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Essentially, Humphreys argues that the constricted and contorted chronology of Holy Week that has been the staple of Church custom for centuries is based on two fundamentally mistaken assumptions: (1) that the chronologies of the Synoptic (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) accounts of Jesus’ final week can be harmonized with the Johannine account; and (2) that the biblical accounts of Jesus’ final week, with the Last Supper on Thursday, crucifixion on Friday, and resurrection on Sunday, derived from a single Jewish calendar that lies behind the biblical narratives.Humphreys argues that both assumptions are incorrect.He suggests that the events of Holy Week were more protracted than the attempt to harmonize the Gospel accounts would suggest, and that there is evidence that Jaubert, in an attempt to resolve the apparent conflict of chronologies between the Synoptics and John, argued that the differences can be accounted for based on the fact that official Judaism and sectarian Judaism employed different calendars for determining high holy days such as Passover.I first encountered the book back in the 1970’s in my Ph D studies while writing a paper on the Last Supper for Professor George Beasley-Murray's New Testament seminar.The Essenes (a first-century monastic reform movement that protested the corruption of the temple and the Sadducaic priesthood presiding in Jerusalem over such things as Passover) in protest followed a solar calendar rather than the official lunar calendar observed in Jerusalem.This means that the Essenes did not observe Passover on the same date that the rest of Jerusalem did.It could be that the differences between the Synoptic accounts and the account in John may be nothing more than a difference in “point of view.” Mark, for example, depicts the Last Supper from an “insider's perspective,” that is, from the perspective of Jesus and His disciples who, like the Essenes, also protested the corruption of the temple and the priesthood (cf.Both Humphreys and Jaubert argue that the calendar is critical for unraveling the “Mystery of the Last Supper.” Let me explain.
The issue in dispute among the Four Gospels is not over the day of the week but rather the day of the calendar. Among Hellenistic Jews of the first century this was the typical Jewish shorthand for “Friday” since Sabbath was our “Saturday.” (Keep in mind that the names of the days of the week we now use in the English-speaking world were not in use in Jesus’ time) The Synoptic Gospels also indicate that Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples was a Passover (see, for example, Mark ff.
where Mark says that Jesus gave his disciples specific instructions for preparing the Passover meal that they would eat together at the Last Supper).
John, however, seems to suggest that the Last Supper was not a Passover meal (see John 13:1 where John says, “Now the feast of the Passover....”).
Moreover, when John describes the crucifixion, he points out that Jesus was crucified on the very day that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in preparation for the Passover Seder that would be eaten later that evening (see John ), meaning that the meal Jesus had with the disciples in John 13 could not have been a Passover, and apparently indicating that Jesus was, metaphorically and spiritually speaking, the “Passover Lamb of God” who was being offered up for His people.
This means, among other things, that the date and time of the Last Supper, at least in the Synoptics, was Passover (Nisan 14 according to the Jewish calendar), whereas the date and time of the Last Supper in the Gospel of John was at least 24 hours earlier (“Now Perhaps both.