Myhan-West Debate on the Day of the Crucifixion

Crucifixion Week“The Scriptures Teach That Jesus of Nazareth Was Crucified on Friday and Was Raised from the Dead the Following Sunday.”

Affirm: Bob Myhan

Deny: Ray West

Bob Myhan’s First Affirmative

Greetings moderators, my opponent and the list: It is my pleasure to defend the above proposition and I appreciate the opportunity afforded by the moderators to do so. I also appreciate the willingness of Ray West to defend his conviction that Jesus was crucified on Thursday, rather than Friday.

DEFINITION OF TERMS

By “the Scriptures” I mean the 66 books of the Holy Bible with special emphasis on the 27 books of the New Testament.

By “teach” I mean “convey to the mind by direct statement, necessary inference, or approved example.”

By “Jesus of Nazareth,” of course, I mean that individual so identified in the New Testament – born in Bethlehem of Judea but raised in Nazareth of Galilee.

By “was crucified” I mean He was nailed to a cross and died while hanging thereon.

By “Friday” I mean the sixth day of the week or the day of Preparation, the day immediately preceding the weekly Sabbath.

By “raised from the dead” I mean resurrected – i.e. raised never to die again.

By “the following Sunday” I mean the day after the Sabbath which immediately followed the day of the crucifixion. I will be using the NJKV.

Traditionally, it has long been held that Jesus was crucified on Friday and resurrected two days later on the following Sunday. However, many sincere people, even brethren, are now skeptical of this view, affirming either a Wednesday or Thursday crucifixion. The main problem they seem to have with the traditional position is the time span between the two events. And, of course, tradition can be wrong. So our concern is with what the Bible teaches.

First, Jesus said He would “be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Mark 9:31; 10:34; Luke 9:22; 18:33; 24:7; 24:46).

Second, Peter said, “Him God raised up the third day” (Acts 10:40).

Third, Paul said, “He rose again the third day” (1 Cor. 15:4).

Any position that is inconsistent with these statements is error!

Note: The way we reckon time, “the third day” would be “three days from now, not including today.” This can be illustrated, as follows.

1. TODAY – NOT COUNTED

2. TOMORROW – FIRST DAY

3. DAY AFTER TOMORROW – SECOND DAY

4. DAY AFTER THAT – THIRD DAY

But this is not the way time was reckoned in the first century. Jesus said, of Herod, “Go ye, and tell that fox, behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk today, and tomorrow, and the day following” (Luke 13:32-33). This can be illustrated, as follows.

1. TODAY – FIRST DAY

2. TOMORROW – SECOND DAY

3. DAY AFTER TOMORROW – THIRD DAY

According to Mark, Jesus said He would “be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). Matthew and Luke, however, tell us that Jesus said He would “be killed, and be raised again the third day.” (Matthew 16:21; Luke 9:22) Thus, the two phrases, “after three days” and “the third day” were used interchangeably by the synoptists. This can be illustrated, as follows.

1. TODAY – FIRST DAY

2. TOMORROW – [AFTER TWO DAYS] – SECOND DAY

3. DAY AFTER TOMORROW – [AFTER THREE DAYS] – THIRD DAY

The chief priests and Pharisees showed by their actions that they also understood “after three days” meant “on the third day” to mean the same thing.

  • On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” (Matthew 27:62-64).

They saw the need to secure the tomb only “until the third day,” because that was the day the resurrection was to take place. There was no need to secure the tomb until the fourth day because that would be too late for the disciples to claim that the resurrection had taken place on schedule.

Now, the Bible specifically says, “Jesus was risen early the first day of the week” (Mark 16:9). On this day, some of His disciples said, “today is the third day since these things were done” (Luke 24:21). Since “the first day of the week” (Sunday) was “the third day,” the seventh day of the week (Saturday) must have been the second day, and the sixth day of the week (Friday) must have been the first day-the day of the crucifixion! This can be illustrated, as follows:

1. FRIDAY – Jesus is Crucified – DAY ONE

2. SATURDAY – Jesus is in the Tomb – DAY TWO

3. SUNDAY – Jesus is Raised – DAY THREE

If Jesus had been crucified on Wednesday, Sunday would not have been the third day; rather, it would have been the fifth day. If He had been crucified on Thursday, Sunday would have been the fourth day. Therefore, He must have been crucified on Friday, rather than on Wednesday or Thursday!

Bob Myhan

Ray West’s First Negative

I would also like to express my appreciation to the moderators and to Brother Myhan for the opportunity to discuss this issue. While I am not sure that it rises to the question of fellowship, it is important both foundationally and for accuracy’s sake that we have the best possible understanding of the details surrounding an event as critical as the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

DEFINITION OF TERMS

For the sake of this negative, I will accept Brother Myhan’s definitions pertaining to the words used in the proposition. I am not sure why it is necessary to place ‘special emphasis’ on the 27 books of the New Testament, seeing as Paul defines the gospel as nothing other than what Moses and the Prophets said would come (Acts 26:22). Nonetheless, we agree to use the scriptures as our proof, and that is sufficient for me.

Brother Myhan’s hermeneutic for establishing truth based on those scriptures has been defined as ‘direct statement, necessary inference, or approved example.’ Clearly, since there is no direct statement of the day of the crucifixion, and there is nothing expressed as an example, per se, the basis on which we must establish our findings falls within necessary inference. But, just because something CAN be inferred does not mean that it is NECESSARILY inferred. A necessary inference takes into account all of the related statements regarding a given question and determines whether a specific result is demanded by all of them taken in concert. Only to the extent that this is possible does any inference rise to the level of a binding, or necessary, inference.

