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Friday, 6 April 2007

The Wednesday Crucifixion Theory

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For some time now I've been working on a post regarding the Lunar Week. It's buried several posts back, so here's a link to help you find it.

I've done a little more research on some implications of the Lunar Sabbath to the chronology of Passion Week, so we'll continue our study with a look at Luke 23:56.

The questions that arise in this passage, which really includes v. 1 of Luke 24, are:

1) How much time elapsed while the ladies were preparing to anoint Jesus' body?
2) Which sabbath is in view here?
3) What is the meaning of the Greek word men used to modify the sabbath of v. 56 (untranslated in most Bibles)?

1. A major argument in favor of the Wednesday Crucifixion Theory is that a Friday Crucifixion would not allow enough time for the Galilean ladies to observe his burial, go home, and prepare spices all in time to rest on the Sabbath which was already drawing on at the time of Jesus' burial. Therefore, Jesus must have been crucified on Wednesday, just before the Feast of Unleavened Bread began with a High Sabbath on Thursday.

There is one problem with this scenario that has been raised before, and it relates to the purpose of the anointing oils & spices that the women were preparing: they were for the purpose of preventing Jesus' body from decaying. Little good would it do to use these ointments unless they were applied as soon as possible after death occurred! Thus the women would have hurried as fast as they could to prepare the spices, but it wasn't quite in time to get them put on Jesus' body before the commencement of the Sabbath.

This argument carries no weight, however, for two reasons.

First, a day and a half is still too long to avoid decay; secondly, Joseph & Nicodemus had already dumped 75 pounds of a myrrh and aloe mixture on the body when they wrapped it for burial, so this point is moot anyway. The women were bringing additional ointments, which could have been prepared at leisure and brought to the tomb after two and a half days. Furthermore, Mark 16 says (assuming that these are the same women) that they bought the spices after the Sabbath, which requires an intervening day between the Sabbath after which they bought the spices, and the Sabbath before which they prepared them.

So, the argument from the Spice Preparation Passages is in favor of a Wednesday crucifixion followed by a High Sabbath, a Friday for purchasing & preparing the spices, and an intervening Regular Sabbath before they went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body. This argument rests on two assertions, one of which must be disproven in order to maintain the Lunar Week Calendar:
a) The women of Mark 16 and Luke 23-24 are the same.
b) The tense of the verb hgorasan in Mark 16:1 requires a Sabbath prior to the purchase of the spices

2. The timing of this High Sabbath is problematical, because it indicates that Jesus and his disciples must have celebrated Passover a day early; Jesus' death having occurred the afternoon before the first day of Unleavened Bread, Passover should have been that very evening. This would accord with the Jewish Leaders' reluctance to defile themselves by entering Pilate's judgment hall for fear of missing out on Passover, the day after Jesus himself had celebrated it.

There is only one explanation for these facts as they stand, which is that Jesus and his disciples, being from Galilee, followed a different calendar than did the High Priests in Jerusalem. This makes some sense, as Galilee was so far from Jerusalem as to make it difficult to get news in time for the New Moon celebration each month, and Galilee must have began that month a day before the Priests decided to, based on their observance of the crescent moon. Jesus must have, therefore, followed a calculated New Moon rather than an observed one, so that even while in Jerusalem he declined to follow the official calendar, and observed Passover according to his calculation rather than the Priest's observation.

This raises another question related to the Lunar Week, which we shall address later on.

Now, as we have previously seen, under the Lunar Week Calendar the day after Passover was always the second regular Sabbath of that month. What made it a High Sabbath was that it always coincided with the launch of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. So a Lunar Sabbath does not allow for a Wednesday Crucifixion, which requires two Sabbaths during the Three Days in the Grave. During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the two Sabbaths fall six days apart, with another Sabbath immediately following under the Lunar Week Calendar; this timetable is not compatible with the Spice Preparation Passages. Either the Lunar Week is fatal to the Wednesday Crucifixion, or the Wednesday Crucifixion is fatal to the Lunar Week.

3. In Luke 23:56 is found the little Greek word men, which is nearly a homonym for the Greek word mhn, which means 'moon' or 'month'. For this reason, Charles Crosby has argued that the verse should be literally translated,

"Returning yet, they make ready spices and attars and the Full Moon Sabbath they quietize according to the direction."

There's a major problem with this theory; it just isn't gramatically possible to translate men as 'moon'. In order for Luke to have meant "lunar sabbath", he would have had to use the adjective mhnion; or even if he wanted to use the noun adjectivally, it would still have to be declined as mhnon. Actually, men here is in its usual usage as the first of a pair of contrast words (men . . . de), used here to contrast the two uses of sabbaton in the same passage:

23:56 "Then when they returned home, they prepared spices and perfumes. And for the Sabbath (sabbaton) though, they did rest, in keeping with the commandment; 24:1 but at the crack of dawn on the first day of the week (sabbaton), they went to the tomb, carrying the spices they had prepared."

So there is no cryptic mention of a Lunar Sabbath in Luke 23, after all.

To summarize: Proponents of the Wednesday Crucifixion Theory depend on a calendar that does not follow the Lunar Week, in order to have two Sabbaths fall during the three days Christ is in the tomb. Should the Lunar Week turn out to have been in use at that time and place, the Wednesday Crucifixion becomes impossible.
* * *
In related news:
Liviu Mircea and Tiberiu Oproiu claim to have pinpointed the exact time and date of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
The pair, from the Astronomic Observatory Institute in Cluj, Romania, say Jesus died at 3pm on Friday, April 3, 33 AD, and rose again at 4am on Sunday, April 5.
They used a computer programme to check biblical references against historical astronomical data.
They said the New Testament stated that Jesus died the day after the first night with a full moon, after the vernal equinox.
Using data gathered on the stars between 26 and 35 AD they established that in those nine years, the first full moon after the vernal equinox was registered twice - on Friday, April 7, 30 AD, and on Friday, April 3, 33 AD.
They were convinced the date of the crucifixion was 33 AD, and not 30 AD, because records showed a solar eclipse, as depicted in the Bible at the time of Jesus' crucifixion, occurred in Jerusalem that year.
This, however, is impossible, because the darkness during the Crucifixion was associated with a full moon, not the new moon required for an eclipse.

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