Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part II

Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part II: Holy Week Timeline

In today's post we are going to dive into Wayne Carver's timeline of events. And as always, we try to review ideas, not people. This review isn't about Wayne Carver.

Before we begin you should know that many of the conclusions I draw in this article depend on our studies into "three days and three nights" and Easter. We have many articles on this! But for this topic, we recommend you read our articles "Three Days and Three Nights" "Wednesday Crucifixion? Not Likely" and "Easter FAQ."

If you want me to get to the very heart of this Passion Week debate, the actual problem isn't with timing or words it's really with the human condition. People are imperfect and have imperfect knowledge. The human condition doesn't like loose ends, so we tend to invent things, make mountains out of mole hills, and run amok of what is really quite simple. People want everything to fit neatly into a little box, and when it doesn't - believe you me the Passion Week does not - they start getting creative.

There is much to get creative about. We have several loose ends indeed! Several balls in the air. Several pieces of the puzzle that don't exactly fit our demands. Some people think, "I am going to focus on one phrase, three days and three nights, and I will find the answer." Some people think, "I am going to focus on the dates, the 10th, 14th and 15th of Nissan, and I will find the answer." Some people think, "I am going to focus on ancient prophecies, and I will find the answer." But the answer is both more complicated than any one piece of this puzzle can answer, and, at the same time, so incredibly simple as to not require much digging at all.

I will tell you that simple answer now: Jesus demonstrated that He is who He said He is when He died, was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.   <<<That is ALL you have to know. It's that simple. Who cares on what day or what hour things happened? Jesus is Messiah. Stop reading here!!! It's done.

Why are you still reading??? "Already have you that which you need." -Yoda.

On the other hand the more complicated approach is, well, complicated.

You're not going to like what I'm about to say.
ALL timelines have issues. ALL of them. I am not talking "how do you get Friday to Sunday to fit within 'three days and three nights'." That question is simply a problem of trying to force ancient people to conform to modern ideas. No, the problems I refer to are with what events happened on each day of the week. No timeline fits within a nice, tidy little box.
I warned you not to keep reading, but you wouldn't listen.

Wayne Carver has set out to solve this problem.

In our last article, we saw that Carver has opted to side with Herbert Armstrong and the Wednesday Crucifixion timeline. His grand solution was to provide two quotes, one of which we cannot verify and the other doesn't seem to say what he thinks it says. This time, we will look at how Carver translates the last week of Jesus' human life, aka "Holy Week," into a timeline.
"We have developed a number of time-points, and the basic structure of the events during this week has emerged."
This might sound obvious, but we have three things to figure out:
1) When was Jesus crucified?
2) When did Jesus arrive?
3) What happened in between?

It really is more difficult than it might first appear.


There are certain events of Holy Week, like the Triumphal Entry and the cleansing of the Temple, that must happen in a certain order. We know they happen in a certain order because of key phrases like "on the next day." The events will be in the same order regardless of when Jesus was crucified.

I have gone through goodness knows how many sources trying to find what the majority of scholars say about the timeline of events during Holy Week. According to the vast majority, there are seven major events that happened over seven days:

Day 1) Arrival in Bethany
Day 2) Triumphal Entry
Day 3) Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
Day 4) Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
Day 5) Judas’ agrees to betray
Day 6) Prepare Last Supper
Day 7) Crucifixion on Passover

Those are the events in order. Notice that I haven't put a specific day or a date to them. I didn't write "Friday" nor did I write "14th of Nissan." Obviously, most scholars agree that Jesus died on Friday, so they have put days and dates on their lists. I am avoiding that for the moment. For now, they just are what they are.

Carver, on the other hand, does not list seven events; he only lists six:

Day 1) Arrival in Bethany
Day 2) Triumphal Entry
Day 3) Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
Day 4) Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
Day 5) Prepare Last Supper
Day 6) Crucifixion on Passover

Notice that Day 5 (usually called "Silent Wednesday") has changed quite a bit from the list above.

Which is proper?

From a reading of the events in the Gospels, it really does seem like we should have events on seven different days. However, John 12: 1 says, "Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead." So there may very well be only six days.

The key is Silent Wednesday. How did they come up with that? Well, if you look at Matthew 26: 2 it says, "Passover is two days away." But in verse 17 it says, "On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread." (And by that, clearly it means the day of Passover.) It really does go from two days before Passover to the day of Passover without anything but Judas' betrayal being mentioned in between. You can see the same thing in Mark 14: 1-12, and to a lesser degree Luke 22: 1-12.

