Can we know the exact date of Resurrection?

Wikipedia gives two possible dates for crucifixion 7 Apr 30 and 3 Apr 33: I wonder why we cannot date the event with accuracy since we know the details : full moon on 14 Nisan. It would seem quite easy , with modern knowledges and techniques, to determine on what year the first vernal full moon took place on 14 Nisan, what are the problems?

• Actually the dates given in the Wikipedia article are for the Crucifixion. May 16, 2018 at 14:41
• But Wiki is also using the Julian Date, which is the convention for dates before the Gregorian Calendar was introduced. In the 1st century the Gregorian date differs from the Julian by 2 days. It turns out if we use our Gregorian Calendar (not the Julian) then the Resurrection was indeed either 7th April AD 30 or 3rd April AD 33. Apr 6, 2021 at 8:38
• The Wikipedia article and the current answers to this question all assume that the Crucifixion was on a Friday. Some denominations find Wednesday a much more believable day for it, in which case the resurrection would have been just before sunset on Saturday 27th April AD 31. See for instance my recent answer in judaism - In Matthew 27:62, what is "the day of preparation"? - Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange Apr 8, 2021 at 15:03
• It was/is always full moon on 14th Nisan. 1st of each month is/was the day the appearance of first crescent moon, 14th of every month was full moon. They followed a lunar calendar. And 14th Nisan was always in every year the first vernal full moon by definition. Dec 5, 2021 at 12:32

It is indeed possible to calculate, within a few hours, the timings of full moons in the first century. Stochastic variations mean we cannot be more accurate.

The question asks whether we can apply the knowledge that there was a full moon on Nisan 14 to narrow down the possible years it could have been. Unfortunately this does not help. This is because Nisan like all Jewish and Islamic months only starts when the new moon is sighted. This means there is always a full moon on, or very close to, Nisan 14. We would be looking for a full moon occuring 14 days after a new moon became visible. Not a distinguishing feature.

Because the Resurrection was Sunday, and the Crucifixion believed to be Friday, this means that we are looking for a year in which the full moon was Thursday or Friday. We know there was a full moon on Thursday evening, April 6th, 30AD; and one on Friday afternoon, April 3rd, 33AD. In other years in the late twenties and early thirties the full moon was on a different weekday.

These dates are calculated according to the Roman calendar (Julian). We cannot say, with certainty, what date in the Jewish calendar, used in the first century, was the equivalent to a Roman date. In principle these dates should have been Nissan 14. However the start of a month depended on actually seeing the crescent moon, and this depennded partly on the weather and the amount of sand in the air.

Furtermore, although the temple authorities aimed to ensure the Nisan full moon was the first full moon in Spring, there were other considerations. If there was a risk that the Nisan full moon would happen before the equinox they interposed an extra month, making Nisan later. Two other considerations were that the barley and wheat were developing. If they were not Nisan might be postponed leading to the Nisan full moon being the second full moon of Spring. This was because a barley offering was made at Passover time, and a Wheat offering at Pentecost. If the winter weather persisted later than usual Nisan might not be announced at the expected time.

We do not know the exact dates, in Roman terms, on which Passover occurred. We do know there was always a full moon on or close to Nisan 14, but that doesn't help.

The reason AD30 and AD33 are the main candidates, rather than nearby years, is purely because the full moon was Thursday evening and Friday afternoon respectively.

• Thanks, but we do know that preaching started in what is currently called 29 A.D. (15th year of Tiberius) so, why can't we calculate how long preaching lasted to get the exact date? 30 A.D. seems too close, don't you agree? May 19, 2018 at 6:35
• 30 A.D. seems too close, don't you agree? I agree with that 100%, more if possible! Apr 6, 2021 at 8:30
• 15th year of Tiberius counting from co-regency was 26 AD. 15th year of Tiberius counting from sole reign was 29 AD, but to reconcile Luke, Dionysius, Eusebius, and Tertullian as the 12th year, then the same date of 26 AD corresponds. Further, Luke 3:2 mentions the co-high priests. Christ preached 3 1/2 years to 30 AD.
– SLM
Dec 3, 2021 at 16:43

Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin in his 2013 blog article which he reprinted in the 2020 National Catholic Register article 7 Clues Tell Us PRECISELY When Jesus Died (the Year, Month, Day, and Hour Revealed) has a convincing algorithm that happens to agree with the two Wikipedia choices at Step #5: 7 Apr 30 and 3 Apr 33. In Step #6 he said the A.D. 30 date is out. That leaves us the time and date of Jesus's death to be precisely:

around 3:00 p.m on Friday, April 3, A.D. 33

Therefore, the resurrection date is Sunday, April 5, A.D. 33.

