The Dating of the Last Supper

Posted By on April 22, 2011

Colin Humphreys’ proposal to date the Last Supper on a Wednesday has been making the rounds on the internet this past week. Mark Goodacre has an informative post on it here on his New Testament Gateway blog. Certainly worth a read.

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15 Responses to “The Dating of the Last Supper”

  1. Janina says:

    The issue is more important than people think. Again we are the victims of assumptions, presuppositions and impositions.

    There’s no need to worry about contradictions. All can be explained without trying to “fit” scriptures, calendars, synoptics etc.

    ***just a side note – is it not strange how we change what God commands:
    There is only one day of the week He has commanded to honour – seventh day, His Sabbath – so we changed it to the first day of the week instead.
    Any important occurrence in history is kept on the date when it happened as a memorial – we all agree that Christ’s sacrifice was of cosmic importance – so what do we do? We keep the day instead – we honour Friday.

    Now back to the issue – Christ made it clear that the only sign of His Messiah ship given to His generation was the sign of Jonah – Christ being in the grave three days and three nights – it is therefore of grave importance (pun intended)

    1. Passover day, also called a day of preparation was the day when Passover lambs were killed – it was not a High Sabbath and could not fall on weekly Sabbath, since work was needed to be done on that day. Christ was our ultimate Passover Lamb and had to be killed on that day
    2. Christ ate the Passover with His disciples at the beginning of 14Th of Nissan (between two evenings) – what we would call Tuesday night – that was the time of Last (Lord’s) Supper
    3. That same night He was arrested and the “kangaroo court” was set up – all had to be done before High Sabbath (First day of Unleavened Bread) started – Wed evening
    4. Christ was on the cross from approx noon till 3pm – His body had to be put into the grave no later than about 6 pm – before the Sabbath started – Wed 6PM
    5. High Sabbath ended Thurs 6 PM – after which the women were able to purchase spices, prepare them on Friday (day part) and then rest again for the weekly Sabbath
    6. Christ was resurrected precisely 3 days and 3 nights after His body was put into the grave around 6 pm on Saturday at the end of the weekly Sabbath –that again defeats Sunday Morning resurrection doctrine
    Matt 28:1 – “Now after the Sabbath(s)…. – isn’t the word “Sabbath” in this verse plural?

    Why don’t we keep the Crucifixion as a memorial on the date when it happened as we keep any other important events? 14th of Nissan (whatever it translates to in our western calendar)

    Not too many Christians know of “Quartodeciman controversy” and how the issue was resolved by Nicene council – how it was decided to get away from “Judaism” as far as possible and enforced by the Roman Emperor

  2. blop2008 says:

    “”Christ being in the grave three days and three nights – it is therefore of grave importance (pun intended)””


    Janina, would you tell us what are your sources for the research you have done on this matter, or have you simply analyzed the feasts in the OT along with the gospel accounts?

    This is an interesting and important subject I will get into sometime in the future. Right now, I have no idea how to properly parse the data.

    • Janina says:

      I’ve studied Scriptures for almost 3 decades – almost 30 years ago I’ve discovered that most of the “doctrines” I believed in were not true – I started checking everything – I have quite extensive library of commentaries, different translations, history, archeology etc. Most of my study is done straight from the Scripture. I look for various approches on the web as well. When I see something interesting I go through it all, but most of it gets discarded once I am unable to find biblical support. Don’t like circular reasoning – don’t like when someone uses “church has believed this for centuries” as a proof of being true.
      That’s the reason I enjoy MSH blogs – no nonsense, no platitudes, solid research and approach (does not mean I agree with everything) – sorry
      Chuck Missler (KI) touches on Wednesday crucifixion –
      When you put all gospel accounts together everything fits. God’s Feasts help as well – if Christians kept them today (with NT understanding) – God’s plan for salvation would be so obvious.

  3. Rick C. says:

    I saw a link about Humphreys’ new book on James Davila’s PaleoJudaica blog last week. ‘Read related reviews and articles too, etc. I can’t really comment, since I haven’t read the book.

    I’d be interested what anyone might think about this article by Bryan T. Huie: WHEN WAS CHRIST RESURRECTED? – (Huie believes in a Wednesday afternoon burial and an early (pre-dawn) Saturday resurrection).

