The “True” Date of Good Friday: A Scholarly Debate

As churches in Detroit, MI prepare for the celebration of Good Friday at the end of March, discussion about the origins of this day have started anew in 2018. So what, exactly, was the true date of the crucifixion and Jesus’ sacrifice that rescued us from sin?

The Oxford Paper

A paper published by a pair of Oxford University researchers is widely cited to hold the correct information about the exact date of Christ’s crucifixion. In this paper, the date cited is April 3, 33 AD. This conclusion was derived from documentation within the Bible, astronomical tables, 4,000 years’ worth of earthquake disturbance records, laminated sediment from the Dead Sea, and the years that Pontius Pilate served as an agent to the Roman emperor.

Before Or After Passover

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, mainstream tradition maintains that the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples was a Passover Seder. If this is correct, Jesus would have died on the Jewish calendar’s 15 Nisan, the first day of Passover. This date on the Western calendar would fall on April 7.

One of the four Synoptic Gospels, John, disagrees with this, stating instead that the Passover had not yet started during Jesus’ final meal. If this were the case, Jesus would have died on 14 Nisan.

Beyond A Calendar

No matter the true date of Christ’s crucifixion, the significance of His compassionate act cannot be argued. In God’s eyes, it is our sentiment, appreciation, and love for Him that matter the most—not the “correctness” of when we choose to celebrate His Son’s sacrifice. While those passionate about history and Biblical studies may continue to research and discuss the true date of the crucifixion, remember the importance of Good Friday at Old St. Mary’s or one of many other local churches in Detroit, MI.


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