Here are the summary of the steps (see article for details):

1. The High Priesthood of Caiaphas: narrow to A.D. 18 to 36
2. The Governorship of Pontius Pilate: narrow to A.D. 26 to 36
3. After "the Fifteenth Year of Tiberius Caesar" (Luke 3:1-2): narrow to A.D. 29 as the earliest year of Jesus's ministry
4. Crucified on a Friday: narrow to a Friday between A.D. 29 and 36
5. A Friday at Passover: narrow to 2 candidates of all Passover between A.D. 29 and 36:
• Monday, April 18, A.D. 29
• Friday, April 7, A.D. 30
• Tuesday, March 27, A.D. 31
• Monday, April 14, A.D. 32
• Friday, April 3, A.D. 33
• Wednesday, March 24, A.D. 34
• Tuesday, April 12, A.D. 35
• Saturday, March 31, A.D. 36
6. John's Three Passovers require ministry to span over 2 years. Since Jesus's ministry couldn't start until A.D. 29, A.D. 30 is out. Narrow to April 3, A.D. 33
7. "The Ninth Hour" (Matt 27:45-50, Mark 15:34-37, Luke 23:44-46), narrow to 3pm Friday, April 3, A.D. 33
• As I understand it, Sabbath doesn't just mean Saturday but can also refer to any of the feasts; there were many Sabbaths beyond just the weekly one. Regarding step 4, couldn't the "day of preparation" have been prep for the Passover, which was also considered a Sabbath? If this is the case, then Wednesday March, 24, A.D.34 is a candidate. Dec 3, 2021 at 0:39
• @MikeBorden I don't know. But the identification of Good Friday as day of preparation for Sabbath (not Passover) seems quite prevalent (see here for an example). Curiously, here's an NT scholar Andreas Köstenberger reaching the same date using similar calculation but has Nissan 15 (April 3) to start Thursday night instead of Friday night ! Dec 3, 2021 at 1:23
• 3 days and nights, based on a Friday death of Jesus has always troubled me. The accepted answer to this question is interesting: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/2198/… Dec 3, 2021 at 17:14

There are a couple of issues to consider as background to answering the OP with an emphatic yes.

Technically, the full moon is supposed to fall on the 15th of Nisan. They left Egypt at night by that. It was 24 hours of light with sunset and moonrise within minutes of each other. But to find the full moon, you have to sight the new moon. So, its not enough to only know the date of the full moon.

And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. Numbers 33:3

Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. Deut. 16:1

The other issue with the new and full moon is the time of the Spring Equinox. Some disagree that the new moon must first appear after the Equinox, but nearly all agree that the full moon must appear after the Equinox. So, one also has to know when that occurred.

The final issue, and there are many in this area, is the timing of the birth and life of Christ. These things have to align with historic events, like the death of Herod or who the high priest was or how many Passovers Christ observed during His ministry, and when was He baptized.

If one puts all considerations together, one would find that the Triumphal Entry was on a Sunday the 10th when the people picked their Lamb (or King), Christ was crucified in CE 30 at age 33 1/2 on Thursday the 14th of Nisan on Passover. He was already buried on the 15th Friday (full moon) on first day of Feast of Unleavened Bread. He was resurrected at sunset as the Sabbath ended and the first day dawned (see Mat. 28:1-4).

