Crucifixion date – day, month and year

Icon of the crucifixion of Christ

Icon of the crucifixion of Christ Incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection are the three most important events in the life of the Lord Jesus. He has glory on earth and in salvation history. This is why it is natural for people to rush to determine the date of these saving events. In this brief study, we will discuss the history of the crucifixion: the day and hour of the crucifixion, its date, month and year. This discussion addresses the history and meaning of the Last Supper, because the date of the crucifixion is connected to the date of the Last Supper. We have placed this study in the third part of Matthew's explanation due to limited space in the fourth part.

The Lord Jesus's last supper with his disciples, hours before the crucifixion, had a very special significance. In it, the Lord established the sacrament of thanksgiving (or Eucharist in Greek), which is the sacrament that the Church will practice until the Day of the Kingdom. At this dinner, the Lord Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover in a celebration of his own in terms of timing and form, and canceled it to establish at the same time his own Passover, the Christian Passover, in which Jesus was the Paschal Lamb, a divine-human Lamb, a Lamb who was offered once and for all for the sins of all humanity, a Lamb. He possesses the power of eternity, a lamb that He Himself presents to the believers in every Divine Mass to give them spiritual food and drink, which are the true body and true blood of Christ, so that those who partake of it may have life in them.

Since the characteristics of the Paschal Last Supper are fundamental to the history of the crucifixion, I will briefly review these characteristics before talking about the history of the crucifixion.

Easter characteristics of the Last Supper:

There are clear Paschal characteristics in the Last Supper[1]. Briefly, these characteristics include:

1- The Last Supper took place in Jerusalem (Mark 14:13 and its parallels; John 18:1). Jerusalem was very crowded with pilgrims during the Easter season. The population of Jerusalem was approximately 25-30 thousand people. While the number of pilgrims during Easter is estimated at 85-135 thousand people. That is why the total number of people during the Easter season was estimated at more than 100,000. Jesus was spending his night in the last week in Bethany (Mark 11:11 and parallels, 11:19, 11:27, Mark 14:3; Luke 21:37 and 22:39 and parallels), while he had the last supper in Jerusalem. Why did Jesus change his habit on Thursday evening and eat the Last Supper in the crowded city? Most likely to preserve the Passover rule that the Passover must be eaten in Jerusalem.

2- It happened at night (1 Corinthians 11:23; John 13:30; Mark 14:17; Matthew 26:20). There were usually two meals: The first Between 10 and 11 am, And the second afternoon. Therefore, the timing of the Last Supper does not agree with common custom unless it is a Passover dinner, because only Passover can be eaten at night.

3- It happened with the duodenum (Mark 14:17; Matthew 26:20): The number of participants in the Last Supper was twelve in order to agree with the Passover rule that at least ten people should participate in it.

4- Lean at the table (Mark 14:18; Matthew 26:22; Luke 22:14; John 3:21 and 23). In Jesus' day, eaters would sit down for regular meals. While eaters recline on certain occasions, such as eating a meal in the open (feeding the crowds), or at a party (Mark 12:39 and its parallels; Mark 14:3 and its parallels; Luke 7: 36-37 and 49; 11:37; 14:15; John 12 : 2), or at a feast (Mark 2:15 and its parallels, especially Luke 5:29), or at a royal feast (Mark 6:26 and its parallels), or at a wedding (Matthew 22:10-11; Luke 14:8, 10). Or on the Feast of the Kingdom (Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:29). It is not possible for Jesus and his disciples to recline at the table at the Last Supper unless it is a Passover supper, where the participants recline as a sign of liberation from slavery (in celebration).

5- Break bread (Mark 14:22; Matthew 26:26). Jesus broke bread during dinner. It is known that the meal begins with the breaking of bread. However, what is unusual here is that Mark 14:22 mentions a meal in which bread was broken after a plate was served (Mark 14:20). Passover is usually the only meal of the year in which a meal is served that precedes the breaking of bread.

6- Drinking wine: Jesus and his disciples drank wine (Mark 14:23, 25 and parallels). This is never a common custom because drinking wine only occurs on special occasions (celebration of guests, circumcision, sermon, Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles). Drinking wine at the Last Supper is an indication that it was a Passover supper, where everyone had to drink wine, at least four cups.

7- Judah's mandate to donate to the poorAccording to John 13:29, the disciples assumed that Jesus had authorized Judas - who had left dinner at night (John 13:26) - to give something to the poor, and “it was night” (John 13:30). It is difficult to assume that Jesus would have been accustomed to giving alms to the poor at night unless the Last Supper was a Passover supper where it was customary to do so.

8- Concluding the Last Supper with praise (Mark 14:26, Matthew 26:30). Praise concerns the Passover Supper and is different from thanksgiving at the end of each meal.

