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Jn 19:14 & Mk 15:25 Reconciled

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  • John Lupia
    Jn 19:14 & Mk 15:25 Reconciled. Historical Analysis of Time Reckoning in the Gospel Accounts Regarding Friday 14 Nisan and the Hours of Day. The following is a
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 16, 2003
      Jn 19:14 & Mk 15:25 Reconciled. Historical Analysis of
      Time Reckoning in the Gospel Accounts Regarding Friday
      14 Nisan and the Hours of Day.
      The following is a private discussion with Jack
      Pilato, an author and researcher who is a member of
      John-Lit. We have been corresponding in my review of
      his manuscript and Jack has given his gracious
      permission to post this letter with my replies to him
      since I felt that several issues were critical for all
      list members. A little over 2 years and 8 months ago
      I thought I had clarified the issues of the debate
      regarding the date of the Last Supper, crucifixion and
      resurrection, but in dialogue with Jack I came to
      realize that I had not supplied sufficient data to do
      that. The discussion we have been having brings keys
      issues to the fore, which are here more fully
      explained than in my previous posts.

      From: "Jack C Pilato" <pilatojc@...>

      Dear John,

      For the moment, I would like to concentrate on point
      six the 14th vs. the 15th of Nisan as the date of the
      Crucifixion/or Supper (not whether Friday is the day
      of the week). At the end of the discussion is my
      initial statement, with the follow-ups. This is
      followed by the Catholic Encyclopedia�s discussion of
      this debate. I add this only to show its
      acknowledgement of the problem. I believe, however,
      that there is no substantive disagreement between John
      and the Synoptic Gospels on this issue and will
      present case below.

      I have restated point six below. The basis for this is
      shown in:

      Leviticus 23:4-8

      5In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is
      the LORD�S passover. 6And on the fifteenth day of the
      same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the

      Exodus 12:10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain
      until the morning; and that which remaineth of it
      until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11And thus
      shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on
      your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall
      eat it in haste: it is the LORD�S passover

      The Passover lamb is sacrificed on the 14th of Nisan
      in the afternoon, after the burnt offering, which
      occurred at about 2:30 pm. The Passover meal began at
      twilight, just before sunset, which then becomes the
      start of the evening of the 15th of Nisan and leads
      into the Feast Day Celebration in the morning. While
      the evening is technically part of the 15th of Nisan,
      it is not considered part of the feast day. The feast
      day is separate and distinct from evening before. The
      evening before (which is the supper) is the solemn
      anticipation of the angel of death�s mission while the
      feast is the celebration of their release from bondage
      and the result of God's power.

      Let�s start with the verses in Mat, Mark and Luke,
      which corroborate each other and state the Passover
      meal is on the 14th Nisan.

      Mat 26:17 asserts that it is the first day of the
      feast of unleavened bread when all leaven must be
      removed from the house. This occurs at evening on the
      14th of Nisan.

      Dear Jack:

      No, it is the 13th day of Nisan, not the 14th. I have
      cited this link below, which contains a highly
      detailed bibliography and citations for this.


      The key text is reposted here so you will understand.

      Before the common meal on Passover eve, the day was
      filled with preparation for the even. A full
      contingent of priests -- twenty-four divisions instead
      of the usual one--came early to the Temple. Their
      first task was the burning of the hametz, "leaven,"
      which had been searched for by candlelight in each
      home the night before and then removed for burning the
      next morning (Mishnah, Pesahim 1-3).