Let us begin where we agree.

1. Matthew, Mark and Luke certainly do use both phrases “after three days” and “the third day.”

2. Since these passages refer to the same statement of Christ, they are to be understood to refer to the same thing, or the same period of time.

3. Peter and Paul both make use of this language in their argumentation.

4. Any position that is inconsistent with these statements is in error.

So, the question arises; how are we to understand what is meant by the statement of Christ that is rendered using a slightly different turn of phrase by the various synoptic authors? Brother Myhan pulls us in the direction of an absolute understanding of ‘the third day’ by way of a separate statement of Christ in Luke 13. He claims that this in some way establishes a biblical basis for our understanding of how time was reckoned in the first century differently than it is today. There are several problems with this.

First, Christ’s statement in Luke 13 was not likely a reference to three literal days, but to a short period of time following which his work would be completed in Galilee. If this is to be used as the basis on which we will interpret biblical time, then Christ might have been prophesied to be raised at some indeterminate day after a short time had passed.

Second, Christ’s statement is intended to uncover the plot of the Pharisees and establish his authority to do good. It is unrelated to the particular three days of his burial. Even if it did refer to three literal days, it is a perfectly contextually appropriate way to state a course of events that would occur over three days including the one that was currently being experienced, but does not extend to establishing the way in which all three days periods must be expressed or understood in other contexts.

Brother Myhan tries to draw a distinction between the way that the first century understood time and the way we understand time today, but again, this is a question of context, not of culture. My family just returned from a tennis vacation at Saddlebrook outside Tampa, FL. When we arrived on the courts Tuesday morning, they asked “How long are you going to be with us?” We answered ‘three days’ and they understood that to mean that we were there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They did not exclude the first day, and Bob suggests modern thought would require.

Surely the Bible does count inclusively, but it also counts exclusively, without including both the first and last item in the count. Nehemiah 5:14 says: “Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor.”

Counting inclusively, that would be 13 years.

So if the Bible counts both ways, we can hardly base our conclusion on that premise alone, especially when other passages are available to further clarify the time frame for us. Context must determine what is meant, whether modern day or New Testament times. And to establish that context we must take into account all of the passages that refer to the span of time in question. Bob has already given us the following:

1. According to Mark, Jesus said He would “be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31).

2. Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus said He would “be killed, and be raised again the third day.” (Matthew 16:21; Luke 9:22)

To those we must add:

3. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matt 12:40)

Matthew 12 presents the most exacting of the references that give us information about the span of time in question. It posits three days and three nights in the tomb. If, as Bob suggests, ‘after three days’ and ‘the third day’ are interchangeable, and both of those must agree with ‘three days and three nights’, then we must determine an understanding for the first two that agrees with the third.

Since Matt 12 is the most precise, it makes sense to start there and see if our other passages can be understood in its light. We know that Christ was risen early on the first day of the week. Matthew 28 indicates that the Marys were at the tomb at dawn and he was already risen. So Christ was risen on Sunday night: not OUR understanding of Sunday night, but the nighttime period that began at sundown on Saturday.

We also know that he was buried just before sundown (the beginning of a sabbath) on whatever day he was buried on.

Counting backwards:

Sunday Night – 1 Night

Saturday Day – 1 Day

Saturday Night – 2 Nights

Friday Day – 2 Days

Friday Night – 3 Nights

Thursday Day – 3 Days

The ONLY way to get Christ in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights is if he was crucified on Thursday. No other day offers a satisfactory response to the requirement of Matt 12.

Does this satisfy ‘after three days?’ Yes, 3 days passed and in the evening of the next day, before the daytime came, he was risen. True, it is 3 days and 3 nights spread over 4 calendar periods, but it nonetheless satisfies 2 of our 3 descriptive phrases.

Does it satisfy ‘on the third day?’ In context, yes. Christ alive on Thursday. He was killed and was buried with little time left to spare before sundown. He was in the tomb Friday and Saturday and was raised on Sunday.

QUESTIONS FOR BOB

1. How does your calculation of time take Matthew 12’s ‘three days and three nights’ into consideration?

2. Under your scenario, what day of the week did the passover meal occur on?

3. On what day did the triumphal entry occur?

There is much more evidence that I believe argues convincingly for a Thursday crucifixion, but I am bound to stick to Bob’s affirmative arguments. The time will come for the presentation of that material.

Thanks for your time and your interest in the truth.

Ray West

Bob Myhan’s Second Affirmative

It is my pleasure to defend, once again, the above proposition. I appreciate the fairness with which my brother, Ray West, dealt with my first affirmative. While I believe that “why” Jesus was crucified is far more important that “when” He was crucified, we ought to believe whatever is taught in the Bible, whether it is taught explicitly or implicitly. For example, it is plainly implied that the Messianic kingdom was established on Pentecost, though such is not stated explicitly anywhere in the Bible to my knowledge. But, being implied, it is just as true as if it were explicitly stated. Also, the Holy Spirit had implied that physical circumcision was not necessary for Gentile converts before the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15. Thus, it was true (that physical circumcision is not necessary) before it was explicitly revealed because it had been revealed implicitly.

