Monday, July 7, 2014

Was Jesus Even Crucified? Part 6c

Part 6

WHEN Was Jesus Crucified?
Previous Parts:

Part 1 - Link
Part 2 - Link
Part 3 - Link
Part 4 - Link
Part 5 - Link
Part 6a - Link
Part 6c - Link

Part 6c – Gospels’ Dates for the Crucifixion

In part 6b I have reached the conclusion – following the lead of theologian Dr. Raymond E. Brown, that the confusion Eusebius exhibits over exactly when Jesus was crucified (if he was at all!) stems from the fact that he tried to shoehorn all manner of disparate secular historical data to fit the gospel narrative. To that I might add now, to show fulfillment of Daniel’s Seventy “Weeks,” particularly where Daniel’s prediction of an overthrow of Jerusalem by violence and warfare in the seventieth “week,” i.e., the very week after Messiah was to be cut-off, or the unction cast out. But I shall not concern myself with the Seventy Weeks here, just the information the Gospels give for dating the Crucifixion.

6c-1. During Caiaphas’ Tenure.

Mark is silent on which of the high priests during Tiberius’ tenure as Emperor was presiding when Jesus was allegedly crucified. But the Gospels gMatthew, gLuke and gJohn are in full agreement: it was Caiaphas: gMatthew states that the high priest was called Caiaphas (gMatt 26:3, 57), gLuke states that both “Annas” and Caiaphas were high priests the year John the Baptist started his career (gLuke 3:2), and gJohn states that Caiaphas was high priest the year that Jesus was hanged (gJohn 11:49, 18:13) .

Josephus dates Caiaphas’ tenure from approximately 18 CE to 36 or 37 CE.1

6c-2. During Tiberius’ Tenure.

The other three Gospels, gMark, gMatthew and gJohn, are silent on who was Emperor, except by reference to Pilate, making Tiberius the Emperor by default. Luke, though, is explicit: he states that John the Baptist started dunking people in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s government (gLuke 3:1), probably 28-29 CE. Jesus gets dunked (gLuke 3:21) and a short time later (gLuke 3:22), starts his own public career, which lasts about a year. The other three give a range, therefore, of 14 to 37 CE, with gLuke presenting a shorter stretch of about 28 or 29 to 37 CE.

6c-3: During Pilate’s Tenure.

Here, all four gospels are in agreement: it was Pontius Pilate who was the ruling Roman official at the time. The Passion narratives focusing on the Roman Trial, Crucifixion and Burial are leavened throughout with references to the Roman Prefect: gMark 15, gMatthew 27, gLuke 23 and gJohn 18:28-40, 19.

According to the extant copies of Josephus, Pontius Pilate was prefect from eleven years after Vitellus Gratus was appointed prefect, that is, about 26 CE,2 until he was recalled and ordered to stand trial before the Emperor due to a massacre of Samaritans he committed by Vitellus in 36 CE.3

So this gives us a span of ten years, or, adding gLuke 3 into the mix, about seven to eight years. It is necessary, therefore, to further narrow it down and come up with a certain date. If that is possible.

6c-3.1 Excursus:

Not all scholars are convinced that Pontius Pilate was the Roman Prefect of Judaea only from 26-36 CE. Indeed, the context of both the sections of the Jewish War4 and Antiquities5 seems to indicate an accession by Pilate in 18 or 19 CE.6 And this would dovetail nicely with Eusebius’ complaint (see Part 6a) that the Roman government under Maximinus Daia forged a document that asserted that Jesus was crucifed in 21 CE.

6c-4: Day of the Month.

According to the Gospels, the Crucifixion was supposed to have occurred either on the Day before Passover, the 14th of Nisan, or on Passover itself, the 15th.