      Note, Jack, the last sentence says the night before
      (13 Nisan). Matthew 26:17 clearly says Thursday 13
      Nisan when he states, �But on the first day of the
      feast of unleaven bread approached . . . � Passover is
      a tridium 13, 14, 15 Nisan. The 13th of Nisan is the
      hametz search by candlelight (see Mishnah, Pesahim
      1-3). The first day of hametz falls on a Thursday
      (however, technically since it is evening it is
      Friday) and each day is a Passover is celebrated with
      its own distinctive meal. The first day of
      preparation (Thursday) is the day when they search for
      the hametz (yeast) by candlelight, signifying
      nighttime, hence Friday! This was the day clearly
      stated by Matthew as the eve -- Pesach Eve Seder when
      the Last Supper took place. There was no lamb served
      at the Last Supper except Jesus Christ the Lamb of
      God, which the apostles ate in the Eucharist, which
      Jesus consecrated and gave to them to eat!
      Technically, the Last Supper although Thursday was the
      evening, hence, Friday, a day that is always
      considered sacred as the Sabbath eve since the High
      Holy Day began about 5:30-6:00 pm on Friday Passover
      Proper the next evening (see Lev 23:5). Saturday the
      15th day of Nisan was the days of unleavened bread
      (matzah �see Lev. 23:6). I hope you now understand
      this Jewish chronology. It is very confusing to
      non-Jews since Passover comprises 3 days, but the
      first two days are called the first day of the
      unleaven bread, since hametz is collected Thursday
      evening, which is begins Friday and that day is the
      day of slaughter during the afternoon beginning about
      2:30-3:00 pm. And the third day, which is the Sabbath,
      or Day of the Unleaven bread. Hence, you will note 2
      days are preparatory days (Erevim � Eves or vigil
      days) and the third day (Sabbath) is the High Holy

      Mt 26: 17Now the first day of the feast of unleavened
      bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him,
      Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the

      Mark asserts even more emphatically it is the 14th of
      Nisan when they kill the Passover.

      Mark 14:12

      12And the first day of unleavened bread, when they
      killed the passover, his disciples said unto him,
      Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou
      mayest eat the passover?

      Dear Jack:

      As I said above Thursday evening technically begins
      Friday hence the day they slaughter which took place
      15 hours later!!

      Finally, Luke is even more definite, if that is

      Luke 22:7

      7Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the
      passover must be killed. 8And he sent Peter and John,
      saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may
      eat. 9And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we

      Jack, this is completely consisted with what I have
      been saying all along. Thursday eve = commences
      Friday, the day they slaughtered the lamb.

      Now let us turn to the passages in John, which
      supposedly contradict this position.

      In John 13:1, Passover is being used in the generic
      sense (i.e. Passover vs. Pentecost or Tabernacles)

      As Josephus says in Ant.xvii:9,3 �The feast of
      unleavened bread which we call the Passover�

      John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when
      Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should
      depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved
      his own which were in the world, he loved them unto
      the end. 2And supper being ended,...

      Therefore the verse above places our Lord on the eve
      of the Feast day at the end of the Paschal supper.
      This simple explanation puts us in perfect agreement
      with the synoptic Gospels.

      Jack, this is correct. John being a good Jew knew very
      well that the Thursday evening began the Friday the
      day the lamb was slaughtered! That is why John 13:1
      specifies �before the feast of the Passover�. However,
      v.2 does not say the supper being ended it says: KAI
      DEIPNOU GINOMENOU, This can be translated in various
      ways: (And the supper taking place = And during the
      supper = And while [they were] at supper = When during
      the supper = Then during the supper). Note the last
      three are in correspondence to the Semitic
      coordinating conjunction �w�, that includes: then and
      when, which may be closer to the intended meaning of
      the author.

      Further on in the same chapter, Jesus tells Judas to
      do what he was going to do and the apostles speculated
      in John 13:29 as to what Jesus meant by the statement.

      John 13:29For some of them thought, because Judas had
      the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those
      things that we have need of against the feast; or,
      that he should give something to the poor.

      The issue is brought up: could Judas have bought
      anything on a day designated as a Sabbath? The simple
      answer is that it was not a Sabbath. The feast day,
      which started in the morning is a Sabbath day and is
      separate and distinct from the evening before which
      was not part of the feast but is considered part of
      the Passover meal. Therefore, shops could be open late
      since buying on the feast day would be unlawful.

      Now let us consider John 18:28, where the apostles
      refuse to go into the Judgment Hall because they would
      defile themselves and not be able to eat the Passover.
      That they would defile themselves by entering a
      gentile establishment during Passover is self-evident.
      But are they referring to the Passover meal of the
      14th of Nisan? Or can any meal during the Passover be
      considered so?

