At What Hour, And On What Day, Was Jesus Crucified? – Part II

August 15, 2009

A Bible-Related Commentary

Dalii Crucifixion - Wide

Good Friday

The gospel evidence overwhelmingly points to Jesus being crucified on “Good Friday” of Passover week. All four gospel writers report that it was the day of Preparation that Jesus underwent his trial before Pilate and was subsequently executed on. This day of “preparation,” or paraskeuē (παρασκευή) in New Testament Greek, refers to “Friday,” the day Jews set aside to prepare for their holiest day of the week, the Sabbath, or “Saturday”:

And when evening had already come, because it was the preparation day [paraskeuē], that is, the day before the Sabbath.” (Mark 15:42 RSV) 

Two important items of information need to be stressed at this point: first, every Friday is the “day of Preparation” because every Saturday is the Jewish day of Sabbath; and second, Mark is technically incorrect when he says, “when evening had already come …”. This cannot be literally true; for if evening had already come, Mark would be indicating that Saturday, or the “Sabbath” had already begun when it is clear this is not the case. He was, of course, referring to the period of time between Jesus’ death at around 3 o’ clock in the afternoon (“the ninth hour”) and sunset as the text that follows, “it was the the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath” (προσάββατον) points to it still being Friday.

Or is it just possible that Mark is actually referring to Thursday here?

 

A Possible Thursday Crucifixion – Revisited

I previously dismissed as nonsensical the belief that Jesus was actually crucified on Thursday of Holy Week. But perhaps I was a bit too hasty in doing so. For as previously indicated, when one is dealing with the bible, every thing is not nearly as cut-and-dried as one would imagine.

For example, it is clear from the gospel record that Jesus died during a week in which the Jewish feast of Passover was being observed. All four evangelists attest to this in unison. The testimony of Luke, Chapter 22 (along with Mark 14:12-16) even points to Jesus’ “Last Supper” being the traditional Passover Seder meal:

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go prepare the passover for us, that we may eat it …and they prepared the passover … and when when the hour came, he [Jesus] sat at table, and the apostles with him.” (Luke 22:7-14; RSV)

The-Last-Supper-Poster

But here’s the “rub”: The fourth gospel gives us every reason to believe that Jesus did not live long enough to eat the Passover Seder meal; that he was crucified the very day and at the very hour the paschal lambs that were to form part of the Seder meal were being slaughtered, or “sacrificed”.

Passover is celebrated on the 15th day of the Jewish month, Nisan. It so happens that Passover fell on a Friday the week of Jesus’ death. So when John reports that:

“They [the Jewish Authorities] led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium [to undergo trial before Pilate], and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium in order that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover [Seder meal]”. (John 18:28)

he was effectively revealing it was Thursday (14 Nisan) of Holy Weeksunset that evening (the onset of Friday, 15 Nisan) being analogous to the stroke of midnight Christmas Eve for Christians preparing to celebrate Christmas Day.

Further proof that Jesus was crucified on Thursday instead of Friday is found in John 19:14 where we read, “Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour.”

 

Conclusion

So which is it? Was Jesus crucified at around twelve noon on Thursday of Holy Week as John maintains, or was it at nine o’ clock Friday morning according to Mark’s report?

We should perhaps briefly examine one more exegetical explanation offered by Christian apologists frantically trying to harmonize John with Mark (along with Matthew and Luke) in regards to the day and time of Jesus’ death: the Lunar/Solar Observational Argument. The argument here being that while Mark, Matthew, and Luke were following the normal Jewish lunar calendar in observing the Passover, John may have possibly followed an Essene, Galilean, or a local Greek liturgical sectarian calendar; one that differed from the lunar calendar by 24 hours and that began counting the hours from midnight.

But why would this be the case? Were not all the reports regarding the last week of Jesus’ life based on the testimony of fellow Galileans all observing Passover in a like, customary manner and in accordance with the rest of the Jewish population at-large? And if not, would we not expect “God” to have divinely inspired his evangelists to reveal that at least one or more of His gospel writers was utilizing an alternate calendar so as not to confuse the faithful (and we skeptics)?

No, the answer to why there is such contradictory information being supplied us in regards to the time and day of Jesus’ death is because at least one gospel writer employed a liberal amount of “artistic license” in making up certain elements of the Passion narrative for his/their own theologically-motivated reasons. In the case of John, to portray Jesus as God’s sacrificial “lamb” being sacrificed for the redemption of mankind’s “sins”; Jesus being the ultimate paschal sacrifice, if you will.

Think artistic license was not being liberally employed in the gospel Passion narratives? Read Matthew 27:52-53 and think things over anew.

Greywolf’s 1st Dictum: There can be no greater evil in all of existence than the Creator of Evil. (Assuming such a Creature actually exists, of course.) The conscious, deliberate, act of creating evil is, in itself, inherently evil. End of story.