The Synoptics: gMark, gMatthew and gLuke place the event on the 15th, since the Last Supper was presented as a Passover (gMark 14:12-18, gMatt 26: 17-20, gLuke 22:7-15). All three identify the present-day Day before Passover, Erev Pesach, when the Passover lambs were slain, as the Day or First Day of Unleavened Bread. There may be a Jewish precedent for this, since the day before Passover is when observant Jews are supposed to look for all the leavening (chomnetz) in their houses and get rid of it (or eat it before a certain time). The Day before Passover is for them the busiest time of the year and is most certainly a day of preparation, just like the day before the weekly Sabbath, Erev Shabbos, is considered a day of preparation.

GJohn, on the other hand, is on record that the crucifixion occurred on the Day of Preparation for the Passover (gJohn 19:14), i.e., the 14th of Nisan, when the Passover lambs were slain at the House of the Holy Place (= the Temple in Jerusalem), because at the trial before Pilate, the Jews refused to enter the Roman Court lest they be ritually defiled, because they want to prepare for and eat the Passover once the trial is done (gJohn 18:28). 

Related to this, is the scene in all four canonical gospels depicting a scene where Pontius Pilate shows Jesus and and a certain Barabbas to the crowd, figuring the crowd will ask that Jesus be released, as he would rather they do, according to the gospels. Now this scene gives some scholars like John P. Meier reason (although a minor one) to believe that originally, the Synoptics and gJohn were in agreement: that the day of the month was Nisan the 14th.7 Except according to gMark, this was Pilate’s own habit: “At the festival it was Pilate's custom to release for the people a prisoner they requested.” (gMark 15:6).8 And according to both Josephus and Philo, Pilate was keen on brutalizing the Jews and undermining their laws. 9 So, assuming mark’s account has any basis in historical fact, Pilate would not be compelled to release any prisoner in time to enjoy the actual consuming of the Passover including the lamb on Passover Eve, but rather he very well could have customarily released him the following day.

6c-5: Day of the Week.
All of the gospels are in agreement that the crucifixion was supposed to have occurred on a Friday (Erev Shabbos), although their readers are not privy to this information until about the end of the duration of the crucifixion. The Synoptics announce this fact at the Burial of Jesus: “It was the Preparation Day10 (that is, the day before the Sabbath11)” (gMark 15:42). Here Mark is referring to Erev Shabbos, not necessarily to Erev Pesach. Matthew just says the Jewish ruling class met with Pilate on “the next day, the one after Preparation Day,” (gMatt 27:62) which is a rather goofy way of saying the Sabbath or even Passover Day! Luke sees Preparation Day and the Sabbath as directly adjacent (gLuke 23:54), acknowledging the Jewish reckoning of when a calendar day ends and the next one begins. John, on the other hand, establishes that Sabbath Day as Passover Day (KJV: “for that Sabbath day was an high day”`12) also (gJohn 19:14, 19:31, 19:42). So Friday it is.

6c-6: Jesus’ Thirtieth Year.

Another clue is in gLuke 3:23, which states that when Jesus started his ministry (during or after Tiberius’ fifteenth year or 28-29 CE), he was about thirty years of age; except in the King James Version, the Young’s Literal Translation, the Latin Vulgate 13 and the original Greek, even the 1904 Greek text used by the Greek Orthodox Church and the RP Byzantine majority Text 2005, the text states that Jesus was beginning to be about thirty years of age.14 Now we could be charitable and call that to be between the ages of 25 and 30, or be rather strict about it and assume that the Arabic text is correct in saying that “Jesus began to enter into the thirtieth year,”15 i.e., was just past his twenty-ninth birthday.

