Jesus' death: Friday vs. Wednesday

I’ve got an old book here with me that was printed in 1907, entitled Difficulties in the Bible by R.A. Torrey. It’s an interesting read, not only for the quality of Torrey’s research, but also for the little quant things, such as the “wine” Jesus turned water into was really grape juice (“wholesome wine”), and that there was a pre-Adamic race that God killed for some reason.

One interesting chapter is entitled “Was Jesus really three days and three nights in the heart of the earth?”, which explores whether Friday afternoon to Sunday morning really works. He explains that the traditional Good Friday came about because it was claimed that it was the day before the Sabbath, which is obviously a Friday. He then goes on to say that John’s version said that the Sabbath was a high Sabbath, a “Passover sabbath” as he calls it, and this idea unlocks the day of Jesus’ death from having to be on a Friday. By inference, Torrey concludes that it was Wednesday afternoon that he was killed and that Jesus would have arose Saturday night, leaving the tomb empty for Sunday morning (exposition in case you hadn’t heard the theory before).

The reason I bring this up (apart from the timing) was something I read in Luke recently, where one of the apostles mentioned that that day (Sunday) was the third day since Jesus died, which sounds to me like Thursday. What are the arguements and evidence for each of these ideas? Is the Good Friday soley tradition based? Is Wednesday a better answer? Or Thursday?

Well, given that Jesus traditionally rose on the third day, and that Sunday morning isn’t even a full weekend away from Friday afternoon, let’s see if the big 4 can even agree that the resurrection happened on a Sunday.

Matthew 28:1-2 - In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

Mark 16:2-4 - And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

Luke 24:1-2 - 1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

John 20:1 - The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Yep, all in agreement. Matthew even reminds us that the first day of the week is the day after Sabbath: Sunday.

And I don’t think there’s a whole lot of room for debate about the other end of the period: the last supper was Passover, so Jesus was executed the day before Sabbath: Friday.

Which would lead me to conclude that it’s not full days that are being counted, but that there were three different days on which Jesus was presumed dead (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) - even though it is in fact less than 48 hours.

I’m not gonna check the Bible for cites but basically- the case for a Friday
crucifixion is the Gospels say that Jesus’ body had to be buried quickly as
that day was the Preparation Day for the Sabbath (and as the weekly
Sabbath was Saturday, the Prep day was of course Friday.)

The counter-claim is that the Sabbath spoken of was actually the special
Sabbath which was the first day of the weeklong Festival of Unleavened
Bread, which could occur any day of the week.

The chronology given by the Wed Advocates is
Wed- Crucifixion & Burial
Thurs- Special Festival Sabbath
Friday- Jesus’ women friends spend day preparing
spices & wrapping for proper embalming.
Sat- Weekly Sabbath
Sun- Women come to tomb at dawn to find Jesus already risen.

One flaw in that is that it wastes Friday. I doubt such prepping
would take a whole day, thus if the Crucifixion was any other
day, I’d say it was Thurs, and that Friday & Saturday were
conjoined Sabbaths. However, I’m not convinced the Friday
Crucifixion is erroneous.

Remembering that the day started at sunset; Jesus died and buried on Friday before sunset, Saturday the Sabbath; Saturday sunset the Sabbath ends and we are now in the third day.


What about the 3rd night?

What about it? I’ve never heard of it before. Did Torrey just invent it out of whole cloth?


I’m sparing you all a bunch of other English translations. :slight_smile: However, I don’t see any room for a Friday crucifiction in there. Sorry.

I think that pretty well nails it as the one and only annual Passover feast (the mention of unleavened bread).

If the High Passover was on Wednesday - and do, please, recall that our (Gregorian) Easter always falls around the time that people practicing the Jewish religion celebrate Passover (someone up the thread mentioned this) - the Last Supper fell on Wednesday at sunset. They spent a couple of hours over the meal, followed by Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Then they went to Gethsemane to pray. Around midnight, the soldiers came and arrested Jesus. He was taken before the special session of the priests (Saducees) (not looking all this up, so you may be able to find flaws), and then to Pilate ({very, or very, very?} early morning), and then to Herod, back to Pilate, followed by sentencing, flogging & crown of thorns (this is getting towards noon of Thursday, don’t you think? depending, of course, on how far apart the different locations were, and how long each session was), followed by carrying the cross to Calvary. The three condemned men are nailed to their crosses and hung. The Bible says Jesus lasted three hours on the cross, then died, which probably makes it Thursday afternoon. Nicodemus begs the body, and then the women embalm it. It is then entombed, probably late afternoon to early evening Thursday.

Now we count down: Thursday night = night 1, Friday = day 1, Friday night = night 2, Saturday = day 2 Saturday night = night 3, Sunday morning = day 3.

There is an alternate way of counting, but it means that the crucifiction took place much earlier during the day on Thursday, to allow it to count as the first day in the tomb.

I think that it’s more than possible that the prep may have taken a full day.
I say that because in part, I think that the trial and crucifixion suprised the followers.
Secondly, considering their meager means, and that the group was traveling …it’s likely that it would’ve have taken a heroic effort to gather together the expensive tonics, spices and burial wraps that they considered worthy of their King.

