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In Regards to S.E. Answer: The Consummate Refutation of Christianity—if the Last Supper was a Passover Feast.

Since any day of the week that Passover falls on is considered a Sabbath, doesn't it make more sense to infer that the week of the crucifixion involve a double Sabbath, (two Sabbath Days in it)?

Luke 6:1 - Now it happened that Jesus was passing through some grainfields on a Sabbath, (σαββάτῳ δευτεροπρώτῳ), and His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them.

John 19:31 - Then the Jews sought to take the bodies down, for that Sabbath was the Passover Sabbath).

If so, then an exact date of Jesus' crucifixion can be inferred, because there are very few Friday's that fall exactly 14 days after the Spring Equinox—making that Friday and Saturday both, Sabbaths. It is possible to use the U.S. Naval Observatory data for this.

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2 Answers 2

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Couple of things.

Passover proper, the 14th of Nisan, is never defined in Scripture as a Sabbath. The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is, however, referred to as a Sabbath type, a high holy day.

In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Lev 23:5-7

Holy convocation and servile work are the references to Sabbath.

In addition, John defines the High Day as a Sabbath (John 7:37, 19:31).

There is no necessary relationship of 14 days after the Spring Equinox. They measured it as the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.

So, to answer the OP, yes, there is always, unless the two days overlap, two Sabbaths of a weekly Sabbath and the first day of Unleavened Bread Sabbath in the week of Unleavened Bread.

For the first couple centuries, Alexandria taught that Passover the 14th was a Friday and the 15th was an overlap Sabbath of the Saturday and first day of Unleavened Bread. The church at Rome, however, taught the 14th was Thursday, so that Friday and Saturday were consecutive Sabbaths.

Back to John 19:31.

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation [Friday the 15th for the weekly Sabbath], that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day [the first day of Unleavened Bread the 15th], (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

The key is John telling us it was also preparation day, which only happens prior to either a weekly Sabbath or Feast day Sabbath.

Does that answer your question?

EDIT TO ADD:

About the link to "refutation", the person doesn't understand, thus it's not a refutation.

On the Luke 6:1 reference, it is how they counted from the day after the weekly Sabbath to Pentecost. So, Luke 6:1 is referring to the end of the 2nd week or 14 days within the 50. It has nothing to do with a double Sabbath during Unleavened Bread week, but only as a means of marking the Sunday to the Sabbath as week one. Again, they were in week two.

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  • Thanks! I forgot to add the support and references that Passover is a Sabbath. Will try to add it all this week. May 2, 2022 at 3:08
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I suggest that the week of Jesus' death did not involve a double Sabbath (as in two different days that were Sabbaths in the same week), but did involve two "Sabbaths" on the same day.

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Festivals as Sabbaths

I agree with SLM that it's 15 Nisan, not 14 Nisan, that is a "Festival Sabbath". But in what sense are these Festival days Sabbaths?

Blumell & Wayment offer a helpful summary of the relevant Biblical texts:

Whenever the term Sabbath is used in John, it always refers to the actual day of Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) and not to the beginning of a festival held on another day of the week: John 5:9–10, 16, 18, 7:22–23, 9:14, 16.

However, in the Old Testament, “Sabbath” is occasionally used as a reference for some festivals: Feast of Trumpets, Feast of Tabernacles (see Leviticus 23). Passover is described as a day on which no work/labor should be performed (Sabbath-like). This does not mean, however, that Passover was necessarily referred to as a “Sabbath” regardless of the day of the week it occurred, such as a Thursday or a Friday (see here pp. 78-79)

This is why some will take issue with calling 15 Nisan a Sabbath...it is and it isn't, depending on how we scope "Sabbath".

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High Day

John tells us that this particular Sabbath was something special, which he called a "high day":

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away (John 19:31)

I would be interested in any competing examples, but to my knowledge "high day" is never used, in any ancient Jewish or Christian source, to refer to a Sabbath that is not both:

  • The weekly Sabbath (i.e. Saturday) AND
  • A holy festival day

Thus, I understand John's meaning to be that the next day wasn't just "Saturday", it was both "Saturday" and 15 Nisan, the day the Passover lamb was to be eaten. It was therefore a particularly holy day.

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The day of preparation

All 4 Gospels indicate that Jesus died on "the day of preparation": παρασκευή. παρασκευή does not refer to preparing for just anything; when παρασκευή is used to refer to a day, it always refers to Friday (see further discussion here).

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Conclusion re double Sabbath

If we grant the broad notion of "Sabbath" that includes Festival dates like 15 Nisan, this means that the week of Jesus' death did not have two Sabbaths on different days, but it did have two Sabbaths on the same day, Saturday 15 Nisan.


Appendix--the date of Jesus' death

The OP noted that solving this problem would be very helpful in determining the date of the crucifixion--I agree, it is. If we conclude that the day following the crucifixion was a Saturday, 15 Nisan, then the crucifixion occurred on Friday, 14 Nisan.

If the Jewish calendar was correctly implemented (they were using lunar observation rather than calculation at this time, so they could have gotten it wrong--but to their credit, ancient astronomers were quite good at lunar observation, they did a lot more of it than we do, and Judea is not known for frequent overcast days), then we need only look for a 14 Nisan that would have fallen on a Friday during the tenure of Pontius Pilate (in office AD 26-36).

Humphreys & Waddington provide a helpful review of the lunar calculations & rules here, and in so doing, demonstrate that only 14 Nisan AD 30 or 14 Nisan AD 33 are possible.

AD 30 & AD 33 are indeed the most popular years among historians for dating the crucifixion. For my own assessment of the balance of evidence between these two possibilities, see my video series Chronology in the Life of Jesus.

As argued in the post linked by the OP, then, the Last Supper was not eaten on 15 Nisan, but Jesus really did die just before sundown on 14 Nisan--at the same time the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. John is careful to point out that Jesus is quite literally The Lamb of God.

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  • According to Jewish Encyclopedia, a High or Great Sabbath is the Sabbath preceding Passover. See also Martyrdom of Polycarp Chapter XXI. IMO, this is a later redirect. But I will stick with John's two explanations of megas Sabbath, megas translated as great or high. At John 19:31, it WAS (imperfect tense) preparation day and WAS (imperfect tense) High Sabbath at the same time/day. You can't get to a double Sabbath with that preparation day fact, else preparation day was Sabbath and weekly and Feast Sabbath was all falling on the same day.
    – SLM
    May 4, 2022 at 4:54
  • And so we go back to the strange fudging of 3 days and 3 nights thing? Somehow, I don't buy that Jesus needs to be utterly disingenuous about something so important - the ONLY sign he said.
    – steveowen
    Jul 10, 2022 at 11:22
  • @steveowen Not at all, if one understands how Jesus defined the 3 days/nights in the heart of the earth. For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst [HEART] of the earth. Psalm 74:12 The HEART is not the tomb, but His passion; the period from Passover betrayal to resurrection. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: Lk 24:46
    – SLM
    Jul 10, 2022 at 16:32
  • "The sufferings of Our Lord, which culminated in His death upon the cross, seem to have been conceived of as one inseparable whole from a very early period. Even in the Acts of the Apostles (i, 3) St. Luke speaks of those to whom Christ "shewed himself alive after his passion" (meta to mathein autou). ... Passio also meets us in the same sense in other early writings (e.g. Tertullian, "Adv. Marcion.", IV, 40) and the word was clearly in common use in the middle of the third century, as in Cyprian, Novatian, and Commodian." New Advent
    – SLM
    Jul 10, 2022 at 16:34

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