9- Do not return to Bethany after dinner: Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:26 and its parallels), to a garden east of the Kidron Valley (John 18:1), and did not return to Bethany as he did on the previous nights. Why? Because the Passover night must be spent in Jerusalem. In order for people to be able to adhere to this rule, the borders of the city of Jerusalem were expanded to include - in the days of Jesus - Bethphage and Bethany (in addition to the Kidron Valley, the western foot of the Mount of Olives, and the Garden of Gethsemane).

10- Interpretation of bread and wine: Jesus explained the meaning of the bread and wine at the Last Supper, linking them to his suffering. What reason behind this strange way of declaring His suffering? Interpreting the elements of the meal is an established part of the Paschal ritual. As the head of the family explains the elements of the Passover meal (especially the lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs)[2]. Also in the Jerusalem Talmud there is mention of a metaphorical interpretation of the four cups. In addition to the historical interpretation of unleavened bread, there is an eschatological interpretation (related to the afterlife). This eschatological interpretation of unleavened bread is mirrored in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. Here Jesus gave a new interpretation, his own interpretation, of the elements of the Last Supper in a new way that refers to his sacrifice and his being the Paschal Lamb.

Thus, the Last Supper was a Passover supper, in which Jesus was the Passover Lamb, as He offered His body and blood to those who believe in Him so that they might obtain salvation. The Synoptic Gospels understand this supper as an examination supper, as we will see later. In this last or Passover supper, Jesus established his own Passover, a new Passover, in order to cancel the Jewish Passover. Thus, the Lord began establishing the Jewish Passover, and then at the same time inaugurated His own new Passover, in which Jesus was the Passover Lamb who offered His flesh and blood to those who believe in Him as life and salvation for those who partake of them. This scene of the Last Supper reminds us of the baptism of the Lord in the Jordan River, where baptism began with a Jewish framework and Christ completed it and ended it forever to establish at the same time Christian baptism in which the heavens are always opened, invisibly, and the grace of the Holy Spirit descends on the baptized person in the name of the Holy Trinity.

1- The day of the crucifixion

We do not find much difficulty in determining the day on which our Lord was crucified. Mark 15:42 identifies the day Jesus died as “the day before the Sabbath.” While Matthew did not mention the Sabbath in the crucifixion, he clearly indicates that the day after Jesus' death (27:62) is the Sabbath. When it ends, we come to the first day of the week (28:1). Immediately after Jesus' burial, Luke 23:54 says that the Sabbath was about to end. As for John 19:31, it mentions the preparations taken so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the following Saturday. That is why everyone agrees, according to the Bible, that Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried on Friday, in the afternoon. Of course, the Orthodox Church believes that Jesus was crucified on Friday, and reflects and lives this belief in the liturgy.

2- Steel watch

The Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) agree that Jesus was on the cross between the sixth hour (twelve noon) and the ninth hour (three in the afternoon). And the Lord gave up his spirit about the ninth hour. They also agree that darkness covered the entire earth between the sixth and ninth hours[3]. As for the Gospel of John, it does not mention many time indicators, but rather confirms that Jesus was an example before Pilate at the sixth hour (twelve noon) when he was sentenced to crucifixion (John 19: 13-14). This, of course, does not contradict the Synoptic Gospels.

A difficulty arises here in Mark when he mentions: “And the third hour came, and they crucified him” (Mark 15:25). This chronological reference to an early crucifixion is not consistent with the other three Gospels. Mark mentions the third hour (the crucifixion), then the sixth (nightfall), then the ninth (the cry of Jesus). Matthew and Luke take the last two time indications and leave out the first (the third hour), and thus do not give Mark the impression that Jesus was crucified early (nine a.m.).

I found several attempts to reconcile the four Gospels, but all of them were unsatisfactory. These attempts focused on reconciling Mark's reference (the crucifixion at the third hour) with John's reference (the appearance of Jesus before Pilate at the sixth hour). Either these two temporal signs are theological, or one is theological and the other is temporal, but both signs cannot be temporal. The only common time reference in the crucifixion story in the four Gospels is six o'clock (12 noon). This suggests that it was taken from a pre-Gospel tradition and was used differently by the Evangelists (the onset of darkness in the Synoptics and the sentencing of Jesus to crucifixion in John). As for Mark’s indication that Jesus was crucified at three o’clock (9 a.m.), it is excluded as a chronological indication. Mark himself implies that Jesus was not crucified very early (as the third hour suggests) when he mentions Pilate's exclamation that Jesus died so quickly (Mark 15:44).

