Scholar challenges Thursday date of Last Supper

April 20, 2011

LONDON (RNS) A top British scientist claims his biblical, historical and
astronomical research shows Christians have been observing Jesus' Last
Supper on the wrong day of the week.


Cambridge University Professor Colin Humphreys says Jesus' final
meal with his disciples actually was eaten on the Wednesday before the
Crucifixion -- one day earlier than has been traditionally accepted.


The mix-up, Humphreys concludes in his new book, "The Mystery of the
Last Supper," may be because Jesus and disciples Matthew, Mark and Luke
used one calendar, but fellow disciple John used another.


Humphreys notes the Gospels attributed to the first three claimed
the last meal coincided with the Jewish Passover, whereas John's Gospel
says the meal took place "before" Passover.


Eminent biblical scholar F.F. Bruce once described that
contradiction as "the thorniest problem in the New Testament," but
Humphreys said, "if we use science and the Gospels hand in hand, we can
actually prove that there was no contradiction."


Humphreys theorizes that Jesus employed an age-old Jewish calendar
-- perhaps dating back to the Exodus from Egypt -- rather than the
official lunar calendar popular at the time.


That, Humphreys said, would put the Passover and Last Supper meals
on the Wednesday rather than Thursday, and means Jesus' arrest,
interrogation and trials were not all crammed into a single night but
were instead spread over a longer period of time.


Humphreys based his project on earlier research he conducted with
Oxford University astrophysicist Graeme Waddington 28 years ago, which
established the date of the Crucifixion as Friday morning, April 3, 33
A.D.