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Jesus' Crucifixion on a Wednesday

Ancient Texts

CHRONOLOGY OF THE CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION
ACCORDING TO ANCIENT TEXTS


by Blaine Newman (a minister of the Church of God, Seventh Day)



     In the Christian world today, the predominant view
concerning the chronology of Christ's last days, is that He
celebrated the Last Supper on Thursday evening, was arrested that
same night, crucified on Friday, and rose on Sunday morning. In
the early Church, however, one finds evidence of a widespread
view that Christ held His Last Supper on Tuesday evening. There
is also evidence, to a certain extent, that there were early
Christians who believed in a midweek crucifixion and a Saturday
....resurrection!

     To support the theory of a Tuesday night Last Supper
tradition, the earliest source where I have found evidence is the
"Didascalia Apostolorum," a church order which is supposed to
have been composed circa A.D. 200. It states:

"For while He was yet with us before He suffered as we were
eating the Passover with Him, He said to us, 'Today, in this
night, one of you will betray Me' And Judas came with the scribes
and with the priests of the people and betrayed our Lord Jesus.
And so in the night when the fourth day of the week drew on,
betrayed our Lord to them. But they made payment to Judas... on
the second day of the week ... For when we had eaten the Passover
on the third day of the week at even, we went forth to the Mount
of Olives, and in the night they seized our Lord Jesus." 1

     By the end of the third century a fast was celebrated on
Wednesday (until 3:00 p.m.) to commemorate Christ's arrest.
Victorinus, Bishop of Petau (martyred in A.D.304) explains:

"Now is manifested the reason of the truth why the fourth day is
called the Tetras, why we fast even to the ninth hour ... The man
Christ ... was taken prisoner by wicked hands, by a quarternion,
on account of the majesty of His works ... therefore, we make a
station or a supernumerary fast." 2

     Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis (367-403 A.D.), says:

"Wednesday and Friday are days of fasting up to the ninth hour
because, as Wednesday began the Lord was arrested and on Friday
he was crucified." 3

     Even though at this time Friday was believed to be the day
of the crucifixion, Wednesday was still known as the day of
Christ's arrest. The early "Pseudopigraphal Book of Adam and Eve"
(composed approximately A.D.400) states the same. It says:

"Then the Word of God said to Adam: 'Adam, you have determined in
advance the days when sufferings will come upon me when I shall
have become flesh; for those days are Wednesday and Friday." 4

(The literal reading is actually the "fourth" instead of
"Wednesday" and "the preparation" in place of "Friday.")

     Another pseudepigraphal work called "The Narrative of
Joseph" (originally believed to have been composed in the fourth
century, but which copy we have only from the twelfth century)
states:

"Jesus also was taken on the third day before the Passover, in
evening. And on the following day, the fourth day of the week,
they brought Him at the ninth hour into the hall of Caiaphas." 5

     In most modern liturgical churches today, the reason for the
Wednesday fast is largely forgotten, however, the Wednesday, fast
is very much alive in Eastern Orthodox Churches. Even today in
the Coptic Church the reason for fasting on Wednesday echoes the
exact reason why the primitive Christian church fasted on
Wednesday. The Coptic Encyclopedia states:

"The Coptic Church ordains that Wednesday and Friday be observed
as fast days, the former being the day on which Jesus Christ was
condemned to be crucified, and the latter being the day on which
his crucifixion took place." 6

     Though the above quoted references show that a Friday
crucifixion was endorsed alongside a Tuesday last supper belief,
in the "Acts of Pilate" (a pseudepigraphal work originally
composed in the fourth century) a midweek crucifixion seems to be
indicated. According to the "Acts of Pilate," Karinus and
Leucius, two saints who were supposedly resurrected at the time
of Christ's resurrection, were reported to have been told by
Christ to stay at Jerusalem for three more days to complete the
observation of Passover. 7

     One Greek version says:

"Thereafter we went unto Jerusalem also and accomplished the
Passover." 

