Just How Long Did Jesus Stay in the Tomb?

BY: Daniel Burke, Religion News Service


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But precision, especially when it comes to the Bible, has been a hallmark of faith for many Christians -- especially those who equate truth with historical facts.

Most troubling for these believers is Jesus' own prophecy, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, that he will rise from the dead after "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

Trying to reconcile that prophecy with the Holy Week calendar, ancient Christian theologians such as Gregory of Nyssa and Cyril of Jerusalem counted the eclipse of the sun after Jesus' death as a night, said the Very Rev. John Behr, dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y.

"Didascalia Apostolorum," a third-century Christian treatise, took a more radical approach.

It proposes that Jesus and his apostles followed a different calendar than other Jews and celebrated the Last Supper on a Tuesday, meaning the crucifixion happened on a Wednesday. Some fringe Christian denominations still promote that theory.

Others dismiss historical revisions and say Jesus simply misspoke.

"To be technical, Jesus made a false prophecy, and that's not something most Christians would want to put that way," said Robert Miller, a professor of religion at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.

Continued on page 4: 'Jesus' Prophecy...' »

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Related Topics: Easter, Jesus, Tomb, Resurrection, Cross