Friday, March 21, 2008

Crucifixion Wednesday?

As if Christians didn't have enough to divide them already, now we have to quibble about whether Jesus was crucified on Wednesday or Friday! Candy, a self-taught bible literalist would feel more comfortable with the Wednesday date. But is that right? Have all of the church fathers, saints, teachers popes, and other holy men and women of God been wrong and Candy (saved and self-taught since 1995) gulp... right? But I admire her tenacity. You may be interested in reading this link:Day of Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord -- Proved to be Friday and Sunday (not Wednesday and Saturday)
"And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, THE DAY BEFORE THE SABBATH...." (Mark 15:42 RSV) or in KJVeese:

Mark:15:42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,

I cover the day of Christ's death and burial first, since once this is established, it is easy to demonstrate that Sunday is the day of Christ's Resurrection, called "the third day" in the New Testament.

The above text (Mk 15:42) is the key text as I read the accounts of the crucifixion and subsequent burial of Jesus (Mt 27:57-64; Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-56; Jn 19:31-42), since the phrase "day of Preparation" is clearly DEFINED by the Gospel of Mark as "the day BEFORE the Sabbath." It is agreed by every commentator and scholar I have checked on the subject that the Jewish Sabbath mentioned here is the Seventh-day or SATURDAY Sabbath, and therefore the "day before the Sabbath" can only mean FRIDAY. Further, St. Matthew calls the very next day (SATURDAY) the day AFTER the Preparation (Mt 27:62).

The technical term "Preparation" (Greek Paraskeue / Latin Parasceve) is used for FRIDAY as well in the deuterocanonical books of Judith (8:6) and Second Maccabees (8:26), in the Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 16:163), and in the early non-canonical Christian documents, Didache (8:1) and the Martyrdom of Polycarp (7:1).

"The day on which Christ died is called 'the Preparation' in Mark 15:42 and John 19:31...The same day is in view in Matt 27:62 where the events recorded took place on 'the day after the Preparation' (RV). The reference would be to the 6th day of the week [or FRIDAY]. The title arose from the need of preparing food etc. for the Sabbath." (Vine, page 483)

No other day has ever been suggested by the term "Preparation" or "the day BEFORE the Sabbath" (Mark 15:42) other than FRIDAY. Conclusion: Jesus was crucified and buried on a FRIDAY.

The New Living Translation, the most recent in scholarly Evangelical Bible versions, even translates the key text as follows:

"THIS ALL HAPPENED ON FRIDAY, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath..." (Mark 15:42 NLT)

This is interesting, because this is what Candy talks about in her post today. Candy wrote:
A misconception is that the term "high Sabbath" means a weekly Sabbath and a holiday Sabbath falling on the same day. If one follows this misconception, then they could be led to the conclusion that Jesus must have been crucified on Friday. Jesus was crucified on Passover, as our Passover lamb, so we know it was a holiday Sabbath that He was crucified on. If we take the incorrect meaning of High Sabbath to mean that a holiday Sabbath and weekly Sabbath landed on the same day, then that would have to mean that Jesus was crucified on Friday after sundown - the Jewish weekly Sabbath, and the Jewish Passover. Yet, this is not the case. The Gospels tell us that Jesus was crucified, and then was the Jewish day of weekly Sabbath preparation (Thursday sundown to Friday Sundown), and then the weekly Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown). Thus, the Jewish Sabbath and Jewish Passover could not have fallen on the same day. A high Sabbath simply means a holiday Sabbath, instead of a regular weekly Sabbath. If Jesus had died on Friday, then He would have spent only one day in the tomb - Saturday. But the scriptures are clear that he spent a full three days in the tomb, not one.

Here is a rebuttal to that argument:

Now Tony Lee, who believes Jesus was crucified on Wednesday (to allow for "three days and three nights" which he insists means 72 hours) and arose on Saturday, appeals to what I call the "two-Sabbath theory" -- there were actually TWO Sabbaths talked about during the events.

From a previous post of Tony Lee (7/21/98) --

TL> But it is sufficient to say THIS explains the two Sabbaths required by the "spices" of Mark 16:1 and Luke 23:56. There were TWO Sabbaths within the week we are covering in the New Testament. >>

No, two Sabbaths are not required -- they are not even hinted at in the text. But with this theory in mind, I am assuming Tony would probably argue the "day before the Sabbath" means the day before the FIRST Sabbath (Thursday), but not the day before the SECOND Sabbath, which we agree is Saturday. However, again I submit there is not one shred of evidence for this two-Sabbath theory (the meaning of "high day" Sabbath will be explained below cf. John 19:31) in the Gospel accounts of the burial of Jesus, and no commentary I have checked has ever mentioned anything but ONE Sabbath in the parallel accounts.