     One Latin version states: 

"For three davs only were allowed unto us who rose from the dead,
to keep the Passover of the Lord in Jerusalem with our kindred
(parents) that are living for a testimony of the resurrection of
Christ the Lord. And after three days, when we had kept the
Passover of the Lord, all they were caught up in the clouds which
had risen with us and were taken over Jordan and were no more
seen of my man." 8 

     Since Christ was killed on the preparation day of the
Passover, seven days of unleavened bread followed and then the
Passover festival was completed. The statement that only three
days were left to accomplish the Passover after Christ's
resurrection would indicate that Christ spent a full three days
and three nights in the grave, and not only parts of three days.
     Thus the Acts of Pilate seem to promote a midweek
crucifixion.
     If one assumes the Last Supper took place on a Tuesday
evening and Christ was crucified on a Wednesday, then Thursday
would have to be a Sabbath day, since the Scriptures state that
Christ was crucified on the preparation day before the Sabbath.
Luke 23:54 says, "And that day was the preparation, and the
Sabbath drew on." John 19:31 says, "The Jews therefore, because
it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon
the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high
day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that
they might be taken away."

     Rabbi Samuel Lacks states, "The day of preparation (Greek
paraskeue) equals Friday or the day before a holiday." 9 
Since the day of preparation can mean a day before any holy day,
the preparation day Christ was crucified on could well have been
on a Wednesday and the Passover Sabbath on a weekday (i.e.,
Thursday). With this scenario, the Passover meal would have been
on a Tuesday. According to Leviticus 23:5-8 the fourteenth of the
first month is the day of the Passover meal and the day
following, the fifteenth, is a Passover Sabbath. It reads, "In
the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's
Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast
of unleavened bread unto the Lord. Seven days ye must eat
unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy
convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein."

     Therefore the Passover Sabbath could be on a weekday.
Christ died on the preparation day at the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.)
and was buried before sunset. If that day were a Wednesday, then
three full days and three full nights later would be Saturday at
3:00 p.m., or just before sunset.


(Though Jesus died somewhere around the middle of the afternoon,
see my study called "The Hour Jesus Died" - He was not put in the
tomb until AFTER the evening had arrived and AFTER the 15th day
Sabbath of the Feast on Unleavened Bread had begun. Thus it was
an evening burial and an evening resurrection - Saturday evening,
three days and three night later. Jesus was the "wave-sheaf" in
typology, and the Sadducees (not the Pharisees) cut the wave-
sheaf AFTER the weekly Sabbath during the Unleavened Bread feast.
It was cut the evening of the first day of the week. Jesus was
the first of the first-fruits. The resurrection of Christ was
typified then by the cutting of the first of the first-fruits of
the barley, to be prersented to God in a waving ceremony in the
Temple on the morning of the first day of the week. All of this I
expound in some detail in the last Gospel chapters of my "New
Testament Bible Story", as well as in Pentecost Feast studies -
Keith Hunt) 


     According to this chronology, Christ would have to be
resurrected on Saturday after 3:00 p.m., yet before sunset. He
would have been resurrected on the Sabbath day. 


(The full truth of the matter is that Jesus was not put into the
heart of the earth, the tomb, until AFTER the evening had
started (see my studies on "The NT use of the word 'evening'")
and the Sabbath of the 15th day had begun. See the last chapters
of the Gospels in "The New Testament Bible Story."
The resurrection was a FIRST DAY resurrection as God counts days,
evening to evening. Typology all fits - Christ the first of the
firs-fruits, resurrected on the first day of the week - we call
Saturday evening. Pentecost, celebrated on Sunday, the first day
of the week, the Feast of the first ingathering, typology = the
saints, as we are called "first-fruits" to God in the book of
James. Jesus actually rested in the tomb on the Sabbath, and was
NOT raised from the dead until AFTER the Sabbath had ended.
Being a first day resurrection it made it relatively easy, over a 
period of a few hundred years, for the large body of Christians to 
adopt a Sunday as the Lord's day - Keith Hunt)


     This is evidently what some early Christians believed. In
the early Christian church there were many who believed that the
resurrection of Christ took place on the Sabbath, which is
Saturday, the seventh day of the week.


