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Aspects of the Crucifixion II:

Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?

Word RTF

Question #1:

You wrote: The Supernatural Darkness: Just as the Passover lamb, that poignant type of Jesus Christ sacrificed for us, was commanded to be slaughtered "between the evenings (pl.)", (i.e., at a time neither clearly day nor night: Ex.12:6; 29:39-41). Why does 'between the evenings' mean 'twilight' or 'a time neither clearly day nor night'? It could be perceived as day, since the day is between two evenings, please explain.

Response #1:

Yes, twilight is the meaning. But it is not technically day as the sun has gone down or has not yet come up.

Question #2:

Is there any evidence for the origins of this phrase 'between the evenings'? I would like to understand why was twilight described as being 'between the evenings'.

Response #2:

The phrase occurs first at the references given: Ex.12:6; 29:39-41. The Hebrew phrase is beyn ha'arabiyim (בֵּין הָעַרְבָּֽיִם). It means literally "between the evenings" and "twilight" is generally how this is understood since the sacrifices are known to have been conducted just after sunrise and just before sunset, that is, at a time when it was neither "night nor day" from that point of view. The Greek LXX version has "toward evening" for this phrase, e.g.

Question #3:

You wrote:

The Three Days: At Luke 24:21, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus report "this [i.e., Sunday, the day of our Lord's resurrection; cf. v.13: these things happen "the same day" as our Lord's resurrection] is the third day since these things happened".

Can we gather that it was Sunday when these events took place, as the first verse says: 'But on the first day of the week...'? Was Sunday considered the first day of the week at the time?

Response #3:

Yes. Christ rose on Sunday, as we call it, the first day of the week in the Jewish system, Saturday, the Sabbath, being the seventh day.

Question #4:

You wrote: in the footnote88: i.e., the phraseology in these two passages excludes the possibility. We do find "after three days", for example, in Mk.8:31; that terminology is, on the other hand, not exclusive since it does admit of a Sunday resurrection following a Friday crucifixion because in the Greek inclusive counting system "after three days" means in effect, "after the three day prediction has been fulfilled" (i.e., it does not require a full 72 hour prior period to have elapsed).

What do you mean by "after the three day prediction has been fulfilled"?

Response #4:

I use the phrase "after the three day prediction has been fulfilled" to distinguish between 72 hours with not a second less or a second more (which is clearly not what happened), and the fulfillment of a prophecy "for all spiritual intents and purposes", which is what did happen. Christ was in the grave for less than 72 hours, but "for three days", since He gave up His spirit on Friday and rose on Sunday, following Saturday – three days, according to the conventions of the time.

Question #5:

Regarding the same matter, you wrote in the main text: When the two witnesses are killed by antichrist and their bodies left exposed to public view during the Tribulation's first half, scripture is very careful to say that this condition persisted for "three and a half days" (Rev.11:9; 11:11), a turn of phrase that seems a bit odd until one factors in the ancient perspective: more than a full three days must be noted, while a part of each segment may count for the whole.

What do you mean by: 'more than a full three days must be noted, while a part of each segment may count for the whole'?

Response #5:

By 'more than a full three days must be noted, while a part of each segment may count for the whole' I am trying to demonstrate that if Christ had risen on Sunday after the ninth hour when He gave up His spirit, that would "have to be noted", and would count for "more than three (a slavishly literal) days"; that is what the parallel in Revelation shows me. This point obviates the false "Thursday" and "Wednesday" theories of the day of the crucifixion.

Question #6:

You wrote: In this author's opinion, Thursday (and Wednesday) schemes for the chronology preceding the resurrection are largely motivated by a desire to see Christ's prophecy of "three days and three nights in the grave" (Matt.12:40) fulfilled in a way they find acceptable.

How should we then understand Matthew 12:40? Also, although 3 days can be counted from Friday, how about 3 nights?

Response #6:

I take "three days and three nights" to mean "three days" (according to conventional reckoning). Our Lord's point here is not about the nights but about the fact that He will rise from the dead after the elapse of the prophetic time. And in my view this must be so because, having given up His spirit at the ninth hour on Friday, to get "three nights" He would have had to rise Monday morning (which is clearly not the case since He rose "on the first day of the week"; or, alternatively, He would have had to have been crucified on Thursday – but as pointed out that would yield four days according to conventional reckoning. In Revelation, the half day is specifically noted as apparently important. The Thursday scenario does give "three full nights", but also an extra three hours and, in conventional terms, therefore, an extra day, and this would violate the prophecy on both hands.

Question #7:

Could you briefly relate to some of the arguments given by scholars proposing Thursday and Wednesday as the day of crucifixion - including a double Sabbath?

Response #7:

In my view there is a double Sabbath in that there were two dates for the Passover, a northern one and a southern one, the discrepancy having arisen from the need to intercalate days in the lunar calendar and this having been done differently in the north and south (being under different political regimes) so that the dates got out of sequence. We see a parallel phenomenon in the modern calculation of Passover / Easter between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox denominations. The best source I know for discussing the calculations of the Passovers as they may have been done at the time (considering the Jewish sources) is Hoehner's Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1977).

Question #8:

You wrote: When the two witnesses are killed by antichrist and their bodies left exposed to public view during the Tribulation's first half, scripture is very careful to say that this condition persisted for "three and a half days" (Rev.11:9; 11:11), a turn of phrase that seems a bit odd until one factors in the ancient perspective: more than a full three days must be noted, while a part of each segment may count for the whole.

Is the purpose of this sentence to clarify that if God wanted to say in the Scripture that His Son would spend more than 3 days in the tomb, he would have made it clear, as in the case of Rev.11:9?

Response #8:

Yes. I think, as discussed above, it also shows that if Christ had spent more than 72 hours in the grave it not only would have had to have mentioned as such but also might have invalidated the Jonah prophecy (whereas less time does not because it meets the conventional standard for reckoning three days).

Question #9:

I know that you are not in a position to read all biblical argument of others, but when seeking information on the expression "between the evenings" I bumped into the following article: http://www.triumphpro.com/ben-ha-arbayim.htm, according to which this expression means 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Since you propose a time neither day nor night, you would probably estimate that time to be later than 3 o'clock. If you ever have time, you may take a look at it and see what you think.

Response #9:

Evening means evening. So "between the evenings" can hardly mean mid-afternoon. The author makes a big deal out of Deuteronomy 16:6, but here is what that passage actually says: "at evening, according to the departure of the sun". This is as good an explanation for the two evenings as we are going to find. "Evening" comes first, and that word has to do with the initial part of the night; then comes "according to the departure of the sun", so that would have to do with the complete departure of the light following twilight. Author cites Josephus (notoriously wrong about so many things) and the Rabbins (who are suspect because they would be wanting to allow earlier sacrifices as a practical matter). The symbolism is really what is important, namely, the twilight. Jesus bore the sins of the world in darkness, at a time that was neither night nor day – "between the evenings".

Question #10:

Hello and blessing Dr. Luginbill.

I trust you are under the peace and grace of our gracious LORD and Savior Jesus Christ! As I value your insight and wisdom on matters of the holy scriptures, I was hoping that you may be able to help me see a bit clearer on the resurrection of Christ and the events surrounding it - specifically the claim of Christ in Matthew 12:40 of being in the tomb (heart of the earth) 3 days and 3 nights. To avoid an overly long email, I have attached a document that summarizes some information I have reviewed. I have studied it, but would appreciate your guidance as I noticed it involves translation / interpretation of New / Old Testament - Greek / Hebrew - of which I am not an expert. In essence, as a Godly scholar, how do you see this resolution? As always, Dr. Luginbill, I am grateful for the LORD's your calling on your life, your expertise and your guidance. Peace be with you in the name of Jesus Christ our LORD and Savior.

Response #10:

This is an issue which exercises a good many Christians, but in my view unnecessarily so. The "problem" is resolved when one understands a fundamental difference between our method of counting and our preconceptions rising therefrom on the one hand, and the one which was actually practiced in the ancient world, namely, inclusive counting.

Simply put, from our point of view there are only "two days" between yesterday and tomorrow, but from the ancient perspective yesterday is a day, today is a day, and tomorrow is a day: three days (not two). So for example when reading Latin literature "the third day before the Kalends (i.e., the 1st) of January" is December 30th, not December 29th (as we might suppose with our modern way of looking at things).