• "Christ was crucified [...] on Thursday" — do you have a citation for that? I've always understood (as does every church to my knowledge) that the Passover meal was Thursday. There is definitely nighttime following that meal and preceding the Crucifixion, and Christ was crucified on Friday morning (n.b. Matthew 27:1, and Matthew 27:45 suggests He was on the cross by noon). Strictly speaking, as Jews mark time, AFAIK he wasn't even arrested on Thursday (although we would call it Thursday, since we use midnight rather than sunset as the end/start of days). Apr 6, 2021 at 15:15
• @Matthew at the time, for example, the authorities said they will not arrest or crucify Jesus on the feast day (the 15th, first day feast of unleavened bread). Did they do so anyway? There are numerous citations and proofs of a Thursday betrayal, arrest, crucifixion..
– SLM
Apr 6, 2021 at 16:43
• AFAIK, no; after the Passover meal, Jesus went with his disciples to Gethsemane. As I understand things, it was night (i.e. after sunset) when Judas and the soldiers showed up, which, as Jews mark days, would make it Friday. Whether the betrayal is on Thursday or Friday is unclear. The arrest was, AFAIK, on what we would call Thursday, but was Friday to the Jews. The crucifixion AFAICT was Friday morning (by either accounting). (con't...) Apr 6, 2021 at 16:54
• (...con't) So, "proofs of a Thursday [...] arrest" is probably misunderstanding how Jews mark days, i.e. correct for the day not ending until midnight, but incorrect in that the Jewish day ended at sunset. Since AFAICT the timeline is quite clear that there is Last Supper (some time on Thursday), then evening/night in Gethsemane, then the arrest, then the trial in the morning (Matthew 27:1), I would be very suspicious of, and would very much like to examine, any claim that Christ was crucified on Thursday. Apr 6, 2021 at 16:57
• Alternatively, if you're claiming that the Last Supper was on a Wednesday, I'd be interested to see those sources also, because I'm not familiar with any churches that believe that. I'm quite familiar with Maundy Thursday. I've never heard of Maundy Wednesday. Apr 6, 2021 at 16:59

Lots of people think they know but if God had wanted us to know, there would have been sufficient detail in the text to work out unambiguously what the date of Jesus' resurrection was. Yet we are not given to know the year of his birth (let alone the month or the day) so why should anybody be surprised that we do not know the year of his resurrection (though it likely was April, whichever year it was.)

Consider how many specific, historic dates ARE given in scripture, especially in the Old Testament. Too many to list here. When we need to know an exact date, that is provided in scripture. So, what is God trying to get through to us by withholding enough detail to exactly date Jesus' birth, death and resurrection? After all, these events were the most momentous in all history. It's rather simple.

Paul warned Christians not to become enslaved to arguing about words and dates. He had explained to them the miracle of grace in becoming children of God and so being liberated from bondage, then continued:

"...how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you" (Galatians 4:9-11).

Knowing those exact dates to do with Jesus have no bearing on anyone being saved by God's grace. It is the fact of his birth, death and resurrection that we are to focus on, not when - exactly - they happened. Yet over the centuries religious groups have set great store by producing an ecclesiastical calendar precisely to celebrate events on exact dates! And how they argue with groups that produce different dates!

Even Jesus warned us (after his resurrection) about this trap of wanting to work dates out. His disciples had asked him a specific question about the date of a truly important event they were looking forward to:

"Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority" (Acts 1:6-7).

Sadly, much of the continuing debate about dates to do with Jesus is directly linked to being able to anticipate when he will return to usher in the Day of Resurrection and Judgment. Yet the Bible is clear that we are to anticipate his unexpected return as if that was going to happen today. We do not need to know any dates - we just need to have continuously demonstrated faith that, one day, he IS going to spectacularly return, catching everyone on the hop except his own.

That is why we cannot know the exact date of Jesus' resurrection, or of the Day of Resurrection and Judgment. We are not meant to know, for such knowledge would have no bearing on anybody's salvation. On the contrary, that could even detract from putting total faith in what Christ has done, because of pride of having special knowledge (gnosis), which is something else the Bible warns Christians against. What we have been given to know is what we should be getting on with, then, whenever Christ suddenly appears, we will not be caught wrapped up in matters we have been told not to get wrapped up in.

The main problem is that the Bible itself doesn't state the exact date of Jesus' resurrection from the grave.

The two main points of Biblical information about the day of Christ's Resurrection from the Grave:

Matthew 28:1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

John 2:19Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” 20“This temple took forty-six years to build, the Jews replied, “and You are going to raise it up in three days?” 21But Jesus was speaking about the temple of His body."

The Bible gives us the information that God wanted us to know in order to believe. We know that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, and that he was in the earth for 3 days.

