Friday, October 03, 2008

The death of Jesus

The death of Jesus is an event described by the New Testament, as occurring after the Passion of Jesus, as a result of his crucifixion. In Christianity the quasi-annual day of commemoration of the event is a highly important feast day, known as Good Friday.

In the accounts, as Jesus is dying, a darkness appears over the land. The Gospel of Mark states it was at the sixth hour (noon). Some have interpreted the darkness as a solar eclipse, but this is astronomically impossible, since Jesus is described as dying around the time of the Passover, a date on the Hebrew calendar fixed to a full moon, while solar eclipses can only occur at a new moon. It is clearly phrased for dramatic effect, but it could simply mean that the day was overcast.

Both Matthew and Mark state that Jesus cried out his last words - My God, My God, why have you forsaken me, Mark indicating that it was the ninth hour (3 PM). John states that Jesus just said "I thirst." (John 19:28)

A passer is described by both the synoptics and John as then wetting a sponge with vinegar and offering it to Jesus via a stick, but the crowd is described as saying that they should wait to see if Elijah will come to save Jesus. John states that Jesus drank what was offered. Elijah fails to arrive, and shortly after the sponge is offered, Jesus [gives] up the ghost, crying out wordlessly (according to Matthew and Mark), or crying his last words according to Luke and John, and dying.

Luke and Mark report that the veil of the temple split at this point, but Matthew claims that there were earthquakes, splitting rocks, and that dead saints were resurrected. The synoptics report that the immediate events after Jesus' death led a centurion to say Truly this man is [a/the] Son of God (there is no article in the original Greek, so this could as equally be a Son of God as the Son of God), which might be considered a vindication of Jesus (Brown 147), or might be sarcastic (Miller 51). John makes no such supernatural claims, and doesn't mention the centurion.


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