Regarding the definitions in my first affirmative, my brother says,

“For the sake of this negative, I will accept Brother Myhan’s definitions pertaining to the words used in the proposition. I am not sure why it is necessary to place ‘special emphasis’ on the 27 books of the New Testament, seeing as Paul defines the gospel as nothing other than what Moses and the Prophets said would come (Acts 26:22). Nonetheless, we agree to use the scriptures as our proof, and that is sufficient for me.”

The New Testament mentions the facts of the gospel in greater detail than does the Old Testament. Peter observed that these things were not even understood by the Old Testament prophets who prophesied of them (1 Peter 1:10-12). As others have observed, “the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” Thus, the New Testament will surely be our primary battleground in this debate.

Ray also stated,

“Brother Myhan’s hermeneutic for establishing truth based on those scriptures has been defined as ‘direct statement, necessary inference, or approved example.’ Clearly, since there is no direct statement of the day of the crucifixion, and there is nothing expressed as an example, per se, the basis on which we must establish our findings falls within necessary inference. But, just because something CAN be inferred does not mean that it is NECESSARILY inferred. A necessary inference takes into account all of the related statements regarding a given question and determines whether a specific result is demanded by all of them taken in concert. Only to the extent that this is possible does any inference rise to the level of a binding, or necessary, inference.”

Ray is correct in pointing out the difference between “necessary inference” and what some call “simple inference.” But there is more to hermeneutics (the science of interpretation) than “direct statement, necessary inference, or approved example.” Hermeneutics also includes such things as recognizing the use of figurative language, noticing who is speaking or writing and to whom, and examining the immediate and remote contexts of a passage. At any rate, I was not defining “hermeneutic;” I was defining “teach.”

I am glad we can agree that “after three days” and “the third day” are equivalent expressions.

I was only using Luke 13:32-33 as an illustration. I was not saying that Jesus was referring to the time of His burial. Whether He was speaking literally or figuratively, He still equates “today, tomorrow and the third day” with “today, tomorrow and the day following.”

My experience has been that, when people say things like, “I am leaving in three days,” they do not mean that they are leaving the day after tomorrow, but that they are leaving the day after that. Even if this is not the way Ray’s family speaks, the example that he gave is what I am contending for with reference to the time period between Jesus’ burial and resurrection.

Ray said, “When we arrived on the courts Tuesday morning, they asked ‘How long are you going to be with us?’ We answered ‘three days’ and they understood that to mean that we were there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They did not exclude the first day, and (as?) Bob suggests modern thought would require.”

Well, that is the thing I am affirming and he is denying! Jesus’ body was buried on Friday, in the tomb all day Saturday and resurrected on Sunday. That is three days. But, if He were buried on Thursday, in the tomb all day Friday, in the tomb all day Saturday and resurrected on Sunday, that would be four days! (More on this below)

Concerning “the sign of Jonah,” McGarvey had this to say: “Jesus was one full day, two full nights, and parts of two other days in the grave. But, as the Jews reckoned a part of a day as a whole day when it occurred at the beginning or end of a series, he was correctly spoken of as being three days in the grave. The Jews had three phrases, viz.: ‘on the third day,’ ‘after three days,’ and ‘three days and three nights,’ which all meant the same thing; that is, three days, two of which might be fractional days. With them three full days and nights would be counted as four days unless the count began at sundown, the exact beginning of a day (Acts 10:1 <http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=Ac%2010:1-30> -30).” (The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels, p. 306)

Remember the following simple outline?

1. FRIDAY – Jesus is Crucified – DAY ONE

2. SATURDAY – Jesus is in the Tomb – DAY TWO

3. SUNDAY – Jesus is Raised – DAY THREE

A period of two full days and parts of two days was called “four days” in Acts 10:30. Seventy-two hours after he saw the angel, Cornelius said “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.'” (Acts 10:30 <http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=Ac%2010:1-30> -31).

This can be outlined, as follows:

1. DAY ONE – Cornelius sees an angel and sends men to Joppa (vv. 3-8)

2. DAY TWO – Men arrive in Joppa (vv. 9-22)

3. DAY THREE – Peter and the others leave Joppa (v. 23)

4. DAY FOUR – Peter and the others arrive in Caesarea (vv. 24-30)

Again, if Jesus’ body were placed in the tomb on Thursday and resurrected on Sunday, He would have been in the tomb two full days, two full nights and parts of two days. He would then have been raised on the fourth day not the third.

Yet Ray’s position is:

“Yes, 3 days passed and in the evening of the next day, before the daytime came, he was risen. True, it is 3 days and 3 nights spread over 4 calendar periods, but it nonetheless satisfies 2 of our 3 descriptive phrases.”

But it doesn’t satisfy all 3 so it cannot be right. Again, Ray actually has part of day (Thursday), two full days (Friday and Saturday) and part of a day (Sunday). That is two full days and parts of two days, as in the example from Acts 10.

This can be outlined, as follows:

1. DAY ONE – The body of Jesus is placed in the tomb.

2. DAY TWO – The body of Jesus remains in the tomb.

3. DAY THREE – The body of Jesus remains in the tomb.

4. DAY FOUR – Jesus is raised from the dead.

That’s four days not three, biblically speaking.

Now to his questions for me:

QUESTIONS FOR BOB

1. How does your calculation of time take Matthew 12’s ‘three days and three nights’ into consideration?

Answer: I believe it is a figure of speech for a period of time less than 72 hours that touches on three twenty-four hour days. Jesus’ body was in the tomb part of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday. (See, again, the quote from McGarvey above.)