Carver completely discounts this. In fact, he never deals with the betrayal in verses 14-16 at all. That's not the approach we would recommend.


After raising Lazarus, Jesus leaves Bethany for Ephraim (JON. 11: 54-57). It appears that Jesus circled from Ephraim/Galilee over to Jericho. From Jericho He heads out with the crowds towards Jerusalem where He meets Bartimeus (Mark 10 ) and Zaccheus (LUK. 19). Josephus says it was about 150 stadia (about 8 stadia to the mile) or 17-19 miles from Jericho to Jerusalem. There is also a 3,300 foot rise in elevation from Jericho to Jerusalem. Exhausting! There were bandits and Roman outposts to guard against bandits. Even so, this was one of the most popular roadways in the region. And the town of Bethany was on the way.

Carver puts the arrival on the 9th of Nissan and the crucifixion on the 14th. He assigns the arrival on the 9th to a Friday, the Triumphal Entry to Saturday, and the crucifixion to Wednesday. Does that work? Let's work backwards and you'll see this for yourself. We'll compare the Holy Week with a Wednesday crucifixion against the seven-day timeline and then the six-day timeline.

According to 7 days:
  1) Wednesday - 14th - Crucifixion on Passover
  2) Tuesday - 13th - Prepare Last Supper
  3) Monday - 12th - Judas’ betrayal
  4) Sunday - 11th - Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
  5) Saturday - 10th - Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
  6) Friday - 9th - Triumphal Entry
  7) Thursday - 8th - Arrival in Bethany

According to the seven-day timeline of events with a Wednesday crucifixion, the Triumphal Entry must be on Friday. Also, the temple cleansing is on Saturday. No way would there be buying and selling on the Sabbath. So this absolutely fails.

According to 6 days:
  1) Wednesday - 14th - Crucifixion on Passover
  2) Tuesday - 13th - Prepare Last Supper
  3) Monday - 12th - Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
  4) Sunday - 11th - Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
  5) Saturday - 10th - Triumphal Entry
  6) Friday - 9th - Arrival in Bethany

That is how Carver lays things out in his booklet. But now he puts Jesus riding an animal on the Sabbath with people plucking and carrying palm fronds. Neither of those would be allowable.

Is this a killer? Considering the Wednesday crucifixion is pre-killed before we even got to this point, I'd say it is but gravy upon a dead goose.

I said earlier that every scenario has its issues. Then what are the issues with the Friday crucifixion scenario, you ask? Let's see for ourselves. We'll do the seven-day, six-day thing again.

According to 7 days:
  1) Friday - 14th - Crucifixion on Passover
  2) Thursday - 13th - Prepare Last Supper
  3) Wednesday - 12th - Judas’ betrayal
  4) Tuesday - 11th - Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
  5) Monday - 10th - Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
  6) Sunday - 9th - Triumphal Entry
  7) Saturday - 8th - Arrival in Bethany

Everything looked great right up to the very end. The problem we run into above are that Jesus arrives in Bethany on Saturday. That's not good. Is there no hope? Whereas Carver's timeline has no hope, here there is a little.

Jesus clearly arrived in the evening. We can know this because He arrives and they have a dinner. But now we have to answer what has He been doing all Sabbath day long? Was He travelling? Certainly not on the Sabbath. You should know that this caravan Jesus was travelling with would have set up camp outside of town. Jesus might have stayed with them through the Sabbath and went to visit His friends at sundown. That is a possibility! But nothing actually says this. So, it's speculation at best. Hope, yes, but not possible to pin down. Then again, that He was traveling all day is also speculation. It doesn't say one way or the other. It just says, "...Jesus came to Bethany." He could have been in the area for some time. The caravan He was with would not have traveled long on the Sabbath. Just because He arrived in Bethany in the evening doesn't mean He was travelling all day.

According to 6 days:
  1) Friday - 14th - Crucifixion on Passover
  2) Thursday - 13th - Prepare Last Supper
  3) Wednesday - 12th - Withered fig tree, questioning, Olivet discourse
  4) Tuesday - 11th - Cursed fig tree, temple cleansed
  5) Monday - 10th - Triumphal Entry
  6) Sunday - 9th - Arrival in Bethany

It's actually very good. The Triumphal Entry is on the 10th. No one is violating Sabbaths. Nothing is wrong here. Except for two things: that the tradition of Palm Sunday is now Palm Monday (which isn't so huge a deal), and that it still suffers from the weakness of leaving out Silent Wednesday.