(Could well be true, but could well have been counting in Roman
time, meaning the evening of Saturday belonged to Saturday. We
have at least one recorded fact that this way was counted by
some. The Gospel of John - chapter 20:19 "The SAME DAY, AT
EVENING, BEING THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK .... JESUS CAME AND
STOOD IN THE MIDST OF THEM ..."
It is obvious here Roman time is being used - mid-night to mid-
night. The CONTEXT tells you clearly this was all happening on
the first day of the week - Keith Hunt)


     By the fifth century A.D., Easter Sunday celebrations of
Christ's resurrection were widespread in Christianity. However,
the Church historian Socrates (ca. 440 A.D) in a section of his
history entitled, "Differences of usage in regard to Easter,"
reveals that in the East there were Christians who celibrated
Easter on Sabbath instead of Sunday. He stated, "Others in the
East kept that feast on the Sabbath indeed." 10


(This could easily be explained if they were using mid-night to
mid-night, or Roman time. Then they would be including the
evening up to the hour of mid-night as the Sabbath, and knowing
Jesus rose in the evening of Saturday night, it would be for them
a Sabbath resurrection - Keith Hunt)


     Bishop Gregory of Tours (A.D.538-594) tells us that many in
France believed Christ arose on the seventh day of the week, even
though he himself defended a Sunday resurrection belief. He
stated, "Now in our belief the resurrection of the Lord was on
the first day, and not on the seventh as many deem." 11


(Again, depending what day recogning they were all using could be
the samantic of time. Roman mid-night to mid-night would give you
a 7th day resurrection, but sunset to sunset, it would have been
a resurrection in the evening of the first day that Jesus rose
from the dead. And of course if some by this time were asserting
Jesus rose Sunday morning, then certainly it was a first day
resurrection - Keith Hunt)


     Alexander Ross (A.D.1590-1654) tells us the Armenians
believed in a Saturday resurrection, though he disagrees with
them. He stated:

"The Armenians taught ... that Christ rose from the dead on
the Sabbath day, whereas the Scripture tells us plainly that He
arose on the third day." 12

     Though the belief that Christ rose on the Sabbath has
appeared to be long forgotten and abandoned by most Christians
today, vestiges of this belief appear to have survived in an
indirect way through certain cerermonies in the eastern church.
For example, in the Coptic Church, on Holy Saturday "following
the ninth hour (i.e., 3:00 p.m.), the divine Liturgy is
celebrated." 13 

     As early as 400 A.D., both Socrates and Sozomen state that
in Egypt there was a Sabbath evening celebration of the
communion. I4 

     In the Nestorian Church in India the communion (Qurbana) is
still celebrated to this day at sunset on Holy Saturday in honor
of Christ's resurrection. Mar Aprem says, "On Holy Saturday it is
stated that Qurbana should be at sunset. Because it is believed
that Jesus rose from the tomb at that time." 15


(Ah, now are you noticing we are getting closer to the truth of
the matter. Some observing rites at SUNSET of the Sabbath. And a
Sabbath EVENING celebration of the communion in Egypt. Ah, some
had kept alive the fact that the resurrection of our Lord was
AFTER the Sabbath had ended and the evening of the first day of
the week had started, though if using mid-night to mid-night
recogning for the day, that evening would have been a Sabbath
evening. Either way, it is evident SOME were still keeping alive
the truth that Jesus was resurrected in the evening - Keith Hunt)


     Since Christ died at the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.) on the day
of preparation, and if this day was a Wednesday, then a full
three days and three nights later would bring one to 3:00 p.m.,
Saturday.
     Since Christ was buried before sunset, then Christ would
have been raised before sunset. The time of Christ's Saturday
resurrection would have been between 3:00 p.m. and sunset - no
later.