For those who want a Thursday crucifixion or a Wednesday crucifixion, it is well to note that even these adjustments cannot be "exact" either for the simple reason that Christ exhaled His spirit in the middle of the afternoon (3 P.M.) and rose first thing in the morning (6 A.M.). If it were a question of a precise count of hours, then from a theological point of view 87 hours would be just as problematic as something short of 72 hours. However, in biblical usage "three days" is "three days" (in whole or in part), and Friday, Saturday, Sunday are "three days" even if not the entire day/night is actually consumed . . . from the biblical way of stating things.

None of the objections I have ever seen raised can lay a glove on this simple understanding of things; on the other hand, the alternatives suggestions all create more problems than they "solve" (as in the 87 hour problem). The issue of the Sabbaths is also not so simple. I have written about these matters in some detail before (the above is a synopsis only), and I invite you to have a look at the following links:

The Three Days (in BB 4A: Christology)

Three Days in the Grave

Friday versus Thursday Crucifixion.

Wednesday Crucifixion?

Wednesday Crucifixion 2?

Please do feel free to write back about any of the details – and thanks so much for you good words!

Yours in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Bob

I so often read Gods word only to discover something entirely new. I love these discoveries. Often however the question that forms in my mind is not entirely clear and hence difficult to phrase. This one is however fairly clear but I discovered it was tricky to find an answer. Here goes. Why did Jesus say he would be dead for specifically three days and three nights? I have read many of the arguments related to when he died and when he was resurrected and to be honest I am not sure how it all works out (I have read your discussion on it as well) but this is not my question. Why "3" and not 1 or 2 or 4 or 5….12, 50, etc? Is there a meaningful reason, a pattern or some other reason for the timing? Any ideas?

Yours in Christ

Response #11:

Good to hear from you. As to your question, our Lord never says "precisely" or "specifically"; He does use Jonah as the parallel for the "three days and nights". Since you are not asking about the details on this I will only point out that from the biblical point of view a part is counted as a whole so that anytime Friday to anytime Sunday is "three days" (counting inclusively according to the standard ancient method) and thus fulfills the prophecy (whereas there are no scenarios that can make the time He spent in the grave "exactly three days and nights" since He gave up His spirit at 3 PM on an afternoon and rose from the grave first thing Sunday morning, 6 AM (i.e., Thursday crucifixion theory still too short; Wednesday too long).

As to the "why three?" question, apart from the importance of the number three in scripture (the number of the Trinity, after all), it is also the case that the Christ was prophesied to actually rise from the dead, and also "not to see decay" (Ps.16:10). Consider what Martha tells our Lord when He commands the stone covering Lazarus tomb to be removed: "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days" (Jn.11:39 NIV). Since "four days" is in biblical terms too long to fulfill the prophecy of no decay, three days was the longest Christ's body could have been left in the grave; that is a long enough time to demonstrate without any question that He was physically dead so that the resurrection is absolutely real. So the longer the better for that purpose, and three is as long as it could have been.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord who rose for our justification.

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Bob,

I have considered that the ‘decay’ possibility and also the view that the Jews of that time believed the ‘spirit’ remained around for 2-3 days.. Point one seems odd since corpses begin decay immediately. State of decay is a very relative term. In any case I feel sure that resurrection from any state would not have presented a difficulty. I also have been wondering if the time needed to herald His victory to the spirits imprisoned was a necessary requirement. It does seem to me that however one adds up the days it ends up being a busy Saturday Sabbath for the Lord. Perhaps the fact that it WAS a Sabbath is critical.

Response #12:

Both in terms of the three days and also in terms of the decay of the body, it is not a question of extra-biblical Jewish tradition, nor of contemporary understanding of these things, nor of scientific appraisals. In terms of the former, from the biblical standpoint, decay occurs by day four but not by day three ("smell" being the perceptible sign). In terms of the latter, from the biblical standpoint, part of one day is the equivalent of a 24 hour night-day period. So Christ's period of burial fulfills both prophecies perfectly – from the biblical point of view. And, after all, it is not as if the other three perspectives are perfect or even better. That goes for science as well, which, amazingly enough, thinks of itself as "perfect", but by its own methodology should realize that its understanding of anything is always "evolving" with the result that what it understood yesterday is different from what it understands today which is different from what it will understand tomorrow – hardly "perfect" – and highly variable. Whereas the biblical standard has at least three clear advantages: 1) it is true/perfect in fact; 2) it is invariable and eternal for all time and beyond time; 3) it can be accessed and understood by anyone, anyone, that is, who is willing to open up to the Spirit and His agencies and agents.

As to our Lord's proclamation, it needn't have taken more than a few moments as I understand it. He merely appeared to the fallen angels from the other side of the "great gulf fixed" so that they would realize that the total defeat of their patron the devil was now a reality (see the link).

Yours in Jesus Christ whose victory and whose resurrection we share through faith in Him,

Bob L.

Question #13:

I have another question. What day was Jesus crucified and what day was He resurrected? What is the scriptural support for this?

Thank you for helping me.

Response #13:

The traditional understanding of things is – in this case – correct. Our Lord was crucified on a Friday and rose from the dead the following Sunday morning. As to the scriptural support, while this is what the average reader would glean just from reading the gospels, the specifics are fairly detailed, especially as they involve consideration and rejection of the Wednesday and also of the Thursday scenarios for our Lord's crucifixion. As far as I know, no one doubts that He was resurrected on Sunday which is "the first day of the week" on which day all the gospel writers agree Jesus rose (Matt.28:1; Mk.16:2; Mk.16:9; Lk.24:1; Jn.20:1; 20:19), and thus Sunday is "the Lord's day" (Rev.1:10; cf. Acts 2o:7; 1Cor.16:2). I have all this written up at Ichthys, so I will invite you to have a look at the following links and email me back in case you have any further questions:

The Three Days (in BB 4A: Christology)

Easter and Christ's Three Days in the Grave

Not on Wednesday

Friday versus Thursday Crucifixion

More problems with Wednesday/Thursday

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Bob,

I read one of the complaints to your reply and they disagreed violently with it. I do a lot of Bible study and I know there is a controversy about what day Jesus was crucified. My feeling about this is It makes no difference. The real point here is Jesus came here to be crucified and kill the enemy and redeem His creation, which He did.

Response #14:

I appreciate your point of view. I wouldn't go out of my way personally to seek controversy on this sort of issue. However, this one has become a sort of "hobby-horse" issue for many out there in lukewarm Laodicea. Whenever I'm asked for the truth about any biblical issue, large or seemingly small, I try to do my best to respond with the truth. And it does make some difference. Everything is in the Bible is there for a reason, so that even seemingly unimportant points can sometimes add up to make a big difference. Others may be bigger than they appear at first. You may have heard the expression, "It doesn't make an iota's worth of difference". The origin of that phrase is the emperor Constantine who was commenting on the Christological controversy raging during his rule. There were some who said that the Son was only "like" the Father in His essence, while the true defenders of the faith were correct in saying He was "the same" in His divine essence. In Greek, that is the difference of only one letter, an iota, which distinguishes between homoiousia and homoousia (the former meaning "similar essence" and the later "same essence"). The former would mean that Jesus is not really God; the later expresses the truth of His divinity and Oneness with the Father. This is not to say that Wednesday/Thursday/Friday falls into the same category of significance at all (it doesn't), but merely to make the point that every bit of truth is important to the whole sooner or later.

Finally, the "hobby-horse" phenomenon is one against which growing Christians need to be inoculated. With the explosion of "material" on the internet and with the fragmentation of the church-visible currently in process, there is a species of marginal Christian and pseudo-Christian flourishing out there who takes one issue like this (Wed./Thurs. versus Fri. is just one example from among many), and defines his/her Christianity by being "right" on this pet point. Almost inevitably people who do this pick the wrong side of the argument, but the real damage done is not in being "wrong" about what you correctly estimate is no greatly important point of doctrine. The personal damage such individuals incur comes in rendering themselves unteachable through their hostility to the truth. And they also often are able to draw others into the vortex of their fixation and resultant hardness of heart.

