The gospel of Mark indicates that the last supper taken by the apostles was prepared on "the day the Passover lamb was sacrificed," after which Jesus was betrayed and later crucified at 9 am (Friday). The gospel of John reads slightly differently, saying that the events before Pilate occurred "about noon of the day of preparation for the Passover" (John 19:14). That would seem to indicate that his crucifixion occurred about noon on Thursday. Any thoughts? -- Dave Eastman (Chicago)

Scholars are at loggerheads over this one, though the vast majority go with Friday. In the past I too have written in favor of a Friday crucifixion, and still believe this is correct.

"Preparation" = paraskeue = the modern Greek word for Thursday. But then Passover was celebrated for 8 days... the Feast of the Unleavened Bread followed by 7 more days. It would be natural, it seems to me, to refer to the first day (sunset-sunset) of the series as "the day of preparation."

Jesus was three days in the grave. How does that fit into a Friday afternoon interment / Sunday morning resurrection? Some of my friends have pondered this difficulty and settled on a Thursday crucifixion. They do that, I think, because they cannot imagine how "3 days and 3 nights" could refer to Fri-Sun, even though this would have been standard Jewish usage at the time (or Roman, or Greek, for that matter: the entire 24 hours was included even if only a partial day was being referred to).

All things considered, the evidence weighs most heavily for a Friday crucifixion.

Now about the hour... John 19:14 says it was the 6th hour. Many translations render this as noon. But if John is following the Roman system, the 6th hour meaning 6 am. If this is the case, then three hours later he was crucified (at 9 am, or the third hour). But--and I never noticed this until you pointed it out--this is the same Greek construction as in John 4:6. The Samaritan woman met Jesus at 6 in the evening. I must reject the noon translation of John 4:6. The times for drawing water were (and are still, in many similar cultures), around sunrise and again around sunset. The heavy work of carrying water in the midday sun is normally avoided. So Jesus sat down at 6 pm.

In the synoptics, "sixth hour" would mean noon. As sometimes happens in the study of ancient documents, we have two different time-keeping systems. John is following the Roman system, while the synoptic writers follow the Jewish system.