Either way, to determine the date when Luke infers the death of Jesus, we first have to figure out when Luke says Jesus was born. Well that is certainly not easy. Jesus’ nativity is linked with that of John the Baptist, so that, Luke establishes the birth of Jesus to be about fifteen or sixteen months after the annunciation (Zechariah, priest of the course of Abijah).16 Now Luke (gLuke 1:5, “In the days of Herod, King of Judea”; 1:26 “In the sixth month”, 1:39, “At that time” / “In these days”; and 2:1, “At that time” / “ In those days”) appears to establish the two pregnancies and two births to have occured during the reign of King Herod the Great,16 which ended at his death in March / April of 4 BCE.17 Unfortunately for Luke, he also stated that the point of time mentioned in gLuke 2:1 was also the time when Caesar Augustus issued an edict ordering a census for the vast Roman Empire, and that (gLuke 2:2) the census occurred when Quirinus was governor of Syria, which was in 6 CE!18 It appears that Luke has shoved the 6 CE Roman census of Judea under Quirinus back to 4 BCE or perhaps earlier, such as the Matthean implied date of late 7 / early 6 BCE (gMatt 2:1, 2:7, 2:16). Now when we do the math, late 7 / early 6 BCE to Sept 28 – Sept 29 CE gives us approximately 34 years, possibly 35. “About” 30 years of age, but finishing up with it, really, and going on 35. A birth in late 5 / early 4 BCE yields about 32 years, which is closer but no cigar. Placing the birth of Jesus sometime in 3 BCE and his baptism by John the Baptist in 28 CE would yield almost exactly 30 years of age. But we miss the all-important census under Quirinis that ties the nativity of Jesus into Roman world events, don’t we?

But since Luke said he was beginning to be about 30 years of age, we can go with two approximate ages for Jesus, 25 (if we’re generous) and 29 (strict like the Arabic text – see above), and a birth in 6-7 CE. With the two ages we get a baptism date of 31-32 CE or 35-36 CE. That’s pushing the crucifixion rather close to or even beyond the end of Pilate's prefecture if Jesus was about 29, but perhaps Luke has a reason for it: after all, Josephus situates the death of John the Baptist about 34 to 36 CE.19 So a birth in 6 CE and a baptism in 35 CE ties Luke’s gospel into Josephus’ Antiquities. Which means Luke not only has manage to shove Quirinus’ census back into Herod the Great’s day, he’s also kicked the census and baby Jesus back into the time when Judea was being reduced to a Roman province!

South Park – Kick the Baby!! 

Click here if the embedded vid won’t play.
6c-7: The Age of the Temple.

Another possible reference to the Crufifixion is the age of the Temple noted in gJohn 2:20. Here, Jesus’ just previous statement was taken by the angry Jewish authorities to be a prediction of the destruction of the Second Temple. They note that the Temple itself has been under construction for 46 years. Josephus gives us two start of construction dates: 23 / 22 BCE and 20 / 19 BCE. 20 Adding forty-six years yields two dates for this fracas: 24 / 25 CE and 27 / 28 CE respectively. 21 Noting that this is the first of three Passovers in gJohn, 22 gives a terminal date of 27 / 28 CE or 29 / 30 CE.

6c-8: Astronomical Confirmation

According to Dr. Raymond E Brown, “Astronomy has played an important role in the narrowing down the possible date of Jesus’ crucifixion. If Jesus died on the 14th of Nisan, in which years during Pilate’s prefecture did that fall on Th[ursday ]n[ight]/F[riday ]d[aytime]?” 23 He finds that the answer is not so obvious or certain, even though astronomers back then were quite mathematically accurate. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that the new moon had to be sighted accurately in Palestine, which could have been thrown off by bad atmospheric conditions. 24 But it appears that the Jews in the Second Temple period determined their dates by their lunar calendar, “and to keep it in approximate synchronicity with the solar year leap months had to be added.” 25 Of course, we have exactly zero historical recores for when leap montyhs were added during the years 27-30 CE. 26 Still, it appears that the most likely dates for when the death of Jesus on a Friday, Nisan 14th, allegedly occurred were: 7 April, 30 CE, 3 April 33 CE and possibly 11 April 27 CE. 27 Which dates are uncertain and moot anywat because the Jewish people, priesthood and authorities during the Second Temple period used a lunar calendar.

