In my book, I look more into the history of the gospels; who wrote them, comparison and contrasting of each, the source known as Q, and the historical influences of each. The first three books of the New Testament are known as the synoptic books. Scholars think Mark is oldest, and Matthew and Luke were based on Mark. These books lead us to believe that the Last Supper was a Passover Meal. But, John informs it was a Passover preparation meal with Passover beginning on Friday night, after the Crucifixion. Below is a portion of my book comparing and contrasting the Gospels.
John can lead readers to believe that perhaps John was a direct witness to many of the miracles of and Crucifixion of Jesus, during which Jesus asked the disciple he loved to take care of Mary, his mother (John 19:25–27). This also implies that John knew what year Jesus was crucified. However, there is no historical evidence for this. The New Testament also informs us that John was a friend to Simon Peter; Jesus sent the two of them together to prepare for the Passover Meal (Luke 22:7–13), and both ran together to the tomb of Jesus when Mary Magdalene told them Jesus was missing (John 20:1–9). Both were early disciples of Jesus and shared the common vocation of fishermen.
Scholars have intensely debated that the Gospel of John, as we know it in modern times, had an original unknown source, perhaps John himself, or was a collaboration of several of John’s followers known as the Johannine community. Most scholars agree that the source known as Q was not a source for John. Whoever the true author or authors of John were, they provide an ample amount of historical information that can be used in an attempt to date the Crucifixion. John 13:1 informs us that the Last Supper was before the Passover feast:
It states, “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
Unlike the other canonical Gospels, this places the date of the Last Supper as Nisan 14, or one day before the actual Passover meal on Nisan 15. John 19:31 further confirms this when John is narrating the aftermath of Jesus’s death:
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
As in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in John it is a Friday, but instead of Nissan 15 like the others, it is Nissan 14, the day of Passover preparation. Therefore, the Jews asked that the three crucified men be removed before sunset, the start of the preparation meal. Because the other two men were alive, the Roman soldiers broke their legs to hasten their deaths. Jesus was dead, so his legs were not broken; instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side, from which came blood and water, to prove he was dead. John 19:36 notes these events: “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: Not one of his bones will be broken,” and another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” John confirms that Jesus was crucified on the Passover preparation day, but also that the next day was not only a Sabbath but a special day or perhaps a day that fell on two holy days. Thus, John marks Friday morning as the time of Jesus’s death, and later that night the start of both the Passover and the Sabbath.
John 20:1 later recounts that Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, or Sunday. It states, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” It can be gathered from the four canonical Gospels that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, then was buried before Friday sunset, or the beginning of Sabbath. He was resurrected on Sunday. This theme becomes the most significant concept in all the canonical Gospels, and the belief that Jesus died for the sins of human beings becomes the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Historians can use these temporal milestones as a starting point in the attempt to date the Crucifixion of Jesus.
THE SYNOPTICS VS. JOHN
Raymond E. Brown asserts in The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave, that the Synoptic canons never clearly disclose that the Last Supper of Christ was a Passover meal. He argues. “Yet even if that refers to ‘the feast’ of Passover (as I think), it is not definitive as to which day is meant before or during the eight-day festal period of Passover/Unleavened Bread.”[This dilemma may appear to be trivial on the surface, but its existence has driven the scholars of the history of Jesus senseless since humans first set out to date the passion of Christ after it was forgotten.
211 Brown, The Death of the Messiah, 1354.
We know that Passover is the first full Moon after Spring Equinox. But, the Jews, unlike the Greek or Babylonians, were not expert astronomers. This sometimes lead to Passover beginning a day before or after the full Moon. The Gospels have a common theme of the Last Supper occurring on a Thursday, the Crucifixion on Friday, and the Resurrection on a Sunday morning. Thus, we need to find a full Moon that begins around a Thursday or Friday from 29 CE to 34 CE. Part 2 of this blog, which will explore this idea, will be posted later today. Thanks and God Bless!
14 years ago I became interested in the date that Jesus was born. This led to several years of research, I quickly realized that there was no valid information that provided any real answers to this question. Since this website is getting some interest I will post from time to time some of the information I learned during this quest.