2. Under your scenario, what day of the week did the passover meal occur on?

Answer: It was eaten after sunset on the sixth 24-hour day of the Jewish week, the evening before the crucifixion.

3. On what day did the triumphal entry occur?

Answer: Sunday, one week before the resurrection.

Thank you,

Bob Myhan

Ray West’s Second Negative

I would like to apologize again to Brother Myhan, the moderators and the list for the tardiness of this reply. My work schedule has dominated my time over the past weeks. I will try to be more prompt as we continue.

I appreciate very much that Bob answered the questions that I presented to him, because it is in these attendant assumptions that we find some of the most damaging facts to his case.

First, I have to say that Bob’s amended definitions do cause me some concern. When defining “Friday” for the purpose of the discussion, he says:

“By ‘Friday’ I mean the sixth day of the week or the day of Preparation, the day immediately preceding the weekly Sabbath.”

This definition presumes that the Preparation Day indicated in scripture was always Friday, always immediately preceded the weekly Sabbath and was indicative of preparations made for Saturday, specifically the preparation of additional food to compensate for the time when cooking was not allowed. However John gives us the most detailed reference to the purpose of this preparation in John 19:14 where it says, “Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover.” When it is noted that all six of the references to the Day of Preparation in the New Testament are within the context of the crucifixion and its surrounding events, and that three of those six occur right here in the 19th chapter of John, we must put great emphasis on the context that he gives the term.

The Preparation Day was the day that the Jews were charged with removing all leaven from their households in preparation for the Passover. The Preparation Day was Nisan 14 (the day Christ was crucified) in preparation for the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) which was a High Sabbath (Lev 23:6-7, John 19:31).

There is no doubt that Friday is the 6th day of the week. I do not imagine that we disagree on the meaning of Friday as a day on the calendar which can be identified in relation to its surrounding days and to the following Sunday (see below) but the further components of his definition relate to open questions, so far as this debate is concerned, and I cannot allow Brother Myhan to restrict me to those components.

In addition, his definition of Sunday as “the day after the Sabbath which immediately followed the day of the crucifixion” clearly begs the question. I think that we can agree that “the following Sunday” means the next Sunday on the calendar without embedded any particular conclusion regarding the question at hand into the definition itself.

There is little doubt that, utilizing inclusive or exclusive counting, arguments can be made either way for the exact meaning of “the third day”, or “three days.” Brother Myhan relies on a culturalized reading of the text to arrive at his conclusion. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, and it might certainly be proper in some cases. In this case, however, there is additional evidence (Matt 12, in particular, as I pointed out) that purports to give us a more specific definition of the timeline. In his answer to my question, Bob is left with no option other than to consider that passage figurative. Catch this… the most specific verse of all with regard to this question; that is the one that is figurative, in Bob’s mind.

As support, he points to McGarvey, who, being clearly inclined to this position as well, also provides a culturalized response. But with all due respect to my Brother and to McGarvey, the proposition for this debate is “THE SCRIPTURES TEACH” which Bob has already defined as “the 66 books of the Holy Bible with special emphasis on the 27 books of the New Testament.” Without any derision to the great commentators, their agreement cannot be held to be proof of one’s position.

I asked Bob: “Under your scenario, what day of the week did the passover meal occur on?” Forgiving my poor prepositional placement, he answered “It was eaten after sunset on the sixth 24-hour day of the Jewish week, the evening before the crucifixion.”

Consider the implications of this. As I have shown above, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was a Sabbath day on which no customary work could be done. If the passover meal occurred on the day before the crucifixion, then the following passages must be addressed.

1. John 18:28: “Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.” Why were the Jews concerned with their ability to eat a Passover that had already occurred, according to Bob’s timeline?

2. John 19:31 “Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain 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.” Christ was crucified on the Preparation Day, In the same chapter of John verse 14, the Preparation Day is identified as the Preparation of the Passover. That raises two important points.

A. It is illogical to assume that the Preparation for the Passover would occur on the day after the Passover meal had been eaten.

B. If the Passover meal had been eaten the night before, then the day on which Christ was crucified was a Sabbath Day in and of itself and the concern of the Jews that the body not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (and a High Sabbath at that) is nonsensical.

Nevertheless, I agree that the Passover meal took place that Friday evening (sunset Thursday), as will be shown below.

Finally, I asked Bob: “On what day did the triumphal entry occur?” Answer: “Sunday, one week before the resurrection.” I agree.

Now, let’s get this timeline in our minds as stated in scripture.

* Jesus comes to Bethany six days before the Passover.

* There is a meal there. We do not know for certain that it is the same day, but it may certainly have been.

* The next day after the meal is the triumphal entry.

So, this is what we know.

* Jesus comes to Bethany before the triumphal entry (which was Sunday before the passover/crucifixion).

* Six days before the Passover is prior to the triumphal entry.

* Christ is crucified on the day during which preparations for the passover are being made.

* The Passover occurs after Christ’s crucifixion.

If Christ was crucified on Friday, then Friday was Nisan 14 and the Passover meal occurred at the start of the 7th day of the week, not the 6th, as Bob has stated.

If that is the case, then counting inclusively back 6 days from Friday as the Passover lands us squarely on the prior Sunday, the Triumphal Entry day, which cannot be, since we are told of the events which happened in the days prior to the Triumphal Entry; all within six days of the Passover.

