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According to Wikipedia:

The modern Jewish Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is seven days, starting with the sunset at the beginning of Nisan 15.

and

According to some interpretations, the Gospel of John (e.g., 19:14, 19:31, 19:42) implies that Nisan 14 was the day that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem.

The article mentions that this was the first Easter controversy which petered out around the 4th century and that "Jehovah's Witnesses continue to celebrate the memorial of Christ's death on Nisan 14."

Recently, an answer on Biblical Hermeneutics asserted that Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14. This indicates the interpretation is still supported in some modern traditions.

Are there any denominations that interpret John 19 as placing the crucifixion on Nisan 14? Do the Jehovah's Witnesses base their memorial on John 19?

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  • Almost all denominations don't care what exact date it was, and don't have any official doctrine on the matter. Jan 7 at 14:32

2 Answers 2

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All denominations, as far as I'm aware, agree that John 19 places the crucifixion on Nisan 14. John 19:14 is clear that this was "the day of Preparation for the Passover," that is, the day the sacrificial lambs were slain before the Passover feast officially began (see Exodus 12:5-6). Since Passover begins on Nisan 15, Preparation Day is the 14th.

The Quartodecimian controversy was whether Christians should celebrate essentially a "Christian Passover" on the 14th every year, or whether they should celebrate the resurrection day, the first day of the new week following the Passover.

The practice of celebrating Easter Sunday was soon adopted by the majority of Christians, though some churches continued the Quartodecimian practice for centuries.

Today many churches celebrate a Passover or Seder meal on Thursday evening before Good Friday, but as far as I'm aware only the Jehovah's Witnesses celebrate as the Quartodecimians did, with a meal on the 14th and no special celebration on the following Sunday.

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  • Some churches commemorate (with wine, bread, and foot washing) the eve of Nisan 14, the same night as the "Last Supper", not the night of the annual Passover seder, which is the following evening. E.g. see The Passover | United Church of God. Apr 1, 2021 at 2:25
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Which denominations believe that John 19 indicates that the crucifixion had the date of Nisan 14?

Denominations do not generally hold fixed views on such things.

All Christians are agreed our Lord rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples on the Sunday morning. The most common expression in the New Testament is that our Lord Jesus rose from the dead “on the third day”. This expression can be understood from Luke 13:32 where our Lord says “today, tomorrow and the third day”. Judging from this the day of his crucifixion was on Friday, Saturday was the second day, and he rose the third day which was Sunday. See also Leviticus 7:15-17 for precisely the same meaning for “the third day”.

Jesus rose from the dead the day after the Sabbath day, as “the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinth 15:20-23). The Apostle Paul, by referring to Leviticus 23:11 where the firstfruits were brought the day after the Sabbath, he is saying Jesus rose the day after the Sabbath.

The Passover lambs were prepared on the 14th Nisan and the Passover meal was eaten in the evening which was the 15th Nisan, which was also the first day of feast of unleavened bread which lasted a week.

Confusion arises because our Lord ate the Passover meal before his crucifixion which would have been Thursday night at the latest. This causes huge confusion: how could he have eaten the Passover meal before the Passover lambs were due to be slaughtered in the Temple on the Friday afternoon? The problem is addressed by Colin Humphrey’s book “The Mystery of the Last Supper”. It has certainly changed my mind about the last week of Jesus’s earthly ministry.

There are only three Fridays between AD 28 and 35 inclusive which are either 14th or 15th Nisan: 7th April AD 30 and 3rd April AD 33 both fell on 14th Nisan and 23rd April AD 34 fell on Nisan 15th. For over sixty years Christians have relied on Richard A. Parker and Waldo Dubberstein's classic "Babylonian Chronology - 626 BC to AD 75" for the dates of the period; these specific dates have been confirmed by modern astronomy as shown by the work of Rita Gautschy on her website Jerusalem Calendar.

Friday is not contradicted as the day of his crucifixion in John 19:14 and John 19:31. In both these verses the day of the crucifixion is described as “the preparation of the Passover”. There are two possible meanings for this: either it was the day the Passover lamb was prepared, by slaying it for the Passover meal in the evening (which would be Nisan 15th); or it was the day of preparation for the weekly (Saturday) Sabbath falling within Passover week. Even today, in the Greek language the word “Parascevi” means both “preparation” and “Friday”. In either of the two cases Friday is not contradicted.

The 15th of Nisan was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread and was always a special Sabbath (Lev 23:6-7). John 19:31 says that the day after the crucifixion was a “high day” (KJV), or a “special Sabbath” (NIV). This might mean it was both a Saturday Sabbath and the first day of the week of the feast of unleavened bread. This would not be contradicted if our Lord was crucified on Friday 14th Nisan.

Friday 3rd April AD 33 was 14th Nisan. Just after sunset on that day astronomical data shows the moon came up being partially eclipsed by the earth. I’m told this would have appeared as a red moon which explains Peter’s comment in Acts 2:20 “the moon shall be turned to blood”.

