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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Was Jesus buried for three days?

As Christians worldwide prepare to celebrate Easter, they will follow a familiar chronology: Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and rose from the dead on “the third day,” in the words of the ancient Nicene Creed.
But if Jesus died at 3 p.m. Friday and vacated his tomb by dawn Sunday morning — about 40 hours later — how does that make three days?
The chronology conundrum is "a bit of a puzzle," said Marcus Borg, a progressive biblical scholar and co-author of "The Last Week," a book about Holy Week.
But Borg and other experts say the puzzle can be solved if you know how first-century Jews counted time, and grant the four evangelists a little poetic license.
Jews of Jesus' time followed a lunar calendar, meaning that days began at sunset. For them, Saturday night was actually Sunday, a schedule that still guides Jewish holy days, such as Shabbat.
Ancient Jews also used what scholars call "inclusive reckoning," meaning any part of a day is counted as a whole day, said Clinton Wahlen of the Seventh-day Adventist Biblical Research Institute in Silver Spring, Md.
Using these counting methods, a backward calculation from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon makes three days.

(Matthew 12:40) – “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

The author tries to get around the problem with this verse by saying that you can count a part of the day as one of the three days, therefore, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are three days. Whether that is true or not, it does not resolve the issue that the verse also says three nights. And there was only two nights involved here, Friday and Saturday night.

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