There is a phenomenon which many involved in debate have often commented upon regarding the attractiveness and persuasiveness of vehemence and emotion in taking a particular position. This is rarely the way to go in Christian discussions. We should be firm in our adherence to the truth, but we should save our vehemence for issues of spiritual life and death. I'm not saying that someone who responds to this sort of standard-bearing behavior and joins in the crusade is likely to lose their salvation or anything like that, but getting involved in any such one-issue, hobby-horse crusade will most definitely adversely affect a Christian's spiritual growth. If nothing else they're getting hostile with other Christians over "disputable matters" and spending all their time and energy on one point instead of learning everything the Bible has to say. That resulting harm to spiritual momentum would thus take place even if on the point in question the crusaders were 100% correct. But as I say it seems to be in the nature of this activity that they are almost always wrong, if not completely, at least substantially so.

That is why I do what I do: not only to stick up for the truth when asked as a matter of principle, but also to help other Christians recognize where the mines in this minefield are ahead of time, and to give them some basic facts to ward off being overcome by the passion of such individuals if they ever come close to their negative gravity.

Yours in Jesus Christ who is the truth, the very Word of God.

Bob L.

Question #15:

I googled sabbath and got the answer of over 70 sabbath's per year. So it has a meaning more than seven. I believe Jesus was crucified during passover time which included a sabbath. This leads to the crucifixion on Wednesday. My feeling is He was crucified and was resurrected thus completing His mission. My concern is the critical response that was sent to you by a reader and I don't like that. I have benefitted greatly from your U.R.L. and from your messages and want you to keep up the good work.

Your friend in Christ.

Response #15:

Thanks for all your good words. It's a complicated issue – when taken beyond the clear sense of scripture. The alternative reconstructions depend upon extra-biblical information about Jewish practices in calculating the Sabbaths, but the references are all medieval and not ancient (see the previous links).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Bob,

When I send a message to Robert D. Luginbill I will get an answer. That is because there is a real person with that name. The same is true about Jesus. And He can and will do what I ask of Him. That means that He did everything He was required to do and did it correctly (about being Crucified on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday and was resurrected on Saturday or Sunday). That is why I don't discus the controversial issue.

Response #16:

I appreciate your good words and you point of view.

Yours in Jesus Christ who died for us that we might have life eternal.

Bob L.

Question #17:

Dr. Luginbill,

Regarding your post: http://ichthys.com/mail-Friday versus Thursday.htm

A Friday burial leaves only 2 nights. Why do you call Friday "Paraskeue" instead of "Paraskevi"?

Is your "serious problem" with the Thursday theory the intervening non-Sabbath or something else? How do we know that "the day before the crucifixion was Passover"? You previously established that Jesus was crucified on Passover.

How can we explain that extra Sabbath? It is true that the Feast of Unleavened Bread began the day after Passover, and that this too is a Sabbath, so, theoretically, one could and sometimes does find in the Jewish calendar three Sabbaths in a row, but even this is different from the implied hypothesis above, namely, "Sabbath - non-Sabbath - Sabbath - Sabbath", and I cannot see how that can made to match the evidence.

Where does your "non-Sabbath" come from?

On the other hand, if we accept that the reason why "the day of that Sabbath was a great [one]" (Jn.19:31) as being the fact that it was a "double Sabbath" (i.e., being Saturday and also the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which began immediately after Passover), then we find all difficulties removed.

Why use the word "great" Sabbath: You cite John 19:31 from NIV which uses the word "special", which could mean "extra".

Why couldn't it go like this?

Wednesday - disciples prepare Passover, normal day

Wednesday night, Jewish Thursday - last supper, Passover, Sabbath

Thursday - crucifixion, Passover, preparation day for Feast of Unleavened Bread, "special Sabbath"

Friday - Feast of Unleavened Bread, Sabbath

Saturday - normal Sabbath

Response #17:

Good to make your acquaintance. As to your questions:

1) On paraskeue, I use Classical Greek transliteration rather than Modern Greek (since the NT is in ancient/Classical and rightly has that pronunciation).

2) Clearly, the day before the day of crucifixion was a "Passover", because the "last supper" was a Passover meal. E.g.:

Now on the first [day of the Feast] of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?" And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples." ' "So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.
Matthew 26:17-19 NKJV

The day after the day of the crucifixion was also very clearly a "Passover":

Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.
John 18:28 NKJV

Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"
John 19:14 NKJV

The reason for the multiple days of Passover above (as opposed to Sabbaths) most likely stems from the differences in calendars between north and south; the calendar in the ancient world was not like our own. It was in most places (including Judea and the Greco-Roman world), essentially a lunar calendar of twelve months of equal length. That of course necessitated the process known as intercalation: the adding of days every year (or every other year) because of falling short of the solar year – and there was generally no set system for doing this. So it was not at all unusual for specific dates to be different in different cities – indeed, that was the norm when it was a case of different political entities as we have here (Judea being a Roman protectorate and Galilee being under Herod).

3) The non-Sabbath would be Friday of passion week, the "day of preparation" in the southern system; between the (northern) Thursday Passover (on which our Lord celebrated the Last Supper) and the (southern) Saturday Passover. Of course, the meal was eaten Thursday night (Friday begun in the Jewish system) and by those in Judea on Friday night (when Saturday began in the Jewish system).

4) The Greek says megale or "great" (cf. "mega-" in English). It cannot literally mean "extra". I take this to mean that the day was not only the Sabbath but also unusually "important" because it was also Passover (in the southern, Judean calculation).

5) My main reason for sticking with the traditional chronology here is not out of deference to tradition but from what I consider to be the straightforward reading of the gospel accounts (as explained in the previous point). For example, Luke 23:54 has the "Sabbath" dawning after this day of preparation (no mention of that day as Passover so that it was no doubt actually Saturday as well); and later in the chapter in verse 56 Luke's gospel has the women "keeping quiet according to the commandment" that day because it was "the Sabbath" (which certainly suggests Saturday); the very next thing that Luke has (Lk.24:1) is the women going to the tomb and discovering the resurrection (on Sunday, the "first day" of the week). The other three gospels agree with this directly-after-the-intervening-Saturday account of the resurrection (Matt.28:1; Mk.16:1-2; Jn.20:1). I see no place to insert an extra day easily, and there is no indication whatsoever in the gospels that we should do so. That is to say, not only does a natural reading of these scriptures not invite this course of action but there would also have to be, in my view, some particular reason in the text to think we should do so even to make the attempt.

I have never seen any persuasive justification establishing any such need to find a Thursday crucifixion. I realize that there are many groups which hold that this is how things happened, but supporting creeds and traditions is not really a good reason to alter the otherwise clear sense of scripture. Such exercises do have their benefits, however. It was in the process of trying to foist the false doctrine of the pre-Trib rapture on the Bible in the days of my youth that scripture convinced me that it was not there.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord who died for all of our sins on the cross,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for entertaining this conversation. I have spent several days researching this issue. It is quite complicated. I apologize for the lengthy content below. I'm sure your life is busy, but here it is, in the spirit of Galatians 6:6 "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches." (NKJV).

1) You wrote: "Implicit in your objection to this explanation is that with the Friday view we are left with an imprecise "three days and three nights". But if our Lord were crucified on Thursday, you still have a similar problem. This would still leave us 6 to 8 hours short of a full 72 hours "in the grave". What reason is there that 72 hours be accounted for vs. part of 3 days and 3 nights sufficing? A Friday burial leaves only 2 nights. On Classical Greek transliteration rather than Modern Greek, your web page equates "Paraskeue" as the Modern rather than Classical Greek word for Friday. My searches for "Friday" in translated Biblical texts find none.

2) You wrote: Clearly, the day before the day of crucifixion was a "Passover", because the "last supper" was a Passover meal. That is the most obvious reading. I suppose preparation for the feast was done on the first day of the eight days (Passover day plus 7 days of Unleavened Bread). Although we prepare for a great feast early (Thanksgiving, Christmas) it seems Jews used the day Passover to clean the house of yeast and kill the lamb. They would wait to eat it until twilight (maybe considered the end of the first day) or probably night (the beginning of the 2nd). I wonder about twilight, if it begins or ends the day. http://www.chabad.org/ says twilight is ambiguous. For an alternative to intercalation, I wonder if Jesus had his Passover meal a day early. John 13:1-4 which makes it sound that Jesus' seder was early; however, this could simply mean before the 7 days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Also, though a stretch, Matthew 26:17-19 "on the first" could be at twilight at the beginning of the day (Nisan 14), with "when the hour had come" being dark that very same night (e.g. 3 stars or midnight). After all, there is no mention of meat with the bread and wine. Puzzlingly, Matthew 26:17 "on the first [day of the Feast] of Unleavened Bread" sounds like his Passover meal was a day late!