(Incorrect reasoning because of incorrect facts of what the
Gospels actually tell us. First is the "hour" Jesus died, it's
not as clear cut as saying 3 pm. But more important is what is
told us in all the accounts in the Gospels, what the Greek tenses
used mean, and what "evening" means as used in the NT. I go into
some depth on the study of "evening" in the NT and in the last
chapters of the Gospels in the "New Testament Bible Story.
Jesus was NOT put in the grave until AFTER the Sabbath had BEGUN,
and was NOT resurrected until AFTER THE WEEKLY SABBATH HAD
ENDED, in the period we call Saturday evening. It was a FIRST DAY
resurrection - Jesus was the FIRST of the first-fruits. The
saints are first-fruits, represented by the Feast of Pentecost on
the first day of the week. All the typology fits like hand in
glove - Keith Hunt)


FOOTNOTES

1.   

"Didascalia Apostolarum," (translated by R. High Connolly),      
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929,p.181. 

2.   

"The Writing of Quintus Sept. Flor. Tertullianus with the   
extant works of Victorinus and Commodianus," vol.3,    Edinburgh:
T & T Clark, 1895, pp. 388,389.

3.   

Annie Jaubert, "The Date of the Last Supper," N.Y., Alba House,
1965, p.77. 

4.   

Supra. n.3. p.79.

5.   


Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol.8, Michigan. Wm. B. Eerdmans. 1956,
p.468.

6.   

The Coptic Encyclopedia, Vol.4, N.Y.: MacMillan Publishing
Company, 1991, p.1096.

7.   

Montague Rhodes James, "The Apocryphal Mew Testament." Oxford,
Clarendon Press, 1960, pp.142,143.

8.   

Ibid.

9.   

Samuel Tobias Lachs, "A Rabbinic Commentary of the New
Testament," New Jersey: Ktav Publishing House, Inc. 1987, 
p.437

10.

Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Vol.2, Michigan: Wm. B.
Eerdman's, 1952, p.131.

11.  

Gregory of Tours, "The History of the Franks." Vol.2,  (trans. by
D.M. Dalton), Oxford: Claendon Press, 1927, p.24.

12.  

Alexander Ross, "Pansebeia: or A View of All the Religions  of
the World," London, John Saywell, 1658, p.219.

13.  

upra, n. 6, p.1252.

14.  

"The Sabbath in Scripture and History," (ed. Kenneth A. Strand),
Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing     Association,
1982, p.171.

15.  

Mar Aprem, "Sacraments of the Church of the East," India:   Mar
Narsai Press, 1978, p.112.

                              ..............

Entered on this Website February 2008

Note:

Take the time to study my last chapters of the Gospels in my "New
Testament Bible Story" and it will make plain all the
circumstances around the death of Jesus, and why He was not taken
down from the cross and put in the Tomb until AFTER the Sabbath
(15th of the first month) of the Feast of Unleavened Bread had
started. Hence Jesus was resurrected three days and three night
later, after 6 pm or evening had begun in the time frame we call
(using the Roman calendar) Saturday evening.

When you understand ALL the typology of Christ being the FIRST-
fruits, the wave sheaf of the first harvest, His followers being
first-fruits unto God, the Feast of Pentecost being on the FIRST
day of the week, then we can fully understand Jesus being raised
from the dead Saturday evening, going to be presented to the
Father on the morning of the First day of the week, as the wave
sheaf was being offered in the Temnple.

Yes, a first day (during the very first hours of the evening of
the first day) resurrection for Jesus, made it somewhat easy for
Satan the Devil, within the first two hundred years to start
deceiving most Christians into accepting a First day Lord's day
and a First day Easter Sunday, instead of the 7th Day Sabbath and
the Feast of Passover.

As Dr.Samuele Bacchiocchi shows in all his Church History studies
the majority of Christians also (within a few hundred years)
wanted to "get away from" just about anything that could be
called "Jewish." So it was as time went on that the popular
"church" eminating from the city of Rome, gained more and more
influence over the larger part of Christianity. By the time
Constantine gained the throne of Rome in the early 300s A.D.
Roman Christianity became the state religion over all the Roman
Empire. The word "catholic" means "universal" - so became the
Roman Catholic Religion. The secular Empire and the religious
Empire was then the Holy Roman Empire of history.

Keith Hunt


 
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