A Question I Was Asked:



When Was Jesus Crucified?






The Question:

What was the actual date for the crucifixion of Jesus? Was it in AD31?


UK Apologetics Reply:

We can't be 100% sure of the precise date of the crucifixion. What we do know for sure is that it occurred between the years AD29-34.

Various more precise dates have obviously been suggested. Some dates would appear to fit in with certain biblical references, but other dates seem to fit in better with other biblical references. All in all, it seems that our Lord wishes this certain ambiguity to remain.

Here is one interesting reference on this topic:

'Isaac Newton was one of the first scientists to estimate the date of the crucifixion by calculating the relative visibility of the crescent of the new moon between the Hebrew and Julian calendars. Newton suggested the date as Friday, April 23, AD 34. He based his arguments on several presuppositions, including: "I take it for granted that the passion was on Friday the 14th day of the month Nisan." Writing in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1991, John Pratt argued that Newton's reasoning was effectively sound, but included a minor error towards the end. Pratt suggested the year AD 33 as the accurate answer. Using similar computations, in 1990 astronomer Bradley Schaefer arrived at the same date, Friday, April 3, AD 33. Thus it can be concluded that Newton's argument favours the April 3, AD 33 date. This date was further supported in 2003. Using a computer program, astronomers Liviu Mircea and Tiberiu Oproiu again estimated that Jesus died at 3 pm on Friday, April 3, AD 33, and rose on Sunday, April 5, dates that agree with Schaefer. But other computer calculations suggest somewhat different dates.......Using the completely different approach of a lunar eclipse model, Humphreys and Waddington of Oxford University also arrived at the conclusion that Friday, April 3, AD 33 was the date of the crucifix.'
(the above is taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_of_Jesus")

Now, for sure, some of this is based on computer models (now so discredited following the climate change charade and scandal), nevertheless, I personally think that AD33 is probably the most likely year for the crucifixion and that Friday, April 3rd probably the actual day. However, one would not stake everything on this being the precise date.

But the testimony of Phlegon is interesting. He was a Greek historian who wrote an extensive chronology around AD 137. He writes of a darkening of the land which makes one think of Matthew 27:

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:45-46).

Phlegon apparently wrote:

"In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e., AD 33) there was the greatest eclipse of the sun and that it became night in the sixth hour of the day [i.e., noon] so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea." (Maier, Paul. Pontius Pilate (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1968), p. 366. Phlegon’s citation is a fragment from Olympiades he Chronika 13, ed. Otto Keller, Rerum Naturalium Scriptores Graeci Minores, 1 (Leipzig Teurber, 1877), p. 101).

Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen in his work ‘Against Celsus’ Book 2:

"The darkening of the sun took place at the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus was crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place, Phlegon, I believe, has written an account in the thirteenth or fourteenth book of his Chronicles."

Scientists now know that there was no eclipse in that year at all which only increases the view that the event was miraculous. This is, therefore, further support for AD33.

The Seventh Day View

Most seventh day people (although not all) insist that the crucifixion occurred on a Wednesday with the resurrection following on a Saturday, however, they only insist on this because they look for a literal "three days and three nights," but this is very naive, the Jews always used the inclusive method of counting days and one does not have to look for a literal 72 hour period between crucifixion and resurrection. Today, in the West, we don't use this method. The Jews would always count any part of a day as that day, that is, as a total. In the case of Jesus, He was crucified on Friday, the day before the Sabbath. He was buried that same day and remained in his tomb the rest of that first day and all the second. Then, on Sunday morning, the third day, He rose from the dead.

In general, the 'seventh dayers' also look for a Jewish Sabbath resurrection, so they base all their calculations upon this, however, it is the First Day (Sunday) which was clearly the day of the resurrection (Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1-4; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). and this has been accepted by all of Christianity for over a thousand years - is it really likely to be wrong? I submit that, in all likelihood, it is perfectly accurate. This is also why Sunday (The First Day) became celebrated as the most ideal day for Christian meeting and assembly (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). The idea that The First Day was a "new Christian Sabbath" - plainly erroneous - came along later. The first Christians saw Jesus Himself as being a fulfillment of the Sabbath. To quote from my Why Worship on Sunday? article,

"...we do find a strong precedent for assembling for worship on what soon became known as 'The Lord's Day' - Sunday : the day of the resurrection, the day of the disciples meeting and seeking after Christ - with the risen Christ's revealing of Himself to them, the day of Pentecost, the day on which Paul can be found preaching to other Christians (rather than to Jews), the day on which Paul requested the Corinthians to make a collection for Christians affected by the famine in Judea (1 Corinthians 16: 1-3), the day on which John wrote that he found himself, 'In the Spirit' (Rev 1:10) and the day of which Justin Martyr wrote, 'We all hold our communion and assembly.'"

But, to return to the subject of the precise year, we must remember that, as Christian believers, we certainly know that these events occurred, and it can be foolish to get into arguments about dates. Putting everything together, Friday, April 3, AD 33 is probably the most likely date of the crucifixion with a resurrection following early on the Sunday morning.
Robin A. Brace. March 16th, 2011.


Why Worship On A Sunday?


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