When you write "The day after the day of the crucifixion was also very clearly a "Passover" ", do you think unequivocally that the Father's plan was for Jesus to be crucified on a Nisan 14 like the Old Testament? The day after crucifixion is not so clearly a "Passover" to me. It sounds like you are advocating that Nisan 14 occurred three days in a row, which is harder to explain. Isn't Passover day Nisan 14 and the lamb eaten on the night that begins Nisan 15? I understand John 18:28 as indicating that Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14 according to the Jerusalem calendar. Similarly, John 19:14 is indicating Nisan 14, the day of cleaning and slaughtering. Nisan 14 isn't a Sabbath; work was allowed. Yeast was cleaned out of house for the sacred 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as well as the lamb being killed, to be eaten that night (the next day). It is odd that scripture calls the 14th Passover but the death angel did not pass over on that day but in the night beginning the 15th. So the leaders of John 18:28 and John 19:14 may have wanted to be clean for the eating of the lamb on the night following the day of Passover on which Jesus would have been killed, once for all instead of annually. Contrasting Matthew 26:17-19 and John 18:28 is interesting, why Jesus and leaders would eat at different times. Since there was still time that afternoon, John 18:28 indicates a different date when consideration includes other scriptures requiring it to be eaten in the evening/night such as Exodus 12:8, especially with the severity of Numbers 9:13 if not. Perhaps they had postponed it due to conspiring and felt justified due to intercalation. Mark 14:12 in the NIV says "it was customary" as if there might be an alternative(s). It seems there ought to have been some trepidation for them who would have known the "shall be cut off" in Numbers 9. Again, John 13:1-4 sounds like Jesus' seder was early. After all, HE was to be the lamb to die at the proper time, so perhaps he had his supper early based on another calendar but died outside Jerusalem on the best day according to its calendar. The term "Passover" has several meanings, just as the word "day" can mean daylight hours or 24 hours. We have been talking as if there was one meal day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. However, it is seven days of feasting, so John 18:28 could just be saying that they wanted to eat subsequent meal(s). Ezekiel 45:21 calls the whole week the Passover; with Leviticus 23:6 so does Luke 22:1. Luke 22:7 even calls the day of Passover the Day of Unleavened Bread. On a side note, it is interesting that the last time the synoptic gospels mention "Passover" is for the last supper (Matthew 26:19, Mark 14:16, and Luke 22:15).

You wrote: So it was not at all unusual for specific dates to be different in different cities -- indeed, that was the norm. By northern and southern do you mean Galilee and Jerusalem? I can imagine how a lunar calendar could introduce a different day on another part of the globe. Would the moon look different enough for Galileans to choose a different calendar than Jerusalem, even though Galilee is only 90 miles away? In such cases, how would day of week be handled? In other words, would the seven day iteration be consistent around the globe in spite of the monthly calendar being adjusted, or would an inserted day mean a double day of the week such as two Saturdays in a row?

3) You wrote: The non-Sabbath would be Friday of passion week. The second day had significance according to Numbers 28:16-17. I wondered what are considered "Sabbaths". http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/crux.cfm explains 7th day of week as well as certain feast days, e.g. 1st day of Unleavened Bread (but not the previous Passover day). Then this page made sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Sabbaths says "The Gospel of John says of the night immediately following Christ's burial that "that sabbath day was a high day" (19:31-42). That night was Nisan 15, the first day of Passover week (Unleavened Bread) and an annual miqra and rest day, in most chronologies."

4) You wrote: The Greek says megale or "great" (cf. "mega-" in English). It cannot literally mean "extra". I take this to mean that the day was not only the Sabbath but also unusually "important" because it was also Passover (in the southern, Judean calculation). Why can't is mean "extra" per Strong's G3173 - megas 1) great b) of number and quantity: numerous, large, abundant? Even with the definition of "greater" fits an annual vs. weekly Sabbath.

5) You wrote: My main reason for sticking with the traditional chronology here is ...the straightforward reading of the gospel accounts... That is to say, not only does a natural reading of these scriptures not invite this course of action but there would also have to be, in my view, some particular reason to think we should do so even to make the attempt. Matthew 27:62-28:1 reads easy with a Thursday crucifixion. The day after (1st day of Unleavened Bread) they ask Pilate to secure the tomb; Friday fits well with the unusual Sabbath of John 19:31. Then another verse skips Saturday for the women.

You wrote: I have never seen any persuasive justification establishing any such need to find a Thursday crucifixion. The reason for me is to keep the prophecy of Matthew 12:40, Jesus' statement of the sign of Jonah. If it was to be a prophetic sign, then it would have to be that way, otherwise it would be false prophecy and wickedness. Interpreting this to mean rising on the 3rd day after 2 days is awkward since Jesus included both day light and night time as in Jonah 1:17. This specific wording restricts interpretation to, I believe, the idea of a time period rather than one termination event. Although Friday rules out Matthew 12:40, a Thursday crucifixion does not contradict rising on the third day (Luke 24:46). The following is what I think. Thank you for aiding my study.

Wednesday - Nisan 14 North/Galilee, disciples prepare Passover, non-Sabbath

Wednesday night - last Passover supper

Thursday - Nisan 14 South/Jerusalem, leaders prepare Passover, crucifixion

Friday - Nisan 15, day 1 of Feast of Unleavened Bread, annual feast Sabbath

Saturday - weekly Sabbath

Sunday - women are finally allowed to "work" on Jesus' body

Sincerely,

Response #18:

You are very welcome. As to your recent observations:

1) The point is that the main objection to Friday in every brief I have ever read is that this way there would not be "three full 24 hour days"; my point is that going over 72 is the same in this respect as being under 72, and that anything short of 72 is still short, and I have never seen any effective refutation of that point.

2) In Modern Greek the upsilon is pronounced as a "V"; this was not so in Bible times: the letters epsilon + upsilon constituted a diphthong; in terms of spelling, what I gave is the correct spelling in ancient and Modern Greek (I cannot speak for the transliteration choices of others).

3) Along with Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12 makes it clear that we have to do with a contemporary interpretation; that is, the fact that "the first day of the feast" is also "the day when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb" (Mk.14:12) demonstrates that the preparation day had come to be considered as part of the feast (think of Christmas Eve). These verses also make it difficult to see the Passover our Lord celebrated as "just doing things a day early" (so that the north/south dichotomy I suggested earlier is to be preferred).

4) I don't see the problem here (let alone three Passovers). The cross is what is important; the symbolism of the Law only foreshadows what will happen, and imperfectly so. Jesus is not a lamb; He is the Lamb of God. He did not bleed to death or die of a slit throat; His blood represents His spiritual death for the sins of the world (see the link). The twilight in which He died spiritually was neither one day nor the next: that supernatural darkness occurred at mid-day and lasted for a full three hours. So whether the northern or southern calendar was "correct" can never be known. Between the time that Moses established the Jewish ceremonial calendar and 33 A.D. there had to have been literally over a thousand intercalations, so that opining about these things seems highly speculative and not particularly profitable to me. The seemingly precise calculations that are often applied to this and similar problems are entirely an anachronistic back-application of "data" that is based upon medieval Jewish reckoning, and there is no confidence to be had that even this is a correct reflection of the reckoning in vogue in Jerusalem at the time of our Lord's crucifixion and resurrection.

5) We don't know the specifics in this case. We do know that there had to be intercalations because the lunar cycle does not match up with the solar one. From analogies all over the ancient world we know enough to say that these things were usually different city by city, and state by state, and that keeping track of precise days was difficult. Yes, the moon looks the same, but even lunar months differ in length (according as to whether they are anomalistic, sidereal, tropical, draconic, or synodic); none of them last precisely an entire 30 days, and technically speaking they don't start and stop at sunset; finally, you need more than twelve of them to fill up a solar year, but less than thirteen. This leads to months being lengthened on occasion by the insertion of days, or sometimes by the insertion of an entire month (in cases where the calendar is allowed to become to far out of sync with the solar cycle). When to start and stop is problematic because of the nature of the celestial phenomena. Suffice it say that there is little evidence from the ancient world that their months lined up precisely with the moon any more than our months do today; and different jurisdictions using a similar calendar were often out of sync vis-a-vis what day of the month it was – in fact this was the rule. Note that the Law doesn't say "when the moon is full"; probably in anticipation of this problem it mentions instead "twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month" (Lev.23:5), and the first day of the first month could vary based upon the above.

