John's Gospel and the "High Sabbath"


#1

John 19:31 reads.

"The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away."

Are there any scholarly sources that discuss what is meant by saying the sabbath was a "high day?" It seems the only reasonable explanation is that it refers to the fact that this sabbath is the weekly sabbath falling during the Passover Week and not that, as many commentators suggest, it is the day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15), since the Synoptics make clear that this is the same day (by Jewish reckoning) as the Crucifixion.


#2

is it possible that you have already looked at quick-look-up sources, such as this

ask.com/wiki/High_Sabbaths?o=3986&qsrc=999


#3

[quote="QNDNNDQDCE, post:1, topic:313231"]
John 19:31 reads.

"The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away."

Are there any scholarly sources that discuss what is meant by saying the sabbath was a "high day?" It seems the only reasonable explanation is that it refers to the fact that this sabbath is the weekly sabbath falling during the Passover Week and not that, as many commentators suggest, it is the day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15), since the Synoptics make clear that this is the same day (by Jewish reckoning) as the Crucifixion.

[/quote]

It's pretty much well known that there is a slight difference between the chronology of John and the Synoptics in this regard: the Synoptics seem to portray Jesus as being executed on Passover itself, of the 15th of Nisan (since the Jewish day is reckoned to begin at sundown, the Last Supper held during the night of Nisan 14 is thus a Passover meal), while John seems to have Jesus die during the 14th (in 18:28 the Jewish leaders are said to have not yet eaten the Passover meal, and in 19:14 John notes that it was "the Preparation of the Passover" - John's is a highly symbolic choice of dating, since here Jesus dies the same time as the Passover lambs are being slaughtered). All four agree, however, that Jesus died before a Sabbath.

I should warn you first there is a broad spectrum of opinion in this regard, as to how to either reconcile the dates or to prefer which version is closer to fact.


#4

From the Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 31. Because it was the Parasceve. It is also called, (ver. 14.) the day of preparation of the Pasch. Literally, the Parasceve of the Pasch. And (ver. 31.) the Jews, because it was the preparation, that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for that was a great sabbath day, &c. Some pretend, by these expressions, to prove that Friday, the year Christ suffered, was not the first and great day of the feast of Azyms, but only the day of preparation, and that on Friday night the Jews eat the paschal lamb, and not the night before, or Thursday night, as Christ had done with his disciples. But according to the common exposition, Friday is here called the day of preparation, for the great and solemn sabbath, which happened in the paschal week. See Tillemont on the 5th passage out of John, p. 698, section 11. and 12. (Witham)

As well, here you may compare the various scriptural translations, as some of them provide a bit of an explanation by themselves.


#5

Thursday/Friday the fifteenth of Nisan. It looked like this: (times approx)
[LIST]
*]6 pm Day began.
*]9 pm Passover meal.
*]12 pm Jesus arrested.
*]6 am Judgement passed.
*]9 am Jesus crucified.
*]12 am Great darkness.
*]3 pm Jesus dies.
*]6 pm Day ended.
[/LIST]
There is no contradiction between St John and the synoptics. As for the "high Sabbath" it must have been so called because it coincided with the Passover feast days.


#6

[quote="sirach2v4, post:2, topic:313231"]
is it possible that you have already looked at quick-look-up sources, such as this

ask.com/wiki/High_Sabbaths?o=3986&qsrc=999

[/quote]

Look at the comments on the talk page of the Wikipedia article that is copied from.

"Please provide context for the use of this term. Jews certainly do not use it, while Sabbatarians do. Any sources, perhaps? JFW | T@lk 22:29, 28 November 2005 (UTC)"

"I think we should mention that the term is not in use by Jews. High Holidays only recently became used by Jews, but High Sabbath never caught on. Valley2city 16:49, 12 October 2006 (UTC)"
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:High_Sabbaths

After looking at the "references," the article looks dubious.

