How far did Jesus go to Golgotha?

Almost the ordealThe course of the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem

Since the way led to his crucifixion, the street is now designed as a way of the cross with various stations. But a lot has changed in the past 2,000 years.

Good Friday. Old City Jerusalem. Christians from all over the world have come to follow Jesus' path of suffering singing and praying. Some have crosses on their shoulders. What many of those who sing and pray here do not know:

"In Jerusalem we are not in the area where Jesus lived or where he walked," says Professor Dieter Vieweger, Protestant theologian and archaeologist. "Where Jesus may have walked, you are exactly 14 meters below today's area, so every tourist who now thinks, oh, I am now walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, just has to know that he will absolutely slip over there. "

Dieter Vieweger should know, as the director of the German Evangelical Institute for Classical Studies of the Holy Land in Jerusalem and Amman is professionally involved with the subject.

One of his numerous workplaces is right in the heart of Jerusalem's old town: the Protestant Church of the Redeemer, just a stone's throw away from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the last stop on the Via Dolorosa.
The way there leads him from the Damascus Gate through the narrow, winding streets of the Arab old town. Small market stalls with exotic spices line the path to the left and right. The dealers sell colorful fabrics, pots and sweets.

"These are the real miracles of Jerusalem: These are the confectionery shops. Everything is open there. Everyone chokes around with their hands in there. You also buy from it. But there are no known epidemics worth mentioning that now involve all of this The real wonders of Jerusalem are a bit hidden. "

It goes through archways, over steps, along thick walls. Chapels, churches and crosses mark the individual stations of the Via Dolorosa.

"This is the eighth station."

Dieter Vieweger points to a cross on a thick wall that belongs to a Greek Orthodox monastery.

"Around the corner is the ninth, and you go to the 14th station, that is, into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, you walk along the Way of the Cross that you have in every Catholic church. The historical route that you take today goes, the Via Dolorosa, is by no means, in no way the one that Jesus could have walked. "

The secret of the real Way of the Cross can be found in the Protestant Church of the Redeemer and is closely related to the German Emperor Wilhelm II. He had an area next to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher given by the Ottoman Empire responsible at the time.

"The church was consecrated in 1898 by the German Emperor Wilhelm II, who actually came here to do that, it was the highlight of his trip to the Orient, which he did not as the very first ruler, but for a large part as Pilgrim."

An unexpected find occurred during the excavation and construction work on the church:

"In 1893 the huge sensation happened here, because under us, exactly where we stand, a thick wall was found. And that was the problem at that time: in 1893 there was heated and heated discussion about whether the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was in the right place."

The Protestant Christians assumed that the grave was in front of the city in a garden, the Catholics swore on the rock under the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Everyone was satisfied with the result of the excavation: the Catholics were right and the Evangelicals had found out.

"Conrad Schick, the architect, of course immediately said, aha, then we will have found the city wall that we are always looking for, from the time of Herod the Great."

Unfortunately, that was wrong, as excavations under the church from the 1970s have shown. The wall is from more recent times. But the quarry on which the wall stands dates from the time of Herod. This in turn means that the neighboring Church of the Holy Sepulcher stands in the right place above the rock of Golgotha. The only question is what kind of wall that is. The archaeologists also found that out: The wall was built by Emperor Hadrian, who expanded Jerusalem around 100 years after Herod.

This is impressively demonstrated by a newly created archeology course in the cellar under the Church of the Redeemer. Professor Dieter Vieweger had the old excavation uncovered so that it is now accessible to visitors. A computer animation demonstrates the development of the city and that the Hadrianic city with its walls and gates essentially corresponds to today's modern city.

"And now I'm going to show you how the Via Dolorosa is going today and we have a problem: This is the Via Dolorosa."

Which the pilgrims use today, that is, from northeast to southwest.

"And they mean that Jesus came here, came here and was then executed here. That cannot be because this poor Jesus walked through the city wall three times."

If, on the other hand, you do not read the biblical accounts in the city that you have today, but if you transfer the biblical accounts to the city that existed then, the Via Dolorosa runs differently:

"Jesus was captured somewhere on the Mount of Olives. He will then be led into the city, that cannot be in the north, because there was no city, it must be in the south, he must be led into the city in the south. He is coming then to the house of the high priest, that was somewhere in this upper town, but we don't know where, but somewhere here. What we know exactly that he then had to go to Pontius Pilate. And his palace is here, where the police station is today, and the rear part is the Armenian quarter. That has been excavated and has been proven. And there is only one north gate, so the first constraint point is Herod the Great's palace, the second is the north gate, the third constraint point is Golgotha, so it is completely clear that the Via Dolorosa ran from south to north and by no means from northeast to southwest. One thing is clear, Golgotha ​​is in the right place, one of the very few places in Jerusalem that is shown in the right historical place archeology is useful that you can say, folks, it looked different, it was a different place. "

The false way of the cross does no harm to piety. But for those who want to know more, a detour to the cellar of the Erlöserkirche is worthwhile.