Greywolf’s 2nd Dictum: If if happened, God wanted it to. If He didn’t, it would never have happened. (Assuming such a Creature actually exists, of course.) Note: This would include every human tragedy, every evil to befall man. Would it not? – A sobering conclusion that needs to be honestly addressed by every brave, uncompromising, individual in their quest for the truth.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “At What Hour, And On What Day, Was Jesus Crucified? – Part II”

  1. God said

    One has to understand Hebrew Customes and Traditions in order to get an accurate picture of what bible author’s were trying to communicate back then.

    Things were seen (and explained) a bit different back then.

    In Kings1 we see:

    1 Ki 12:5 And he said unto them, Depart yet *for three days*, then come again to me. And the people departed.

    1 Ki 12:12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam *the third day*, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again *the third day*.

    The king tells the people to depart for three days, but they return ON the third day, not on the fourth day.

    Why? Because the king did not mean to be gone for a full 72 hours.

    The counting of days was inclusive in nature back then. There are many examples of that throughout the bible.

    The same day that the king told them to leave was the first day.
    The second day they stayed away, and then they returned the third day,as the king had intended.

    This is the exactly the same manner of counting used for the resurrection.

    It is inclusive in nature, with whatever portion of the first and last days being counted as full days.

    Here is a similar situation of inclusive counting in the book of Esther:

    Est 4:16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

    Est 4:17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

    Est 5:1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.

    Note that here in Luke 13, the third day clearly means the day after tomorrow, not after 3 full days:

    Luke 13:31 The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.

    Luke 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

    Luke 13:33 Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

    Matt 12:40, 27:63 and Mark 8:31 do not really mean a full literal three days and nights or 72 hours as we count them in our modern society.

    Most historical writings back then refer to three days inclusive of all days and not 3 days and nights.

    Example

    Jesus died, Day One
    The second day in the tomb
    Jesus Rose the third day

    The “day after tommorow” meant 3 days back then.They counted the current day.

    After sundown saturday would still be sunday morning, the third day.

    • Greywolf said

      Oooh. This one is going to give us both a headache. But here goes:

      1 Ki 12:5 And he said unto them, Depart yet *for three days*, then come again to me. And the people departed.

      1 Ki 12:12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam *the third day*, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again *the third day*.

      The king tells the people to depart for three days, but they return ON the third day, not on the fourth day.

      Why? Because the king did not mean to be gone for a full 72 hours.

      Suppose I was your employer and as a result of some very good work on your part I decided, on a Monday afternoon, to give you three days off with pay. Naturally, that would mean that you wouldn’t be expected back at work until Friday–four days off. I wouldn’t expect you to take only Tuesday and Wednesday off. Here we have an example of Rehoboam telling Jeroboam and his followers to depart for three days; obviously meaning the next three days. But Jeroboam misunderstands and returns two days later. Now king Rehoboam didn’t tell Jeroboam to return on the third day originally. He told him to depart for the [following] three days.

      But lets move to something more relevant. Mark, the earliest written gospel, reports that Jesus told his disciples that “after three days” he woulld rise from the dead (Mark 8:31); whereas the later written gospels of Matthew (16:21) and Luke (9:22) report Jesus saying he would rise “on the third day”. A distinct difference in regards to what was allegedly said.

      But now let us examine what Jesus says in Matthew 12:40. He says that just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so would He remain [buried] in the heart of the earth for “three days AND three nights”. Notice how chronologically precise Jesus is being here. Yet the gospel evidence shows that never occurred. For one thing, Jesus arose before dawn Sunday according to John 20:1. In fact, no gospel shows that Jesus was actually raised (going along here with the gospel accounts for the sake of discussion) on Sunday. All four gospel accounts point to Jesus already having been raised before the women reached the tomb. And remember, the Jews, just like the Romans, counted their daylight hours from dawn to dusk. Heck, accepting the Resurrection story being even remotely true to a teeny tiny degree, He could have raised himself from the dead ten minutes after being buried late Friday afternoon and who would know the difference?

      I know, I know. It must be frustrating as all heck to want to convince non-believers that your Jesus-God story is true. But dang, the bible isn’t helping much at all. Worse yet, there isn’t a single original manuscript of any book of the bible, Old or New, that has survived the ravages of time. Seems like you didn’t feel any of the originals were worth preserving intact, your Godness. Or am I off base here?

      In any event, there is a decent amount of sound advice to be found in Scripture; ideas that are found in other religions as well. Dang, Humanism is chock-full of noble ideas and sentiments too. And let’s not forget the virtues of atheism.

      Nice to have the freedom to choose one’s conscience, isn’t it, Your Totally Man-Invented Majestic Sovereign Lord of the Universe, You!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: