Can we know the date Jesus died? Can we know if the Gospels are accurate? Yes, in fact we can! Dr Taylor Marshall explained it in one of his video lessons and I quickly noted down the essential.
- John the Baptist begins his ministry “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar” (Luke 3:1).
- Roman historians say that Tiberius Cæsar succeeded Augustus Cæsar and was confirmed by the Roman senate on August 19, AD 14, and ruled until AD 37.
- AD 14 plus around 15 years give us AD 28 or AD 29. This is the beginning of the ministry of St John the Baptist.
- Jesus was therefore baptized between AD 29 or AD 30, because John the Baptist had been exercising his ministry for a little while.
- The public ministries of Jesus start after His baptism, and lasts from 3 to 3.5 years.
- There are 3 separate Passovers mentioned in the Gospel of John. The first is found in John 2:13, 23, the second is in John 6:4, the third is in John 11:55, 12:1. The synoptic Gospels may include an additional passover, but it does not exactly matter.
- AD 29 or AD 30 plus 3 to 4 years give us AD 33 to AD 34.
- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all agree that the crucifixion of Jesus happened a few hours before the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath.
- Saint John says that the day was the 14 of Jewish month of Nisan.
- This would be the evening or nightfall on a Friday, and within a day of Passover which is always celebrated at the time of a full moon.
- With astronomical projection we can recreate the sky at any given night, anywhere on earth. Now we simply need to find a full moon on a Friday, within a Passover, in the range of the years AD 33 to AD 34.
- There are two possible days on which the full moon lands on a Friday : Friday April 7, AD 30, and Friday April 3, AD 33.
- Which one is it? Well, the Reign of Tiberius and the ministry of St John the Baptist excludes Friday April 7, AD 30.
- If John begins his ministry in the years AD 28 or 29, then there is not enough time for the 3 (or 4) passovers mentioned in the Gospels.
- So the only date that matches the information written both by the Gospels and by secular historians is Friday April 3rd, AD 33.
So Jesus died on in AD 33, just like Catholics have always claimed. Interesting, no?
For further resources, on Fr. Zed’s Blog I found a post who relates how the eclipse was integrated into this whole thing. I highly recommend the article Good Friday 3 April AD 33 – Lunar and Solar Eclipses as Christ died on the Cross, as it shows a few astronomical models of the skies and such.