      John 18:28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the
      hall of judgment: and it was early; and they
      themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they
      should be defiled; but that they might eat the

      The answer is seen in Deuteronomy 16: 1Observe the
      month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy
      God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought
      thee forth out of Egypt by night. 2Thou shalt
      therefore sacrifice the passover unto the LORD thy
      God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the
      LORD shall choose to place his name there. 3Thou shalt
      eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou
      eat unleavened bread therewith�..

      (emphasis mine)

      It says that the Passover is to be sacrificed on each
      an every day with unleavened bread for seven days.

      Again we have a simple explanation for the objection.

      Equally we see that the synoptic gospels place the
      crucifixion on the day of the feast, which is the 15th
      of Nisan. Verses below:

      Mat 27:15-16

      15Now at that feast the governor was wont to release
      unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16And
      they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas

      Mk 15:6 Now at that feast he released unto them one
      prisoner, whomsoever they desired. 7And there was one
      named Barabbas,�

      Luke 23:17 (For of necessity he must release one unto
      them at the feast.) 18And they cried out all at once,
      saying, Away with this man, and release unto us

      In light of all these verses, it appears all four
      gospels are united that Christ observed the Passover
      meal on the 14th of Nisan and was crucified on the
      15th of Nisan.

      This is incorrect as I already noted above. It was the
      14th day of Nisan, and Jesus was crucified at the very
      same time that the Jews began to slaughter their lambs
      in the Temple.

      However there is one verse in John that defies
      explanation and that is John 19:14.This verse at best
      is suspect for there are two diverse translations both
      of which have a time conflict with the Mark 15:25 as
      to the time of the crucifixion. I have discussed this
      conflict in my paper at length.

      This is incorrect. The problem is due to
      misunderstanding of the reckoning of time in
      antiquity. In the Hellenistic culture the 24-hour
      cycle was divided into 8 quarters, each containing
      three hours. Dia (daytime light hours) has 4
      quarters: prima (6am-9am), tercia (9am-12pm), sexta
      (12pm-3pm), nona (3pm-6pm); Noctis has 4 quarters also
      called vigilae: Vigil-I (6pm-9pm), Vigil-II
      (9pm-112am), Vigil-III (12am-3am), Vigil IV (3am-6am).

      Since the last hour of each quarter of the daylight
      hours gave its name to the respective quarter of the
      day when an ancient author says, for example, tercia
      they mean its final hour 11am-12pm. If they meant a
      specific hour other than the last hour it would have
      been stated as prima hora in tercia signifying

      Night vigilae also had its specific names to specify
      an hour in particular: (1) crepusculum is dusk or
      twilight (Ovid, M. 14,122), (2) vesperum is the
      evening time well attested to, (3) lucernarium is the
      time when lamps are lighted (Aug. ap. Reg. Cleric.),
      (4) The night was originally divided into three
      watches for the Jews (Lam 2:19; Judges 7:19; Ex 14:24;
      1 Sam 11:11), but the Romans had it divided into four,
      as we find them cited in the New Testament (Mt 14:25;
      24:43; Mk 6:48; 13:35; Lk 12:38), (5) the porter�s
      watch at the gate (Mk 13:34; see Mishnah, Tamid. i. 1,
      2; Herzfeld, vol. i. p. 419; ii. p. 57); (6) Jewish
      Temple watches led by the commander of the Temple
      (Acts 4:1); (7) concubium is the first watch of sleep
      (Cicero, Div. 1,27,57), (8) conticinium is the dead of
      sleep (Plaut. As. 3,3,95), (9) the courtyard fires
      were lighted during the final vigil hours between
      3am-6a for the night watch and at cockcrow ate
      breakfast or jentaculum (AKRATISMA) preparing the
      cakes of meal usually prepared for breakfact on the
      fire; (10) intempestum is the dead of night around
      midnight (media nox) also called intempestas noctis
      (Cicero, Phil. 1.3), (11) gallicinium is the cockcrow
      from 4am-8am which signals in the dawn (Petronius,
      Cana Trimalchionis 62,3), (12) matutinum is the early
      rise of the dawn (aura ante lucano) also called primu
      mane (Ovid,5,545), (13) diluculum is daybreak or ad
      meridem (Plaut. Am. 2,2,105). .