The context of the Gospel narratives is consistent. However, verse 15:25 of Mark is an anomaly in the context. Remember that the crucifixion occurred at three o'clock, while Mark meets with his colleagues in the spreading darkness from six until nine o'clock. Did Mark mean preparations in the church tradition? Liturgically, the Orthodox Church considers the sixth hour to be the hour of the crucifixion and links it to the sixth day or Good Friday, indicating that Christ created man (or Adam) anew on the sixth day (Good Friday) while he was still on the cross. We sing at the six o'clock service:

“O you who on the sixth day and in the sixth hour nailed to the cross the sin that Adam dared to commit in Paradise. Tear the veil of our shortcomings, O Christ our God, and save us.”

Also, the Orthodox Church's liturgy considers the ninth hour to be the hour of Jesus' bodily death on the cross, and it is sung in the ninth hour service:

“You who tasted bodily death at the ninth hour for our sake, put to death the passions of our flesh, O Christ God, and save us.”

3- The month of crucifixion

Determining the month in which the Lord was crucified raises a problem when studying the Bible. The four Gospels did not specify a specific date of the month when Christ was crucified. But we can infer this date from the Biblical references to the Jewish Passover. Before talking about the date of the month, we must talk about the Jewish Passover first.

Defining the Jewish Passover:

The dating of the Jewish Passover according to the biblical texts (Exodus 12: 1-2; Lev 23: 5-8; Deuteronomy 23: 5; Numbers 28: 16-25) is based on the sighting of the full moon of the month of Nisan.[4]. At twilight, which ends Nisan 14 (Aviv in Arabic) and begins Nisan 15, the Paschal lamb is slaughtered and its blood is sprinkled on the doorsteps of homes. During this twilight (which belongs to Nisan 15) the lamb is roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. With the beginning of Nisan 15, a full week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread also begins. Six hundred years before the time of Jesus, these two feasts (Passover and Unleavened Bread) were combined as one festive period. This idea of merging is important for us to understand the Biblical references to the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread, as we will see.

The slaughter of lambs was initially done by the head of the family, and then it became the task of the priests in the Jerusalem temple. Because of the presence of thousands of lambs during the Passover period, the slaughter began in the early afternoon of April 14, perhaps six hours before twilight began, and then the Passover meal was eaten at the beginning of April 15. The head of the family presides over the dinner.

In order to understand the position of the crucifixion in the Jewish Passover, we must be familiar with the way the Passover/Unleavened Bread period is mentioned, whether in the Old and New Testaments or in the writings of the Jewish historians Josephus and Philo. References to the Passover period are not always accurate in determining which day is meant (Nisan 14 or 15), because the word Passover was used to refer to the feast, slaughter, or Passover meal. The Book of Leviticus says: “In the first month, on the fourteenth of the month, between the two suppers, the Passover to the Lord. And on the fifteenth day of this month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord” (Lev 23:5-6). Numbers 28:16-17 is also clear and precise: “And in the first month in the Romans, the fourteenth of the month is a passover to the Lord; On the fifteenth day of this month, a seven-day feast, unleavened bread shall be eaten.”

Josephus also confirms (History of the Jews 3:10:5 No. 248-249) that on Nisan 14, “we offer a sacrifice called the Passover... On the fifteenth day following the Passover is the Feast of Unleavened Bread.” Philo also speaks (Special Laws 2: 27-28; Nos. 145-149, 150, 155) about Passover as occurring on the 14th of the month and about the Feast of Unleavened Bread as beginning on the 15th of the month.

On the other hand, Josephus sometimes seems ambiguous when he says: “When the Feast of Unleavened Bread came, they slaughtered the Passover.”[5], and “When the Day of Unleavened Bread came, on the fourteenth of the month”[6], While the Passover slaughter takes place before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on Nisan 15, not 14. We conclude from here that the chronological references to Passover, the Passover feast, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread are always chronologically inaccurate, and we cannot always build a coherent theory of the sequence of historical events on them without taking into account the way the scribes recorded these events in a chronologically inaccurate manner. It is closer to the common popular style, especially if the writer is not as interested in the temporal aspect as he is in other aspects, as in the Gospels, for example.

In this chronologically imprecise context, perhaps the reference of Mark 14:12 “And on the first day of unleavened bread when they sacrificed the Passover” belongs, because the Jews practically slaughtered the lamb on Nisan 14 (the day before the Passover), but on the first day of unleavened bread (when they ate the lamb) It is April 15th. Also in Matthew 26:17, “On the first day of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to him: Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” The reference is not chronologically accurate here because the first day of unleavened bread comes after the slaughter and eating of the Passover. It is clear, then, that in the first century AD, the two feasts (Passover and Unleavened Bread) were so intertwined that no distinction was made between them in ordinary speech.