6) By "non-Sabbath" I mean the day not identified as such by the Jerusalem religious authorities (aka "Good Friday").

7) The Greek word megas, megal- cannot mean extra, so I'm not sure how to answer your question. One could ask, I suppose, why the English word "book" cannot also mean "ice cream cone" as in "I really like this book [by which I really want you to understand "ice cream cone"]". I think that you would be hard pressed to find an example of the English word "great" meaning "extra" or vice versa (not that this would mean anything in Greek, but the exercise might be instructive).

8) I disagree. If that were the case, we should not expect the first day of the week following the Sabbath to be the next day starting the next series of events in Matthew 28:1. If there were two days of rest, "after the Sabbath" instead of "after the Sabbaths" or something of the sort would seem to have been necessary for Matthew to say. The same goes for John 20:1. It may acceptable to those who share your viewpoint, but in my opinion it is very clear that there is no textual clue which even hints at there being another intervening day (quite the opposite as the events are described as following one after the other in close sequential order).

9) See #1 above. You say of Matthew 12:40, "This specific wording restricts interpretation to, I believe, the idea of a time period rather than one termination event". If so, Thursday has no advantage over Friday. According to the Thursday theory, our Lord was in the grave less than 72 hours even so. Therefore Thursday only "works" if we are focusing on "time periods" rather than "clock time"; but if "time periods" is acceptable, then Friday works as well (since our Lord's body was in the grave for part of Friday, all of Saturday, and He rose on Sunday). The latter is actually more acceptable culturally to those familiar with the inclusive counting of the ancient world (which is precisely what the OT and NT often assume).

I hope this is of some use to you. This is a historical question with some tangential bearing on scripture but of no great moment for spiritual growth in the case of most believers. In my opinion, the main harm that can be done here is through the dogmatism of certain groups which place a premium upon such distinctions and use them to cover their group with a patina of false authority. It has ever been in the spirit of giving comfort to fellow Christians who oppose such tricks that I have even ever bothered entering the fray on this particular side issue.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I agree that the issue holds little for the spiritual growth of most. There is no justification for dogmatism, especially being the minority and as ignorant as I am. But I am doing some gospel harmonization and must be diligent to seek the truth.

Romans 14:5 "One person esteems [one] day above another; another esteems every day [alike]. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind." (NKJV)

1) You wrote: The point is that the main objection to Friday in every brief I have ever read is that this way there would not be "three full 24 hour days"; my point is that going over 72 is the same in this respect as being under 72, and that anything short of 72 is still short, and I have never seen any effective refutation of that point.

Odd that you have not heretofore hear proponents for 3 partial days/nights. I did a Google search for "Jesus tomb three partial days". The first three propose partial.

The 1st link very convincing, but probably too dogmatic based on astronomical evidence: http://www.triumphpro.com/jesus-in-grave-new-truth.htm

The 2nd contains an good summary at the bottom but I disagree with a couple of his historical "facts": http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2006/01-11c.htm

The 3rd search is accurate, and presents my points well. It is the one I referenced earlier. It is also interesting that the author brings a point that I have not yet discussed with you about the John 12:1 clue: http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/crux.cfm

You wrote: I don't see the problem here (let alone three Passovers).

That is hard for me to understand, that you think the day after crucifixion was Nisan 14, the day Jewish leaders would be killing their lambs, then eating them the following night.

You wrote: So whether the northern or southern calendar was "correct" can never be known. Between the time that Moses established the Jewish ceremonial calendar and 33 A.D. there had to have been literally over a thousand intercalations.

I think that whatever astronomical decisions were made up to that day are not a distraction. I'm sure the Jews made good-faith attempts to preserve their religious calendar and God chose to use that day that they thought was Nisan 14 that year.

You wrote: The Greek word megas, megal- cannot mean extra.

There are two ways I can think of in which "megas" could apply. One is that a Friday Sabbath would be "great" with respect to Saturday since it is once a year vs. 52 times a year. The other is that if Friday was the Sabbath of Nisan 15 then there would be two Sabbaths in a row and thus could be thought of as one big or long Sabbath, one in which people would have to preparation to live without working for two days in a row. For example, rather than thinking of it as an extra Sabbath, think of it as a 48 (megas) vs 24h Sabbath.

You wrote: If that were the case, we should not expect the first day of the week following the Sabbath to be the next day starting the next series of events in Matthew 28:1.

I don't see the scriptural basis for your emphasis on "the next day". Do you mind explaining?

You wrote: If there were two days of rest, "after the Sabbath" instead of "after the Sabbaths" or something of the sort would seem to have been necessary for Matthew to say.

I think the gospels leave much unsaid between the lines (e.g. John 21:25). One can infer that it was after the 48h (megas) Sabbath or the most common non-megas Sabbath, i.e. after Saturday. Jews don't have a separate word for Saturday besides "Sabbath" or "Shabbat" do they? Besides, I see it as I think the focus is that the women could not have prepared the body until then rather than focusing on it being the "next day" after burial. Regardless, the position does not seem as strong as Jesus' prophecy being upheld.

You wrote: in my opinion it is very clear that there is no textual clue which even hints at there being another intervening day (quite the opposite as the events are described as following one after the other in close sequential order).

Okay. Not meaning to belabor but just "share" my thoughts. I think the disciples didn't go to the Temple that Sabbath. If they were scared enough to be hiding out on Sunday I expect they were hinding out the whole time (whether it be two or three). This would cause their day(s) to blur together.

You wrote: According to the Thursday theory, our Lord was in the grave less than 72 hours even so. Therefore Thursday only "works" if we are focusing on "time periods" rather than "clock time"; but if "time periods" is acceptable, then Friday works as well (since our Lord's body was in the grave for part of Friday, all of Saturday, and He rose on Sunday).

The difference for me is that there were 6 time periods not 3 that Jesus predicted. I think there needed to be all or part of 3 daylight periods as well as all or part of three night-time periods. Friday does not offer any part of the 3rd night. Besides, there is the idea of approximations or round numbers in scripture.

~3pm Thu to 6am Sun = 2.875 days which rounds to 3.

~3pm Fri to 6am Sun = 1.54 days rounds to 2.

I use 3pm because I think "heart of the earth" means Sheol or Hell rather than a grave that may even have been above ground level. God bless you. Thanks again for listening.

1 Peter 3:18-19 "For Christ..., being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison" (NKJV)

For Jesus' sake,

Response #19:

That's the key point, I agree. We can be confident that God always fulfills His Word completely (even if we don't understand all the details now or have failed to figure them out correctly).

1) What I meant is "convincing to me"; the point is that the objections are based on "partial-ness", but that the solutions are either also partial or result in superfluousness: nobody I know of argues for a precise 72 hours.

2) It's two separate calendars, in my view, so the "two" is only when we add "one" and "one" in the different systems (not "three" in any case).

3) The point is that "14 Nisan" is arbitrary because calendars shift year to year – just as in our calendar January 1st does not occur at the solstice. The solar year is 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 46 seconds; so the days and months cannot be precisely the same over time. A "good faith effort" I am happy to accept – that can easily produce two different results a single day off under two different calendar regimes.

4) It's an interesting idea, but the way these things work in the study of ancient history is that you would have to find a parallel where "great" actually meant two days instead of one. I think the fact that it would then not be a "Sabbath" but two of them negates even the possibility (from what I know of language in general and Greek and Hebrew in particular, at any rate). In any case, the Greek word does mean this and cannot be made to mean this.

5) The gospel accounts all seem to read as follows: 1) our Lord is crucified; 2) the next day is a Sabbath and the women in particular are said to rest; 3) the next day, on which anything is said to happen, the tomb is found empty. In other words, there is absolutely no indication from any of the gospels that there was another intervening day, and it seems beyond odd to me that things would be described in the way they are described if there were one. The burden of proof, given the natural reading of these gospels, would be on those who disagree to find some textual indication that things are not as they appear to be from a straightforward reading of the texts. Perhaps this will show you what I mean:

Luke 23:53 NKJV
Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.

Luke 23:54 NKJV
That day
was the Preparation [FRIDAY], and the Sabbath [SATURDAY] drew near.

Luke 23:55 NKJV
And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid.

Luke 23:56 NKJV
Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath [SATURDAY] according to the commandment.

Luke 24:1 NKJV
Now on the first day of the week [SUNDAY], very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.