Confirmation of this by myself using astronomical NASA data 28 revealed that the date of the 14th of Nisan, according to the Julian calendar, may have fallen on a Thursday night - Friday on 11 April, 27 CE; 7 April 30 CE; and 19 April 37 CE. Now this, of course, is assuming that gJohn is correct about which day during the Passover season Jesus was supposedly crucified on! If the synoptics are right, of course, then the 14th of Nisan would have fallen on a Wednesday night - Thursday! Which yields us the possible dates for the 15th of Nisan occurring on Friday, 23 April 34 CE. 29
6c-9: Conclusion.

My conclusion as to the date of the alleged crucifixion of the historical Jesus is that it cannot be determined from the Gospels of the New Testament. Sure, they all agree that Pontius Pilate was the prefect, and gLuke and gJohn says Caiaphas was the high priest, but any attempts to be more precise than that gives us dates varying from 28 CE to 37 CE. Trying to confirm a date with astronomical data turns out to be no help in nailing down a precise date.


1.      Josephus, Antiquities 18.2.2 [33 - 35], 18.4.3 [95]
2.      Antiquities 18.2.2 [35] “When Gratus had done those things, he went back to Rome, after he had tarried in Judea eleven years, when Pontius Pilate came as his successor.”
3.      Antiquities 18.4.2 [89] “Pilate, when he had tarried ten years in Judea, made haste to Rome, and this in obedience to the orders of Vitellius, which he durst not contradict”
4.      Josephus, Jewish War 2.9.1 [168] and  2.9.2 [169]: “But when the Roman Empire was translated to Tiberius… Herod also built the city of Tiberias in galilee and in Perea [beyond Jordan] that was called Julias” (Tiberias was built about 20 CE), “Now Pilate, who was sent as procurator into Judea by Tiberius, sent by night these images of Caesar that are called effigies, into Jerusalem.
5.      Antiquities 18.2.5 [54] and 18.3.1 [55]: “So the Senate made a decree… his life was taken by the poison which Piso gave him…” (the murdered person was Germanicus Caesar, who was poisoned in 19 CE), “But now Pilate, the procurator of Judea, removed the army from Caesarea to Jerusalem… in order to abolish the Jewish laws. So he introduced Caesar’s effigies…”
6.      Two scholars who contend a 21 CE execution date are Daniel Schwarz and Robert Eisler. They are both cited by Helen K Bond, Pontius Pilate in History and Interpretation, New York / Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 1 n. 3 and p. 201 n. 35. She states that Schwartz, following Eisler (The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist, New York, Lincoln Macveagh The Dial Press, 1931, pp. 13-20), argues unconvincingly that Pilate took up his prefecture in 19 CE; and, that the Acta Pilati, circulated in 311 CE during the principate of Maximin Daia, were not forged by the Roman government and that they did prove that Jesus was crucified in 21 CE.
7.  John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew. Rethinking the Historical Jesus, New York, The Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing, 1991, Vol. I, pp 386-401. Note particularly p. 400: "Yet, the obvious promise of the Barabbas narrative -- an amnesty or pardon granted to some Jewish Prisoner at Passover -- is that the amnesty or pardon was given precisely so that the Jew, upon release, could take part in the Passover meal. What would be the point of granting release to a Jewish prisoner on Passover Day after the Passover meal, the central ritual of Passover Day, had already taken place?"
8.     The Greek has it: Κατὰ δὲ ἑορτὴν ἀπέλυεν αὐτοῖς ἕνα δέσμιον ὃν παρῃτοῦντο. “Moreover, at the feast, he used to release (ἀπέλυεν) to them whom they requested. The word ἀπέλυεν being the third person singular imperfect indicative active of ἀπολύω, “loose from, undo, set free, release, relieve, send away, let go, [etc.]” So clearly it was Pilate's custom.
9.   Josephus; Antiquities 18.3.1-3 [55 - 64], also Samaritans 18.4.1-2 [85 - 89]; Jewish War 2.9.2-4 [169 - 177]. Cf. Philo, Embassy to Gaius 38.299-305, particularly lines 302 and 303 (emphasis mine):
 (302) "But this last sentence exasperated him in the greatest possible degree, as he feared least they might in reality go on an embassy to the emperor, and might impeach him with respect to other particulars of his government, in respect of his corruption, and his acts of insolence, and his rapine, and his habit of insulting people, and his cruelty, and his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned, and his never ending, and gratuitous, and most grievous inhumanity. (303) Therefore, being exceedingly angry, and being at all times a man of most ferocious passions, he was in great perplexity, neither venturing to take down what he had once set up, nor wishing to do any thing which could be acceptable to his subjects, and at the same time being sufficiently acquainted with the firmness of Tiberius on these points. And those who were in power in our nation, seeing this, and perceiving that he was inclined to change his mind as to what he had done, but that he was not willing to be thought to do so, wrote a most supplicatory letter."
10.  Preparation Day: Παρασκευή (noun, nominative feminine singular), “preparation, the day of  Preparation, before the Sabbath day of the Passover.”