According to the Synoptic Gospels, the Last Supper was a Passover feast, as we have seen, and it took place on Thursday night. John also (19:31) mentions that it happened on Thursday night. Since the Last Supper is an examination supper in the Synoptics and it happened on Thursday night, this means that Thursday was Nisan 14, and at sunset, which began with Nisan 15, Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread began. But the picture is different for John, as the Last Supper took place on a Thursday night, but the Jewish Passover began at sunset on Friday, and therefore Friday was Nisan 14, and the Passover began at sunset. In John 18:28, on the Friday morning when Jesus was before Pilate, the Jewish authorities and the people refused to enter the Praetorium, lest they be defiled by not eating the Passover. This holiday began according to John 19:14 on Saturday (at twilight on Friday). This is how the Passover meal in the Synoptic Gospels was on Thursday evening (Nisan 14) and Jesus died on Friday (which is Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread, i.e. Nisan 15), while in John the Passover meal (not the Last Supper) was on Friday evening (Nisan 15) and Jesus died on Friday. (Before the start of Passover and before the start of Unleavened Bread, that is, Nisan 14).

Because of the Paschal features of the Last Supper, as we saw previously, we conclude that the Passover in the Synoptics began at sunset on Thursday and that the Synoptics indicate that Jesus died on the Passover and on the first day of Unleavened Bread (on Friday afternoon, Nisan 15, according to the Synoptics). This is because the Supper The last one (which happened on Thursday) was a Passover dinner. But what is more correct is to say that the Synoptics never mention the Passover or unleavened bread in their relationship with the hours of Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial. In other words, the Synoptic Gospels do not specify precisely when the Jewish Passover occurred. In describing the period in which Jesus died, the Synoptic Paschal references are references to preparing for the Last Supper or eating supper (with the exception of Mark 14: 1-2, which will be discussed later). The expression “feast” (Mark 15:6; Matthew 27:15; Luke 23:17) refers to Passover but does not specify any day of the eight-day celebration period (Passover/Unleavened Bread period). As we found previously, this temporal imprecision is relatively common.

In the following table, we summarize the date of Easter in the Synoptics (in conclusion) and in John:

today Thursday (Last Supper) Friday (crucifixion) Saturday
Synoptics Nisan 14 (Jewish Passover) April 15 (Unleavened Bread) April 16
Gospel of John April 13 April 14 (Easter) April 15 (Unleavened Bread)

Thus, in the Synoptics, the Last Supper was a Passover supper (in terms of its temporal location on Nisan 14 and in terms of its paschal characteristics), and the Lord was crucified on the next day (that is, on the first day of Unleavened Bread, that is, on Nisan 15). While in John, Jesus is crucified while slaughtering lambs in the temple (which is consistent with John's theology: Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world)[7] That is, the 14th of Nisan, before eating the Passover lamb and before the start of the Jewish Passover, at twilight on Friday, and the beginning of the 15th of Nisan.

Attempts to reconcile the Synoptics and John:

So all the Gospels indicate that the crucifixion of Christ was on Friday. Because of the references to the Last Supper as a Passover supper, the Synoptics assume that Nisan 15 began at twilight (Thursday/Friday), and therefore Friday was Nisan 15. While the Jewish Passover begins in John with the twilight of Friday (Nisan 14) and the beginning of the Sabbath (Nisan 15).

Of course, many attempts have been made to reconcile the Synoptics with John. Some of these attempts assumed that one of the two dates was correct, while other attempts assumed that the four Gospels must be historical in nature, and therefore the Synoptics and John are both correct. Among these recent conciliation attempts are:

1- The Synoptics and John are correct: Their reconciliation is based on rearranging the sequence of events. For example, the Jewish authorities delayed the celebration of the Passover meal until they got rid of Jesus. Saint John Chrysostom is closer to this assumption. He says that the Lord Jesus ate the Passover at the Last Supper on Thursday night, while the Jews broke this rule and ate the Passover on another day because of their rabid desire to arrest and kill Jesus. This is why in Chrysostom’s interpretation of the Gospel of Matthew (Sermon 84:2)[8] The Jewish Passover occurred on the eve of Thursday and on Friday, the 15th of Nisan. But Chrysostom, on the other hand, makes room for another date for Easter that begins with the twilight of Friday (Sermon 83:3 on the Gospel of John).

