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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 131:524 (Oct 1974)
Article: Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ Part V: The Year of Christ’s Crucifixion
Author: Harold W. Hoehner


Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ
Part V:
The Year of Christ’s Crucifixion

Harold W. Hoehner

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

[Editor’s Note: The essential content of this article is being published in the forthcoming work entitled New Dimensions in New Testament Studies edited by Richard N. Longenecker and Merrill C. Tenney, Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1974. Used by permission.]

The two greatest events in history were the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord. The Roman world judged Christ as an insignificant preacher in an insignificant land. By His Jewish contemporaries He was counted as a rabble rouser espousing heretical teaching worthy of death. Yet His seemingly undistinguished death has become not only the bedrock of Christianity but also the most important death in history. It has become the touchstone of controversy in Christian and Jewish polemics. It seems strange, then, for such a significant historical event, that there continues to be discussion on the date of His crucifixion. One can pinpoint the date of the death of many world rulers, but the death of greatest notoriety is yet debated.

The Variety of the Dates

Various dates for the death of Christ have been proposed. They range from A.D. 21 to A.D. 36.

Eisler proposed that Jesus died in A.D. 21 for a violent messianic doctrine.1 He based his theory upon the apocryphal work

of the Acts of Pilate. The other extreme proposed by Keim,2 followed by Lake3 and Schonfield,4 is that Christ died in the spring of A.D. 35 or 36. The adherents of this view feel that since the Jews believed that Aretas’ (the Arab king of Petra) defeat of Antipas in A.D. 36 was divine revenge for Antipas’ beheading of John the Baptist,5 John’s and Jesus’ death must be placed as close as possible to A.D. 36.

Between A.D. 21 and 36 there are advocates for nearly every year. Only the more prominent dates with some of their adherents are here listed. Meyer6 and King7 argue for A.D. 27; Winter A.D. 28;8 Turner,9 Loisy,10 and Hö1scher

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