Saturday, April 1, 2017

Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part I

Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part I: Saturday Resurrection

A few months back one of our readers introduced us to the claims of a person by the name of Wayne Carver, from Carver's booklet “Crucifixion Chronology.” Wayne Carver was an associate in the early days of the Christian Jew Foundation, and a proponent of a Wednesday crucifixion. I don't know who the Christian Jew Foundation is or what else they teach. I don't really care to dig into it at this point. But I do want to address some of the claims Carver makes in this particular publication. And I think I might just do this in more than one post.

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 today's post, we recommend you read our articles "Three Days and Three Nights" "Wednesday Crucifixion? Not Likely" and "Easter FAQ."

I have Wayne Carver's booklet in pdf form which gives me better access to style and page numbers, but I can't seem to find a good original copy like this online to link you to. So I am going to link you to an html reproduction that I found skulking around the depths of the website of the Grace Bible Baptist Church of Denham Springs, Louisiana: http://gracebbc.dyndns.org:81/CrucifixionWeek.html

I am having a terrible time finding when “Crucifixion Chronology” was originally written. It would appear that this booklet is a collection of radio sermons, and it would appear this it first came out in the 1950’s. It also would appear from the close similarity in style and the content that Mr. Carver and associates were influenced either directly or indirectly by the Worldwide Church of God.

I tell you, when I first saw this pdf, I thought I was reading a publication of the Worldwide Church of God. It's that similar. Right down to the font! It's so similar to Armstrongist material that I went back and forth about the point of reviewing it at all. We've already done this song and dance. But since it seems to be yet another thing that is of interest to our readers, I suppose I will give it the patented As Bereans Did twice over.

Join me?

THREE MAIN POINTS

Wayne Carver’s conclusions rest on these simple main points:
  • Jesus rose from the grave late on Saturday. (A classic tenet of Armstrongism.)
  • Three days and three nights is literally 72 hours, or the Bible is wrong. (A classic tenet of Armstrongism.)
  • A particular interpretation of the timeline of events preceding the crucifixion. (Not necessarily the same as Armstrongism.)
If I had to pick a single cornerstone point, one point to rule them all, it would be that "three days and three nights" is literal. On this all depends.

Not to belabor the point, but we have articles on all of these things already. Please see our article "Three Days and Three Nights" for starters. Clearly, we disagree with each of the above main points. Carver makes some unique claims on these points that we have not yet seen from Armstrongism, hence this review.

Today, I just want to address the first point - the Saturday resurrection.

REDEFINE-THE-GREEK GAME

In yet another similarity to Armstrongism, Carver participates in the time-honored tradition of redefining Greek words.

In Armstrongism, in order to get the Bible to say something that it doesn't say, you simply take out your Strong's Concordance, look up a word, completely ignore how a concordance is supposed to be used, and choose another word more to your liking. The Bible can be quite cleverly rewritten this way. I understand that Wayne Hendrix of the CGI was particularly well known for this. Except that this is not how a Concordance is supposed to be used!

A concordance gives you all possible definitions and translations of a word no matter where in the Bible that word appears. Those other definitions and translations are not meant to just be chosen at will. Language isn't a free-for-all. Language has rules. It has parts of speech, nuances of grammar, history, idioms, and sentence formation that indicate which one or maybe two are the only correct translation options. The concordance does tell you which is correct for that particular place. Some people just don't know what they're doing and proceed to use it incorrectly regardless. I was guilty of it myself! For years I went on using the concordance incorrectly, picking and choosing and changing as I went along. No one ever bothered to tell me I was doing it wrong. None of my other Armstrongist friends apparently knew the right way to use it either. We just did as everyone else was doing. Then I read the instructions at the front of the book. Oops!

You see, as an unavoidable result of taking "three days and three nights" to be literal, you must also have a Saturday resurrection and therefore a Wednesday crucifixion. Why are those necessary? Because Jesus was put in the tomb before sundown, so He has to come out of that tomb before sundown 72 hours later and the only choice for that is Saturday night. So if Saturday night therefore Wednesday night. Problem is, the Greek does not support a Saturday resurrection. Uh oh! Therefore some deep reconstructive surgery needs to be done on the translation of the Gospels. Carver is about to give it his own peculiar attempt at redefining the Greek. Let's observe.