2- The Synoptics and John are both correct: Because there were two Easter celebrations with one day between them. For example: Diaspora Jews celebrated for two days. Some support this assumption on the basis of the law stating that those who could not celebrate on Nisan 14 could celebrate on Nisan 14 of the following month (Numbers 9:10-11). Some also build this hypothesis on the basis that calculating Easter depends on the sighting of the full moon on April 14, and therefore the sighting of the full moon can differ in different regions. Time calculations differed in the diaspora, as the Jews were dispersed more than a thousand miles from Jerusalem, and there may have been a two-day Passover policy to ensure that the correct day was covered. Someone assumed that the Jews of the diaspora had used fixed astronomical calculations according to which Thursday/Friday fell on Nisan 15, while the Palestinians relied on the sighting of the full moon and thus Friday was Nisan 15 for them. Thus, Jesus, knowing that he would be dead on the second of the two days, chose the first day of them (even if he was not a Jew of the diaspora) and celebrated the Passover meal on Nisan 14, while the rest of the Jews ate the Passover on Nisan 15 (Friday/Saturday).

3- Another hypothesis based on two dates for Passover is that the people of Galilee used to celebrate Passover a day before celebrating Passover in Jerusalem. That is why Jesus and his disciples (who were from Galilee) celebrated Passover as described in the Synoptics, while John reflected the people of Jerusalem celebrating Passover on the next day.

4- Some also assume that perhaps the Pharisees (Jesus is closer to them) followed a certain calculation while the Sadducees (priests) followed another calculation that controlled public life (which is what John referred to). For example, when the Passover meal falls on a Saturday (as in John's account), the restrictions placed on work on Friday evening prevent the priests from slaughtering the required number of lambs. That's why they had to start slaughtering the day before, that is, noon on Thursday.

5- The Synoptics and John are both correct because the Synoptics were not describing a Passover meal, but rather were describing a non-Passover meal that Jesus ate with his disciples on April 14. Some assumed that Jesus ate a special blessed meal, and some also assumed that on the evening that ended on Nisan 13 and began with Nisan 14, according to the Synoptics and John, Jesus ate a pre-Passover meal, a meal that he designated for himself in order to precede the regular Passover meal that was eaten the next day, which was He knows he can't eat it because he will be dead. The Paschal references found in the Last Supper fit this hypothesis, the hypothesis of the pre-Passover meal: the meal was Paschal in everything except the lamb (which could not be obtained because it had not yet been slaughtered until noon the next day).

6- The Synoptics and John are both correct because they preserve the memory of dating according to the lunar calendar that Jesus followed in his final days. According to the lunar-solar calendar, holidays fall on the same days of the week every year. Thus, Nisan 15 (the date of the Passover meal) will always fall on Tuesday evening and continue throughout the day on Wednesday[9].

Comparing the dating of the crucifixion between the Synoptics and John:

Instead of the previous reconciliation attempts, there is another reading of the four Gospels that explains the reason for the apparent disagreement among them regarding the date of the Last Supper and the Jewish Passover. I will go through this comparison in a sequential way to make it easier.

First idea:

Before the Gospels were written, Paul the Apostle mentioned a tradition[10] It is believed (perhaps dating back to the thirties when he became a disciple of Christ) that on the night Jesus gave bread he said: “This is my body, broken for you.” After supper, he said: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). In other words, the Apostle Paul knew of an early tradition of a last supper before Jesus' death that contained liturgical words more closely resembling Luke's story. In the same letter, Paul asks his readers or listeners to purify the old leaven as much as they are new unleavened bread, “for we have also examined Christ, who was slain for us” (1 Corinthians 5:1).

He says that Christ rose from the dead and became “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (15:20). It is clear, then, that Jesus' death and resurrection are linked in the mind of Paul and his disciples gathered in Jerusalem. It can be considered that Jesus' last supper and his crucifixion took place before or at Easter, a fact that Christians understand theologically by linking Christ's death with the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb. However, Paul was not the only witness to this before the Gospels. 1 Peter 1:19 speaks of “precious blood as of a lamb without blemish or spot, the blood of Christ,” in a way that parallels Exodus 12:5. Although Revelation 5:6-14 uses a Greek word parallel to the lamb, arnion, the Septuagint did not use it for the Paschal lamb. Such a conformity may be responsible for the image of Christ in the vision (in a liturgical setting of incense, prayers, and chanting) standing as a slain lamb whose blood bought the people of every tribe for God. So here we also have a theological correspondence before the Gospels were written of Jesus as the Paschal Lamb.

if First idea It is that Christians, before the Gospels were written, believed that Christ was the Paschal Lamb who was presented on the cross and slaughtered for all people. Therefore, Jesus' Last Supper was a Passover supper, at least from a theological standpoint. At this supper, Jesus takes the place of the Paschal Lamb.

