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The Jewish calendar calculates a day from sunset to sunset, thus the Last Supper (on the Thursday evening) and Jesus' crucifixion (on Friday afternoon) happened in the same day. In John Gospel this day was the 14th of Nisan (April 3, 33 CE) of the Jewish calendar; In the three Synoptic Gospels the Last Supper is a Passover meal so Jesus' crucifixion must have taken place during the afternoon of the festival itself, the 15th of Nisan (April 4, 33 CE).

Both dates obviously can not be true. Which date is correct?

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  • We strongly discourage asking more than one question at once here. I've edited your question to only contain one. Please feel free to ask the other in a separate question. – DJClayworth Apr 1 '15 at 14:14
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    Why do you assume the year 33? – Bruce Alderman Apr 1 '15 at 17:25
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    For many reasons.For example, according to (news.discovery.com/history/religion/…): "when data about the Jewish calendar and astronomical calculations are factored in, a handful of possible dates result, with Friday April 3, 33 A.D. being the best match, according to the researchers." – iesouslufend Apr 2 '15 at 5:33
  • @AndrewShanks, sorry, that was a silly typo, repeating 33 instead of being 31. Thanks for pointing it out. It should have read: "Without giving any reason, the current answers assume that the year 33 is correct, and that the Crucifixion was on a Friday. ¶ Try Wednesday 25 April 31CE instead, and many problematic verses (e.g. Matthew 12:40) will no longer be problematic. – Ray Butterworth Dec 19 '20 at 19:12" – Ray Butterworth Feb 7 at 16:44
  • @RayButterworth - Ah. Though I personally believe the crucifixion happened on a Friday, I see your date is now self- consistent, and yes 25th April 31 was a Wednesday and was either 14th or more likely 15th Nisan. Thanks for clearing that up. – Andrew Shanks Feb 7 at 17:55

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Writing in The Mystery Of The Last Supper, Professor Sir Colin Humphreys, a scientist at the University of Cambridge, proposes a new solution, based on a combination of Biblical, historical and astronomical research. He urgues that Jesus used a different calendar and crucifixion took place in the 14th of Nisan (April 3, 33 CE) of the official post-exilic Jewish calendar. He explains:

" I have worked with an expert astronomer to investigate, for the first time, the possibility that a third Jewish calendar was in use in the first century A.D. The official Jewish calendar at the time of Jesus' death was that still used by Jews today: a lunar system in which days run from sunset to sunset. This was developed during the Jewish exile in Babylon in the sixth century B.C. Before that, however, the Jews had a different system. This is referred to in the Book of Exodus, in the Old Testament, when God instructs Moses and Aaron to start their year at the time of the Exodus from Egypt.

There is extensive evidence that this original Jewish calendar survived to Jesus' time. It was used by groups such as the Samaritans, Zealots, some Galileans and some Essenes. Under this pre-exilic calendar, Passover always fell a few days earlier than in the official Jewish calendar, and the days were marked from sunrise to sunrise, not sunset to sunset.

Using our reconstruction of this calendar we can see that in A.D. 33, the year of the Crucifixion, the Passover meal was on the Wednesday of Holy Week. From the clues they give, it's clear that Matthew, Mark and Luke all used the pre-exilic calendar in their description of the Last Supper as a Passover meal, whereas John uses the official calendar in which the Last Supper was before the Passover.

Holy Thursday is the well-known day on which Christians annually commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus. But my research shows that we should really be celebrating this on the Wednesday of Holy Week. A Wednesday Last Supper with the Crucifixion on Friday also allows just the right amount of time for all the events the Gospels record between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion".

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  • The problem with this is our understanding of when the day starts. I believe the last supper was on Thursday night and he was crucified Thursday afternoon. Yes you read that right. Night comes before light in the Jewish day. So I agree when you say Wednesday night last supper (because that is actually the night of the beginning of Thursday). Then he is crucified roughly 15-18 hours later and dies 21 hours later, 3 hours before the start of the Passover Sabbath. Passover could have been on Friday that year because Hillel II's rules about back to back holy days wasn't in place. – Joshua Mar 23 '16 at 14:02
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Mark's Gospel was the first New Testament gospel to be written, and John Dominic Crossan says, in The Birth of Christianity, page 110-111, there is a massive consensus among scholars that this gospel was the major source used by the authors of Matthew and Luke. If it was also the indirect source for John's Gospel as well, as some scholars believe, then Mark should provide the correct account. This is evidence in favour of the crucifixion taking place on the 15th Nisan.

John's Gospel tells us that Jesus was crucified of the day before the Passover, in other words, the 14th of Nisan:

John 19:14: And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

We see the reason for the change, because the author of John wanted to portray Jesus as the paschal lamb, an interpretation that was already present in the synoptic gospels, but incompletely so. In order to accomplish this portrayal, the crucifixion had to be moved to the day before the Passover, and John's Gospel merely has Jesus and the disciples eat what appears to be an ordinary supper, with Jesus washing the disciples' feet (John 13:5ff) rather than celebrating the eucharist.