MYSTERY SCHOLAR

On page 13 of his booklet, Carver quotes one Dr. H.A. Griesemer, allegedly a Greek scholar. Here is the quote:
"The word 'dawn' is very misleading. We speak of the dawn as the opening of the day, the light that comes with the rising of the sun. We always associate the dawn with sunlight, but the Greek word here is 'epiphoskousa,' which means the shining of the sun or the moon. You will observe that the passover feast always occurred at the time of the full moon. Just as the sun was setting, the moon would be rising."
Unfortunately, Carver only quotes but does not cite. I was unable to find this Dr. Griesemer or his original quote. Maybe he did exist. Maybe he is quoted correctly. We don’t know. But we wouldn’t put much stock in a quote we cannot verify that runs contrary to the vast majority of respected scholars that we can verify. So let’s dive into this ourselves and see if we can make some sense of it.

Yes, epiphosko can indicate dusk. We don’t have a problem with that. No Bible scholar that we have read does. In fact, either way it still doesn’t support Carver! Notice that “just as the sun was setting, the moon would be rising” denotes the Sabbath has concluded. (We disagree that the sun sets and the moon rises always at the same time, but that's for another discussion.) Sunset or sunrise, the Sabbath has ended. Dr. Griesemer, just like Matthew before him, indicates a time when the Sabbath has ended but before the sun has come up Sunday morning.

Epiphosko isn’t the only word in that verse, however. The first Greek word in Matthew 28: 1 is “opseh”. Strong’s tells us this about opseh:
οψε (opseh) - From the same as G3694 (through the idea of backwardness); (adverbially) late in the day; by extension after the close of the day: - (at) even, in the end.
Regardless of epiphosko, opseh indicates the day is over.

Let's take a look at the sentence in Greek:
οψε (opseh)  δε (deh)  σαββατων (sabbaton) τη (ho) επιφωσκουση (epiphosko)
You see, opso comes right before sabbaton, and epiphosko comes after sabbaton in this sentence. The preeminent Dr. Griesemer no doubt knew all about this.

Opso indicates that something has ended. What has ended? The noun that comes after it: sabbaton. "Opseh deh sabbaton" declares the Sabbath ended. Only then do we get to "ho epiphosko", which has to do with the dawn/dusk issue. So regardless of Carver's arguing that epiphosko should mean dusk or not, it doesn't change the fact that the Sabbath has ended. Either way, it's still Sunday. It’s too late to appeal to "dusk" in order to put these events back on the Sabbath day.

For this very reason, almost every scholar translates this verse as “after the Sabbath...”

To be completely forthcoming, it wasn’t just the Sabbath that had ended, but the entire week. An odd distinction? Allow me to explain.

Sabbaton in this verse is plural, both times, and therefore it is a known idiom. The Literal Version renders it this way: "But late in the sabbaths, at the dawning into the first of the sabbaths." See how sabbaton is plural both times. This rendition makes little sense read this way, but once we understand that this is an idiom it becomes clear. The idiomatic expression really refers to the entire week, because the week was book-ended by two Sabbaths. Just like I can refer to my entire car when I say "wheels." We dealt with this in our article “The Two Sabbaths of Matthew 28.” We mentioned that we like the Modern King James Version translates this verse, “But late in the week, at the dawning into the first day of the week.” The MKJV gives you a good feel for what the Greek really means. I would object that the first part should not be “late in the week” because the Greek and the context both indicate the week had ended. Regardless, the MKJV gets the point that “sabbaton” is being used idiomatically and really refers to the entire week rather than just the Sabbath day.

This point may seem like we are getting off topic, but it becomes critical when people like Herbert Armstrong play redefine-the-Greek in a desperate attempt to misuse the plural sabbaton. Armstrong wants to make us think there were two separate "Sabbaths" in that week one a weekly Sabbath and one an annual Holy Day. Carver is going to play this same card much later, towards the very end of his booklet. This is simply not supported by a proper translation. This is another heavy blow to the Wednesday-Saturday timeline.

Therefore, we take exception with Carver’s redefinition of this word, ignoring the rest of the circumstances in front of him, in an attempt to force the resurrection backwards in time to satisfy his predetermined theory. How many, many times have we seen this through the years from the pulpits of Armstrongism where they abuse the proper use of Strong’s Concordance in order to rewrite the Bible?? Take our word here, it happens almost weekly. But in this case it is mandatory to play this redefine-the-Greek word game in order to get a Sabbath resurrection. It's an indispensable point to the whole theory.

CONFIRMATION BIAS?

Carver leaves Dr. H.A. Griesemer, Greek scholar, behind now. He moves to Dr. George R. Berry, primary author of the book "The New Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament" 1897 version. We were actually able to find a fabulous online copy of this one!

This book, originally published under a different title in 1877, is based on the Textus Receptus, specifically because the Textus Receptus was used to create the King James Version.