Second idea:

In Mark 14, Jesus' Last Supper is served with his disciples as a Passover dinner. This is clear from Mark 14:12-16 of preparing for dinner. Luke 22:15 may have been interpreted correctly by Mark when Jesus in Luke begins the supper by saying that he longed to eat this Passover with his disciples. It is clear that at this Passover supper the words spoken over the bread and wine give the body of Jesus the central place that is usually reserved for the lamb sacrificed in the temple, a lamb that was never mentioned at the last supper. That is, we have here a theological interpretation, which is presenting the Last Supper as a Passover supper, based on the pre-Gospel declaration that Jesus is the Passover Lamb. The question here is whether Mark himself was responsible for this phenomenon, or had Christians already begun to depict “the Lord’s Supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20) as being eaten “on the night he was betrayed” (11:23) as a Passover meal? The second answer is probably the most correct.

So if Second idea It is that Mark (and after him Matthew and Luke) presented the Last Supper as a Passover based on the pre-Gospel tradition.

Third idea:

The day that began at sunset with the Passover meal is Nisan 15, which is also the first day of Unleavened Bread. We have noticed that Mark does not have any reference to the date of the Day of Unleavened Bread in any mention of Christ’s suffering after supper. If we conclude from the fact that the Last Supper was a Passover supper in Mark that the Passover began at sunset on Thursday and therefore Friday was the first day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15), then Mark mentions activities and actions that are very difficult to reconcile with a feast day. Mark also did not amend the contradiction between the date of such a feast and the arrest and crucifixion referred to in 14:2 in reference to the conspiracy of the chief priests and scribes not to arrest Jesus and kill him “on the feast.” If Mark created the history of the Passover meal, then one would expect him to have thought about the consequences and created greater coherence in his story. It is clear, then, that Mark accepted an understanding of the Last Supper as a Paschal meal and did not attempt to change the basic story of the Passion in light of this knowledge because he was thinking about the Paschal qualities of the Supper from a theological-liturgical perspective and not in terms of history (the Supper’s chronological position in the chain of events). So, although Christians early began to think that the Last Supper was a Passover dinner, this picture does not give us historical information that Jesus died on April 15. In fact, we must abandon the so-called Synoptic date of the crucifixion as Nisan 15, a date that the Synoptics never applied to anything more than the Last Supper. The only reference in Mark falls within what we mentioned previously, which is that the holiday period was mentioned as a single festive period in such a way that it is not possible to know which day of this festive period is intended. The nature of the material that follows in 14:1-11 means that without the paschal references preparing for the Supper in 14:12-14 we would not be able to accurately tell from Mark the day on which Jesus died (April 14 or 15). The same applies to Matthew and Luke, who followed Mark.

if Third thought It is that Mark presented the Last Supper as a Passover supper (based on a Christian view before the Gospels) and recorded it in a series of events on Thursday and Friday. However, he did not attempt to harmonize the temporal location of this supper with other events that refer to the feast. Therefore, Mark never mentioned that the Jewish Passover began at sunset on Thursday, but rather we were the ones who concluded that the day of Friday fell on Nisan 15, but Mark himself never refers to this directly. On the contrary, the activities that Mark mentions and the incident on Friday (the trial, carrying the cross, people coming from the field, the crucifixion, buying perfume, opening the tomb, burying Jesus) are not consistent with a feast day, if Friday fell on April 15. Also, Mark’s references to “the feast” are chronologically inaccurate, like the rest of the historians, as we found, and they do not help us know whether they mean the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 14) or the first day of it (Nisan 15).

Fourth idea:

In John 1:29 (1:36) the theological vision of Jesus as the Lamb finds direct expression when the Baptist greets him as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The Gospel of John never mentions how Jesus the Lamb takes away the sin of the world, but 1 John 1:7 and 2:2 say: “And the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” and “It is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” This indication that the Lamb of God, through his death, erases the sins of the world finds confirmation in the recurring image of the Paschal Lamb in the Passion story in John. The soldiers do not break a bone for Jesus (John 19:33), completing the biblical description of the Paschal Lamb: “A bone of Him shall not be broken” (Exodus 12:10, 46; Numbers 9:12). Hyssop is also used to raise a sponge filled with vinegar to Jesus’ lips, just as hyssop was used to sprinkle the blood of the Passover lamb on the doorsteps of the Israelites’ homes (Exodus 12:22). Perhaps also by using the “sixth hour” as the moment of “Passover preparation” when Pilate condemns Jesus to death, John 19:14 refers to Jesus as the Passover Lamb; At that time, the priests began slaughtering lambs on April 14 in preparation for the Passover meal on April 15. In other words, John, like Mark, wove a pre-evangelical vision of Jesus as the Paschal lamb into his story. However, unlike Mark, he did not do this with reference to the Last Supper, because in John’s story there is nothing explicitly referring to it as a Passover meal, and there is no reference to the Eucharistic body and blood of Jesus that replaced the imperfect lamb.

