Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ Part IV: The Day of Christ’s Crucifixion -- By: Harold W. Hoehner

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 131:523 (Jul 1974)
Article: Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ Part IV: The Day of Christ’s Crucifixion
Author: Harold W. Hoehner


Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ
Part IV:
The Day of Christ’s Crucifixion

Harold W. Hoehner

[Harold W. Hoehner, Associate Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

Before one can determine the year of Christ’s crucifixion, it is necessary to discuss the day Jesus died. In this article, then, there will be a discussion of the day of the week and the day of the Jewish month on which Jesus was crucified. The two problems are quite independent, and hence they will be considered separately.

The Day of the Week

There are three views for the day of Christ’s death, namely, the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday crucifixion.

The Wednesday Crucifixion

Statement of the view. Those who hold the Wednesday crucifixion view believe that Jesus died around sunset on Wednesday, and He arose exactly seventy-two hours later. The most well-known exponent of this view of recent days is Scroggie.1 He states that there are two main reasons that support the Wednesday crucifixion date.

The primary support for this view is the literal interpretation of Matthew 12:40 where Jesus states: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The proponents of this view feel that although it is recognized that the Jews reckoned any part of a day as a whole day, when nights are mentioned as well as days, then it ceases to be an idiom. Therefore, one must accept it literally as three whole days. There are not three whole days between Friday evening and Sunday morning.

The second support for a Wednesday crucifixion is that in the Friday view there are too many events (Scroggie lists twenty)2 between Christ’s crucifixion at 3 p.m. and His death at 6 p.m. Scroggie proposes that Jesus was buried on Wednesday evening, the body remained in the tomb during Thursday, Nisan 15, the Passover Sabbath, and then on Friday, the day between the Sabbaths, the body was embalmed.3

In addition to these two main arguments, there is also the argument from typology whereby the lamb was chosen on Nisan 10. In the triumphal entry, Christ, the Lamb of God, appeared in Jerusalem on Saturday, Nisan 10.4

Thus, with the literal interpretation of Matthew 12:40, a prop...

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