As to whether the crucifixion taking place on 33 CE, we simply do not know: estimates vary between 30 and 33 CE, and sometimes even outside this range. If indeed the crucifixion took place in 33 CE, changes in Jewish intercalation mean we can not really be sure exactly which day in our modern calendar corresponds to 15th Nisan. Mark's Gospel precisely marks out exactly eight periods of three hours from the beginning of the Last Supper to the hour on which Jesus was buried, and each gospel says that the crucifixion took place on a Friday:

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

John 19:31: The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day . . .

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    But the 15th IS Passover. It is to be treated as a Sabbath. Which included the rules for work and cleanliness(so burying a body is out). How then can he be crucified on a 15th that is also not a Sabbath? – Joshua Mar 23 '16 at 14:06
  • @JoshuaBigbee Thanks for pointing that out. I can only assume that the synoptic authors (especially the author of Mark) were not fully aware that the day of the Passover was to be regarded as a Sabbath. The author of John is known to have been more aware of Jewish customs. – Dick Harfield Mar 23 '16 at 20:06
  • I've considered your comment, but I'm unable to accept that assumption. I believe it far more likely the synoptic gospels have a level of familiarity with their world that exceeds our own. They do not misunderstand their world, we misunderstand theirs. The Essenes disappeared soon after Christ, it is generally accepted they embraced Christianity. Knowledge of them had been common, but by John's time, writing to a more general audience, he had to simplify the narrative, removing things that would be confusing. Such as calling the Essene Passover meal the Passover meal. – Joshua Mar 25 '16 at 13:54
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    The Gospels don't say he was crucified on a Friday, but that is inferred from the fact that is was the day before the Sabbath. But special feasts, or "high days" as in John 19:31, were also called Sabbaths. The math seems to favor that Jesus was crucified on Thursday (which would correspond to the Nissan 14 when the lambs were slain). – wcochran Oct 29 '17 at 4:16
  • Dick, actually no Gospel passage nor any passage anywhere says it was Friday. Look at the verses Dick quotes. This is the exact mistake that caused the Friday Myth. Catholic church leaders did not understand Jewish culture and holidays. All 7 feasts are Shabbat. They incorrectly assume that the Sabbath was the weekly sabbath but it wasn't. It was unleavened bread. Scripture says there were 2 Sabbath in that week. It also says the women bought spices after the Sabbath. This is impossible- it would be Saturday night. Dark- and merchants were closed - buying & selling on Shabbat was forbidden – Tennman7 Jan 1 at 14:53
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A plausible argument that resolves the Nissan 14/15 dispute would be one that claims: The date of the Passover in the synoptics is earlier than what is indicated in John's gospel -- which is because Jesus and His disciples were using a slightly different calendar from the Jewish authorities at the time, and it is to that slightly earlier date that Jesus refers to eating the Passover with his disciples, as in Mark 14:12-15. (See the reference quoted in the answer by nasraya for more details.)

This is plausible because even to this day there are disputes within Judaism over calendric issues. See this site about Karaite Jews for instance http://www.karaite-korner.org/karaite_faq.shtml

As an aside, I think the jury is still out on the question of the year of Jesus' death. The key issue there seems to be when did Herod the Great die? If in 4 BCE (as many modern scholars believe) Jesus would have been older than 35 when He died; if Herod died in 1 BCE as traditionally thought, year 33 of our era could work for the death of Jesus.

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Key Scripture leading to confusion

I think there is a couple of texts in the Pentateuch which lead to some confusion:

And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. (Exodus 12:6)

and

In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover. (Leviticus 23:5)

So it looks as if the passover lamb was meant to be killed the same day as it was eaten. The problem is that this is not exactly what happened, and the reason why it is not exactly what happened is that there were far too many lambs, well over one hundred thousand, to kill (all in the Temple) in the short time available from the start of the 14th day at about 6pm for them all to be killed by midnight. To get around this problem the lambs began to be killed during the afternoon.

The question therefore becomes "Did they start killing the lambs on the fourteenth (in obedience to Exodus 12:6) and eat the passover on the fifthteenth or did they start killing the lambs on the thirteenth and eat the passover on the fourteenth (in obedience to Leviticus 23:5)"?

[You might have thought, as I did, that what was critical is not when the lamb was killed but that they ate the Passover meal on the fourteenth in commemoration of that first passover meal in Egypt which was eaten on the fourteenth. But at the time of the New Testament they ate the Passover on the fifteenth, as I shall show.]

Lunar eclipse at Passover

I thought it would be of interest, first, to consider what the Apostle Peter preached to the people that "the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon shall be turned to blood before that great and notable day of the Lord" (Acts 2:20).

It seems he is saying that these sights had been recently observed by the people. We already have been told the sun was turned to darkness (Mt 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44), so what about the moon? The moon becomes blood red when (at night) there is a total lunar eclipse, ie the earth comes between the sun and the moon, and the moon falls entirely within the shadow of the earth.