John depicts the Thursday/Friday of Jesus' Last Supper, trial and death as occurring on 14 Nisan (from Thursday twilight to Friday sunset), the eve of Passover on 15 Nisan (beginning with Friday twilight). There is only one reference, John 19:14, that speaks specifically about “Passover preparation,” and relates to Jesus as the Passover Lamb, and this is a light implicit reference. All of this does not support the idea that John composed his historical sequence to fit his theological vision (rather, his historical sequence was identical to the actual history of the events).

if Fourth thought It is that John's dating of the Jewish Passover is clearer than the dating of the Synoptics because John's references to the Passover are not linked to the Last Supper, but rather to the crucifixion of Jesus (the Passover Lamb) himself on the one hand, and he mentions the day of preparation for the Passover before they ate it (John 18:28, 19:14, 19:31, 19:553) on the other hand.

Therefore, there are strong reasons to rule historically that John's date for the Passover is more correct and that Jesus died on Nisan 14 (Friday afternoon), the day the Passover lambs were slaughtered in the Temple. On the eve of Nisan 15 (John 19:14 calls for Passover preparation) the Passover meal began. The liturgy of the Orthodox Church adopts the dating of John.

4- Date of the year of Christ’s crucifixion

Jesus died during the reign of Pontius Pilate, which extended from 26 AD to 36 AD. The Evangelists, except for Mark, mention that Caiaphas was the high priest, but this does not help us determine because Caiaphas was a high priest before and after Pilate’s mandate from 18 to 36/37. How do we narrow this period of time to know the year of Christ’s crucifixion? Matthew and Luke point to the birth of Jesus before the death of Herod the Great, whose date of death is disputed, but most accept the year 4 BC. We do not know exactly how long before the death of Herod the Great Jesus was born, but many resort to Matthew 2:16, where Herod killed children two years old and younger, and thus they accept that Christ was born in the year 6 BC.

During the period of Jesus’ preaching, the Jews say to him: “You are not yet fifty years old” (John 8:57). If one takes into account the exaggerated nature of this statement along with the descriptions of birth in Matthew and Luke, we conclude that Jesus was preaching publicly before the year 44. Luke says: “And when Jesus began, he was about thirty years old” (perhaps AD 24). In Luke 3:1-2, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. However, this history is not without difficulties. But many accept this date as August/September 28/29 AD. Sometimes Luke's historical calculations are inaccurate (for example, the census in the days of Quirinius), in addition to that we do not know how much time passed between the word received by the Baptist and the good news of Jesus: months or years? The fact that after twenty verses Luke turns to Jesus has led many scholars to take the smaller chronological scope and date the beginning of Jesus' preaching in late 28 AD; But this is not completely consistent with Luke’s idea: Jesus was about thirty years old.

In John 2:20, when Jesus cleansed the Temple and predicted its destruction, Jewish opponents protested that the Temple took 46 years to build. Josephus[11] He gives two different dates for the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple: 23/22 BC. And 20/19 BC, which means (after adding 46 years) 24/25 AD and 27/28. Although John places the cleansing of the temple at the beginning of Jesus’ preaching while the Synoptics place it at the end of Jesus’ life on earth, the majority accept the Synoptics’ dating, which points to the year 28 as the beginning of Jesus’ public preaching.

If Jesus began his preaching then (and there is a big “if” here), how long did his preaching last before his crucifixion? The Synoptics do not provide anything that helps calculate the length of his gospel, but from Mark we assume that it lasted a short period.

John mentions three Easters before Jesus’ death: he mentions one in 2:13, another in 6:4, and a third before Jesus’ death in 11:55. Are these references to Easter historical references in John, or are they mentioned because of the Easter motives in John’s theology? If they are historical, are these three Passovers the only Passovers during Jesus’ public preaching? If the answer is yes, how long was Jesus active before the first Easter mentioned? The answer determines whether we should consider a period of two or three years for His gospel. If we add two or three years to 28/29, depending on the month Jesus began his preaching in those years, we come up with a time period between 30 and 33 for Jesus' death. At each stage of the above calculations there is a degree of uncertainty. Blinzler cited a selection of one hundred Bible scholars for the year in which Jesus died. No one chose the year 34 or 35. While one to three scholars chose the years 26, 27, 28, 31, 32, or 36. Thirteen scholars chose the year 29, 53 scholars chose the year 30, and 24 scholars chose the year 33.