Also there was darkness for three hours that day which Luke tells us “covered the earth” (Luke 23:44, KJV, NKJV and Aramaic Bible in Plain English). I expect Luke, the great historian could have chosen a word which suggested the darkness was only a local phenomena covering the land of Judaea and surrounding nations, but his investigations drew him to speak of the whole “earth”, the whole known world of the time.

This darkness is recorded in several places of ancient literature.

Amongst other testimonies of the darkness exists the account of Phlegon of Tralles, a Greek historian, born not long after the crucifixion. He wrote a history called “Olympiades” not all of which survives today. A section which does survive says

In the 4th year of the 202nd Olympiad, there was a great eclipse of the sun, greater than had ever been known before, for at the sixth hour the Day was changed into Night, and the stars were seen in the heavens…

The 4th year of the 202nd Olympiad was from July AD 32 to July AD 33.

Another section of the Olympiades no longer extant is quoted by Julius Africanus, writing around AD 220. His quote the Olympiades reads:-

During the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the Full Moon.

But a natural eclipse of the sun is impossible at the time of full moon because the moon is opposite the sun at this time of the month.

These are just two of the testimonies of a darkening of the sun in those days. An account of more testimonies can be found in Appendix 4 of “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks” by Pastor Derek Walker of Oxford Bible Church, UK, published 2009. This account can be read at

https://www.oxfordbiblechurch.co.uk/index.php/books/new-book-daniel-s-70-weeks

This testimony of Phlegon is not inconsistent with the view that the crucifixion happened in AD 33 when the Passover lambs were sacrificed on Friday 14th Nisan.

Finally if the decree to rebuild Jerusalem by Artaxerxes I and spoken of in Ezra chapter 7 (see Ezra 7:12-13) was the one being referred to in Daniel 9:24, then the obedience to that decree by Ezra on the 1st of the 1st month of Artaxerxes's 7th year (Ezra 7:9) happened on 3rd April 458 BC (Gregorian Calendar). If our Lord was crucified in AD 33 on 3rd April (Julian Calendar) then this was Friday 1st April (Gregorian Calendar) and our Lord was resurrected on Sunday AD 33 3rd April (Gregorian Calendar), which is 490 years to the exact day according to the Solar Year and the Gregorian Calendar. (For a mere 490 years the Gregorian Calendar is exactly the same in length of days as the Solar Year.)

Friday, AD 33 3rd April (Julian) (14th Nisan), that is 1st April (Gregorian) seems to be confirmed by Daniel 9:24 and Ezra 7:9 as the day our Lord was crucified, dying during the afternoon when the Passover lambs were being slaughtered, and rising from the dead on the third day, Sunday 16th Nisan, 3rd April (Gregorian) as the firstfruits of them that slept (1 Corinthians 15:20, Leviticus 23:10-11). For more on this see the same website as above https://www.oxfordbiblechurch.co.uk/index.php/books/new-book-daniel-s-70-weeks

For the modern calculations see the free online astronomical tables of Rita Gautschy, for the dates of the first of each lunar month for the Jewish Calendar, here: http://www.gautschy.ch/~rita/archast/mond/jewcal.html

You can use the following web page to find the day of the week for any date: https://onlineconversion.com/julian_date.htm

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  • Jesus died on Friday, the fifteenth day of Nisan. From Catholic Encyclopedia (NewAdvent.org).
    – SLM
    Jan 7 at 15:40
  • @SLM - Thanks. Astronomy shows that could only have been AD 34 23rd April (Julian). The reason why it is easy to sympathise with the Catholic Enc. and why many have clung on to Friday 15th Nisan for both AD 30 and AD 33 is because of the confusion arising from the Last Supper appearing to be a Passover meal and hence being eaten the night before the day of 15th Nisan. I believe this problem has been resolved by Colin Humphrey's ground breaking book "The Mystery of the Last Supper". I guess it will take another 100 years for its findings to become commonly accepted, these things take time. Jan 7 at 15:51
  • @SLM - For other reasons I spent a long time trying to resolve the date for the crucifixion; what totally confused me was the New Testament showing the Last Supper was a Passover meal. I could not figure out what on earth was going on until Colin Humphrey's book was recommended to me. What is more, I honestly didn't expect him to change my mind about how to interpret the gospel accounts of Jesus's last week. Jan 7 at 16:00
  • I haven't read the book, but a few reviews. Sounds like he thought Christ ate Passover on the 14th Wednesday and crucified on the 16th Friday. Is that accurate? I'm not aware of anyone in history who thought Christ died on the 16th of Nisan.
    – SLM
    Jan 7 at 18:15
  • @SLM - Is that accurate? - Sort of, but not really!! He takes the reader right back to Moses and examines the calendar the Jews used in the OT. The Egyptian calendar had the day start at sunrise and each month start the day the moon disappears, i.e. about 2 days before the Mesoptanian style calendars. The only change to this calendar commanded to Moses on leaving Egypt was to change of the first month to the one starting after the spring equinox. He argues this was the calendar right up to the Babylonian Captivity when the day starts at sunset and the month starts with the new crescent Jan 7 at 20:33

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