Centuries-Old Documents Show Evidence for a Wednesday Crucifixion

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Centuries-Old Documents Show Evidence for a Wednesday Crucifixion

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Did you know there is additional historical evidence for a Wednesday crucifixion? Although it was a minority position in the early centuries of Christianity and ran against the prevailing teachings of the Church in Rome, some early historical documents nonetheless acknowledge a Tuesday night Passover, a Wednesday afternoon crucifixion and a Saturday sunset resurrection.

Around the year 200, a document purporting to pass on apostolic instruction, called the Didascalia Apostolorum, mentions that the last Passover of Jesus Christ and His disciples was on a Tuesday night. It should be noted that the timing mentioned in the document corresponds to the biblical method of counting time—i.e., the week started with Sunday as the first day and the days began at sunset.

This document states: “For when we had eaten the Passover on the third day of the week at even [Tuesday evening], we went forth to the Mount of Olives ; and in the night they seized our Lord Jesus. And the next day, which was the fourth of the week [Wednesday], He remained in ward in the house of Caiaphas the high priest” (emphasis added throughout).

Paradoxically, the text goes on to mention that Jesus was crucified on a Friday—showing great confusion about the dates, for the biblical account clearly states that Christ was crucified on the day following that Passover meal. Nonetheless, the document demonstrates that Passover was then understood by some to have been on Tuesday evening, which would place the crucifixion on the next day, Wednesday.

Epiphanius (A.D. 367-403), the bishop at Salamis , wrote that “Wednesday and Friday are days of fasting up to the ninth hour because, as Wednesday began the Lord was arrested and on Friday he was crucified.” As we can see, even though the prevailing view was that Friday was the day of the crucifixion, Wednesday was known as the day of Christ’s arrest. (Remember that with a week based on days reckoned from evening to evening, Wednesday—that is to say, the fourth day of the week—began at sunset on Tuesday.)

By the fifth century, Easter Sunday celebrations were widespread. However, a church historian of the time named Socrates notes in a section of his history titled “Differences of Usage in Regard to Easter” that some Christians celebrated the resurrection on the Sabbath rather than on Sunday. As he put it, “Others in the East kept that feast on the Sabbath indeed.”

Bishop Gregory of Tours (538-594), although himself believing in a Sunday resurrection, noted that many believed Jesus rose on the seventh day of the week, stating, “In our belief the resurrection of the Lord was on the first day, and not on the seventh as many deem.”

So rather than a monolithic acceptance of the Good Friday–Easter Sunday scenario, there was confusion about the timing of Christ’s crucifixion in early centuries. Moreover, these historical records show that a minority of Christians during that time understood the biblical timing of a Tuesday evening Passover, a Wednesday crucifixion and a late Saturday afternoon resurrection.

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