The Date of Passover and the Pitfall of Inerrancy: Part 3
The Date of Passover and the Pitfall of Inerrancy: Part 1
The Date of Passover and the Pitfall of Inerrancy: Part 2
Before engaging in my critique of Kostenberger's "solution" I want to show where Kostenberger misunderstands the discrepancy. Recall these words:
"The reason many have seen John as placing the Last Supper on Wednesday night with the crucifixion taking place on Thursday afternoon..." Biblical Theology, p. 148
And again in his commentary on John:
"Some believe that John places the supper on 14 Nisan, Wednesday evening, with Jesus' crucifixion occuring on Thursday afternoon..." John, p. 401
At every point that Kostenberger presents this discrepancy he does so by saying that the issue is that some believe John has Jesus eating the Last Supper on Wednesday with his crucifixion on Thursday in contrast to the Synoptics who portray each event a day later. However, the day of the week is not what is actually in dispute because the author of John does present Jesus' crucifixion on the eve of the Passover in agreement with the Synoptics:
"Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away." Jn 19:31
Kostenberger, therefore, is at least right when he concludes that all four gospels present Jesus being crucified on a Friday just prior to sundown (which would commence the Sabbath). The problem is that John has Passover Day falling on the same day as the Sabbath. To comprehend what I'm saying one needs to first understand how the Jewish Calendar worked in regards to the Passover. John P. Meier explains:
"Now, according to the Jewish way of calculating liturgical days at the time of Jesus, sundown would mark the beginning of a new day, the fifteenth of Nisan, Passover Day proper. This type of calculation for liturgical days is already witnessed in the OT (e.g., for the Day of Atonement in Lev 23:27, 32) and is explicitly applied to Passover in the Book of Jubilees 49:1 (written in the 2nd century B.C.): 'Remember the commandment that the Lord commanded you concerning Passover, that you observe it in its time, on the fourteenth of the first mont [Nisan], so that you might sacrifice it before it becomes evening and so that you might eat it during the night on the evening of the fifteenth from the time of sunset.'" John Meier, A Marginal Jew: Vol 1, p. 389.
In other words, the normative rule was that the Passover lambs were to be slaughtered on the 14th of Nisan and then at sundown to be eaten when Passover day proper began, which would then be the 15th of Nisan. Normally, the 14th of Nisan would occur on a Thursday (with the day beginning at 6 p.m. on Wed and ending at 6 p.m. on Thrs) and the 15th on a Friday (with Friday beginning at 6 p.m on Thrs). However, every now and then in order to adjust the lunar calendar to the actual solar year the Jews would have to add a leap year into their calendar which sometimes resulted in Passover day occuring on the same day as the Sabbath which is precisely what John indicates happened. (cf. Meier, p. 402)
To reiterate, the issue is not that the synoptics and John disagree as to what day of the week Jesus was crucified on but disagree concerning whether or not the date of his crucifixion was the 14th of Nisan or the 15th of Nisan. Now in so far as my argument goes, this is not an important observation because the crucial issue is whether or not John presents Jesus as being crucified on the Day of the Preparation of Passover, regardless of the day of the week or the date of the month.
Nevertheless, I bring this to attention to show that this betrays to me that Kostenberger has not sufficiently researched this issue. For if he had read and had been interacting with scholars who disagree with his position he would have seen that the larger issue involved the Jewish calendar itself and not the day of the week.
Next time, I will present my fuller critique of Kostenberger's "solution."