The following table shows all the Julian dates for 15th Nisan from AD 26 to AD 36 together with all the lunar eclipses, visible from Jerusalem, for that same period, together with the extent of the eclipse:-

15th Nisan........................Lunar Eclipse

Day & Date......................Day, Date, Time & magnitude

either AD 26 Friday March 22

or AD 26 Sunday April 21

AD 26................................Friday August 15, 23.10 hrs, 50%

AD 27 Thursday April 10

AD 27................................Wednesday December 31, 23.27, 70%

either AD 28 Tuesday March 30

or AD 28 Wednesday April 28

AD 29 Monday April 18

AD 29................................Tuesday June 14, 20.27, 100%

AD 29................................Friday December 9, 20.55, 45%

AD 30 Friday April 7

either AD 31 Tuesday March 27

or AD 31 Wednesday April 25

AD 31................................Wednesday April 25, 21.35, 35%

AD 31................................Friday October 19, 4.49, 25%

AD 32 Sunday April 13

either AD 33 Friday April 3

or AD 33 Monday May 4

AD 33................................Friday April 3, at horizon when rising (about 6pm), 60%

AD 33................................Sunday September 27, 4.53, 85%

AD 34 Wednesday March 24

AD 35................................Friday February 11, 4.55, 55%

AD 35 Tuesday April 12

either AD 36 Saturday March 31

or AD 36 Monday April 30

The only possible time there was a lunar eclipse at Passover was in AD 33 when it occurred on the Friday evening, 3rd April, as the moon was ascending from the horizon. Even though it was a partial eclipse and not a total eclipse, the dust created by the earthquake activity during the day together with the fact that light from the moon was coming through so much atmosphere (being on the horizon), together with a 60% magnitude eclipse, might have resulted in a red moon to the observers in Jerusalem that evening.

Very likely this is what Peter was referring to (Acts 2:20) and what Joel prophesied (Joel 2:31) all those many centuries before. Many believe the crucifixion happened on this very Friday, and so this red moon was seen just a few hours after the crucifixion.

What does "the third day" mean?

Then some comment on "the third day", "three days and three nights" and other similar expressions is needed. Since it is agreed our Lord rose from the dead on the Sunday (John 20:1) I hope to make it very plain why the view of most Christian denominations and that of most Christians down the ages has been that he was crucified on the Friday two days before.

Usually our Lord said he would rise from the dead "the third day". See in Matthew 16:21, 17:23, 20:19, 27:64; Mark 9:31, 10:34; Luke 9:22, 13:32, 18:33, 24:7, 24:21, 24:46; Acts 10:40; and 1 Corinthians 15:4. All of these NT Scriptures must be compared with Genesis 42:17-18; Exodus 19:10-11; Leviticus 7:16-17, 19:6. When such a phrase is used it is intended that remainder of the day on the day of his death is counted as one of the days.

As for the expression "three days and three nights", this again means portions of three 24 hour periods. So a part of 15th Nisan (i.e. Friday before sunset, the whole of 16th Nisan (Saturday until sunset), and part of 17th Nisan (Saturday sunset to Sunday sunrise).

In the 2 Chronicles 10:5 and 10:12 it is clear that when the king said "after three days" he intended for them to understand that he was including the remainder of the day on which he was speaking, and it is also clear that his hearers understood this because they came to him not on the fourth day but on "the third day".

The same idea can be found in Esther 4:16 where Esther requests the Jews "neither eat nor drink three days, night or day"; and yet she goes to the king not on the fourth day, which is what we would expect, but rather on the third day (Esther 5:1).

From these Old Testament verses it is possible to see how the Jews counted days. Always they included the remainder of the first day as a whole day. So "on the third day" and "three days later" meant the same thing to them. And where they would say "Return to me three days from now" or "on the third day" we would say "return to me two days from now" (because we would not include the remainder of the day on which we were speaking as a day to include in the count).

The Jews used precisely the same type of inclusive counting when giving the years of the length of the reign of a king. So if a king reigned from say the middle of 2009 to the middle of 2011 we might say as a whole number that they reigned 2 years, but the ancient Jews would have said that he reigned three years. They would count his reign during 2009 as a whole year, 2010 as a whole year, and the portion of 2011 as a whole year, making three years in total. So their day counting was no different from their year counting.

Summary of William Hendriksen's views

The reformed, evangelical, William Hendriksen in his commentary on the Gospel of John spends a long time showing how in all of the Gospels, Jesus was crucified on the Friday. All of this post will be taken from Hendriksen's Commentary.

The crucifixion happened on Friday, 15th Nisan, 3rd April 33 AD (Julian Date) which is Friday, 1st April (Gregorian Date).

The book "Babylonian Chronology - 626 BC to AD 75" by Richard A Parker and Waldo Dubberstein, the standard work on chronology for the period, puts 1st Nisan 33 AD as 20th March ( Julian date - starting midnight). 15th Nisan is thus 3rd April. But for the Jews each day began at sunset the evening before (notice Genesis 1:5, 1:8, 1:13, 1:19, etc, where the 24 hour day begins with evening): so 15th Nisan began at sunset on 2nd April.