On page 101, Dr. Berry and crew come to Matthew 28: 1. Here is how they render it:
"Now late on sabbath, as it was getting dusk toward [the] first [day] of [the] week"
As fine as it is to cite a scholar (I highly recommend it) it is also necessary to make sure you aren’t just picking and choosing certain scholars in order to confirm your bias. One way to avoid this is to survey many respected scholars. When we do this, what do we see? The consensus from the vast majority of respected scholars and Bible translations across disciplines is that Jesus rose very early on Sunday.

For example, here is how my personal favorite Greek Interlinnear, the one on Scripture For All, renders it:
[Literally]
    "evening yet of-sabbaths to-the on-lighting into one of-sabbaths"
[Transliterated]
    "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first [day] of the week"
Or, for another example, here is how the interlinnear on BibleHub renders it:
"after moreover sabbath it being dawn toward [the] first [day] of [the] week"
Let's do one more for good measure. This from the Jewish New Testament with comments from David Stern (bolding mine):
1. After Shabbat, as the next day was dawning, Miryam of Magdala and the other Miryam went to see the grave.
After Shabbat, toward dawn on Sunday, literally, "And late of the Shabbatot, at the drawing on toward [number] one of the Shabbatot [ = weeks]." Jewish days begin at sundown, so that "the first day of the week" includes Saturday night, Motza 'ei-Shabbat ("the going out of Shabbat"); see Ac 20:7&N, 1С 16:2&N. But here the reference is definitely to Sunday morning.
Some Bible versions do render it just as Dr. Berry does - as "late on the Sabbath." Yet, almost to the last, they all agree that the Sabbath had ended. It's just an odd turn of phrase is all.

Some people discount this use of multiple scholars entirely, preferring to believe a conspiracy theory that all scholars who disagree with them are just writing what they want to write in order to perpetuate a giant lie in service to the evil Pope. Granted, we are all flawed. But what would excuse Dr. Berry from this same thing? His only reprieve is that he appears to be saying what a very few people want to hear. "He's saying what we want to hear. He must be right!"

Or is Dr. Berry really saying this? Because included with their rendition of the Greek is the King James translation, which says this: "XXVIII. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week..."

Dr. Berry chose to translate from the Textus Receptus specifically because the team, being Protestant scholars of the 1800's, held the KJV in very high regard. The KJV isn't in their book for no reason. They aren't there to disagree with it, but to make it more accessible.

So, does Dr. Berry and his New Interlinnear Literal Translation perpetuate Carver's Saturday resurrection, which flies in the face of almost every other translator and translation, or is Berry simply rendering a few words in a slightly different way but still completely in agreement with the KJV which they themselves provide? He never said that he disagrees with the KJV, so chances are he believes the Sabbath to have been over regardless of how he chose to translate the Greek word opseh. Wayne Caraver is just being opportunistic and (mis-)quoting half of what Berry wrote.

When one sets out to justify their predetermined conclusion, one tends not to follow evidence to its full conclusion like this.

PARALLEL VERSES

What do we do now? Who can answer these deep questions for us? From whence shall our help come??

From what Carver would have us believe, one word in one verse from Matthew alone is our sole source of information on this topic. From what Carver would have us believe, Matthew is clear that Jesus rose on Saturday before sundown.

I think now would be a good time to remind you, dear reader, that Matthew 28: 1 is not the only verse that discusses the timing of the resurrection. In fact, all of the Gospels say something about this very period of time, and all of them agree.

(MAT. 28: 1) Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn...
(MAR. 16: 1) Now when the Sabbath was past...
(MAR. 16: 2) Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week...
(LUK. 24: 1) Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning...
(JOH. 20: 1) Now the first day of the week...

Where Matthew may be twisted into ambiguity, the others - especially Luke - may not.

We are in fact dealing with an early Sunday resurrection whether Armstrong ... I mean, Carver ... prefers that or not.

Carver reminds us that all of those verses I just mentioned above are not really speaking about the resurrection, but the time when Mary Magdelene and friends left for the tomb. OK, we agree. But you know what? That point includes Matthew 28: 1!! Carver just tried to relocate the time when the ladies went to the tomb. So, really, none of the Gospels are interested in the exact time when Jesus was resurrected. They are only interested in the fact that He was resurrected. So, why was Carver even mentioning it in the first place if it isn't even directly speaking of the resurrection??

Which leads me to my next point.

I DONNO, I WASN'T THERE

Think about something with me for a minute.

According to mainstream Christianity, Jesus stakes His entire identity and ministry on the fact that He died, was entombed and was resurrected. According to Armstrongism and people like Wayne Carver, Jesus stakes His entire identity and ministry on the fact that He was entombed and was resurrected in exactly 72 hours. Quite a distinction!

