature of discipleship. Mark’s gospel was probably […]

Crucifixion—The Archaeological Evidence
Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 1985 By Vassilios Tzaferis

From ancient literary sources we know that tens of thousands of people were crucified in the Roman Empire. In Palestine alone, the figure ran into the thousands. Yet until 1968 not a single victim of this horrifying method of execution had been uncovered archaeologically. In that year I excavated the only victim of crucifixion […]

Does the Holy Sepulchre Church Mark the Burial of Jesus?
Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1986 By Dan Bahat

Since 1960, the Armenian, the Greek and the Latin religious communities that are responsible for the care of the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem have been engaged in a joint restoration project of one of the most fascinating and complex buildings in the world. In connection with the restoration, they have undertaken extensive archaeological […]

Emmaus: Where Christ Appeared
Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2008 By Hershel Shanks

AT DAWN THE TOMB OF JESUS WAS FOUND EMPTY. Later that very day two of the disciples, Cleopas and another unnamed, were walking on the road to Emmaus when Jesus appeared to them, but they did not recognize him. As they drew near Emmaus, Jesus went to go on, but they pressed him […]

Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Seder?
Bible Review, October 2001 By Jonathan Klawans

Many people assume that Jesus’ Last Supper was a Seder, a ritual meal held in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover. And indeed, according to the Gospel of Mark 14:12, Jesus prepared for the Last Supper on the “first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb.” If Jesus and his […]

The Eucharist—Exploring Its Origins
Bible Review, December 1994 By Bruce Chilton

What Jesus was doing at the Last Supper has not been understood for the better part of 2,000 years. The reason for the misunderstanding is that Jesus, a Jewish teacher who was concerned with the sacrificial worship of Israel, has been treated as if he were the deity in a Hellenistic cult. A generation […]

The Geography of Faith
Bible Review, December 1996 By Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

The Latin words Via Dolorosa mean the “Sorrowful Way.” They were first used by the Franciscan Boniface of Ragusa in the second half of the 16th century as the name of the devotional walk through the streets of Jerusalem that retraced the route followed by Jesus as he carried his cross to Golgotha. It […]

To Be Continued…
Bible Review, August 2001 By Michael W. Holmes

Francis Ford Coppola filmed two endings for Apocalypse Now, and John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman offers a choice of endings. But nothing quite matches the last chapter of the Gospel of Mark for variety. At least nine versions of the ending of Mark can be found among the 1,700 surviving ancient Greek […]

From Symbol to Relic
Bible Review, August 2004 By Eric Wargo

Throughout the long history of Christianity, the Holy Grail has served primarily as a symbol. As Ben Witherington III notes in the preceding article, no early Christian writings indicate that the cup used at the Last Supper survived or was preserved as a relic. Jesus’ first followers regarded the cup as a symbol […]


Scholars’ Corner: New Analysis of the Crucified Man
Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1985 By Hershel Shanks

In our January/February 1985 issue, we published an article about the only remains of a crucified man to be recovered from antiquity (“Crucifixion—The Archaeological Evidence,” BAR 11:01). Vassilios Tzaferis, the author of the article and the excavator of the crucified man, based much of his analysis of the victim’s position on the cross and […]

The Resurrection of Resurrection
Bible Review, August 2000 By N. T. Wright

Jews believed in resurrection, Greeks believed in immortality. So I was taught many years ago. But like so many generalizations, this one isn’t even half true. There was a spectrum of beliefs about the afterlife in first-century Judaism, just as there was in the Greco-Roman world. The differences between these two sets of views […]

Thinking About Easter
Bible Review, April 1994 By Marcus J. Borg

When I lecture about the historical Jesus, I am always asked. “What about Easter?” The question implies two other questions. The first is “What happened?” How bodily or physical was Easter? Did something happen to the corpse of Jesus? Was the tomb empty? The second question is “How are we to understand the Easter […]

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