Tuesday, April 03, 2007

On the Theory of a Wednesday Crucifixion: 4. Final Considerations and Conclusion

This is the last in a series on the theory of a Wednesday crucifixion. We've listed the relevant scriptures, dealt with some logical considerations, and interpreted the relevant texts. Here we deal with some final considerations and wrap it up.

Further Considerations

The foregoing analysis has been restricted to the comparison of various scriptures indicating the time period between Jesus' crucifixion and his resurrection. A few notes may be made on the internal difficulties of a Wednesday crucifixion as well.

A. The Hypotheses of Calendrical Disputes

The supposition of a Wednesday crucifixion is usually related to the argument that Jesus used a sectarian calendar of some sort, and thus ate Passover (i.e., the Last Supper) earlier than most of Jerusalem. There is in fact no evidence that Jesus used such a sectarian calendar, and the contemporary evidence we have of the use of such calendars is late and thin. Moreover, eating the Passover required eating a lamb properly sacrificed, and it is impossible that within Jerusalem the temple priests would accommodate a sectarian calendar (Carson, Matthew, 529-30; John, 457; Foster, 599).

B. "Preparation Day"

Several verses, relating to the Last Supper and to Jesus' trial before Pilate and crucifixion, refer to that day as παρασκευήν (Preparation [Day]"), i.e., Matthew 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, and John 19:14, 31, and 42. As Carson argues, this term seems to have become a term synonymous with "Friday," and it is not used in first century literature for the day before any other festival, even though that festival may be observed as a "Sabbath." Moreover, reconciling the various references to Preparation Day with one another seems to require it to be used of Friday within Passover Week, as opposed to the day before Passover itself (Matthew, 531-32; John, 603-04, 622; Foster, 599); if this is true, then it follows that Scripture flatly indicates that Jesus died on Friday.


While the theory of a Wednesday crucifixion is an honest attempt to accept literally Jesus' passion prediction in Matthew 12:40, it would seem to be precluded by all of the other statements in the New Testament that have bearing on the time period between the crucifixion and the resurrection, both before and after the Passion. Understood in its cultural context, "three days and three nights" could refer to any portion of three days and nights; thus it is unnecessary to insist on a 72-hour entombment. Matthew and Luke give us the correct understanding of Mark's phrase, "after three days," and the weight of the evidence seems to rest on the understanding of the resurrection "on the third day." Most fatal to the theory is the statement by the disciples on the road to Emmaus that "this is the third day since all this took place" (Luke 24:21); clearly spoken on a Sunday, it requires that Jesus died on a Friday.


Works Cited

The Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984. (All scripture references unless otherwise noted.)

------. New American Standard Bible. La Habra, CA: Collins-World, 1973.

Carson, D.A. "Matthew." The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 8. Ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Regency-Zondervan, 1984. 1-599.

------. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.

Foster, Lewis A. "The Chronology of the New Testament." The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 1. Ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Regency-Zondervan, 1984. 593-607.

Stein, Robert H. The Synoptic Problem: An Introduction. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987.

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1 comment:

  1. Keith: I am so happy to see in your summary my long-held belief of the sequence of events leading up to the crucifixion and ultimate resurrection morn.

    My pastor explained it that way in New England many many years ago. It's reassuring to see some things have not changed. selahV