The latest that the Passover can be in order to place Christ at Bethany 6 days (inclusively) before it, and at least one day before a Sunday Triumphal Entry is, as Bob has agreed, Thursday (Friday evening).

But if Christ was crucified before the Passover then either:

Bob’s demand for inclusive counting has failed, in which case there is no argument for a Friday crucifixion,

OR

Christ was not crucified on Friday, because Christ was crucified before the Passover meal.

Thanks,

Ray West

Bob Myhan’s Third Affirmative

Greetings moderators, my opponent and the list: It is my pleasure to defend, once again, the above proposition. Brother West’s apology is accepted.

The first thing Ray does, in his second negative, is find fault with my definition of Friday as “the sixth day of the week or the day of Preparation, the day immediately preceding the weekly Sabbath.” He admits that Friday was the sixth day of the week and the day immediately preceding the weekly Sabbath but he denies that it was “the Preparation Day” of John 19:14. Well, he can define his terms but I will define mine.

Ray argues, “The Preparation Day was Nisan 14 (the day Christ was crucified) in preparation for the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) which was a High Sabbath (Lev 23:6-7, John 19:31).”

In this Ray is correct, except for his misunderstanding of the phrase “preparation.” “That Sabbath was a high day” because it took place within a holy week. And the day before the Sabbath was the preparation for it. The phrase, “High Sabbath,” does not occur in scripture. So this gains him nothing. I showed in my first affirmative that Friday was the day of the crucifixion, which was the day of Preparation. I showed it again in my second affirmative.

Remember the following simple outline?

1. FRIDAY – Jesus is Crucified – DAY ONE

2. SATURDAY – Jesus is in the Tomb – DAY TWO

3. SUNDAY – Jesus is Raised – DAY THREE

I also showed in my second affirmative that Ray’s hypothesis will not work. A period of two full days and parts of two days was called “four days” in Acts 10:30. Seventy-two hours (three periods of twenty-four hours each) after he saw the angel, Cornelius said “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.'” (Acts 10:30-31).

This can be outlined, as follows:

1. DAY ONE – Cornelius sees an angel and sends men to Joppa (vv. 3-8)

2. DAY TWO – The men arrive in Joppa (vv. 9-22)

3. DAY THREE – Peter and the others leave Joppa (v. 23)

4. DAY FOUR – Peter and the others arrive in Caesarea (vv. 24-30)

Again, if Jesus’ body were placed in the tomb on Thursday and resurrected on Sunday, He would have been in the tomb two full days, two full nights and parts of two days. He would then have been raised on the fourth day not the third.

Yet Ray’s position is:

“Yes, 3 days passed and in the evening of the next day, before the daytime came, he was risen. True, it is 3 days and 3 nights spread over 4 calendar periods, but it nonetheless satisfies 2 of our 3 descriptive phrases.”

But it doesn’t satisfy all 3 so it cannot be right. Again, Ray actually has part of day (Thursday), two full days (Friday and Saturday) and part of a day (Sunday). That is two full days and parts of two days, as in the example from Acts 10:1-31.

This can be outlined, as follows:

1. DAY ONE – The body of Jesus is placed in the tomb.

2. DAY TWO – The body of Jesus remains in the tomb.

3. DAY THREE – The body of Jesus remains in the tomb.

4. DAY FOUR – Jesus is raised from the dead.

That’s four days not three, biblically speaking. Ray paid no attention to this in his second negative, yet he had 32 days to think of something. I am not complaining about the 32 days but about his failure to deal with my argument. If he deals with it now, I will have no opportunity to reply because my next post will be in the negative of his proposition.

The Preparation of the Passover

The day before the weekly Sabbath was called “the preparation” because on it the Jews were to prepare for the Sabbath. There is no evidence that the day before the Passover was ever called “the preparation.” As a matter of fact, the Passover was prepared and eaten on the same day – the fourteenth day of the first month of the Jewish year (Ex. 12:1-6; Num. 9:1-5). This could fall on any day of the week. The only Sabbath the week of the crucifixion fell on the seventh day of the week and the preparation, therefore, fell on the sixth.

Some may legitimately ask, “Why would John use the phrase, ‘preparation of the Passover’?” The answer is that, since the Feast of Unleavened Bread-which lasted seven days-immediately followed the Passover-which lasted only one day-each was referred to by both names [“Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover” (Luke 22:1).] But, strictly speaking, the Passover preceded the Feast of Unleavened Bread by one day (see Ex. 12:14-20). Therefore, the “preparation of the Passover” was the day before the weekly Sabbath that fell within the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Ray argues,

“If Christ was crucified on Friday, then Friday was Nisan 14 and the Passover meal occurred at the start of the 7th day of the week, not the 6th, as Bob has stated.

“If that is the case, then counting inclusively back 6 days from Friday as the Passover lands us squarely on the prior Sunday, the Triumphal Entry day, which cannot be, since we are told of the events which happened in the days prior to the Triumphal Entry; all within six days of the Passover.”

However, contrary to what Ray alleges, the fact that Jesus and His apostles ate the Passover meal at the appropriate time (on Nisan 14) is clearly revealed (Matthew 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17; and Luke 22:1, 7-15). He was then arrested and tried in the wee hours of the night, sentenced at six a.m. and crucified at nine a.m., on the day following, which was still Nisan 14.

