The Ladder, the Sepulchre, and the Status Quo

Jason Scott


Each day, thousands of tourists and pilgrims pass through the doorway of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, alleged site of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, oblivious to the inconspicuous wooden ladder that rests, as it has for at least 150 years, just above their heads. Most scholars regard it as a curiosity, a small testament to a long-running dispute between the various sects occupying the church. This paper argues that the ladder represents something more: a powerful symbol of the absurdity of the status quo, the edict that has dominated the landscape of the Holy Land for centuries. The architectural, religious, and political history and significance of the church, the status quo, and the ladder are discussed using the writings, images, and studies of various experts in a multitude of fields. This research explains the pattern of spolia usage throughout the history of the church, the attribution of sacred properties to these materials, how this all led to the status quo, and why the situation could ultimately lead to the destruction of one of Christendom’s holiest places. It also sheds light on the mystery of the ladder, its origins, and how it ultimately personifies the status quo.


Sepulchre; Ladder; Jerusalem

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