We have four scenarios. All have issues. The two with a Wednesday crucifixion have major Sabbath violations. There is no apparent way to reconcile a Wednesday crucifixion timeline. The Friday crucifixion on a seven-day Holy Week also might have a major Sabbath violation. There is a simple solution to it, but the solution is difficult to prove. Of all of the scenarios, the Friday crucifixion with a 6-day Holy Week is technically the best. However, most scholars disagree with a six-day Holy Week, and they do that based on study of the text of the Bible. Not only that, but the events of Holy Week have been kept since the earliest days. In ancient times, Christians would reenact these things annually. (Somehow, I don't think that matters to most of ABD's readers). 
Then there's the matter they all suffer from - whether or not the Pharisees ate their Seder meal a day later than Jesus.


There is one other tidbit that a reader wanted us to contend with. The Passover lamb was supposed to have been chosen on he 10th - and the event that best matches this is the Triumphal Entry.

I need to point out that as reasonable as it may seem to conclude that the Triumphal Entry absolutely had to be on Nissan 10 because of Exodus 12: 4-6, there is no compelling reason why this absolutely must be so. Jesus doesn't have to fulfill every last aspect of the lamb. For example, He isn't a yearling and He wasn't brought into a home to be inspected for physical defect. The lamb was just a symbol of the reality of Jesus. Jesus need not conform to every last aspect of the symbol. If Israel must obtain a lamb to sacrifice, then by necessity there needs to be a selection of said sacrifice. The annual selection date was the 10th of Nissan. Jesus was truly selected before the foundation of the earth, one time. There is nothing outside of our imperfect minds which create issues and attempt to solve them which says that Jesus had to be selected on the 10th. Nothing. So, is it proper to insist that this must happen? No.

A selection on the 10th has not been emphasized in the traditions of the past two thousand years (not that Armstrongists would care about that point). A selection on the 10th has not been emphasized by the Bible commentaries I read through. A selection on the 10th does not seem to be emphasized in the Gospels or elsewhere in the New Testament. It seems that in the grand scheme, only a very few care about the 10th. It seems to me that this minority cares about the 10th because they want to make every detail fit together. But there is no compelling reason why this particular detail needs to fit and there is nothing that says the Triumphal Entry is how it fits.

The Triumphal Entry is not all that good a fit for the lamb selection anyway.  Matthew 21: 4 tells us the Triumphal Entry is the fulfillment of something, but not necessarily Exodus 12.

(ZEC. 9: 9) Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

He wasn't necessarily selected by Israel as a lamb at this event, He was hailed as a king. Everything that happened was in line with welcoming a king. The palm fronds, the shouting "hosanna". We see from Matthew 21: 15 that they kept it up throughout the day. They wanted the conquering Messiah. They had no idea what they had, what they needed, was the suffering Messiah.

But, since it might be interesting to have the Triumphal Entry on the 10th, we are not afraid to ask if it can be done. Note that we said "might be interesting" not "is somehow mandatory."

Having eliminated the Wednesday crucifixion from so many angles that there seems to be no point in continuing to talk about it, I will simply pass it by. Carver's scenarios are fatally flawed and simply do not work. So, of the two Friday crucifixion scenarios, the six-day version has the Triumphal Entry on the 10th while the seven-day version does not.

     Or doesn't it?


We should hear of a little thing called the Galilean Calendar.

It is a strange fact of time and circumstance that Galilee to the north and Judea to the south were two very distinct regions, separated by the Samaritans. They had the same nation with two different rulers. They spoke the same language in two different dialects. They had the same religion in two different forms - the Galileans were much more Helenistic. And they even had two different methods of reckoning days.

We know the Galilean days were sunrise to sunrise, were not based on lunar observation, and started earlier than the Judean days. We know the Judean days were sundown to sundown, were based on lunar observation, and were later than the Galilean days. It would appear that the Galileans did honor a 6PM start to the weekly Sabbath. Not so unusual, since this is very much like what Sabbatarians do the world over.

You might wonder at two calendars in Israel. But wait, there's more! There weren't just two, there could have been as many as five. There was the Judean, the Galilean, the Essene (a primary reason why the Essenes split was over the calendar), the Roman, and the Greek. No doubt everyone knew the Roman calendar, but Rome hadn't really conquered Judea all that long before this time, so there is a decent chance many people were still accustomed to using a Greek calendar, like they had been since Alexander's day.
Five calendars. That's a lot of calendars!

