History News: The Date of the Crucifixion of Jesus


The Gospel of Matthew recounts the moment of Jesus’s death:  “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.” Sounds like an earthquake, which is exactly what geologists from the International Geology Review have attempted to connect to the crucifixion.

According to a study first made public in May of 2012,  a seismic event did occur in the area surrounding Jerusalem during the period between 26 to 36 AD, and could have taken place during the execution.  Astronomical and geological evidence suggests that the date was Friday, April 3, 33 AD. It is also speculated that the darkness, reported by the Gospels to have occurred between the hours of noon and three as Jesus hung on the cross, might have been caused by a dust storm caused by the earthquake.

It’s tempting, from the historical perspective, to believe that the proposed date is the real one. But the scientists do allow for the possibility that the evangelists experienced earthquake activity at another time and appropriated its effects in allegorical fashion, to accentuate the drama of the crucifixion.

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