As you see, the "natural" reading of these five verses together is indeed a Friday/Saturday/Sunday sequence with no gap in-between at any point, so that burden of proof rests with those who have issues with the traditional (and I would say "natural") way of taking these passages to show how there could be an intervening day (or two) present here without doing violence to the text as it stands.

6) See above; As to the stronger argument, again, I don't see any problem with the traditional view fulfilling the prophecy; Thursday is still not 72 hours exactly (it's still short), and Wednesday is too much. Culturally, our Lord was in the grave for three day/night periods.

7) If so, it seems to me there would be some indication of this in the text.

8) That's at the root of things, I think. The "day" is considered a unit that includes the night; or it can be separated from the night. In this case, we are dealing with "day units" rather than "day-night" units.

You're very welcome – I appreciate your civility in this exchange.

Your brother in Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello again, Dr. Luginbill,

It's been a while since we spoke. It takes time to research this topic and I've been gone on a mission trip. I appreciate your dialog, pressing me to think through so much more, especially the Sabbaths. I think Jesus' religious culture would ask questions to teach and learn.

Luke 2:46-47 Now so it was [that] after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. (NKJV)

John 16:30 "Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God." (NKJV)

You wrote: the objections are based on "partial-ness", but that the solutions are either also partial or result in superfluousness.

I'm don't know what you mean by "partial-ness"; maybe "incomplete" in that explanations for other conflicting verses are not provided. Do you see mine that way, or as superfluous? Let me know, please, of scripture that I am not taking into account. I'm not aware of any "veto" verses for Thursday.

There are two ways I can think of in which "megas" could apply. One is that a Friday Sabbath would be "great" with respect to Saturday since it is once a year vs. 52 times a year. The other is that if Friday was the Sabbath of Nisan 15 then there would be two Sabbaths in a row and thus could be thought of as one big or long Sabbath

You wrote: the way these things work in the study of ancient history is that you would have to find a parallel where "great" meant two days instead of one.

The first way seems sufficient. http://www.google.com/
search?q=high+sabbath

You wrote: The burden of proof ... would be on those who disagree to find some textual indication that things are not as they appear to be from a straightforward reading of the texts.

Well, for me Matthew 12:40 is a big indication. Ironically, I think the burden should be on those whose interpretation contradicts the Word, e.g. "three nights". There are numerous examples where Biblical writings left information out. For example, in the Christmas story some writers skipped fulfillment of prophecies such as Jesus' years in Egypt.

John 21:25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. (NKJV)

This forces us to sort through the whole of scripture and weave together threads of truth.

Matthew 27:63 "that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day..." (NKJV)

"After" here makes it harder to interpret "in three days" elsewhere as inclusive rather than conventional and "secure until the third day" implies secure on the 1st and 2nd day after and surely the 3rd to ensure no deception.

Southern Calendar:

Thu: day 1, Passover

Fri: day 2, until 1st, High Sabbath

Sat: day 3, until 2nd, week Sabbath

Sun: after 3, until 3rd, Firstfruits

John 19:40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices... (NKJV)

Mark 16:1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary [the mother] of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. (NKJV)

Luke 23:56 Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. (NKJV)

Luke 24:1 Now on the first [day] of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain [other women] with them, [fn] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. (NKJV)

Some spices were on hand on the day of burial but not all that was desired. Just a Sabbath between burial and resurrection makes another mystery where the women could have bought spices and when they could have prepared them. Mark says they bought them after the Sabbath and Luke says they prepared them before the Sabbath!

Northern Calendar:

Wed: Passover

Thu: day 1, High Sabbath

Fri: day 2, spices bought and prepared

Sat: day 3, week Sabbath

Sun: after 3, Firstfruits

I think the feast days are prophetic, that it is important for Jesus to die on the appointed day. See http://waitingforjesus.com/
jewishfeastsprophecy.html

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth. (NKJV)

One thing we can agree on is that Jesus was resurrected on the day of firstfruits since God designated it to move to whichever day was Sunday of that seven-day feast, identified as Unleavened Bread due to proximity with Pentecost. http://bible-truth.org/Feasts-Firstfruit.html

1 Corinthians 15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, [and] has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (NKJV)

Leviticus 23:15-16 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.' (NKJV)

Another clue is the relationship of Palm "Sunday" with Jesus' travel from Jericho along with the hints of passing days between then and Passover (data available). Some verses that emphasize the fulfillment a prophet's words.

Matthew 26:56 "But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled. (NKJV)

Luke 24:26-27 "...beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (NKJV)

Although we should be able to believe anybody God speaks through, especially his son, Jesus called himself a prophet.

Matthew 13:57 So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." (NKJV)

You wrote: I don't see any problem with the traditional view fulfilling the prophecy;

Thursday is still not 72 hours exactly (it's still short), and Wednesday is too much.

Culturally, our Lord was in the grave for three day/night periods.

Which are you referring to as "the stronger argument"?

~3pm Thu to 6am Sun = 2.875 days which rounds to 3.

~3pm Fri to 6am Sun = 1.54 days rounds to 2.

Correction:

~3pm Thu to 6am Sun = 2.625 days

~3pm Fri to 6am Sun = 1.625 days.

Your brother in Christ,

Response #20:

Hope you had a good trip. As to your latest questions:

1) By "partial-ness", I mean that most who object to the traditional and manifestly biblical sequence do so on the basis of seeing it as "partial"; i.e., two partial night/days plus one complete night-day do not, in their opinion, equate with "three days and three nights" – although they do from the biblical perspective on this matter.

2) I'm not sure I understand. Neither "high" nor "great" mean "additional" in English. But that is entirely beside the point inasmuch as we have to do with Greek, not English (and megas most certainly does not mean "additional" in Greek).

3) Matthew 12:40: There is no question but that this verse is the basis for seeing it the other way. The problem is that regardless of this statement we cannot ignore what the gospels actually say about the sequence and the timing. In my view they are abundantly clear about Friday-afternoon; all day Saturday; Sunday morning. Do we have a contradiction? In my view, no we do not. But as to the burden of proof, those who are het up about Matthew 12:40 make a huge assumption that has no basis in fact (in addition to ignoring the sequence actually presented by the gospels without, that is, engaging in all sorts of unworkable interpretive gymnastics): they assume that "a little closer" to 3/3 = 3/3 (in the case of the Thursday school) or that "a little more than 3/3 = 3/3" (in the case of the Wednesday school). The thing that all three schools have in common is that under none of the three hypotheses was Jesus' body in the grave for "exactly three days and three nights" – and that is precisely the objection launched at the traditional interpretation, namely, that it does not match Jesus' words "precisely".

In fact, as I have shared, from the biblical way of understanding and expressing these things a part equals a whole. It may not match contemporary American understanding of these things or be in accord with scientific "precision", but it is a mistake not to realize that in those times and in that culture the people would understand what happened as fulfilling the prophecy (as in fact they did).

4) It's not a just a question of things being left out; it's a question of trying to fit things in that can't be fit in (and still square with the narrative as presented).

5) I don't see either "after three days" or "until the third day" being anything but consistent with the traditional view. It is a question of how this is to be calculated (see above). Also, if it were really a question of 3/3+, then "until the fourth day" would have been the expected way to express what happened, and that is not what we have in the text.

6) The spice buying cuts both ways because under any of the hypotheses Jesus rose the day after the Sabbath and because all intervening days would have had to have been Sabbaths. It's of little consequence, however, since there is a textual issue here which has caused mistranslation in all the versions. The text of Mark actually says "And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint him". There is nothing about "the Sabbath" in the original text (cf. Sinaiticus); this has been added by later hands. Why? Because otherwise it might create the impression that the women had "violated the Sabbath" to buy the spices; but the division of chapters here is late and artificial; there is no reason to assume that the women did not go to buy the spices the day of the crucifixion – or even on the Sabbath (there were exceptions made for death and burial, after all).

7) Palm Sunday; Firstfruits; et al. I don't see anything here with which to calculate the solution to this "problem"; for the chronology of the week, see the link: "The Last Passover". In these instances, in it is important to remember that we are dealing with the reality, Jesus, the actual Messiah who fulfills the prophecies, much more than with the carrying out of the legal requirements of the festivals by His contemporaries (in which they were straying from the Law and its spirit in many ways).

8) "Stronger" – I was referring to your language.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

You wrote: Neither "high" nor "great" mean "additional" in English. I was letting that idea go. The first way of thinking about the high Sabbath was simply that it is speaking of the first day of the annual feast. It does not need to mean only that the annual and weekly Sabbaths coincided.

