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23. DIVERGENCE AS TO JESUS DEATH.

We must look all the more closely now into the one, but very important, point in which, with much plausibility, people may find in Jn. a correct tradition based upon faithful 118recollection, a tradition by which the story of the Synoptics is shown to be faulty. It concerns the day of Jesus’ death. According to all four Gospels, Jesus died on a Friday. This was, according to the Synoptics (Mk. xiv. 12, 14; xv. 1), the 15th of the month Nisan (corresponding almost to our April), but according to Jn. (xiii. 1, 29; xviii. 28; xix. 14, 31) the 14th. This means an extremely serious difference. On the afternoon of the 14th Nisan the lambs were slain in the fore-court of the Temple at Jerusalem, and then after sunset, at the meal of the Passover festival (the place of which is taken by our Easter festival), were eaten. The 15th Nisan was the first of the seven days of the festival, and in sanctity and the strictness with which all work was refrained from, was almost equivalent to a Sabbath. It is important to remember that this is true also of the night between the 14th and the 15th of Nisan, because amongst the Jews the day began with sunset.

The difference between Jn. and the other Gospels is seen, therefore, particularly in two points. According to the Synoptics, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal, together with his disciples, on his last evening. But not according to Jn.; according to his account, Jesus’ last supper was, rather, on the preceding day, which was not a feast-day; and when the Jews ate the Paschal lamb twenty-four hours later, he already lay in the grave. Consequently his arrest, condemnation, crucifixion, and burial, which according to both accounts were compressed into less than twenty-four hours (to the next sunset after his last supper), also followed, according to Jn., on the working-day before the festival; but according to the Synoptics on the first feast day which involved strict suspension of all work.

The following table will serve to make this clear. The days of the month Nisan, placed in the middle, are common 119to the Synoptics and Jn. The † denotes the crucifixion of Jesus.

SYNOPTICS. JOHN.
Wednesday. 13 Thursday.
Thursday. 14
Evening Passover
meal.
†Friday.
Friday.† 15
(1st feast-day).
Saturday.
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