Let's see what adjusting for the Galilean calendar does to Holy Week with respect to the 10th. 
In the seven-day Holy Week, the Triumphal Entry now falls on the 10th. In the six-day Holy week, the arrival now falls on the 10th. Isn't that interesting! (Still not mandatory.)

As a side note, having the 14th on two different calendars might also explain why the Last Supper appears to be on the evening before the Pharisees Seder. There are other ways to explain this, of course, but this is one possible explanation. We aren't going to get into the other explanations because they are out of the scope of this post.

A Galilean calendar solves some big issues. It lines things up in an interesting way. What's the catch? Proof. As it stands, there is no way to prove Jesus and the Apostles were operating according to the Galilean calendar. Yes, the chances are good. Yes, it explains some things. However, at this time, it is just speculation.


We start this study where most people do - with "three days and three nights." The people who get caught up into studies by people like Wayne Carver tend to be the people who take the phrase literally. Taking this phrase literally is the only reason to even consider a Wednesday crucifixion. That is why, in all of our responses to readers on Holy Week events, we start by emphasizing "three days and three nights." This is without question the heart and soul of this entire discussion. We strongly disagree with taking this phrase literally. We find no reason, either in the Bible or out, to agree that the phrase must be or even should be literal. It causes major problems. It cannot work. Therefore, we reject it. That is where we started this study and we have found nothing but more reasons to remain this way.

The Wednesday crucifixion, aside from depending on a literal "three days and three nights" also depends upon a gross mistranslation of the Greek word sabbaton. Armstrong and Carver both tell us that it means a weekly Sabbath and a holy day Sabbath. That is absolutely not what it means. One cannot simply invent an explanation for it. We know the explanation. It is an idiomatic expression that refers to the entire week. It refers to two Sabbaths that book-end a week. Every week ends with a Sabbath, so there is a Sabbath on either side of the week. That is what it means.

The Wednesday crucifixion also cannot fit into the words of Cleopas on the road to Emmaus (LUK. 24: 19-21). Cleopas said Sunday was third day from the crucifixion. Sunday would be the fifth day from Wednesday. Only a Friday crucifixion fits here.

The Wednesday crucifixion also forces other events of Holy Week to fall on the weekly Sabbath before the crucifixion. It forces a Sabbath violation not just upon Jesus, who was known for violating the Sabbath regulations, but also upon the Judean populace, who were highly unlikely to do such things.

Carver's particular timeline also depends on there being only six events in Holy Week. The vast majority of scholars disagree. Carver omits Silent Wednesday altogether. Is this a deal killer? Perhaps not. But it is fuel on top of the fire we already mentioned.

Carver's main defense relies on a quote we cannot verify, and an interlinear that truly does not appear to agree with him when we look beyond the surface.

We started this study specifically to investigate any relationship between the Triumphal Entry and the 10th of Nissan. With the use of the Galilean Calendar, we can see how the Triumphal Entry can be on the 10th in a traditional seven-day Holy Week with a Friday crucifixion. The problem is, we don't see any reason why we should care about the Triumphal Entry being on the 10th. What the Bible is clear about is that the Triumphal Entry was a fulfillment of prophecy. What the Bible is not clear about is that Jesus had to fulfill every last portion of a literal Passover lamb. For example, Jesus was never roasted and eaten in a Seder after sundown. At some point, every analogy must break down.

In the end of this study, we conclude that Carver has not convincingly argued his timeline to our satisfaction.

And what we said in the beginning we say to you again now -
Jesus demonstrated that He is who He said He is when He died, was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.   <<<That is ALL you have to know. It's that simple.

As a bonus, here are some fine resources that might help you get a better grasp on events:

Click here to go to Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part I: Saturday Resurrection

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, and just to be clear, a very careful reading of Exodus will reveal that the Days of Unleavened Bread start on the evening of the Passover, not the evening of the next day on the much celebrated 'Night to be Much Observed'.

There's a lot of push back from ACoG members about that, but there is that little word 'until' in the text, meaning that if you are going to keep the Days of Unleavened Bread, you have to start earlier than the Armstrongist churches actually do. Paul Woods, pastor of the Caldwell, Idaho Seventh Day Church of God pointed this out to me from the Bible at the Feast of Tabernacles in Fruitland, Washington in 2008.

There are all sorts of endless questions (and spurious answers) about the calendar, but it should be clear that the Armstrongists have always kept the wrong days.

The solution is simple: Instead of being an Olde Testament Christian (of which there is no such thing, unless you want to be a Christian Pharisee), it's time to leave the Bronze Age religion and move forward to celebrate the freedom of Christianity.

Or one would think....