Yet, Ray argues:

“If the Passover meal had been eaten the night before, then the day on which Christ was crucified was a Sabbath Day in and of itself and the concern of the Jews that the body not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (and a High Sabbath at that) is nonsensical.”

Then, amazingly, he says this. “Nevertheless, I agree that the Passover meal took place that Friday evening (sunset Thursday), as will be shown below.”

From these two statements I can only conclude that Ray thinks “the concern of the Jews that the body not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (and a High Sabbath at that) is nonsensical.”

Ray cannot have it both ways. If “the Passover meal took place that Friday evening (sunset Thursday),” then Jesus was crucified on Friday Nisan 14, for it was still Nisan 14 until 6pm after His crucifixion. Then how could His being crucified on Friday indicate that “the Passover meal occurred at the start of the 7th day of the week, not the 6th, as Bob has stated”?

Ray concludes his second negative with this logical “jewel.”

“The latest that the Passover can be in order to place Christ at Bethany 6 days (inclusively) before it, and at least one day before a Sunday Triumphal Entry is, as Bob has agreed, Thursday (Friday evening).

“But if Christ was crucified before the Passover then either:

“Bob’s demand for inclusive counting has failed, in which case there is no argument for a Friday crucifixion,

“OR

“Christ was not crucified on Friday, because Christ was crucified before the Passover meal.”

But Ray, the Passover did occur on Thursday (Friday evening) so Jesus was clearly not crucified “before the Passover” but on Passover, Nisan 14 (which you agreed was on Friday), during the daytime hours and my proposition stands.

Thanks to Ray, the moderators and the list,

Bob Myhan

Ray West’s Third Negative

Hello All,

I once again must apologize that my business, my family and my preaching obligations have conspired to make this discussion fall at a difficult time.

However, while I should have responded sooner, clearly Brother Myhan should have taken more than six hours to digest my last response, for he makes some fatal oversights that draw his position further from the statements of the Biblical record.

First, let me acknowledge that Bob does again assert his three day outline, insisting on a culturally inclusive counting of the days. He can repeat his formula, and as I have stated, it is correctly figured from a strictly mathematical point of view, if indeed inclusive counting is required. However, Bob has not shown where inclusive counting is required, only that it is utlized in other passages. Well, I have shown that exclusive counting is likewise used in other passages, so his insistance based on this point alone is insufficient.

He expresses a concern that I have not dealt with that argument and will now choose to, leaving him no opportunity to respond. But I did deal with the foundational suppositions of his argument in a way that has ruined it. I will try to recount that here.

(As a side note and further evidence that Bob should have more carefully read what I wrote, he complains that I settle on the following: “… but it nonetheless satisfies 2 of our 3 descriptive phrases.” But I said this in passing, as I was counting the number of phrases that were so far satisfied, and I continued to discuss the satisfaction of the third. Making it appear that I was content with only two is not a correct rendering of my argument.)

Bob contends the following:

“Some may legitimately ask, “Why would John use the phrase, ‘preparation of the Passover’?” The answer is that, since the Feast of Unleavened Bread-which lasted seven days-immediately followed the Passover-which lasted only one day-each was referred to by both names [“Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover” (Luke 22:1).] But, strictly speaking, the Passover preceded the Feast of Unleavened Bread by one day (see Ex. 12:14-20). Therefore, the “preparation of the Passover” was the day before the weekly Sabbath that fell within the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread.”

But there is no biblical basis for the rejuxtaposition of John’s words to make ‘preparation’ a day unto itself divorced from the word as a description of the events that were commanded to precede the Passover and subsequent feast week. In Matthew 26:17, Jesus’ disciples ask him where they should go and “prepare for thee to eat the Passover.” Exodus 12 requires the removal of leaven from the household prior to the Feast. Clearly there was a prescribed preparation that occurred just before the eating of the meal and the subsequent Holy Convocation and Feast days.

Bob says the following:

“the fact that Jesus and His apostles ate the Passover meal at the appropriate time (on Nisan 14) is clearly revealed (Matthew 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17; and Luke 22:1, 7-15). He was then arrested and tried in the wee hours of the night, sentenced at six a.m. and crucified at nine a.m., on the day following, which was still Nisan 14.”

This is a clear misreading of the Biblical commandment regarding the order of these events.

Numbers 28:16 “And in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, is the LORD’S passover.”

EXODUS 12:6 “And it shall be for you to keep until the fourteenth day of this month. And all the assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it between the evenings”

The passover lamb was to be killed between the evenings. What does “between the evenings” mean?

EXODUS 29:38 – 41 “And this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs daily, sons of a year; 39 the one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the second lamb you shall offer between the evenings. 40 And a tenth of fine flour anointed with beaten oil, a fourth of a hin, and a drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine, for the one lamb. 41 And you shall offer the second lamb between the evenings; you shall do it like the morning food offering and its drink offering, for a soothing fragrance, a fire offering to Jehovah.”

Exodus 29 delineated 2 lambs to be sacrificed daily. The first in the morning and the second between the evenings. So the Bible defines “between the evenings” as a time after morning (which I hope we agree is daylight) and the next day, which would begin as sunset.

So in Exodus 12, defines that the passover lamb should be slain on the 14th after morning and before the start of the 15th (between the evenings) which would be at the next sunset. It is impossible for Bob’s assertion to be correct, which places the passover meal at the beginning of the passover day instead of at its end, as the Bible clearly outlines.