      (see Guglielmo Cavallo. Pavone Canavese, eds., Rabano
      Mauro 'De rerum naturis', Codex Casinensis 132,
      (1023): Archivio dell' Abbazia di Montecassino.
      (Priuli et Verlucca, 1994.) -- Rabanus Maurus, De
      rerum naturis, 10.7 �De septem partibus noctis� vide
      409b-410b; Francolinus, "De tempor. horar.
      canonicar.", (Rome, 1571): xxi; P. Paola Acquistapace,
      P. Angelo Albani, P. Massimo Astrua (Mons. Enrico
      Galbiati, ed.) Il Vangelo di Gesu, trans. by Jos� F.
      Guijarro as: El Evangelio de Jes�s (Istituto S.
      Gaetano, Vicenza, 1972; MIMEP, Milano): 28; Gerhard
      Delling, �WRA� in TDNT 9.680, and nos. 34, 35).

      The Jews had their own system for reckoning the
      24-hour cycle calling them by numbers where the first
      hour begins at 6am and is identical to the first hour
      within the first quarter of daylight called prima.
      Hellenistic Jews could use both the Graeco-Roman
      system of reckoning time as well as the numerical
      number designating the hour specified. Numerical hours
      were always applied to the vigilae even when a Jewish
      author uses the Graeco-Roman system of daylight hours
      called according to their respective quarters: prima,
      tercia, sexta, nona. For example, the 11th hour would
      be 7pm-8pm. As I have said earlier above the Jews
      reckoned the end of day at sunset, which like the
      workday was moveable season to season since the sun
      sets earlier in the winter and latter during the
      summer. The significance of sunset was important to
      the Jews since it signalled the new day and the end of
      the previous one.

      Now let us return to your question concerning Jn 19:14
      and Mk 15:25. As we examine the Gospel of John�s
      Passion Narrative (PN) in chapters 18 and 19 we
      observe various indications of tempus horae: (1) Jn
      18:5 notes the Temple guards on night watch and the
      lucernarium (see vigilae, no. 3 et 6 supra); (2) Jn
      18:16 the porter on watch (see vigilae no.4 et 5
      supra); (3) Jn 18:18 the fire in the courtyard (see
      no. 9 supra); (4) Jn 18:27 gallicinium (see no. 11
      supra); (5) Jn 18:28 it was early morn (see no. 12
      supra); (6) Jn 18:28 Pilate was in his headquarters
      implies daybreak circa 6am (see no. 13 supra); (7) Jn
      19:14 it was the 6th hour by Jewish reckoning, not
      referring to sexta or 3pm, but the 6th hour of
      daylight, or 6 hours after Jesus was brought into see
      Pilate at daybreak in Jn 18:28. This would make it
      noontime, or about 12pm when Jesus was handed-over to
      be crucified. (8) Jn 19:42 implies the lateness of
      day about evening and the need to bury Jesus nearby so
      as to not violate the Sabbath.

      Mark 15:25 concurs with John 19:14 but reckons the
      hour using the Hellenistic system of the quarter of
      the day tercia the second quarter of daylight so named
      by the last hour of the quarter, and like John he
      agrees they crucified him.

      I submit to you, that unless you have a suitable
      rational explanation for all the other verses that the
      preponderance of evidence lies with the 14th and 15th
      of Nisan.

      Well, Jack, I hope this matter has been finally
      cleared up once and for all and for time immemorial.

      Yours in Christ Jack

      With best regards,

      John N. Lupia, III
      31 Norwich Drive
      Toms River, New Jersey 08757 USA
      Phone: (732) 341-8689
      Email: jlupia2@...
      Editor, Roman Catholic News

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