God and Grammar at the Chicago Tribune

In her April 24 post at The Seeker blog, Chicago Tribune's Manya Brachear asked readers how they would keep the peace between Armenian and Greek Orthodox priests that maintain the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Brachear also noted the concern at least one reader of the Tribune expressed as to the grammatically, historically, and theologically sloppy way in which the print edition rendered a caption describing the church (emphasis mine):

Revered by most Christians as the site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the sanctuary was built over the place where Jesus is said to have been buried.

It’s the latter description of the church that sparked a newsroom debate this week. Reader Marcia Smith Marzec of Joliet pointed out that a caption in the Tribune’s April 21 edition described the church as "built over the site in Jerusalem where Jesus is said to be buried."

"Even non-believers know that for Christians, Christ rose from the dead, and therefore is not ‘buried’ anywhere," Marzec wrote.

After surveying the staff for solutions, our public editor, Tim McNulty, ruled that the caption could have been more accurate. "Without getting all Sister Bernadette on you, I think it is wrong," he said. "What’s needed here is the ‘perfect infinitive’ that shows an action prior to the verb."

McNulty argued for "where Jesus is said to have been buried." Simply replacing the word "is" with "was" wouldn’t work because people are still saying that Jesus was buried there, "even as we all know that the place is empty now."

Religion Christianity Chicago Tribune Online Media Blogs Tim McNulty Manya Brachear