That one point - an exactly 72-hour entombment - is so very important, so critical, that if Jesus doesn't hit the target then He is a liar. Perhaps you don't believe me that this point is so critical. Let's see a quote from Carver form the Introduction:
"There are two vital issues at stake: the trustworthiness of the Bible and the Deity of Jesus Christ. If the Lord only spent 36 hours in the grave--from Friday at 6 PM until Sunday at 6 AM--then the Bible is not correct and the Lord Jesus is a false prophet. And if this is true, then we are foolish to believe the Bible and to follow Christ. We would be just as well off becoming Buddhists, Muslims or atheists."
-quoted from the Forward
If Jesus wasn't in the tomb 72 hours exactly, the Bible is fake and there is no God. That is how serious this point is to some. Not us, because we feel we have proven "three days and three nights" is not literal at all. And that is why I started by saying this point is Carver's cornerstone claim.

But we have a huge problem here!
          No one witnessed it, and no one recorded it.

The ladies who first went to see Jesus got to the tomb Sunday morning around sunrise. Mary Magdelene who was the first human being to see Jesus alive again did not see Him until what could potentially be 10 hours after the most critical event in all of the entire Bible -- IF that event happened on Saturday before sunrise. If we are to believe that Jesus staked the universe on an exact 72-hour interment, why on earth would there be such an oversight as to have no disciples there to witness it?? The guards witnessed it, right? No. You see, Jesus had to be in the tomb exactly 72-hours. It's not from death to resurrection, no. From the time He went in to the time He came out it had to be exactly 72 hours (and, yes, Carver does recognize this distinction.) The guards only saw some angels rolling a stone and they passed out cold. They never actually saw Jesus leave that tomb. As it turns out, no one witnessed it! And when was that stone rolled away? Matthew 28: 2-4 doesn't say!

If exact timing were so critical, so utterly key to all that exists, why didn't any of the Gospel writers seem to care? No one spent time talking about how Jesus perfectly fulfilled this utmost of utmost prophecies. No one explained how, precisely at 72-hours, Jesus walked out of that tomb. The guards, who didn't witness it, were paid off to keep their mouths shut. Normally they would have been killed. They were good witnesses to the resurrection event, but not very good witnesses to the timing. In the end, no one talks about this 72-hours. All we have is one phrase among 20, in one place, that says "three days and three nights" (MAT. 12: 40) and that's both the beginning and the end of that matter entirely.

No one saw it. No one talked about it.

If it was so crisp and clean, why was Carver less than precise about it? Turns out even Carver can't tell you when the 72-hours ended. Here is what he says:
"Certainly the stone would not have been rolled away from the tomb before our Lord arose from the dead. ... So it seems reasonable that the second earthquake would have occurred at the moment of our Lord's resurrection. Therefore, Matthew supplies the definite witness to our Lord's resurrection at sunset on Saturday afternoon, 72 hours after His burial."
I have issues with this. First, who ties in the stone rolling with timing specifics of Jesus' resurrection? Not the Bible. The Bible does not say, "Jesus awoke and that's when the stone was rolled." Do we somehow believe that this stone was rolled away for Jesus' benefit? As if to say He couldn't leave that tomb with that stone in the way? He walked through walls! He didn't need that stone moved. That stone was moved for our benefit. Jesus could have been resurrected before, during, or after the stone rolling. It doesn't say. Second, who says that stone was rolled away at exactly 72-hours? Not the Bible. The Bible does not say that this happened at 72-hours or at sundown or any other time. Just says it happened. Third, the fact of the resurrection seems far more important than the exact timing. Matthew does supply witness to the resurrection. I agree with Carver that the resurrection, the stone rolling, and the earthquake are all tied together. I assert that the guards were witness at the resurrection. I am not saying Carver is explicitly wrong in that, nor am I changing my tune from earlier. Let me make this as blunt as I can - Carver and I are looking at the same event but from everything I read I see that the very fact of the resurrection is critical, not specifics of timing down to the hour.

It's almost as if some modern people have latched on to the phrase "three days and three nights," improperly made it literal, and then have blown the whole thing completely out of proportion.  o_O

But prepare yourselves to be utterly amazed, dear and honored reader. You are about to see a true miracle. Are you sitting down?

EVERY DAY IS THE RIGHT DAY

But, does Carver prefer a Saturday resurrection or not? You would think that after all of this effort to move the resurrection to Saturday we would be clear on that point. Turns out it isn't so clear after all.