[I agree with the OP, the crucifixion happened in 33 ad. Hendriksen believes it was 30 ad, when the Passover also fell on a Friday. I disagree with Hendriksen here, and he doesn't explain why he chooses 30 ad. Probably he began by accepting the more common view that Jesus was born about 4 or 5 bc. I'm siding with those who believe Herod died early 1 BC but to keep this answer shorter I shall only refer to a free online article.

Also the date of the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist in AD 28 suggests AD 29/30 for the beginning of the ministry of Christ, else there seems to be too much of a squeeze for John's ministry to become popular/influential before the start of Christ's ministry.]

So here is the summary of Hendriksen's view, on which he focuses many pages:-

In all of the Gospels, on the Thursday evening he celebrated "The Last Supper" which was the Passover meal. There is no conflict between the Gospel accounts in the day of the crucifixion or the day of the Last Supper.

In all of these things all the Gospels are in agreement, though there appear to be one or two issues which add complication.

There was a week of celebration, a week of festival, which began with the Passover meal. When Judas left the Last Supper (John 13:29) "to buy those things needed for the feast" the feast being spoken of is the festival of unleavened bread that is going to last for the week; it does not mean the Passover meal because they had already eaten it (John 13:2).

And John 13:1, Hendriksen translates as:

Now Jesus, knowing (already) before the feast of the Passover that his hour to depart out of this world (and to go) to the Father had arrived, having loved his own in the world, loved them to the uttermost.

The emphasis on the time is the time of "His knowing".

In John 13:2 we read "And supper being ended". This is the Passover meal which can be easily seen by comparing John 13:21-26 with Mark 14:18-20, and noting that Mark 14 is about the Passover meal (Mark 14:12-18). For confirmation that the Last Supper was the Passover meal and that it was also the first day of unleavened bread see Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:1; Luke 22:7-15.

In John 19:14 we read "And it was the preparation of the passover". This does not mean it was the preparation day for the coming Passover meal; it means it was the preparation day of the passover week, i.e. the week of unleavened bread.

"Preparation Day" always means the day of preparation for the Sabbath day, the Sabbath being from the Friday after sundown to Saturday at sundown.

The Greek word for "preparation" is "paraskevi". In modern Greek today "paraskevi" still has two meanings: it means "preparation" and its second meaning is "Friday".

So in John 19:14 "preparation of the passover" does not mean "preparation for the passover", it means Preparation day (Friday) (for the Sabbath day) during passover week. See also John 19:31 for confirmation of the same idea.

The year of our Lord's death the sabbath the day after the crucifixion was "an high day" (John 19:31). This simply means it was the sabbath (Saturday) of the Passover feast, of the feast of unleavened bread.

In John 18:28 we read that the religious leaders did not want to defile themselves "so that they might eat the passover". This is a problem: Hendriksen concludes that they were scheming to get rid of Jesus so long on the Thursday night when they should have been eating the passover that they did not have time to eat the passover at the correct time, and were willing to postpone the eating for the more important task of getting rid of Jesus the Christ. Or it means they did not want to defile themselves for any of the time of the week's festival of unleavened bread.

So, in summary, Jesus ate the passover meal on Thursday evening, 15th Nissan, and was crucified on 15th Nissan, Friday 3rd April 33 ad, before sunset.

I cannot give all the pages from Hendriksen's Commentary. If I have missed anything let me know and I shall find his answer to your disagreement.

Daniel 9:24 confirms our Lord was crucified on 3rd April AD 33

Finally, (- moving away from Hendriksen's Commentary on John -) when we say Friday 3rd April 33 ad we are using the Julian Date. The Gregorian date is Friday 1st April 33 ad.

Over 60 years ago, in 1956, Richard A. Parker and Waldo Dubberstein published their work "Babylonian Chronology 626 BC to AD 75" in which they give the first of each lunar month using the Julian Calendar for every month in the 700 year period. The book was the product of the detective work of many scholars over many years.

The date in this book for the day Ezra left Babylon in obedience to the decree of Artaxerxes I to rebuild Jerusalem as described in Ezra 7:9 was 8th April 458 bc. The day on which Ezra and his Jewish contemporaries left Babylon.

In 2006 or early 2007 Pastor Derek Walker from Oxford, UK, converted this date into the Gregorian Date and found that the Gregorian Date for this day was 3rd April 458 bc. Converting the crucifixion and Resurrection dates from 33 ad into the Gregorian Date he found that the length of time between this date and the Resurrection on the 3rd April in 33 AD is exactly 490 years (because there is no year zero). It seemed accurate to the very day.

However, astronomical calculations have improved in the last hundred years and modern calculations say that 1st Nisanu in 458 BC was the 7th April. Furthermore, it was also realized that 8th April 458 bc was a Saturday, a day when the Jews would not have begun a long journey. So 1st Nisanu in the seventh year of Artaxerxes is Friday 2nd April 458 bc (Gregorian) (Ezra 7:9) and 490 years after this brings us to the Saturday when our Lord was in the grave.