Tony also tries to assert a contradiction in the Gospels on the spices, and that will be answered below. If the Sabbath mentioned in Luke 23:56 and Mark 16:1 (cf. Mt 28:1; Jn 19:31,42; 20:1) is the one and only SAME Sabbath -- the Seventh-day or SATURDAY Sabbath -- there is no evidence of this "two-Sabbath theory" and the FRIDAY crucifixion and burial of Jesus must be accepted as it has been for nearly 2,000 years.

"...all four Gospels are unanimous, as is the entire tradition of the Church, that Christ died on a Friday." (Warren Carroll, The Founding of Christendom [1985], p 366)

"The latter word 'preparation', can mean 'day of preparation' (Mk 15:42; Mt 27:62; Jn 19:14,31,42). It refers to the day of the Jewish week immediately preceding the Sabbath (i.e. Thursday evening to Friday evening)....Here Friday must be meant, as the next clause makes clear [Lk 23:54]." (I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke [1978], p 881)

"The fact must be faced that no example of the use of [Preparation Day in Greek] is cited for any day other than Friday. The use for Friday is cited, both by linking the term with the Sabbath (Josephus, Ant 16.163), and, from the second century, absolutely (Didache 8.1; Martyrdom of Polycarp 7.1). The evidence that the term was used for Friday must be accepted." (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John [1995], p 687)

"Almost all scholars agree -- and the Gospels are quite clear -- that the Crucifixion took place on a Friday; Jesus lay in the tomb on Saturday (the Sabbath); and he rose from the dead on the third day, Sunday." (William Proctor, The Resurrection Report [1998], p 163)

I just wonder why a bible literalist like Candy would subscribe to the two-sabbath theory when it's not literally in the bible? Anyway...

The Catholic Knight had an interesting article too!:
The Catholic Knight: Exact Date of Christ's Crucifixion

The evidence is plentiful, once we're ready to start looking into what non-Biblical sources say about the astronomical events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Phlegon was a Greek historian who wrote an extensive chronology around AD 137:
In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e., AD 33) there was ‘the greatest eclipse of the sun’ and that ‘it became night in the sixth hour of the day [i.e., noon] so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.’
- Phlegon, 137 AD
Phlegon identifies the year and the exact time of day. In addition, he writes of an earthquake accompanying the darkness, which is specifically recorded in Matthew’s Gospel.
Pontius Pilate no less, who wrote in a report to Tiberius Caesar the following account...

Now when he was crucified darkness came over all the world; the sun was altogether hidden, and the sky appeared dark while it was yet day, so that the stars were seen, though still they had their luster obscured, wherefore, I suppose your excellency is not unaware that in all the world they lighted their lamps from the sixth hour until evening. And the moon, which was like blood, did not shine all night long, although it was at the full, and the stars and Orion made lamentation over the Jews because of the transgression committed by them.
- Pontius Pilate, 33 AD

The occurrence of a blood red moon is actually much more easy to explain. Pilate's account to the red moon also helps us confirm not only the year, but the actual day. NASA has already accounted for the only kind of eclipse that can happen in a full moon phase, which is a lunar eclipse, frequently known to give the moon a "blood red" appearance, particularly when they are seen only partially. NASA pinpoints this event to April 3rd, 33 AD. The following chart is their report, which can be viewed on NASA's actual website here...

Finally, we must look to the Jewish calender to verify that a Passover did occur on this date. Indeed it did. Nissan 15, the customary day for Passover, would have fallen on Saturday the 4th of April in 33 AD. That would have made this particular Saturday a "high sabbath" which is mentioned in the gospel accounts, and it would have made Friday the 3rd of April the day of preparation, when the lamb sacrifice was slaughtered in the Temple. This would have put Jesus crucifixion at exactly the time when the Passover lambs were being slaughtered, just hours before sunset, when Nissan 15 began on the Jewish calendar. (Remember, the Jewish calendar begins each day at sundown not midnight.) Typically, the Passover meal would have been eaten that Friday evening in 33 AD. However, the gospels tell us that Jesus ate the Passover with his disciples the night before -- Thursday. This may be accounted for by the probability that Jesus was using the Essene calendar for the calculation of Passover.

The whole article is good so stop by and read it.

I think it's pretty clear though that the traditional commemoration of Christ's death on Good Friday is appropriate, historically based, and scriptural!

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unknown anon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

Wow, this is great Elena! I look forward to reading through those articles as I have more time. Love the blood red moon graphic, too!

unknown anon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Great post, Elena. Very informative and thorough.

Maggii said...

Wow...that was quite informative...

kritterc said...

Very interesting - I have not had time to read through all of the articles, but certainly plan to. Thank you again for an exceptional post.