You wrote: The thing that all three schools have in common is that under none of the three hypotheses was Jesus' body in the grave for "exactly three days and three nights" – and that is precisely the objection launched at the traditional interpretation, namely, that it does not match Jesus' words "precisely".

I am obviously part of one of those groups, but yet as an individual would like to suggest that the wording of my concern about the traditional view is that it does not *seem* to match Jesus' words precisely enough. As you stated, none of us think it important to be exactly 72 hours. The word "enough" conveys the idea that an interpretation need not equal 72 but it must be within reason (e.g. not 24 or 96).

You wrote: In fact, as I have shared, from the biblical way of understanding and expressing these things a part equals a whole. It may not match contemporary American understanding...

I value cultural understanding for interpretations and accept the "part equals whole" idea. I even think that way from time to time, perhaps often. We approximate. If a unit of measure if between marks we round up or down. What I have difficulty with is the application of that principle for the nights. The traditional view does not have a partial 3rd to call a whole. I've mentioned that already and don't want to chant but I should have asked how you resolve it before. When you said he meant "three day/night periods" were you saying you think all Jesus meant was he would be dead/buried "[part of] three days"?

Do you have an idea why Jesus would say "three days" and if that was sufficient go on to say "and three nights"? Just to quote Jonah only shifts the discussion from NT to OT.

Do you know of an example in ancient history where it is known that a period of days that does not include a night are referred to as "days and nights"?

Is this "partial counting" the same idea you mentioned as "inclusive counting" or does that cultural idea differ, perhaps adding the next so three equals two days dead/buried plus one?

You wrote: I don't see either "after three days" or "until the third day" (of Matthew 27:63) being anything but consistent with the traditional view. It is a question of how this is to be calculated (see above).

I am not trying to invalidate the traditional view but get a better fit. This may be consistent with both based on alternative interpretations. When two things in scripture seem to contradict (e.g. below) shouldn't we suspend belief of each to give the other a chance to speak its truth (to overcome any bias)? I don't know; maybe your "anything but" was not meant to convey that my idea is total nonsense but that you don't understand the alternative perspective presented with the Northern Calendar.

Matthew 1:16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus... (NKJV)

Luke 3:23 Now Jesus Himself ...being (as was supposed) [the] son of Joseph, [the son] of Heli, (NKJV)

"Secure until the third day" implies secure on the 1st and 2nd day after and surely the 3rd to ensure no deception. Also, if it were really a question of 3/3+, then "until the fourth day" would have been the expected approach.

The tomb was not secured the first day (or two partial's) so I was suggesting that the day of crucifixion would not be included in their minds because their conversation is happening on the next day and their assumption is the body is still there (or will be confirmed when secured).

Northern Calendar:

Wed: Passover

Thu: day 1, High Sabbath

Fri: day 2, spices bought and prepared

Sat: day 3, week Sabbath

Sun: after 3, Firstfruits 

You wrote: The spice buying cuts both ways because under any of the hypotheses Jesus rose the day after the Sabbath and because all intervening days would have had to have been Sabbaths.

You say it "cuts both ways" and "all intervening days would have had to have been" after I suggest how there could be a day between Sabbaths. What did I miss? Maybe the scribe added "Sabbath" because he didn't think about that – it took me my whole life and your input! It seems like you are responding from memory to others' arguments instead of mine. But I shall not expect you to spend more time trying to understand what I'm saying. I can understand that it could take many more words from me to effectively communicate to someone grounded in another perspective. You have graciously given me a LOT of time; I appreciate that.

FYI: I almost gave up trying to view #The_Last_Passover at http://ichthys.com/4A-Christo.htm. It took my basic DSL link an inordinate amount of time to load. Finally it did, but when saved to my hard disk it took 15 minutes to load from there into IE (on a 700MHz PIII). That can be taken as a compliment on how much you are presenting! :-)

Blessings,

Response #21:

Thanks for your email. These are somewhat complicated issues in that they are more historical than biblical. What I mean by that is that resolution one way or the other is impossible without recourse to an analysis of the history of the situation and the application of what little external historical data there is available to the problem. Since history, as one scholar once quipped, is "an argument without end", it is I suppose not surprising that we have been unable to convince each other of the merits our respective positions. I'm not sure what the genesis was of your comment to the effect of ". . . was not meant to convey that my idea is total nonsense but that you don't understand the alternative perspective presented with the Northern Calendar", but please let me assure you that I have respect for you and for your arguments (which are well-reasoned, even if I view them as having different degrees of persuasiveness). As to why our Lord stressed "three days and three nights", it seems to me that this was for emphasis rather than for exactitude in our way of thinking about exactitude – inasmuch as in any case the length could not have been exactly three days and three nights (whichever of the "three schools" one embraces). It is against that background that I would wish to measure the partial counting argument, because it shows how the traditional view may work, and also demonstrates that the lack of exactness (from our way of thinking about it) applies to all three theories.

I'm unsure as to why you quote Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23, but here is a link to my explanation of this issue of the two different genealogies, one of Mary's line, one of Josephs: "Genealogies of Christ [starting at the question linked]". As long as we are on the subject of links, I make all of these studies available for download in three formats: Adobe PDF, MS Word, and WordPerfect. If you are ever having difficulty with an html file because of its size, I would recommend downloading in one of the other formats to your computer where you can then peruse it at your leisure. As to Matthew 27:62-66, while it is true that the guard was not asked for or posted until "the next day", the Pharisees who made the request of Pilate are just repeating what was said; that is, they do not ask for the count of the "three days" to start at that time; rather, it seems to be understood that this statement will be used to mark the end of the period of guarding the tomb. In other words, this can't be used as either a terminus pro or ante quam. Finally, as to "cutting both ways" and possible scribal additions, the gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John under the guidance and inspiration of the Spirit. Whatever is truly there (once the text is correctly established), is precisely what God wanted to be there; our job is to "figure it out". I don't think you are missing anything, but my point is that since there is no reference to an additional day, and since in a natural reading of the gospels one is not prompted to think that there is any gap beyond the traditional way of thinking about it, this then is in and of itself some proof of the fact that there is no gap – it's not definitive, but it does, it seems to me, put the burden of proof on the non-traditional proponents to explain this "gapless" presentation in the gospels, and I have never seen a convincing explanation of that point (I think you did about as well as anyone could).

So we can be free to agree to disagree on this point, and without any rupture of fellowship. I would never have been naturally inclined to get "into the weeds" on this particular issue in the first place; however, you found it on the website because there are groups out there who are of the non-traditional schools who are using this as a wedge issue. While this is not at all your approach, there are individuals and groups who present one or the other of the alternative views as a way of saying that they have the true answers to the Bible and anyone who opts for the traditional view is putting tradition over the truth – not just on this point but generally (i.e., it is sometimes used as a false litmus test of sorts). My motive, therefore, has been to demonstrate that the alternative views are not as "clearly the truth" as is often presented (in fact as you know I think they are wrong) – not in order to "count coup" on a relatively minor point in spiritual terms, but rather to protect brothers and sisters from being so overly impressed by such arguments to the point of abandoning what might otherwise be good for the sake of following something which, in a number of cases, is definitely bad – not the Wed./Thurs./Fri. interpretations themselves (which as I say are of little moment, spiritually speaking), but of foolishly abandoning the respective groups that teach the traditional view on the one hand just for that reason, and allying themselves instead to those who are using this small point to paint themselves as paragons of truth on the other (since in some of the cases these groups/organizations are dangerous).

Your brother in Jesus Christ, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – and every other day of the week as well.

Bob L.

Question #22:

Blessings to you, Dr. Luginbill,

Isn't there room for John 19:31 paraskeue to mean a day other than Friday when the annual feast holy day is other than Saturday? Just before, paraskeue is used in John 19:14 for feast preparation (http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Jhn&c=19&v=14#conc/14)? Also Strong's #3904 says "the day on which the Jews made necessary preparation to celebrate a sabbath or a feast" (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3904).

The day after the day of the crucifixion was also very clearly a "Passover":

...they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.
John 18:28 NKJV

Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews...
John 19:14 NKJV

This seems to say that the Jews were going to eat it that same day as Jesus only later (not the next day) because they would only be unclean until (that) evening; after sundown they would be clean again, regardless (Leviticus 14:46, etc.). Do you think the Passover meal is on Nisan 14 or 15? Jews do not agree.

