Last Days of Jesus: Digging Deeply into the Sources

Once again “Holy Week” has arrived. Today is Palm Sunday, with Easter one week away. It is also the first day of Passover–or more properly speaking, the “days of unleavened bread” that also last seven days (see Exodus 12:14-20). So one might say this week is “doubly holy,” in that it binds together what Jesus as a Jew would have been intimately familiar with his entire life–Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread–and the final week of his life.

Just about everything about this week is controversial. Did Jesus eat his last Supper on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday night? Was that last meal a Passover or a meal the night before Passover? What day of the week was Jesus’ crucifixion–Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. What day was the tomb found empty–Saturday night or early Sunday morning. I think all these questions can be answered clearly and rather definitely–as well as the year of the crucifixion–which ranges from 29-33 CE in various views. Here is my take on this cluster of questions with links to much much more–including the very nature of the Last Supper–which I think was a creative development of Paul as it is practiced today. If you are interested in these matters read on, and whether you agree or disagree I think you will learn something new.

Yesterday, Saturday, March 27th was the 14th of the Jewish month of Nisan, with the festival of Passover beginning at sundown as the 15th of Nisan begins. Jews around the world gathered to solemnly remember and celebrate the LORD God who brought enslaved Israel out of Egypt that night with a strong Hand (Exodus 13:9; Deut 4:7; 16:1). Increasingly, thousands of Christians, most of whom are not Jewish or of Jewish background,  join in the celebration, convinced that the “Last Supper,” on the night Jesus was betrayed, was in fact a Passover meal. Many Jews are not too happy about the ways in which Christians have begun to celebrate “Passover,” but with entirely different meanings than those reflected in the Torah, stirring a bit of controversy in some Jewish circles, see here and here.

Leaving our contemporary scene aside for now, if you would like to delve deeply into the  historical side of things, particularly what was going on in the year 30 CE, in Jerusalem, beginning on Palm Sunday, and leading up to the night Jesus was betrayed, his crucifixion, and what followed, here is a series of posts that will take you through the week, touching on many of the mysteries and controversies this convergence of Jewish and Christian traditions and memories of Jesus’ Last Days in Jerusalem have stirred. You are welcome to share these links on social media and with others. There is a lot here, but I would love for my readers to consider all of these posts, as the cumulative effect is pretty remarkable:

The Making of a Messiah: Did Jesus Claim to be the Messiah and Anticipate His Suffering and Death?

The Last Winter: A Jesus Hideout in Jordan

Last Days of Jesus: A Decisive Confrontation

Last Days of Jesus: A Final Messianic Meal

Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Passover Meal?

Eat My Body, Drink my Blood: Did Jesus Every Really Say This?

Jesus Died on a Thursday not a Friday

Standing Again with Jesus: Ecce Homo Revisited

Locating Golgotha

The Strange Ending of Mark and Why it Makes All the Difference

The Most Important Ten Verses of the Gospels to Read Easter Morning

What Really Happened Easter Morning?

The Surprise Ending of the Lost Gospel of Peter

What Did Paul Claim to Have Seen? “Last of All He Appeared to Me”

Why a “Spiritual” Resurrection is the Only Sensible Option

How Faith in Jesus’ Resurrection Developed: An Old New Hypothesis

The Jesus Tomb Story: Does the Evidence Add Up?

The 1980 Discovery of the East Talpiot “Jesus Tomb”? What We Know Forty Years Later!

New Evidence on the James Ossuary and its Probable Connection to the Talpiot Tomb

 

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