For an article favouring AD 33 rather than AD 30 for the crucifixion see "When did King Herod die?" by Dr Andrew Steinmann at jstor or at biblearchaeology.org or buy his (rather expensive book) "From Abraham to Paul - A biblical chronology" (2011) which is praised by Dr Eugene Merrill (author of the excellent book on OT chronology "Kingdom of Priests"): "Steinmann lays out here a foundation that doubtless will provide the basis for all subsequent discussions of biblical chronology...".

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(In the spirit of not stating "The Truth" but what Christians believe and why...) It is my belief, and that of my church that Jesus had to have been crucified on the 14th of Nisan or He could not have been the true Passover because He wouldn't have fulfilled the sacrifice. Exodus 12:6 says

And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the 
same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation 
of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

For Christ to have fulfilled the sacrifice He had to die on the 14th.

The problem comes in determining the meaning of "in the evening". Some then as now believed it meant after sunset at the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th. Others believed it meant just before sunset as the 14th was ending and the 15th was beginning. cf. http://biblehub.com/commentaries/exodus/12-6.htm

Under either interpretation though, the Passover had to be killed after sunset ended the 13th and before sunset began the 15th.

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Embedded in the question is a misunderstanding of the problem: the question should be: "Was Friday 3rd April 33 AD (Julian date) - which some/many suppose to be the date of the crucifixion - the 14th of Nisan or the 15th Nisan?"

For those like me who believe our Lord was crucified on a Friday there are only two possible dates between 27 & 35 AD (inclusive)... 7th April 30 AD or 3rd April 33 AD. Astronomical calculations of Karl Schoch before 1930 & used by Parker & Dubberstein in "Babylonian Chronology" (1952) place the new crescent moon date (ie 1st Nisan) for AD 33 as 21 March, so 3rd April as 14th Nisan. By the calculations of Karl Schoch 7th April AD 30 also is 14th Nisan.

Modern 21st century astronomy software, as used by Rita Gautschy, puts the new crescent moon at 20th March 33. This puts Friday 3rd April 33 AD as 15th Nisan. And for AD 30 the 1st Nisan is 24th March, making Friday 7th April also 15th Nisan. (Google search for "Rita Gautschy Jewish Calendar" and download data first for (calculated observations from Jerusalem.) It is likely that the more up to date astronomical assumptions in the software are more accurate than the assumptions before 1930.

If you believe the crucifixion happened on a Friday then no matter which year you take our Lord was crucified on the 15th Nisan.

I think the only realistic option is that our Lord was crucified on Friday 15th Nisan, AD 33, which was 3rd April (Julian) or 1st April (Gregorian).

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  • Sometimes less is more! Thank you for that very clear explanation. – Lesley Feb 28 at 17:39
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The bottom line of my answer is that John is factually accurate and that he intentionally deviated from the Synoptics for the purpose of noting important theological meaning, not for the sake of dating accuracy itself.

There are two possible chronologies, which I will call C14 and C15.

C14: Crucifixion on 14 Nisan. It implies, with Nisan dates reckoned as per the Jewish official calendar:

  • 13 Nisan: from Wed. sunset to Thursday sunset.
  • 14 Nisan: from Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.
  • 15 Nisan: from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset (regular weekly Sabbath).
  • The Last Supper was held one day before the time of the Passover meal according to the Jewish official calendar.
  • Jesus died when the Paschal lambs where being sacrificed in the Temple.
  • The information about dates provided by John is factually accurate, while that provided by the Synoptics is not.

C15: Crucifixion on 15 Nisan. It implies, with Nisan dates reckoned as per the Jewish official calendar:

  • 14 Nisan: from Wed. sunset to Thursday sunset.
  • 15 Nisan: from Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.
  • 16 Nisan: from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset (regular weekly Sabbath).
  • The Last Supper was held at the time of the Passover meal according to the Jewish official calendar.
  • The information about dates provided by the Synoptics is factually accurate, while that provided by John either is not accurate or requires heavy hermeneutic work to make it compatible with the Synoptics.

Whereas two detailed answers to a similar question in hermeneutics.stackexchange.com, by Jas 3.1 and Joseph, argue for C15, I will argue for C14. Specifically, I will argue that there is some key information in John, not taken into account in previous answers, which cannot be made compatible with C15.

First of all, for the purpose of this discussion I will assume an agnostic position about the year of the Crucifixion, as the issue of the Crucifixion being either on Friday April 7, 30 AD or on Friday April 3, 33 AD is wholly irrelevant to the subject of this discussion.

I will assume as an agreed starting point that when Jews refer to a specific date as "the Passover" they mean 15 Nisan, so that when they date an event as occurring "six days before the Passover" they mean that the event occurred on 9 Nisan. This is key for my argument because John dates a specific event that way: the supper that Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha made for Jesus in Bethany, during the course of which Mary anointed Jesus:

Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”

The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. (John 12:1-9. NASB.)

Now, lets reckon the day of week of that supper in both possible chronologies working backwards:

C14:

  • 15 Nisan: from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset (regular weekly Sabbath).
  • 14 Nisan: from Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.
  • 13 Nisan: from Wed. sunset to Thursday sunset.
  • 12 Nisan: from Tuesday sunset to Wed. sunset.
  • 11 Nisan: from Monday sunset to Tuesday sunset.
  • 10 Nisan: from Sunday sunset to Monday sunset.
  • 09 Nisan: from Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset.