Astronomy played an important role in narrowing down the possible years in which Jesus was crucified. If Jesus died on April 14, in what year during Pilate's term did Nisan 14 fall on a Thursday/Friday? The answer to this question is not easy. Seeing the full moon is important for deciding the month of April. However, seeing the full moon is also affected by weather conditions. Since the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, elapsed months must be added to it in order to match the solar calendar. The great scholar Jeremias warns us that we have no historical records of the addition of shortened months in AD 27-30. To translate the date into our current months, we must use the Julian (Orthodox) calendar, not the Gregorian (Catholic) calendar. That's why it's not surprising that astronomers face difficulties. However, according to Jeremiah’s study, we have the following: It occurred on April 14th

In the year 27 AD, it was a Wednesday/Thursday, and it was less likely that it was a Thursday/Friday

In the year 30 AD it was a Thursday/Friday, and less likely it was a Wednesday/Thursday

In the year 33 AD, on a Thursday/Friday

If we exclude the year 27 AD as an astronomically weak and very early possibility for Jesus’ death based on the Gospel references, then we have two possibilities for April 14 to fall on a Thursday/Friday, according to the Julian calendar, the year 30 AD and the year 33 AD. In general, there is a tendency to reject the year 33 AD, because in it Jesus will be older and his preaching will be longer, because in it he will be 40 years old at his death, and the duration of his preaching will be about 4 years.

If Jesus died in the year 30 AD, he would be 36 years old, and the duration of his preaching would be a little less than two years. None of the earlier histories satisfies every detail in the Gospels. So we can say with a relatively high degree of certainty that the Lord Jesus was crucified at twelve o’clock in the afternoon and gave up his spirit at three o’clock in the afternoon on Friday, the 14th of Abib in the year 30.[12]. Glory be to your long-suffering, O Lord!


References for studying the history of steel

Raymond E. Brown: The Death of the Messiah. Doubleday, 1994.

Joachim Jeremias: The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. The MacMillan Company, New York, 1655.


Dr.. Adnan Trabelsi


This study was reported in:
Appendix Four, pp. 261-279, the third part of the commentary on the Gospel of Matthew the Evangelist, by Saint John Chrysostom. Translated by: Dr. Adnan Trabelsi



[1] Joachim Jeremias: The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. The MacMillan Company—New York, 1955. P, 14.

[2] The Passover meal begins with the Kaddosh, which is the blessing of the cup, and the first plate. After this, the Passover lamb is served and the second cup is mixed. Before the special meal, Jesus here took the Paschal vows, which culminated in interpreting the elements of the meal with the events that took place in the Exodus from Egypt: the unleavened bread symbolizes the misery of the past, the bitter herbs symbolize slavery, the fruit powder has the color and texture of clay and symbolizes the work of slavery, and the Paschal lamb symbolizes God’s mercy. Which broke (i.e. expressed: from us the word Passover) Israel from slavery to freedom.

[3] See Mark 15: 33-36 and 42-44; Matthew 27:45-50; Luke 23: 44-46.

[4] The beginning of sunset and its setting. The new day according to the Jewish calendar begins at twilight.

[5] History 9: 13: 3 No. 271.

[6] Jewish War 5:3:1 No. 99.

[7] John 1:29.

[8] See Part Four of this series

[9] Western scholars overanalyze and assume too much. The four Gospels agree in placing the supper on Thursday, the crucifixion on Friday, and the resurrection on Sunday. Jesus literally said: “I have desired with desire to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (22:15-16). Westerners are busy studying the Old Testament and the Jewish heritage, while trying to link them to the New Testament. This is a dangerous slide. All of the expressions indicate that Jesus ate the Passover, that is, the lamb. The solution that does not complicate matters is to say that Jesus presented the date of Easter since he was coming after the Passion. Luke’s phrase: “I desired with desire” means intense desire. It is the farewell Easter. What is important on that day is not the Jewish Passover, but the farewell dinner. What is important in this is not the Jewish Passover, but rather the Christian Secret Supper, which has forgotten the Jewish Passover forever. So why do Westerners care about subjecting Jesus to the literalism of the Jewish Passover when he is the Lord of Passover? All the Old Testament is a fiction of the New Testament. We seek him to the New Testament. (a J.)

[10] Paul says: He received the service of the Last Supper from the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:23), not from people. He was converted in Damascus and preached there, then he moved to Hauran, then returned to Damascus. It has nothing to do with the Jerusalem tradition unless we assume that the Eucharist was not performed in Damascus and Hauran (A.J.)

[11] History of the Jews 15:11:1 No. 380 and Destruction of the Jews 1:21:1 No. 401.

[12] With all due respect to scrutiny, the evangelicals neglected many things because of their absolute keenness to limit us to matters of salvation through Jesus Christ. They didn't care about quenching our thirst for curiosity. But knowledge is knowledge if it does not go to extremes (A.J.).

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