[quote="patrick457, post:3, topic:313231"]
It's pretty much well known that there is a slight difference between the chronology of John and the Synoptics in this regard: the Synoptics seem to portray Jesus as being executed on Passover itself, of the 15th of Nisan (since the Jewish day is reckoned to begin at sundown, the Last Supper held during the night of Nisan 14 is thus a Passover meal), while John seems to have Jesus die during the 14th (in 18:28 the Jewish leaders are said to have not yet eaten the Passover meal, and in 19:14 John notes that it was "the Preparation of the Passover" - John's is a highly symbolic choice of dating, since here Jesus dies the same time as the Passover lambs are being slaughtered). All four agree, however, that Jesus died before a Sabbath.

[/quote]

There should not be any difference at all. What gain in symbolism would be so great in John's eyes that it would be worth distorting the chronology by a single day? If the symbolism worked so much better having Jesus died a day earlier, then it should have just happened in reality that Jesus died a day earlier. There is also the problem of explaining how such a massive contradiction could exist in the word of God who does not lie. For your two Bible verses, I would suggest that John 18:28 refers not to the Passover Supper but the peace offering that was to be consumed in the temple that same morning and that John 19:14 refers simply to the Preparation (i.e. Friday) of the Passover octave rather than the Passover Supper. Nor do I see any reason for the insistence that Jesus died at the same hour as the Passover lambs on Nisan 14. Jesus is not just another Passover lamb. Since the Passover lambs in general look forward to Jesus' sacrifice, then the lambs sacrificed on the 14th look forward to his crucifixion on the 15th.

[quote="po18guy, post:4, topic:313231"]
Some pretend, by these expressions, to prove that Friday, the year Christ suffered, was not the first and great day of the feast of Azyms, but only the day of preparation, and that on Friday night the Jews eat the paschal lamb, and not the night before, or Thursday night, as Christ had done with his disciples. But according to the common exposition, Friday is here called the day of preparation, for the great and solemn sabbath, which happened in the paschal week. See Tillemont on the 5th passage out of John, p. 698, section 11. and 12. (Witham)

[/quote]

I have viewed the Haydock Commentary on this verse. I'm assuming that what Witham is citing is Tillemont's Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire ecclésiastique des six premiers siècles. I haven't been able able to find an English copy.

[quote="Cyberseeker, post:5, topic:313231"]
Thursday/Friday the fifteenth of Nisan. It looked like this: (times approx)
[LIST]
*]6 pm Day began.
*]9 pm Passover meal.
*]12 pm Jesus arrested.
*]6 am Judgement passed.
*]9 am Jesus crucified.
*]12 am Great darkness.
*]3 pm Jesus dies.
*]6 pm Day ended.
[/LIST]
There is no contradiction between St John and the synoptics. As for the "high Sabbath" it must have been so called because it coincided with the Passover feast days.

[/quote]

Yes, I think that must be the correct solution. What I am looking for is something scholarly that treats the term "high day." Is "high day" a technical term or does it just mean that this Sabbath was important (because, as you say, it fell during a festival week)?


#7

I found an old copy of 'The Temple - Its Ministry and Services' by the Jewish Christian authority, Alfred Edersheim, but to my surprise he never elaborated on that term. :shrug: If anyone knew it would have been him so I was left with the conclusion it was 'high' or 'special' simply because of how the days fell - Passover on Thursday, Preparation on Friday, then Sabbath on Saturday, which also happened to be the first feast day.

Edersheim answered the John 18:28 'contradiction' though. Hadn’t they eaten Passover the night before? Some commentators choose to ignore John and others make too much of it, claiming the Paschal lambs were slain when Jesus died. Still others suggest there may have been several Jewish factions observing different timetables. Such explanations are unnecessary.

John was referring loosely to the overall ‘Passover week’ which included the feast days following actual Passover day. On the morning of the first day (following the Paschal evening) was another meal called ‘Chagigah’ according to Edersheim. This is the meal John was referencing and as one rabbinic expert noted, “the Chagigah might not be offered by any person who had contracted Levitical defilement.” So, the ‘contradiction’ is really no contradiction at all; it was a special morning meal.


#8

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