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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

21 September 2005


Q: Golgotha — could you please tell me what it is and its meaning or importance?

A: Golgotha is the hill, also known as Calvary, upon which Christ was crucified. It is mentioned in Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, and John 19:17. An Aramaic word, it was translated to kranion in Greek, rendered calvaria in the Latin Bible, and came to English as “Calvary.” Kranion and Golgotha both mean “skull.”

Three possible reasons for the name have been offered: 1) Skulls were found there; 2) It was a place of execution; or 3) The site in some way resembled a skull. We know from Scripture that it was outside Jerusalem, fairly conspicuous, probably not far from a city gate and a highway, and that a garden containing a tomb was nearby.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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