11. The day before Sabbath: προσάββατον (noun, nominative neuter singular), “the eve of the Sabbath,” i.e., Erev Shabbos.

12. The phrase, “an high day”: μεγάληἡμέρα (adjective / article / noun feminine singular), “great / the / day” or in a more sensible arrangement, “the great day,” i.e., Passover.

 13. Et ipse Iesus erat incipiens quasi annorum triginta, “And Jesus himself was beginning [to be] about thirty years [of age].”

 14. Καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν Ἰησοῦς ἀρχόμενος ὡσεὶ ἐτῶν τριάκοντα, “And Jesus himself was beginning [to be] about thirty years [old].”

 15. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, quoted at, Luke 3:23. Link:

 16. Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, Garden City, NY, Doubleday & Co., Inc (1977), pp 256, 547

17. Ibid., p. 166 NOTE Matt. 2:1 in the days of Herod the King: “In 750 A.U.C. (4 B.C.) there was an eclipse [of the moon] on the night of march 12 / 13th, one month before Passover.… the best evidence favors March / April 4 B.C. as the time of Herod’s death.”

 18. Josephus, Antiquities 18.1.1 [1]-[10], 18.1.6 [23].

 19. Josephus, Antiquities 18.5.2 [115]-[119].

 20. Josephus, Antiquities 15.11.1 [380], Jewish War 1.21.1 [401].

21. Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah, New York, Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1994, p. 1374.
22. GJohn 2:13, 2:23 (first Passover); 6:4 (second Passover); 11:55, 12:1, 13:1, 18:28, 18:39 (third Passover).

23. Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah, p. 1375.

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid., p. 1376.

28. See NASA webpage at

29. Astronomical dates found by another researcher confirming gJohn’s Day before Passover / Day before the Sabbath crucifixion are: Firday, 22 March, 26 CE; Friday, 7 April, 30 CE; and Friday 3 April 33 CE. He also found the Synoptics’ Day of Passover / Day before the Sabbath crucifixion to be: Friday, 11 April, 27 CE; and Friday 23 April, 34 CE.  See the PDF at this link:



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Also rather odd to find this kind of material under this title, about peak oil, I mean.
While I was perusing your pages, I accidently wound up on one that mentioned methane release as the cause of that hole that has appeared in Siberia. I thought that was interesting, because I am one of the few people on the planet who understands the threat that methane presents these days. I don't think most scientists have given the subject proper consideration.
My friend, have you thought yet about how Fukushima might exasperate the situation?


I didn't post twice. I had to do that thing a few times before it went through, and when it finally worked it posted my comment twice! Well, at least I bothered to say something! But looks like I forgot to say 'thanks' for posting all of this info for public consumption and not charging a fee. I'm too poor to pay, but am an information junky, so I really appreciate what you have got here. Also, I can imagine how much work you have invested building this site. And you aren't an idiot, either. That is uncommon, even among the more educated. Hope you don't stop posting. I will be reading you...

Ed-M said...

Well thanks for the compliments, Scott! :^)

Don't worry, I'll clean up the duplicates. :^)