Combine their grief, shock and disbelief; meager means, a city overrun with Passover pilgrams, and the fear that they may also be targets…and I can see that preparations could easily take a full day, if not longer.

That makes sense to me; I meant to say.

…boy, could I use a spell check ! :rolleyes:

Then you are of the opinion that their rich Jerusalem friends (Nicodemus (who supplied the tomb), et al) would not have supplied either the ingredients or the money for them?

Sorry, I can’t buy that. There are references to various rich adherents who provided various things (the Upper Room, frex, which was completely prepared for the Passover observance). Some might have silently vanished, but not very many, I think.

What’s more, I think it highly likely that there would have been some wealthy Jerusalem residents who, without necessarily believing in Jesus at all, would have stepped forward to provide means. In our American culture today, few people have any cognizance of the strong traditions of charity which pervaded Jewish culture of that day (and for millenia afterward; I point out Haym Salomon, without whom the American Revolutionary War would probably have failed.). Some of those Jerusalem residents would have done it because it was a “good deed” (act of charity) to do it (I’d mutilate the proper Jewish word, so I won’t even try.).

No, not at all. I was only suggesting that it probably would have taken the better part of a day to gather those resources, that’s all.

Another thing that comes to mind, and I don’t know anything about the Jewish burial customs of the time, but would it have been customary to have the oils, spices and wraps to be used, blessed by a priest? ?

The Wednesday chronology that FriarTed outlined makes alot of sense to me, but I can accept either version.

OK, I stand corrected.

I’m too tired to did up the Old Testament passage, but the prophecy was that the Messiah would rise after 3 days and 3 days in the grave. The New Testament was clear Jesus was first seen Sunday morning, consistent with rising from the dead after sundown Saturday. Thus, to fulfill the prophecy Jesus had to have been crucified on a Wednesday. If he had been crucified on Friday, he doesn’t fit the prophecy, and thus is not the Messiah.

Minor nitpicking: the Eastern Christian tradition emphatically states that the Last Supper was not a Passover meal. In the Orthodox chronology of the week, Palm Sunday is the 6th day before Passover; Thursday is the last supper, Friday is the crucifixion, Saturday is the Sabbath and the first day of Passover (the “High Sabbath”). Christ used leavened bread at the Last Supper, and Pascha (Easter) is not celebrated until after Passover.

Yep, I gotta agree!
It makes much more sense that way. Besides; governments, religions, and those in power are always manipulating the calendar of events to suit their schedules and agendas.

For instance; Catholicism, or those in charge of it, took it upon themselves to determine that Christ was risen on a Sunday, so Easter should be Sunday.

But Jesus was a Jew, celebrated Passover as a Jew.
He was killed at a particular time and place, because he was celebratring as a Jew.
Shouldn’t Easter follow Passover the same way Christ’s crucifixion followed Passover?

Nope. According to scholarly disquisition I endured when I took “Anthropology of Death and Dying”, the Hebrew burial customs which were followed from ancient times through the time of Jesus were based upon (and used both spices and wrapping cloths similarly) the Egyptian burial rites. This did not, of course, include the use of natron ( nor the removal of the various organs as practiced by the Egyptians (which the Jews of Jesus’ time probably would have regarded as desecration, even as modern Orthodox Jews).

Blessing the materials probably would have been considered faintly obscene, since touching, etc., a dead body (human or animal) made the religious Jew ritually unclean for at least a day, and required purification.

BTW, Passover is not a one day, but an eight day event. The first evening’s observance, in Jesus’ time, featured a (roast, I believe?) shoulder of lamb, bitter herbs, unleavened bread (matzoh) and (kosher) wine. The ritual questions from the youngest attendee at a given table date back to its institution, IIRC, according to the Torah.

Touching, carrying, or being under the same roof with a human corpse would render one tamei for a minimum of seven days.

In Israel (in Jesus’ time and even today) Passover is only seven days, not eight. It is only eight days long in the Diaspora.

Yes, it must be roasted whole. The four questions that were asked at the seder are recorded in the mishna, which was composed around the time of Jesus’ life. (As an interesting aside, one of the questions asked then is not asked today. The question asked then was “Why is it that on all other nights we can eat meat cooked in any fashion, but tonight, we only eat meat roasted.” – However, since we no longer have the Temple [and in fact, at the seder we do NOT eat roasted meat], this question has since been replaced with another one.)

Zev Steinhardt

Cite, please. Where is this passage that states that the messiah will be in the grave for three days? (Specifically, looking for a verse from the Jewish Bible)

Zev Steinhardt

It’s not a Hebrew Bible prophecy, it’s just Jesus making a comparison between his burial & Jonah being in the whale’s belly three days & three nights (Matthew 12:40). There’s also a passage in Hosea about Israel being revived after two days, raised up in three. Isn’t there also a three-day purification process in Numbers?

By doing this, you’re changing both the day of crucifixion, and the day of rising just to fit with “3 days and 3 nites”. This wasn’t a tour .

And this has been brought up maybe a zillion times in the last 2000 years. Most Christians go with the way tygerbryght counts.

Mathew seems obsessed with coming up with any thing from the OT which even remotely fits. The Jonah story isn’t even a Messianic prophecy.