I always enjoy a rousing conversation about apparent contradictions in the Bible with inerrantists. Fun to watch the fur fly. (Useless in the end, yes I know, but such a predictable outcome to such predictable maneuvers—I can’t help myself, it seems.) And up until now, I figured there was a resolution of some sort (no matter how unreasonable—at least logically possible) to every contradiction.
Recently I came across a contradiction I have not seen a proposed resolution, and I cannot find one through the demi-god Google. I find people dance around it. I see people talk about other contradictions near it, but none on point. Any help would be appreciated. (I like to know what the resolutions are, at least. Doesn’t mean I buy ‘em, obviously.)
The issue is the old standby of what day did Jesus die—was it Passover or the Day before Passover?
The Problem as traditionally stated rests in the fact the Synoptic Gospels place the Last Supper as a Passover Meal (See Mark 14:12-17, Matt. 26:17-20, Luke 22:7-16). Remember the Jewish day runs from sunset to sunset, so Thursday sunset to Friday sunset would be one day. If Jesus ate Passover Thursday evening, this means the rest of the events unfolding on Friday would still be Passover.
Therefore, Jesus would have been betrayed, tried, convicted, crucified and buried on Passover according to the Synoptic Gospels.
However, John 13:1 implies this Last Supper was before Passover and John 18:28 indicates the Jews did not want to enter Pilate’s house on Friday Morning, so they can eat Passover. John 19:14 states this was the day of Preparation for Passover, John 19:31 indicates the next day was a “high Sabbath” (Some authors indicate the First day of the feast of Unleavened bread was considered a Sabbath. If this fell on Sabbath, it may have been considered a “high Sabbath.”)
According to John, Jesus would have been betrayed, tried, convicted, crucified and buried on the day before Passover.
And if one looks up the traditional responses, we see two primary resolutions:
1) If one wants to align John to the Synoptics (i.e. claim Jesus died on Passover) it is claimed the term “Passover” means the entire week, so the meal the Priests were talking about in John 18:28 was another meal during the week of Passover after the Seder normally eaten on Thursday night OR the Priests simply had been too busy to get to the Passover meal, what with trying and convicting Jesus.
2) If one wants to align the Syoptics to John (i.e. claim Jesus died on the day before Passover), it is claimed Jesus ate Passover early (‘cause he would be too busy being dead on the actual Passover on Saturday), so the Last Supper was not the actual Passover meal, but a meal conveniently eaten near the Passover. Like eating Christmas Dinner on the 23rd ‘cause that is the day the whole family can get together.
While these are fun and all, the problem I have not seen specifically addressed, is the conflict of days between Mark 14:12 and John 19:14. Some brief background information:
Jews celebrated Passover beginning with a special meal called “Seder” which commences at Sundown and necessarily consists of lamb. The lamb was killed and prepared during the day, prior to sunset. After the Passover, was seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. There could be no yeast (leaven) in the house for the entire seven days, which means prior to the Passover, a ritualistic house-cleaning was performed, to guarantee everything in the house was kosher, and no yeast was present.
Our order of days would be:
A – Day before Preparation day or Two days before Passover
B – Preparation Day for Passover (Lamb killed)
C – Passover
D – First day of feast of Unleavened Bread
E – Second day of feast of Unleavened Bread, and so on…
There are some references in Josephus “C” and “D” were considered the same day, so the First day of the feast of Unleavened Bread was also Passover. This doesn’t help the problem. Again, remember Jewish days went from sunset to sunset.
Look at Mark 14:12. It starts off, “On the first day of Unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover Lamb…” You might notice Mark appears to be saying “B – Preparation Day” and “D - First Day of Feast” (or possibly “C - Passover”) are the same day—they are not! This, in itself, is a problem. But for the moment, I will set it aside, and presume Mark was saying it was “B – Preparation day.” (In a moment we will see why.)
If we keep reading through Mark 14, Jesus informs his disciples to make arrangements for Passover in the Upper Room. Then Evening comes. Mark 14:17. Under the Jewish calendar we just switched days. We went from “B – Preparation day for Passover” to “C – Passover.” And as we continue through Mark (as well as the other Synoptic Gospels) the events unfold on this Friday/Passover.
But now look at John 19:13-15, specifically vs. 14. “It was preparation day for the Passover.” John could not be clearer Jesus’ trial, death and burial was happening on “B – Day of Preparation.” Whether one wants to argue John 18:28 was the Priests referring to one day, or the whole week is irrelevant—John 19:14 makes it patently obvious this was the Day before Passover.
How do we possibly align these two passages? Start with John’s claim Jesus was killed on “B – Preparation day.” This day would have started Thursday at sunset. Meaning the day before must be “A – Day before Preparation” This would be during the day, Thursday, before the sun set, when Jesus told his disciples to arrange the Upper Room for the Last Supper. But look what day Mark claims this to be in Mark 14:12 – either “B – Day of Preparation” (by saying the lamb was killed) or “D – First day of Unleavened bread.” Neither is “A - Day before Preparation.”
Worse, we note Mark 14:1 actually refers to “A – Two days before Passover” recounting how the anointing of Bethany happened on that day. To align John to Mark, we would have to say Mark was claiming “A – Two days before Passover” and “B – Day of Preparation” and “D – First day of Unleavened bread” were all the same day! This may remove the contradiction of John, but it leaves us with a tremendous contradiction within a few verses of Mark. (and Matthew as well.)
Starting with John’s claim of Jesus dying on the day before Passover leaves us in a horrible muddle in Mark. So let’s start with Mark. Again, putting Thursday during the day as “B- Preparation day” this would mean Thursday night and all the events on Friday prior to sunset would necessarily fall on “C – Passover.” (and possibly “D – First day of unleavened Bread as well.) But this directly conflicts with John 19:14 which states these events happened on “B – Preparation day.”
I started looking at this contradiction, and proposed resolutions, but all I have seen addressed the problem of when the Priests ate. Note the direct problem of John 19:14 as compared to Mark 14:12.
Does anyone have a proposed resolution? No matter how unlikely—at least one that is remotely plausible?