In one of the most self-serving statements of the entire booklet, Carver hedges his bets. We see on page 14:
"According to Jewish reckoning, the setting of the sun marked the end of the day, but that point in time was also a part fo that day. However, sunset also marked the beginning of the next day. So Christ also was resurrected on the first day of the week."
Wait. What?
Jesus was resurrected before sundown and after sundown, on Saturday and on Sunday???
Apparently so. On the next page, Carver says this:
"The evidence that our Lord was resurrected at sunset on Saturday is overwhelming. Only this exact point in time permits our Lord's resurrection to literally fulfill the prophecy for three seemingly incompatible situations: (1) resurrection after 'three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,' (2) resurrection 'on the third day,' and (3) resurrection on the first day of the week - 'the morrow after the sabbath.'"
So, Jesus was resurrected on Saturday and on Sunday. That is indeed something new.

Carver has set out to have his cake and eat it too. Cannot reconcile the clear wording of the scriptures and other historical accounts with your insistence on taking "three days and three nights" as being literal? No problem. Make Jesus resurrect and come out of the tomb on two days rather than one day. Jesus was apparently resurrected on 28% of the days of the week.

I thought I had heard it all until now. If you don't try to think about how things must fit into reality, anything is possible.

Some problems we have with this include:

  • Carver points out that Jesus had to be "in the heart of the earth" for 72-hours (MAT. 12: 40). The count must start at the time when Jesus was put into the tomb. We don't start it when He died, but when He was buried. This was before sunset on Wednesday. Was He also then buried on two days of the week as well??
  • On the opposite side of this, Carver gets sloppy. He seems to finish the exactly 72 hours count when the stone was rolled away. But, how do you start at Jesus being put in the tomb but not finish when Jesus left the tomb?
  • From here, Carver goes on to act as if Jesus was resurrected on Saturday. He says Good Friday is impossible because Jesus was resurrected on Saturday. But.. he just got done telling us that Jesus was resurrected on Sunday. Which is it?? If I wanted to split hairs, I could say that sundown on Saturday does not make it Sunday. The Hebrew first day of the week started at sundown Saturday evening, but Sunday doesn't start until midnight. But I really don't want to argue this point. My head is spinning plenty already as it is without that added on.

So, what, then? He died on only one day of the week, was resurrected on two days of the week, 72-hours exactly is super important, and 72-hours exactly isn't really all that important after all because no one witnessed it and no one talks about it.  For everything there is a season ...or two.

CONCLUSION

This is about the high and the low of Carver's defense of his Saturday, or is it Sunday, resurrection. This seems like a good place to stop.

We have seen how Carver appears to have been influenced by Armstrongism for the genesis of his claims. We have seen how Carver appeals to a mystery Greek scholar that didn't really do much to help him. We have seen how Carver singles out one particular interlinear which, seriously, doesn't appear to be saying what Carver concludes. We've seen how the rest of the Gospel evidence makes Carver's premise unworkable to begin with. We've seen Carver try to cover every possibility by claiming Jesus was resurrected on 2 of the 7 days of the week. We've seen how Carver starts the 72-hour count at the burial, but is completely vague about the end of the 72-hours, tying it in with the rolling away of the stone. And we've seen how his claim of a perfect 72-hour entombment doesn't make a whole lot of sense because nobody can tell us if it worked out or not.

Do you get the sense that Carver didn't come to his conclusions from the Bible, rather he came to his conclusions and is now trying to get the Bible to come with him? I sure get that sense.

I am not swayed to side with Carver thus far. We've been though this for years now, since Carver's claims are pretty much Armstrong's claims. Carver's appeal is different, but we had hoped Carver would give us some more evidence than just this. (Perhaps if we can find twenty more authors who say the exact same thing in different words, then it will be true.)

Carver does give more evidence on other points. Obviously we haven't reviewed the entire book yet. We'll see that in another installment.


See you next time for Wayne Carver's Crucifixion Chronology - part II: Holy Week Timeline


************
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
************

2 comments:

Black Ops Mikey said...

BETWEEN the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Resurrection Hour.

(Pardon the sarcasm, but this is funnier than anything!)

Don't you people understand ONE Thing about quantum mechanics???!!!

A subatomic particle can be in two states simultaneously!

You should know that!

There should be no confusion at all about Jesus being resurrected on Saturday and Sunday!!!

He was superpositioned in two states simultaneously, like Schroedinger's cat!

So he could be resurrected at two different times simultaneously: The quantum wave form would never collapse until observed!

Did you get that!!!!????!!!

Jesus could be resurrected at two different times simultaneously because he was never observed and so the quantum potential never collapsed to one thing!!!

See how simple that is?

It's science.

Who can argue with that?

xHWA said...

BWAAA HAHAHAHA!

I've never put Jesus and Schroedinger's Cat in the same sentence before.