Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Textual problems with a Wednesday crucifixion

Thanks for the responses Mark Call and Starwind. I wish to respond to some of the issues raised. To be clear, I don't think there are any real issues with a Friday crucifixion. Sans the 3 days and 3 nights passage, there is nothing in the other passages that would contradict this interpretation. Given that I think that "3 days and 3 nights" is an idiom, this fits a Friday crucifixion also.

If we propose a Wednesday crucifixion we strike some difficulties. I think these difficulties are great enough to refute it. The issues are:
  • Other Sabbaths
  • Friday activities
  • Duration of death
  • Discontinuity
  • The phrase "on the 3rd day"
The reconstructed view is to allow 72 hours in the tomb. It is proposed that Jesus died late Wednesday, that he is buried about the time of dusk (new day starting) and rose at dusk at the end of the Sabbath on Saturday. This proposal is consistent with some verses, for example several of the passages referenced by Art Kohl in his article Is it "Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday?" Or, "Palm Friday, Good Wednesday and Easter Saturday?". However it does seem to contradict several passages that are not referenced. It is not so much whether one can defend his position with several verses but rather does the interpretation do justice to the entirety of relevant Scripture.

Other Sabbaths

Are there other days referred to as Sabbath other than the 7th day? I am open to this possibility. Leviticus 25 refers to a Sabbath of years. The concept of 6 days work and 1 day rest is paralleled in 6 years and 1 year implying the land "works" in growing food and gets "rest" every 7th year. I have yet to be convinced this is the case for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In Leviticus 23 we read
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.

"6 days shall work be done, but on the 7th day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.

"These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. In the 1st month, on the 14th day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’s Passover. And on the 15th day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for 7 days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the 1st day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. But you shall present a food offering to the LORD for 7 days. On the 7th day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work."
Here God is introducing his holy convocations. These are the weekly Sabbath (7th day) and 1st day of Unleavened Bread and the 7th day of Unleavened Bread. Later in the chapter it identifies several other holy convocations: the 50th day of the Feast of Weeks (always the 1st day of the week), the Day of Trumpets (1st day of the 7th month), the 1st day of the Feast of Booths (15th day of the 7th month) and the day after the Feast of Booths (22nd day of the 7th month). So we have several days during the major feasts and every Sabbath (7th) day all labelled holy convocations. This however does not imply that holy convocations are all called "Sabbaths." Dogs are animals, birds are animals, but birds are not dogs. I have not identified the word "Sabbath" used other than for the 7th day, the analogy to years excepted, though I would be interested to be pointed to any.

Friday activities

Assuming that Jesus was crucified on the Wednesday and Wednesday dusk thru Thursday was a special Sabbath what happened on the Friday? The women went to the tomb to wrap Jesus' body in spices on the 1st day of the week. They would have done this on the Friday. That they did not is a strong argument against a Wednesday crucifixion.

Duration of death

While minor, if Jesus' specification of 3 days and 3 nights means 72 hours, why is this counted from his burial and not his death? If the starting point is his death, which it should be, he would have risen prior to the Sabbath, not as the Sabbath was beginning.


Part of the problem I have with the reconstructed view is that there is no explanation of multiple Sabbaths in the gospel narratives. Luke likely wrote to a Gentile who may not be familiar with the intricacies of special Sabbaths. Why not explain this? even in minor detail. And should not all the days be mentioned? It reads like a continuous narrative and yet there is no mention of the Friday and what happened on that day.

The phrase "on the 3rd day"

The meaning of "after 3 days" can reasonably be interpreted to mean during day 3. The phrase "on the 3rd day" can not reasonably be interpreted to mean on the 4th day after 3 whole days have been completed. Further, the guards were to be placed until the 3rd day which, at the most, could mean until the Saturday and they would not be expected to still be there on Sunday morning.

As mentioned the reconstructed view is an attempt to allow 72 hours in the tomb based on an unnecessary, excessive literalism of an idiom—I don't deny that the phrase is somewhat literal: it means days and not months, years, or an unspecified time period. In doing so the reconstructed view solves one "problem" at the expense of creating many. A Wednesday crucifixion is untenable based on other passages that discuss the crucifixion.

It is not the passages that are consistent with a reconstructed view I am interested in, these are non discriminatory as the traditional view is consistent with them also. It is the problematic passages I am interested in. How does one understand these passages within the reconstructed view?


  1. The problem with friday is that, that a day begins at night. If you want to use the part of a day argument, then you have a problem, because that would be part of 2 day, not 3, friday night to saturday night would be 1 day

  2. Continuing from my last post. The thing is, Yashua the Christ said 3 day and 3 nights would be the sign of His messiahship. And 'AFTER' the 3 days and nights He would rise from the grave. Thats on the 4th, but we dont count the fourth day. The problem everyone makes is that they use the friday, sat., sun, etc. It should be 1st day, 2nd day...sabbath day, which start just after sunset. So when the Christ raise from the grave on the first day, that would mean Saturday just after sunset, not sunday. So when you count back, saturday, fri.night, friday, thurs.night, thursday, wedsday night. Yuhshua(Jesus) were buried just before sunset. Also the previous night the passover began, and the were rushing the next day according to our reckoning, after the Jesus died to bury him jus before sunset(the sabbath), for that sabbath was a high day according to John. There had to be 2 sabbaths in that week, otherwise Luke 23:56 and Mark 16:1 would contradict each other.

  3. Strider, this post generated some traffic at the time. I was using a different commenting system then which ended so I imported them to WordPress. Here are the comments. I suggest you go thru them as they cover your questions.

    But comment here, not there, I don't check the mirrored site.

  4. Bethyada, tell me... How could the woman have bought the spices after the weekly sabbath, but they prepared the spices before the sabbath and then rested? you have to answer that. also you have to interpret the scripture with the 'even to even' day in mind

  5. Strider, I see your question to be:

    how can the women buy spices after the Sabbath as per Mark but prepare them before the Sabbath as per Luke unless there are 2 Sabbaths?

  6. Bethyada, I know you can't answer me using scripture. This is not an 'Im right, your wrong' kinda thing. I just think its very unfair towards yourself that people like you should cover up where others have gone wrong.

  7. Strider, I don't understand your comment, could you rephrase it?

    Did you see my response to your question? Spice preparation and the Sabbath

  8. I have to apologize, I Did not see your article. I just want to say that the apostles' used the Hebrew calendar and days of the week that God Himself provided. I don't see why they would acquire after the heathen, that is, the calendar we use today.

  9. I'm on mobile, so I can only type 255 characters. Anyway, early on the first day is Saturday night. Why did they not come on Friday, coz the grave was gaurded for 3 days and 3 nights and not 2 nights and 1 day. The women came the next morning, sunday.



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