Bob says that Christ was crucified on Nisan 14, but the ninth hour at Christ’s death on Nisan 14 was prior to the eating of the passover lamb. Therefore Bob inadvertently contradicts his statement that Christ ate the passover meal at sunset the 14th if he was also crucified and died the ninth hour on the 14th, a few hours earlier.

So, I return to my invalidation of Bob’s inclusive counting argument and restate my prior destruction of same. “The latest that the Passover can be in order to place Christ at Bethany 6 days (inclusively) before it, and at least one day before a Sunday Triumphal Entry is, as Bob has agreed, Thursday.” So Passover was on Thursday, and the killing of the lamb took place between the evenings on Thursday and the eating of the meal took place at sunset on Thursday as it turned to the 15th (Friday). Friday was a holy convocation – a sabbath.

It is clear from the following three scriptures that Christ was crucified before the Passover meal (indeed at the same hour of the day “between the evenings” that the Jewish passover lamb was being slain).

1. In Mark 26:1-2 the chief priests an scribes puposed specifically to take him and kill him BEFORE THE FEAST.

2. John 18:28: “Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.” As the Jews led Christ to Pilot, the Passover had NOT YET OCCURRED.

3. John 19:14 “Now it was the Preparation of the Passover: it was about the sixth hour. And he saith unto the Jews, ‘Behold, your King!'” Christ was presented to the people during the preparation for the passover.

Hence, Christ was crucified on the passover, Thursday, at the time of the killing of the passover lambs (how poignant) prior to the eating of the passover meal and was taken down from the Cross and buried as the high sabbath (Friday) came on.

I hope to provide further evidence and continue to flesh out my argument in my affirmative and explicitly invite Bob to respond to anything here that he finds necessary as he comes to his negatives. Fairness and full opportunity to explore the truth supercede debate formality, in my book.

Ray West

Bob Myhan’s Rebuttal

Moderators and the list: On May 6th of last year I posted a challenge on this website (not the ARE website but https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Religiousdebates/info) regarding my willingness to defend Friday as the day on which Jesus was crucified. In less than six hours Ray West accepted the challenge with the stated intention of affirming a Thursday rather than a Friday crucifixion.

I posted my first affirmative on July 3rd and Ray followed with his first negative on July 6th. Within two days I posted my second affirmative. His second negative was posted fifteen days later on August 10th. My third and final affirmative was posted on that same day and Ray’s third and final negative was posted on September 24th with the following promise in his last paragraph.

“I hope to provide further evidence and continue to flesh out my argument in my affirmative and explicitly invite Bob to respond to anything here that he finds necessary as he comes to his negatives. Fairness and full opportunity to explore the truth supercede (sic) debate formality, in my book.”

On October 28th, more than a month later, I sent the following to Larry Bunch (moderator for the Religious Debates Website).

“Well, it has been 34 days since Ray’s third negative. Do you think he has given up the debate?”

Larry sent the following to Ray on October 29th.

“Concerning the debate on the crucifixion of Christ – It has been 34 days since your third negative. We eagerly await your first affirmative. Please send it to the debate site. If you sent it to me, I apologize for if that is the case, I have misplaced it.”

On December 1st, not having heard from Ray, I sent the following to Larry.

“I take it you have not heard from Ray West concerning his first affirmative on a Thursday crucifixion. I think he owes the list some sort of statement if he is not going to continue the debate.”

On that same day, Larry sent the following to Ray.

“Are you going to debate or have you given up on the matter? We need to know!”

On December 2nd, Ray sent the following to Larry and me.

“Yes, I intend to. I have been buried with a couple of large last minute projects at my business plus preaching full time and then I saw Bob get involved in another discussion. I will try to get an affirmative put together. Thanks for your patience. Ray”

It has now been 62 days since that promise and no affirmative has been forthcoming. I do not understand why someone so busy would jump into a debate so quickly. Be that as it may, in the interest of fairness (not only to me but to those on the list, as well), and not having had an opportunity to negate an affirmative by my opponent, I am writing to rebut some of the things he said in his final negative.

After his introductory paragraph, Ray wrote,

“However, while I should have responded sooner, clearly Brother Myhan should have taken more than six hours to digest my last response, for he makes some fatal oversights that draw his position further from the statements of the Biblical record.

“First, let me acknowledge that Bob does again assert his three day outline, insisting on a culturally inclusive counting of the days. He can repeat his formula, and as I have stated, it is correctly figured from a strictly mathematical point of view, if indeed inclusive counting is required. However, Bob has not shown where inclusive counting is required, only that it is utlized (sic) in other passages. Well, I have shown that exclusive counting is likewise used in other passages, so his insistance (sic) based on this point alone is insufficient.

“He expresses a concern that I have not dealt with that argument and will now choose to, leaving him no opportunity to respond. But I did deal with the foundational suppositions of his argument in a way that has ruined it. I will try to recount that here.”

Ray did, in his first negative, make the following argument concerning my “three day outline.”

“Brother Myhan tries to draw a distinction between the way that the first century understood time and the way we understand time today, but again, this is a question of context, not of culture. My family just returned from a tennis vacation at Saddlebrook outside Tampa, FL. When we arrived on the courts Tuesday morning, they asked “How long are you going to be with us?” We answered ‘three days’ and they understood that to mean that we were there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They did not exclude the first day, and (sic) Bob suggests modern thought would require.”

