You might be surprised to find, that there was no place called Calvary in ancient Jerusalem. You can search all over and you will not find it. You will not find it in any of the gospel passages, describing how Jesus was executed. Mark, Matthew and John all mention Golgotha – a word which according to them translates as “the place of the skull”. Luke also mentions the “skull place” too without using the original Semitic name. The gospels say that Golgotha is a Hebrew word, though no one is certain if it was Hebrew, Aramaic or some mixture of the two.

Golgotha was a real place situated somewhere outside the walls of the 1st century Jerusalem, not far from the garden with tombs of Jerusalem’s elite. But the name Calvary, comes from the Latin word calvaria which translates as “skull”. The term was not in use in Jesus’s day and no one called the place where Christ died Calvary then. Only when Jerome created the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible (late 4th century) the word came into gradual Christian use. Today people joyfully sing songs about Calvary but is not even a biblical word. The 1st century inhabitants of Jerusalem and the gospel writers themselves have never heard of a place called Calvary, they however, knew Golgotha.

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  1. Thank you for the explanation! There are quite a few old songs & hymns that church groups still sing ,with words that we are clueless as to what they mean.When I was growing up, occasionally a song leader would define old words or even tell the story behind why the author wrote the song or what inspired that author to write the song. I am finding out that some of those definitions were not always correct! For example:1 Samuel 7:12 Samuel takes a great stone & raises it. He called it Ebenezer or stone of help. The hymn was O Thou Fount of Every Blessing ,"Here I raise my Ebenezer" ,a teacher, sincerely stated that it was a pen that the author Robert Robinson1758, was referring to as he wrote the song. I have also read that if we are singing songs that we are clueless as to the meaning of the words, that it would be considered vain worship.Is that true? I only know of Ephesians 5:18-20 we are to be filled with the Spirit, sing and make music from the heart plus admonish one another. This is also used to state that only a cappella singing was used in the 1st century assemblies to accomplish this. The early church met various places during persecution so they could sing anywhere, anytime without use of instruments.
    • I have been puzzled by the words of some old hymns myself a few times, LOL, mainly by the theology they express. And then I remember they were written by people who simply loved to sing to God and whatever they felt they wrote and put to music regardless of their theological education. But then the hymns become teaching tools. That is problematic.
  2. interesting but kinda of a nit pic Its like Saying There was no Jesus back then only Yeshua.. same person different languages
    • Yep, I am getting technical, and picky... I just want people to see how many modern ideas we insert into the Bibel and then read it as if they were there all along. It transforms the Bible into our words, not God's
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  3. I’m not sure why you are adamant that there was no place called “Calvary” in ancient Jerusalem. No, not in Jerusalem itself; it was outside the city wall. Luke used “Calvary” (Greek) instead of “Golgotha” (Aramaic) because he was probably Greek (Gentile) and wrote his gospel for the Greek mindset.
    • I am not adamant, It's really a very small point to cause people to think about the Gospels as Jewish stories. Calvary is not Greek, it's Latin (not in the original texts), not part of the disciple's vernacular.

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  4. I got it that there was no place called "Calvary" in the 1st Century A.D., crystal clear but that raises dust on the very existence of the New Testament character named "JESUS". Distinguished professor, is JESUS of the four gospels a historical figure?
    • Yes, quite historical. People may not believe his claims, they may reject his teaching, they may doubt his resurrection and question his power, but at the very minimum, most secular scholars of history agree that such person, lived, died, and changed the world.
    • No, nothing of a sort, no real bones. It must have been an elevation that reminded people of the top of someone's head, a hill shaped is that way perhaps.
  5. Isn't Golgotha so called because where Yeshua was crucified was over the skull of Adam. The N.T. refers to the earthquake that occurred at the time, creating a large crack in the ground enabling the blood of Messiah to trickle down and touch the ancient skull of Adam.

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