Was Holy Thursday really on Wednesday?

Was Holy Thursday really on Wednesday? April 19, 2011

One scholar thinks so — and is suggesting that we got the date of the Last Supper wrong.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

One of the most famous meals in history is commemorated a day late, a new book by a Cambridge University physicist claims.

Professor Sir Colin Humphreys, who was knighted last year for his contribution to science, argues that the last supper Jesus Christ shared with his disciples occurred on Wednesday, April 1, AD33, rather than on a Thursday as traditionally celebrated in most Christian churches.

The theory would explain the apparent inconsistencies between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke – which say the Last Supper was a Passover meal – and that of John, which says Jesus was tried and executed before the Jewish festival. It would explain another puzzle: why the Bible has not allowed enough time for all events recorded between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.

Sir Colin’s book, The Mystery of the Last Supper, out this week, uses astronomy to re-create calendars, plus detail drawn from texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls to propose a timeline for Jesus’s final days.

”The claim I make is that we’re misinterpreting some parts of the Gospels because we don’t understand sufficiently life in the first century AD,” he said.

Sir Colin argues that Jesus celebrated Passover early using the pre-exilic calendar, dating from before the Jewish exile to Babylon, but still used by some marginal groups in society at the time. It would have been understood by early Christians as operating alongside the official Jewish calendar, he said.

Pope Benedict XVI spoke of a similar theory in 2007, when he said Jesus probably celebrated the meal with his disciples according to the Qumran calendar, at least a day before mainstream observances.

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4 responses to “Was Holy Thursday really on Wednesday?”

  1. Pope Benedict has written about this issue in his new book. If you find this post interesting I recommend you read what he concludes and why. I think the issue comes up because we want to make all four Gospels consistent with each other and John’s dating disturbs. Perhaps we unconsciously view the Gospels with the same lens we apply to modern history and are fearful that an error would overthrow the whole edifice. A blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter to all!

  2. Who thinks the Bible (no matter what version) is totally accurate anyhow? IMO, not too many folks. Over 2000 years with numerous translations being copied over and over again makes for some (if not many) inconsistancies.

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