In this chronology, the event is perfectly compatible with Sabbath observance for both the hosts of the supper and "the large crowd of the Jews" that went from Jerusalem to Bethany to see Jesus and Lazarus.

C15:

  • 16 Nisan: from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset (regular weekly Sabbath).
  • 15 Nisan: from Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.
  • 14 Nisan: from Wed. sunset to Thursday sunset.
  • 13 Nisan: from Tuesday sunset to Wed. sunset.
  • 12 Nisan: from Monday sunset to Tuesday sunset.
  • 11 Nisan: from Sunday sunset to Monday sunset.
  • 10 Nisan: from Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset.
  • 09 Nisan: from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset (regular weekly Sabbath).

In this chronology, the event is wholly incompatible with Sabbath observance for both the hosts of the supper and "the large crowd of the Jews" that went from Jerusalem to Bethany to see Jesus and Lazarus, as the distance from Jerusalem to Bethany exceeds what Jews are allowed to travel on a Sabbath.

Since I stated the teleological side of my argument, i.e. the reason why John intentionally deviated from the Synoptics, as the purpose of noting important theological meaning, and as the straightforward theological meaning in C14 and not in C15 is that in the former Jesus died when the paschal lambs where being sacrificed in the Temple, my argument would be strengthened if I could show that John provides another chronological coincidence between the paschal lambs and Jesus. And indeed he does.

Let's quote John's narrative of Jesus' entrance to Jerusalem, which follows right after the supper in Bethany:

On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.” Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, “FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEY’S COLT.” (John 12:12-15. NASB.)

Thus, Jesus entered Jerusalem on 10 Nisan. Let's read now the instructions in Exodus for the preparation of the paschal lamb:

Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. (Exodus 12:1-6)

Thus, on 10 Nisan the large number of lambs that were being kept grazing in the fields around Jerusalem for the feast were brought into the city so that each household could buy one for themselves. Therefore, Jesus entered Jerusalem at the same time as the paschal lambs were entering the city.

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  • Johannes your answer has several assumptions - one is that John intentionally deviated from the synoptic gospels - which made his gospel inaccurate. Then, you also give in the body of your answer the assumption that the dates provided by the synoptic gospels is not accurate - undermining the infallibility of the scriptures. I love the crucial point you make in the last paragraph. Nisan 10 - Lamb was selected. Also, scripture explicitly says that Passover is 14th of Nisan, not the 15th. This is also why 'six days before Passover" proves it could not have been Friday crucifixion. – Tennman7 Jan 1 at 17:25
  • My notion of biblical inerrancy is different from yours. The Synoptics were fairly accurate when stating that Jesus was crucified on Passover, as He was not crucified at any other feast or time of the year. Then John increased the degree of accuracy by stating that He was actually crucified the day before Passover (Nisan 14), dying at the time of the day when the paschal lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple. That Passover means Nisan 15 is well known and beyond the scope of this comment. – Johannes Apr 3 at 5:59
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The AD 33 date is problematic for this very reason, and the short answer is, both days are wrong! Jesus was indeed crucified after the paschal meal on the 15th day of Nisan. However, it could not have been in the year AD 33, because on that occasion it fell on a Sabbath.

This question raises a matter that has been a frequent source of misunderstanding. Was Passover held on the 14th or was it the 15th of Nisan? Simply stated, it commenced just before one day finished and the next began. The Hebrew day began at sunset, and the lambs were slain late on the 14th, with the actual Passover meal being eaten later that evening, that is to say, early on the 15th day. The Jewish historian Josephus said the sacrifices were carried out between 3 pm and 5 pm, and the original description in Exodus bears this out.

“And you shall keep (the lamb) until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. ... In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.” (Exodus12:6-11)

An example of this is found in King Josiah’s famous Passover, which describes in detail the sacrifices continuing until nightfall. (2 Chron. 35 1-14) Leviticus is also clear. “The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins.” (Leviticus 23:4-6) However, other Bible references simply say, “the fourteenth” without specifying the last portion of the day. That is why casual readers, not familiar with Hebrew practice, assume Passover to be the entire fourteenth day. Not so! It started in the final hours of the fourteenth then spanned the fifteenth day, synonymous with (the same as) the first day of unleavened bread.

Accordingly, Jesus ate his last supper with the disciples in the evening early on Passover day and was crucified later on the same day. By western reckoning, it was a Thursday/Friday crossover but by Jewish reckoning, it was the 15th of Nisan. It looked approximately like this:

  • 6 pm Day began.
  • 9 pm Passover meal.
  • 12pm Jesus arrested.
  • 6 am Judgement passed.
  • 9 am Jesus crucified.
  • 12am Great darkness.
  • 3 pm Jesus dies.
  • 6 pm Day ended.