But if a Tuesday arrival followed by a Thursday departure constitute three days, then certainly a Friday crucifixion and entombment followed by a Sunday resurrection constitute three days, as well. This is what I argued. A Thursday entombment followed by a Sunday resurrection, however, would constitute four days, as I showed from Acts 10. But Ray says that this would only be three days.

Ray continued his third negative with the following.

“(As a side note and further evidence that Bob should have more carefully read what I wrote, he complains that I settle on the following: “… but it nonetheless satisfies 2 of our 3 descriptive phrases.” But I said this in passing, as I was counting the number of phrases that were so far satisfied, and I continued to discuss the satisfaction of the third. Making it appear that I was content with only two is not a correct rendering of my argument.)”

He had, in his first negative, argued from Matthew 12:40 in this manner.

“The ONLY way to get Christ in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights is if he was crucified on Thursday. No other day offers a satisfactory response to the requirement of Matt 12. “Does this satisfy ‘after three days?’ Yes, 3 days passed and in the evening of the next day, before the daytime came, he was risen. True, it is 3 days and 3 nights spread over 4 calendar periods, but it nonetheless satisfies 2 of our 3 descriptive phrases.

“Does it satisfy ‘on the third day?’ (sic) In context, yes. Christ alive on Thursday. He was killed and was buried with little time left to spare before sundown. He was in the tomb Friday and Saturday and was raised on Sunday.”

But, again, Ray argues that Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb on Thursday before Friday began. Thus, Ray has Jesus in the tomb part of Thursday, all of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday. This clearly makes Sunday the 4th day not the 3rd. But the two disciples going to Emmaus told Jesus “today is the third day” (Luke 24:21); and they said this on the first day of the week. As I have pointed out, since Sunday was the third day, Saturday must have been the second day and Friday must have been the first day, i.e. the day of the crucifixion and entombment. So Thursday could not have been the first day. Compare this with Ray’s own illustration of his family’s three days at Saddlebrook.

Thus, Ray’s attempt to make “three days and three nights” the most literal of the phrases depicting the period of entombment falls flat. It has to be the least literal of those phrases.

Ray argues:

“..there is no biblical basis for the rejuxtaposition of John’s words to make ‘preparation’ a day unto itself divorced from the word as a description of the events that were commanded to precede the Passover and subsequent feast week. In Matthew 26:17, Jesus’ disciples ask him where they should go and “prepare for thee to eat the Passover.” Exodus 12 requires the removal of leaven from the household prior to the Feast. Clearly there was a prescribed preparation that occurred just before the eating of the meal and the subsequent Holy Convocation and Feast days.”

Ray is simply wrong. “The Preparation” is as surely the sixth day of the week as “the Sabbath” is the seventh day of the week. “The Sabbath” always refers to the weekly sabbath. While the word “preparation” by itself can refer to a preparation for anything, “the Preparation” refers to Friday.

Ray argues,

“Bob says that Christ was crucified on Nisan 14, but the ninth hour at Christ’s death on Nisan 14 was prior to the eating of the passover lamb. Therefore Bob inadvertently contradicts his statement that Christ ate the passover meal at sunset the 14th if he was also crucified and died the ninth hour on the 14th, a few hours earlier.”

But Ray forgets that Nisan 14 began the evening before the crucifixion. And Matthew 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17; Luke 22:7-14 all show that Jesus and the apostles had already eaten the Passover before Jesus was crucified. It was prepared and eaten on the same day, the 14th of Nisan at twilight, which is the meaning of the period “between the evenings.”

  • “These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. But you shall present a food offering to the Lord for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.” (Lev. 23:4-8, ESV)

Therefore, Jesus was placed in the tomb on Nisan 14 just as the Sabbath, Nisan 15, was about to begin. Thus, the Sabbath on which He was in the tomb could not have been the Passover. It was the regular weekly Sabbath that immediately followed (by one day) the Passover. It was the first day of the seven day Feast of Unleavened bread and, therefore, “a high day.”

Now, regarding Ray’s problematic scriptures.

  • Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” (Matthew 26:1-2)

“Not during the feast” refers to the seven day feast that followed Passover.

  • “Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.” (John 18:28)

“The Passover” here refers to the seven day feast not the Passover itself. To affirm otherwise is to affirm that Jesus and His apostles ate the Passover prematurely, which would have been a violation of the Law of Moses. In which case, Jesus would have sinned.

  • Now it was the Preparation of the Passover: it was about the sixth hour. And he saith unto the Jews, “Behold, your King!” (John 19:14)

As I have repeatedly shown, this is “the Preparation of the Passover” not “the Preparation for the Passover.” Peter and John had prepared the Passover and they, Jesus and the other apostles had already eaten the Passover meal the evening before the crucifixion, at the appropriate time.

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain 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. (John 19:31)

  • “The day of Preparation” cannot refer to the day before the Passover because the Passover was prepared and eaten on the same day. (Matthew 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17; Luke 22:7-14)

Thus, Christ was NOT “crucified on the passover (sic), Thursday, at the time of the killing of the passover (sic) lambs” as Ray has alleged.

He was crucified on Friday, AFTER THE KILLING AND EATING OF THE PASSOVER LAMBS. His lifeless body was then taken down from the cross and buried as the weekly Sabbath (a high day) drew on.

Bob Myhan