The Time Of The Crucifixion -- By: Johnny V. Miller

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 26:2 (Jun 1983)
Article: The Time Of The Crucifixion
Author: Johnny V. Miller


The Time Of The Crucifixion

Johnny V. Miller*

The purpose of this article is to reconcile or harmonize the apparently conflicting accounts of Mark 15:25 and John 19:14 as to the time of the crucifixion of Jesus. The primary problem is the apparent conflict between Mark 15:25 (“And it was the third hour when they crucified him”) and John 19:14–16 (“Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour … And so he then delivered him up to them to be crucified”). Mark seems to say that Jesus was crucified approximately three hours earlier than John says that he was condemned by Pilate.

Several modern translations of the NT have entered such a contradiction into the texts of John and Mark. The translators have not written simply “third hour” and “sixth hour,” which would be literal translation, but have instead supplied a modern time reckoning for each, with the result being such readings as the following: “It was nine o’clock in the morning when they nailed him to the cross” (Mark 15:25). “It was then almost noon of the day before the Passover … Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be nailed to the cross” (John 19:14–16).1

I. Nonharmonistic Approaches To The Text

Many scholars consider the texts irreconcilable. Some claim that Mark is preferable because John altered the time of the crucifixion to fit his theological plan,2 while others claim that John is preferable because he was writing later than Mark in order to correct Mark.3

*Johnny Miller is assistant professor of Bible, Greek and theology at Columbia Bible College in South Carolina.

Other scholars would prefer to emend the text of either Mark4 or John.5 Both texts have variant readings at exactly the point in question, but those readings are in the minority both as to text type and number of witnesses, and it is easier to understand how variant readings could have crept into the text out of a desire to reconcile the differences than to see how the differences could have arisen and become so dominant.

Such treatments of the texts are irrelevant and unnecessary if the texts harmon...

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