At this juncture, we must address the confusion stemming from an apparent contradiction between St. John’s account and that of the synoptic gospels. He said:

“Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.” (John 18:28)

Non-Jewish readers may be excused for interjecting, “But hadn’t they eaten it the night before”? That is when Matthew, Mark and Luke said it took place. Some commentators just choose to ignore John, but others make much of it, claiming the Paschal lambs were slain when Jesus died. Still others suggest there may have been several Jewish factions observing different timetables. Such explanations are unnecessary.

John was simply referring loosely to the overall ‘Passover week’ which included the feast days following the actual Passover day. On the morning of the first day following the Paschal evening, was another meal called ‘Chagigah’. This is the meal John was referring to, and as one rabbinic expert noted, “the Chagigah might not be offered by any person who had contracted Levitical defilement.” (The Temple, Alfred Edersheim, ch. X111) So, the ‘contradiction’ is really no contradiction at all; it was a special morning meal eaten as part of the celebration.

Again, the answer to the original question is that both days are wrong. For those who wish use Passover and astronomical data to pinpoint the crucifixion, may I suggest that you look beyond the commonly quoted year of AD 33?

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  • Jesus could not have been crucified after the official paschal meal. Even if the Passover was on Thursday/Friday (which I agree it was consecutive days not on the Sabbath but SabbathS plural) they wouldn't have been out arresting Jesus on Passover. A Wednesday night Essene Passover meal, without lamb because they didn't recognize the priest's sacrifices, explains how Jesus ate the meal with them ON the day of preparation (our Wednesday night is beginning of Thursday 14). Then he is arrested, on trial and crucified on Thursday and dies when the official lamb would have for Passover. – Joshua Mar 4 '16 at 15:45
  • John is not referring to the Chagigah, nor can John's last supper be the official Passover meal. John 13:29: "Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor." If it was the Passover meal, no store would be open for him to buy what they need for the feast on that night, it was essentially a Sabbath. Also all three synoptic gospels say the priests agree to arrest Jesus not during the feast meaning "hurry we need to do it before the Passover week or else it will mess up our feast." – Joshua Mar 4 '16 at 16:01
  • Edersheim is the authority on Hebrew festivals and I am satisfied with his explanation that I have referenced above. – Christian Gedge Mar 4 '16 at 19:31
  • Edersheim explicitly links the Chagigah to St. Johns reference. (page252) – Christian Gedge Mar 4 '16 at 19:38
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    He can very well be an expert on it and what he says is still true. However....i really offered no objection to that. Far too many people start with the assumption of the Friday crucifixion because of a misunderstanding of the "day before the Sabbath" mentions. But the women went to the grave after the Sabbaths. Plural. Look up the Greek. Many translations of Matthew 28:1 ignore that and make it Sabbath singular. And since Hillel II's Jewish calender there can't be back to back holy days, furthering the confusion. Friday was Passover Sabbath Saturday was regular Sabbath. – Joshua Mar 4 '16 at 19:47
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Jesus was crusified according to scriptures from old testament and new testment 14 Nissan second part of the day, Levi 23: 5. Its a symbolic feast but in Him Jesus bore the sins of the world. There is prophecy in Daniel 9 : 27He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. To fulfill gods word jusus crucified on cross 14 the of Nissan. In john 22: 1, 8, 15. Conforms it as well as some more scriptures in mark . Matthew. Luke. and corintians gospel...

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Scripture is explicitly clear that Passover is Nisan 14th. Nisan 15th is the High Sabbath of Feast of Unleavened Bread, and no work could be done, this includes cooking, buying and selling and burying a body. The question is a bit unclear, and has several assumptions built in. In the body of the original question, there are 2 assumptions, which create problems.

  1. The assumption of the year 33 AD, and
  2. the Assumption the crucifixion was a Friday.

The entire problem of the confusion about Christ's death, burial and resurrection comes from a lack of understanding of Jewish culture and holidays. First off - In Hebrew, all the 7 feasts are Shabbat - the root of our word Sabbath. So we have weekly Shabbat, and then the 7 feasts which are also Shabbat - Day of Atonement, Pentecost, Feast of Booths, etc.

All feasts are Shabbat, but not all are high sabbath, or more specifically - on some, no work was allowed all all, not even cooking. Passover is a feast, but is there is a lot of work involved in making a fire and slaughtering a lamb, before the priests did this in the temple. Passover was the day of Preparation before the High Sabbath of Feast of Unleavened Bread in which no work could be done. The special commands of "no servile work" was not given for Passover.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/crux.cfm "Please note, the Passover is not a High Sabbath day, this important fact is often overlooked. You can tell because the usual command for a sabbath of "an holy convocation and no servile work is to be done," is not given for Passover. So while Passover is a feast day, it is not a sabbath day."

It was however given for Feast of Unleavened Bread, Nisan 15th. This also included no buying or selling, nor burying a body. Dick H cites 2 passages that mention "the day before the Sabbath". He cited these passages as evidence that the crucifixion was Friday, but it's the same mistake the Church made. The church assumed this was the weekly Sabbath, but in the original Greek, Matthew 28:1 says Sabbaths plural.