    I’ve written Bryan before, asking questions about one of his other articles. He was kind enough to reply. And while I don’t share his views (he’s Sabbatarian, Binitarian, and Universalist), I find this article pretty impressive, biblically speaking. Side-bar: I’m Trinitarian, mostly convinced of Conditional Immortality, and don’t care what day folks choose to worship on. For now, I think Huie might be onto something w/r/t when Jesus was buried and raised. That is, I think he might be right.

    • Janina says:

      @Rick C.
      Thanks for info on Bryan Huie and his articles. Seems like anyone starting from the “Jewish perspective” gets closest to the truth. He makes some good points, but unfortunately the article gets a bit convoluted, gets entangled in “literal” translation.
      I will try to read all of the articles on that website.
      Just one more thing we should all remember – no one (human) had witnessed Christ’s resurrection – when women came to the tomb after the Sabbath He was already risen – the tomb was empty. Their coming in the early morning does not equal early Sunday morning resurrection.

      • Rick C. says:

        Hi Janina … The link I gave is under Huie’s “Commentary” section. For details on The Last Supper, Passover, Between The evenings, etc., see Holy Days. As to Huie’s insistence on “literal” translations: I have something on that in reply to Rev. Williams (below). Thanks for your reply!

  4. Rick C. says:

    I didn’t mention that Bryan Huie believes the Last Supper was on the Day of Preparation — before Passover — (that the Last Supper was not the Passover Seder, but some other sort of meal). He covers this in the above link and other articles.

  5. Rev. Bryant J. Williams III says:

    Dear Mike,

    We studied this issue in Sunday School a couple of weeks ago in preparation of Resurrection Day (Easter).

    What it comes down to is that Friday is the day of Christ’s crucifixion beginning at the 3rd hour (9AM) and ending at the 9th hour (3PM). The confusion between Roman time beginning at 12 Midnight for Friday versus Jewish time beginning at 6PM Thursday night for Friday. The Last Supper would begin Thursday night after 6PM. The Day of Preparation (Mark 15:42) would have been Friday before 6PM. Furthermore, the hastening of breaking the legs of the thieves before the Sabbath began (John 19:31-37). Finally, that the Resurrection occurred at dawn on the First Day of the Week, Sunday (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). Remember, “… at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established” (Deut. 19:15).

    The best that can be said about the rest is not that there are contradictions, but apparent contradictions. We were not there. There are some things that we have to admit that, “We don’t know,” and just leave it there. Yes, I know that is not easy to swallow, but “it is what it is.”

    Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

    • Rick C. says:

      Hello Rev. Williams … I recommend you check out Bryan Huiie’s article on Christ’s resurrection. It has several helpful charts explaining the different views people have taken.

      Coped from the Huie link (caps his for emphasis): Matt 12:40 For as Jonah was THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS in the heart of the earth. (NKJV).

      A problem with the ‘traditional’ view is: It adds up to TWO DAYS and TWO NIGHTS (caps mine for emphasis). What you have outlined above only comes to this (not three days, three nights).

      As Huie notes, the vast majority of translations are incorrect when they have “on the first day of the week.” The Greek reads “on one of the Sabbaths.” As far as I know, only Young’s Literal Translation gets it right.

      As Janina mentioned, there’s a lot to unravel in this!

      Re: OP and Colin Humphreys’ theory – As I said, I haven’t read his book (though I got a few sample pages @ Amazon). If I’m not mistaken, Colin thinks there may have been a different calendar we’re essentially unfamiliar with. I do recall he says that it reckoned time from sunup to sundown. I’ve not heard of this regarding any ‘Jewish reckoning of time’ before. So, though I haven’t read his book, this is ‘foreign’ and admittedly, ‘novel’ to me.

      If y’all are anything like I am, this stuff can be pretty confusing! (I’m not good at math or with numbers). However, I still think Bryan Huie might be right about when Jesus was buried and raised.


      • Janina says:

        Hello Rick C.
        I have read more of Bryan Huie articles since. Again in some of them he makes good points and yet he denies Christ’s pre-existence – that’s a damper for me.
        As to rev Williams points – with all due respect – anyone can use Scripture to “prove” anything. “Two witnesses” have seen an empty tomb, not actual resurrection – it cannot therefore be used to “prove” the time. The only people that were present at the tomb all the time were the guards set up by chief priests and the Pharisees – the biblical record indicates that they were not even aware that the resurrection had occurred until the angels came to move the stone. Resurrected Christ could be invisible and could go through solid objects.
        Matt 28:1 – shows that the women went to the tomb after the Sabbaths (plural), because there were two of them that year – High Sabbath (1st day of Unleavened Bread) and the weekly Sabbath.
        By the way, to this day the observant Jews count days from sunset to sunset – that can create a bit of confusion for modern readers unfamiliar with this. I happen to live next to a synagogue and see how the annual Holy Days and weekly Sabbaths are kept.
        As to YLT – he used some “fillers” to connect the words and like any other translation that can create some errors based on the translator’s perception– the only way for us to get it right is to understand God’s Holy Days and their appointment.
        During the Days of UB (Unleavened Bread) there was a special ceremony – “waive sheaf offering”.
        It was supposed to be done in the morning, after the weekly Sabbath and after the Passover (Lev 23) and therefore had to be on the first day of the week (what we call Sunday). From that day 50 days were counted to arrive at Pentecost – seven Sabbaths, and after the seventh was the day of Pentecost (count 50). Bryan Huie makes an error in including the weekly Sabbath after the Passover as “the first Sabbath” – in that count he would be 7 days short to Pentecost.

        The” Last Supper” was on the 14th of Nissan at the beginning (evening, after sunset) – it was the day when the Passover Lambs were killed – Christ being our ultimate Passover.
        Jews ate “the Passover” meal at the end of 14th, beginning of 15th – first High Sabbath in a year (according to religious calendar – Nissan being first month). (They also had a national calendar starting in the fall – Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah – reigns of kings were counted by this calendar).
        ***just a side note – I don’t think it’s wrong to celebrate and honour Christ’s resurrection (even though not commanded) – but I think it’s wrong to call it Easter (Ishtar) – that kind of sounds like an insult to God.
        ***as for other days we celebrate – maybe it does not make any difference to us, but what about God – after all He declared His Holy Sabbaths and there is strong indication in Scripture that they will be restored again.

  6. blop2008 says:

    Alright, thanks Janina

  7. Erasmus says:

    To all,

    Both E.W. Bullinger (one of his appedices in the Companion Bible) and V.P. Wierwille (who copied and expanded upon Bullinger extensively) in his book Jesus Christ our Passover do a good job of showing the Wednesday to Saturday (3 days/ 3 nights) scenario.

    Bullinger was late 1880’s and Wierwille in the 1970’s. Both are fundamentalists, but don’t seem to play fast and loose with the facts.


  8. Rick C. says:

    Hello Janina – (in reply to your last, you wrote) –

    Matt 28:1 – shows that the women went to the tomb after the Sabbaths (plural), because there were two of them that year – High Sabbath (1st day of Unleavened Bread) and the weekly Sabbath.

    I’m seeing it as there were two Sabbaths that week: 1) Passover, Nissan 15 (beginning on Wed. evening) and, 2) Nissan 17 (beginning on Friday evening).

    Also, I again disagree with the ESV and other translations. Literally it’s: And on the later of the Sabbaths, at the dawn to one of the Sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the tomb, (Matt 28:1, literal translation). ESV is misleading and confusing. The literal translation clarifies that it was the “later Sabbath” of that week and that it was STILL the Sabbath (before dawn).

    Bryan Huie makes an error in including the weekly Sabbath after the Passover as “the first Sabbath” – in that count he would be 7 days short to Pentecost.

    From what I’ve gathered, Huie’s mistake goes hand-in-hand with how the Pharisees, and Jews ever since, have calculated Passover and Shavout (Pentecost). If I’m not mistaken, how you are calculating it is like how the Sadducees did, and the Samaritans still do.

    It doesn’t matter to me on what day people go to church or what they call it. (I call “Easter” “Resurrection Day,” myself).

    In any event, I still think Huie’s probably right, as I continue studying. I’m not a church member and don’t go to church often. But if and when I find one and attend, it won’t matter to me if it’s on a Saturday or Sunday. I go to a church on a Saturday night occasionally. This church has 5 services: 2 Saturday and 3 on Sunday.


  9. joe borg says:

    how do we then explain the comment by the 2 Emmaus disciples- saying “moreover this is the 3rd day since” and they said this on sunday am
    if sunday was the 3rd days since, Saturday was the 2nd & friday was the 1st day since
    That makes the crucification on a thursday??

    • MSH says:

      All of the theories on this subject have to resort at some point to defining “day” – which could mean a full 24-hr cycle or not. If I say “I did X three days ago” do I really pause and see if precisely 72 hours have elapsed between the event to which I’m referring and the moment I’m uttering that sentence? No. And neither should we assume that of the biblical writers.

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