Jesus Christ's Last Supper 'was on a Wednesday'

Jesus Christ's Last Supper 'was on a Wednesday' ...
bbc.com 01/04/33 History

Keywords:#BBC, #Bbc.com, #Bible, #Cambridge, #Cambridge_University, #Catholic, #Christ, #Christian, #Christians, #Easter, #Egypt, #Egyptian, #Hebrew, #Isaac, #Jaubert, #Jerusalem, #Jesus, #Jesus_Christ, #Jewish, #Lord, #Newton, #Puzzle, #Samaritan, #Saturday, #University

The Last Supper is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper is commemorated by Christians especially on Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "Holy Communion" or "The Lord's Supper".
The First Epistle to the Corinthians contains the earliest known mention of the Last Supper. The four canonical Gospels all state that the Last Supper took place towards the end of the week, after Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and that Jesus and his apostles shared a meal shortly before Jesus was crucified at the end of that week. During the meal Jesus predicts his betrayal by one of the apostles present, and foretells that before the next morning, Peter will thrice deny knowing him.
The three Synoptic Gospels and the First Epistle to the Corinthians include the account of the institution of the Eucharist in which Jesus takes bread, breaks it and gives it to others, saying "This is my body given to you" (the apostles are not explicitly mentioned in the account in First Corinthians). The Gospel of John does not include this episode, but tells of Jesus washing the feet of the apostles, giving the new commandment "to love one another as I have loved you", and has a detailed farewell discourse by Jesus, calling the apostles who follow his teachings "friends and not servants", as he prepares them for his departure.
Scholars have looked to the Last Supper as the source of early Christian Eucharistic traditions. Others see the account of the Last Supper as derived from 1st-century eucharistic practice as described by Paul in the mid-50s.
Historians estimate that the date of the crucifixion fell in the range AD 30–36. Physicists such as Isaac Newton and Colin Humphreys have ruled out the years 31, 32, 35, and 36 on astronomical grounds, leaving 7 April AD 30 and 3 April AD 33 as possible crucifixion dates. Humphreys proposes narrowing down the date of the Last Supper as having occurred in the evening of Wednesday, 1 April AD 33, by revising Annie Jaubert's double-Passover theory.
All Gospels agree that Jesus held a Last Supper with his disciples prior to dying on a Friday at or just before the time of Passover (annually on 15 Nisan, the official Jewish day beginning at sunset) and that his body was left in the tomb for the whole of the next day, which was a Shabbat (Saturday). However, while the Synoptic Gospels present the Last Supper as a Passover meal, the Gospel of John makes no explicit mention that the Last Supper was a Passover meal and presents the official Jewish Passover feast as beginning in the evening a few hours after the death of Jesus. John thus implies that the Friday of the crucifixion was the day of preparation for the feast (14 Nisan), not the feast itself (15 Nisan), and astronomical calculations of ancient Passover dates initiated by Isaac Newton, and posthumously published in 1733, support John's chronology.
Historically, various attempts to reconcile the three synoptic accounts with John have been made, some of which are indicated in the Last Supper by Francis Mershman in the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia. The Maundy Thursday church tradition assumes that the Last Supper was held on the evening before the crucifixion day (although, strictly speaking, in no Gospel is it unequivocally said that this meal took place on the night before Jesus died).
A new approach to resolve this contrast was undertaken in the wake of the excavations at Qumran in the 1950s when Annie Jaubert argued that there were two Passover feast dates: while the official Jewish lunar calendar had Passover begin on a Friday evening in the year that Jesus died, a solar calendar was also used, for instance by the Essene community at Qumran, which always had the Passover feast begin on a Tuesday evening. According to Jaubert, Jesus would have celebrated the Passover on Tuesday, and the Jewish authorities three days later, on Friday.
However, Humphreys has calculated that Jaubert's proposal cannot be correct, as the Qumran solar Passover would always fall after the official Jewish lunar Passover. Nevertheless, he agrees with the approach of two Passover dates, and argues that the Last Supper took place on the evening of Wednesday 1 April 33, based on his recent discovery of the Essene, Samaritan, and Zealot lunar calendar, which is based on Egyptian reckoning. Humphreys' implication is that Jesus and other communities were following the original Hebrew calendar putatively imported from Egypt by Moses (which requires calculating the time of the invisible new moon), rather than the official Jewish calendar which had been adopted more recently, in the 6th century BC during the Babylonian exile (which simply requires observing the visible waxing moon). A Last Supper on Wednesday, he argues, would allow more time than in the traditional view (Last Supper on Thursday) for the various interrogations of Jesus and his presentation to Pilate before he was crucified on Friday. Furthermore, a Wednesday Last Supper, followed by a Thursday daylight Sanhedrin trial, followed by a Friday judicial confirmation and crucifixion would not require violating Jewish court procedure as documented in the 2nd century, which forbade capital trials at night and moreover required a confirmatory session the following day.
In a review of Humphreys' book, the Bible scholar William R Telford points out that the non-astronomical parts of his argument are based on the assumption that the chronologies described in the New Testament are historical and based on eyewitness testimony. In doing so, Telford says, Humphreys has built an argument upon unsound premises which "does violence to the nature of the biblical texts, whose mixture of fact and fiction, tradition and redaction, history and myth all make the rigid application of the scientific tool of astronomy to their putative data a misconstrued enterprise."
Christians mark Jesus Christ's Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, but new research suggests it took place on the Wednesday before his crucifixion.
Colin Humphreys of Cambridge University says discrepancies in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke as compared with John arose because they used an older calendar than the official Jewish one.
He concluded the date was 1 April AD33.
This could also mean Jesus' arrest, interrogation and separate trials did not all take place on one night only.
Prof Humphreys believes his findings could present a case for finally fixing Easter Day to the first Sunday in April.
Puzzle
In his new book, The Mystery Of The Last Supper, the metallurgist and materials scientist uses Biblical, historical and astronomical research to address the fundamental inconsistency about the event.
While Matthew, Mark and Luke say the Last Supper coincided with the start of the Jewish festival of Passover, John claims it took place before Passover.
"This has puzzled Biblical scholars for centuries. In fact, someone said it was 'the thorniest subject in the New Testament'," he told the BBC's Today programme.
"If you look at all the events the Gospels record - between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion - there is a large number. It is impossible to fit them in between a Thursday evening and Friday morning."
"But I found that two different calendars were involved. In fact, the four gospels agree perfectly," he added.
Prof Humphreys argues that Jewish people would never have mistaken the Passover meal for another meal because it is so important.
He suggests that Matthew, Mark and Luke used an old-fashioned Jewish calendar - adapted from Egyptian usage at the time of Moses - rather than the official lunar calendar which was in widespread use at the time.
"In John's Gospel, he is correct in saying the Last Supper was before the Passover meal. But Jesus chose to hold his Last Supper as a Passover meal according to an earlier Jewish calendar," Prof Humphreys said.
The Last Supper was therefore on Wednesday, 1 April AD33, according to the standard Julian calendar used by historians, he concluded.
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