"What the Bible says about After the Sabbaths (From Forerunner Commentary) Matthew 28:1 provides additional proof of two Sabbaths occurring that week. However, the Bible's translators, confused by the Greek wording of this verse, have consistently mistranslated it. Matthew writes, "Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn . . . ." The wording of the original text, though, reads, "after the Sabbaths" - plural! Richard T. Ritenbaugh"

There are two nails in the coffin of the Friday Myth.

  1. First is the words of Christ himself - The only sign that Christ gave that He was the Messiah was the sign of the Prophet Jonah. What was the sign of Jonah?

Jonah 17:1 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." Christ quotes Jonah and repeats the exact words from the Prophet, in Matthew 12:40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40) "What about the sign of Jonah?

"Was the prophet in the great fish's belly for a complete 72 hours? The marginal note in Bullinger's Companion Bible for Jonah 1:17 reads: "Three days and three nights. The Hebrew idiom 'three days' can be used for parts of three days (and even of years): but not when the word 'nights' is added" (our emphasis). By the addition of "nights," the expression becomes more specific, precluding the idea of "parts" of days!" https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/CGGBOOKLETS/k/419/After-Three-Days.htm Multiple Jewish rabbis confirm that typical custom of "Jewish inclusive reckoning" - counting parts of a day as a whole day - does not apply in passages where the text explicitly says 3 days and 3 nights, or 40 days and 40 nights, etc.

  1. The second nail in the coffin of the Friday myth is the spices.

The text explicitly says the "women rested on the sabbath" and then "bought spices after the Sabbath". This is not possible at all with a Friday crucifixion - just before sundown.

In the first century, the only light besides the sun, moon and stars was candles/ torches. It was forbidden to buy and sell on the weekly Sabbath. Think about it.

Merchants would not have taken all their goods to the market, and set up shop in the dark after the sabbath ended on Saturday night. It was not only impractical, but a safety risk of being robbed.

This is also why a Thursday crucifixion doesn't work at all.

The women rested on the high sabbath of Unleavened bread, - Wed night & Thursday Day.

  • Bought spices on Friday, "After the Sabbath" -being after the high Sabbath of Unleavened bread. Then they rested on the Weekly Sabbath of Friday evening, Saturday day.

Also, the points made by multiple people that there were at least 3 calendars in use at the time are correct. Besides the calendar used by the Romans - there was a calendar used by the Essenes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
This is also confirmed by the Jewish historian Josephus who wrote of the hundreds of thousands of people in Jerusalem for Passover. It would have been physically impossible for all the priests to sacrifice all the lambs on one day.

This also explains the issue of how Christ and his disciples ate the Passover meal, and yet he was crucified on Passover.

A 33 AD crucifixion also is a huge problem because it makes Christ too old. He was born about 3 or 4 BC, and scripture says that he was about 30 when we started his ministry and the Gospels record 3 Passovers in his ministry, so this fits with a 30 AD date and age of 33.

Furthermore, in Jewish burial customs, it is believed that the spirit lingers near the body for 3 days, and one could be in a coma. After 3 days - the spirit does not remain, and thus making resurrection impossible. This is why the "resurrection" cannot be explained by the "Coma theory" but most importantly, we see three examples in scripture of someone dying and being dead for at least 3 days and 3 nights.

  • Christ
  • Lazarus
  • and the 2 witnesses in Revelation 11:3-12.
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    Tennant...your statement about the spices is incorrect...read Mark 16:1"When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb." They obviously obtained the spices in th evening after the Sabbath was passed (or Saturday night using our calender system). Also, 2 witnesses in revelation are not real people, that is a metaphor (some say representing the two testaments of the Bible...ie old and the new). – Adam Jan 31 at 21:16
  • @adam, say what you want, but the bottom line is that its impossible to get 3 days & 3 nights w Friday crucifixion & the only sign Christ gave to prove he is the messiah is the sign of Jonah. Jonah also explicitly said 3 days & 3 nights. People didn't understand jewish culture so they twist the clear words of scripture to make it fit tradition. Merchants would not travel at night with money by candle to set up the market after dark on Saturday night. There was no Food Lion or Super Target. Either we can trust the only sign of Christs messiahship & his own words or we cant. Cheers – Tennman7 Jan 31 at 23:53
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    It is not 3 days and 3 nights...that's what I'm trying to explain to you...the text only says it is "3 days"(or parts of days). Your basing your entire argument on an incorrect reading and therefore interpretation of the verse. Its not my saying...its what the text actually says! The Friday he was crucified is day 1, Sabbath is day 2, Sunday of the resurrection is day 3. In modern Western culture we do not count today...but in times back then they did count the current day. – Adam Feb 1 at 0:04
  • @Adam, brother im not sure what text you're reading, but you're completely incorrect. The whole point is precisely because christ himself gave only one sign as proof thst he is the Messiah. Matthew 12:40 "for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Jonah 1:17 Jonah 1:17 NASB "and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights." In these passages & like Gen 7, rained 40 days & 40 nights, Jewish inclusive counting does not apply. Not parts of days. Cheers – Tennman7 Feb 1 at 14:32

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