I suppose preparation for the feast was done on the first day of the eight days (Passover day plus 7 days of Unleavened Bread). Although we prepare for a great feast early (Thanksgiving, Christmas) it seems Jews used the day Passover to clean the house of yeast and kill the lamb.

I think I was wrong. Here is a sincere and effective explanation of an alternative to intercalation for Jesus' Passover vs the Jews' (http://www.yahuyahweh.org/eaoy/pdf/
Passover_Day_A_High_Sabbath.pdf). I had such peace and joy as I read and studied it, even though it was teaching me I was wrong. It has changed my mind from 8 to 7 days. Preparation day in the first of seven (killing lamb, removing leaven). The idea is that the Jews may have misinterpreted scripture as Nisan 15 being a Sabbath but Jesus knew the Sabbath was to be Passover on Nisan 14. Seven is substantiated by Ezekiel 45:21, Deuteronomy 16:4, Exodus 12:3,7-8, Matthew 26:17, John 19:14...

Ezekiel 45:21 "In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall observe the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. (NKJV)

Dreadfully, my mistake appears in several responses like that! It would be difficult to find and cluttered to correct them in context. I noticed the different translation of John 19:31 where NIV has "next" instead of "that" which is saying a little more than the other text. KJV allows the crucifixion day to be the Sabbath (per Leviticus 23:7) whereas NIV requires it to be the next.

John 19:31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation [Day], that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and [that] they might be taken away. (NKJV)

John 19:31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. (NIV)

So the leaders of John 18:28 and John 19:14 may have wanted to be clean for the eating of the lamb on the night following the day of Passover. The second day had significance according to Numbers 28:16-17. Whereas the 14th was a holy memorial of the Lord's salvation from death, the 15th was a celebration of their first day delivered out of Egypt. This could have been the "feast" the Jews wanted to be clean for (but maybe not per discussion below).

Numbers 33:3 They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover... (NKJV)

Numbers 28:17 'And on the fifteenth day of this month [is] the feast (NKJV)

Exodus 12:17 'So you shall observe [the Feast of] Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. (NKJV)

If you read the .pdf I'd appreciate knowing of anything that looks erroneous. I expect one of the biggest issues, which I have come to accept, is Nisan 14 = Passover = preparation day (for the week) = holy convocation = Sabbath (John 19:31). It has explained the most confusion. Although the chart at the end shows the days of crucifixion, the paper does not really necessitate it.

You wrote: Your brother in Jesus Christ, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

I'm a pretty serious fellow but that gave me a big smile! Thanks.

Sincerely,

Response #22:

On paraskeue, Jesus, of course, was arrested at night after eating the Passover, so the paraskeue spoken of at John 19:14 cannot be the same day as the one referred to there. Also, John 19:14 says "day of preparation for the Passover", so, again, we are talking about two different Passovers, one celebrated by our Lord the night/day He was crucified, and the one about to be celebrated that next night/day by the religious establishment in Jerusalem. As to specific calendar days, the name of the month Nisan only even occurs in scripture in Esther and Nehemiah; whereas Leviticus 23:5-6 has Passover on the 14th and the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th (seems pretty clear).

Regretfully, I don't have time to read third party works like this, but I get the drift from you have written here. I wouldn't be overly concerned about "errors" – we all make them – and this issue is of no particular spiritual moment. As I have probably remarked before, the biggest potential problem (and the only reason I get involved in discussing the subject) is the distraction this sort of thing can provide to believers who are confronted by groups who use such "special revelations of the real truth" to assume a false mantle of authority thereby; whereas, even if they were right, it wouldn't say anything at all about their understanding of or commitment to the truth of scripture overall. And as it happens they are, in my considered opinion, wrong in any case. The key verse is the one that you have highlighted at the beginning of this email:

It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. "Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.
John 19:14 NIV

All the versions agree as to the essential translation of this verse – and it is very straightforward in the Greek, admitting of no serious variation in sense: Jesus was tried by Pilate – and subsequently crucified – on "the day of preparation of the Passover" (at least the southern one).

It is a fair point that this "day of Preparation" could be meant for the "Passover Sabbath", so that paraskeue and sabbaton could have those alternative meanings in these contexts in the gospels. But, again, the possibility is different from proof that such is the case, and the alternative scenario solves no problems (because there is then still no match-up of exact times for the "Jonah prophecy"), and creates new ones (i.e., the, in my opinion, very clear day by day progression of events going into the resurrection which allows for no additional day[s] – unless we intercalate one or two where the text has no natural opening).

Glad you got a smile out of all this anyway!

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

You wrote: the paraskeue spoken of at John 19:14 cannot be the same day as the one referred to there [John 19:31]

I presume you made a simple mistake, for later you agree this could mean feast preparation. John 19:14 is the sixth hour [of daylight] on crucifixion day. John 19:31 is the ninth hour of that day. The word "preparation" is not used of Jesus' supper; Luke 22:8 says "prepare us the passover", thus John 19:14 is [possible] example for any day of the week preceding a feast sabbath (except for believers of "lunar sabbaths"-- http://hope-of-israel.org/sabfloat.htm vs www.eliyah.com/lunarsabbath.html).

You wrote: Leviticus 23:5-6 has Passover on the 14th and the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th (seems pretty clear).

Passover is used interchangeably with the Feast as a 'week'. My short commentary on this...

Lev 23:5 ‘On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.

Lev 23:6 ‘And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.

Seven days of unleavened bread start at the beginning of the 14th per Exodus 12:18. The 15th could be saying "but don't stop celebrating; continue into the 'week', through the twentieth" per Leviticus 23:8. Or since the 14th has the special name "Passover", the remainder can be called "The Feast of Unleavened Bread", which starts on the 15th.

Lev 23:7 ‘On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.

The first day (mentioned) is the 14th, and fits the historical basis: staying inside, waiting upon the Lord.

Lev 23:8 ‘But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.’" (NKJV)

Exd 12:14 ‘So [Passover] shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.

Passover is a feast, or part of the seven day feast.

Exd 12:15 ‘Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.

Although no leaven is to be eaten on the first day, Passover (Exodus 12:18), leaven can be in the home at the beginning of the day, but must be removed during the day, thus making it a day of preparation. It would be odd to be removing leaven from homes the day after it is not to be eaten.

Exd 12:16 ‘On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you.

Passover is holy, blood on doors, Jesus on cross, etc. Obeying God to remove leaven from homes would not be considered a "manner of work", that which is self-centered/profitable.

Exd 12:17 ‘So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance.

The next day is celebratory, having left Egypt with great riches.

Exd 12:18 ‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.

"Until" would be up to but excluding the 21st since Exodus 12:15 says seven days. (some interpret 'evening' as the last part of a day in spite of Genesis 1:5 "the evening and the morning were the first day.")

Exd 12:19 ‘For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel...’ (NKJV)

Inclusive counting per Exodus 12:15. Being cut off is for eating not possessing leaven.

It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. "Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.
John 19:14 NIV

I like the verse you emphasized. Here is your king, the perfect lamb you have chosen to kill (on Passover)! Well, I have probably strayed from the Thu/Fri topic, but it was stimulating. Hopefully the effort is seen as Berean character. I appreciate your being a sounding board.

God's blessings to you,

Response #23:

Good to hear from you.

I had understood you to say that John 19:14 would allow "room for John 19:31 paraskeue to mean a day other than Friday" (your words). My point is that based on John 19:31, John 19:14 cannot allow for Jesus' Passover not to be a different Passover, nor for the day of preparation on which He was crucified (which is His Passover since the day did not come to an end until sunset) to be other than the Passover spoken of in John 19 (in the calculation of the religious establishment of Jerusalem). John describes events as those who were involved in them saw them in these instances, without weighing in on whether or not there is some "truly correct" Passover (that is, in this case, without saying something like "day of preparation for Passover as wrongly calculated by the Jews of Jerusalem").

On Passover and the Feast, the Passover is celebrated at the beginning of day 14 (at dusk); the feast begins at the end of day fourteen (at dusk the next evening); seven days follow for a total of eight days for Passover and Festival combined. So Exodus 12:18 "from the evening of the fourteenth day" = the end of day fourteen / beginning of day fifteen, with a day of daylight having passed between the two, while "until the evening of the 21st day" = the end of day twenty-one / beginning of day twenty two (= 7 full days).

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

 

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