Any attempt to settle the exact day that Jesus arose would have to use information outside of biblical context and therefore unable to confirm. So to answer your question, while information you quote could raise supposition, it can never affirm without Biblical context.
thank you

Mel

• Christ died sometime in the afternoon of what would have been Friday to the Jews, i.e. before sunset. We can probably suppose He would have been in the tomb by sunset as well, since no work shall be done on the Sabbath. Let's be generous and call it early afternoon. He had Risen by Sunday, "very early in the morning" (Luke 24:1). Again, being generous, let's say this was six hours earlier than He was buried. This means He was actually in the tomb ("the earth") for maybe 1¾ days (not 3), which is why some churches can have Good Friday and Easter Vigil services only about 24 hours apart. Apr 6, 2021 at 15:06
• Why are you unable to confirm facts that rely on extra-biblical information? Nov 19, 2021 at 14:52

What must be understood is that Nisan is always determined by the spring equinox: in other words 14th and 15th Nisan is always the first full moon after the spring equinox in every year, by definition.

At least, nearly always: one problem is we do not know for sure if this rule applied in the Jewish Calendar of the first century. Do we know for sure if it was the 1st of Nisan or merely the 14th of Nisan which had to be after the spring equinox? From the work of Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea in Syria, called "Canons of the Passover", written about AD 270:-

'This rule [that the Passover must fall after the spring equinox] .. was known to the Jews long ago.. as witnessed by Philo, Josephus and Musaeus .. they say that .. all alike sacrifice the Passover after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month.' (Colin Humphreys, "The Mystery of the Last Supper", note 21 on page 210).

There are only two years when the day of preparation of the Passover, 14th Nisan, could have been a Friday (always at full moon): A.D. 30 or 33. If you think the crucifixion happened on a Friday these are the only possible years.

There are (at least) three passovers in John's Gospel, at 2:13, 6:4, and the final one 11:55 to the end of gospel.

And "Jesus began to be about 30 years old" when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23). Most believers suppose this means within a few months of 30 years old, not years.

A critical factor influencing when we believe he was crucified is thus the year we believe he was born. If you think he was born about 5 BC, then you choose AD 30. If you think he was born late in 2 BC then you choose AD 33.

The year we believe he was born is largely determined by the year we believe Herod the Great died. And the year of Herod's death is largely determined by our interpretation of the data in the writings of the first century historian, Josephus.

For an examination of the data in Josephus see "Elapsed time for Herod the Great in Josephus" by Andrew Steinmann and Rodger C Young here http://www.rcyoung.org/articles/ElapsedTimes.pdf

Personally, I think the fact John the Baptist's ministry began in the 15th of Tiberius rules out AD 30 as a possibility. The only way AD 30 could come back into the reaconing is if 1. Tiberius Caesar had a co-regency.. historians are very divided on this (certainly Tiberius dates his reign on coins from his sole reign), and 2. Luke in Luke 3:1 dates the reign of Tiberius from the beginning of his co-regency (very unlikely/unprecedented).

• Luke 3:2 mentions a co-high-priesthood. Most scholars date Luke's 15th year of Tiberius from the co-regency. Tertullian, however, dates Jesus' ministry to Tiberius' 12th year, which is marked from the first full year of his sole reign.
– SLM
Apr 6, 2021 at 14:42
• @SLM - It is because they feel compelled to because they are convinced Jesus was born 5 BC. It would not otherwise be considered an option. I'm also told Tiberias co-regency began the same year as his sole reign, it doesn't add a significant number of years. Apr 6, 2021 at 22:27
• Augustus/Tiberius co-regency began 12AD, then Augustus dies 14AD. Sole reign of Tiberius begins 15AD. This aligns to the historic evidence.
– SLM
Dec 3, 2021 at 16:49
• @SLM - "This aligns" - don't think so. If he was co-regent when AC died then there would have been no need to try to persuade T to be Emperor.. he would have been already. There would have been no comment that T made more effort to stop being emperor than many a man would spend trying to become emperor, nor the comment that some men promise but do not deliver but that Tiberius delivers but does not promise.. (He was effectively ruling the moment AC died, but would not agree to become emperor for several weeks.) Dec 5, 2021 at 10:23
• Here's another comment. history.stackexchange.com/questions/37567/…
– SLM
Dec 5, 2021 at 18:11