Length of Time of the Crucifixion


#1

All the Gospels say that Jesus died after six hours on the Cross. But how come every Catholic writer I know of says He died after three hours?


#2

All the Gospels say that Jesus died after six hours on the Cross. But how come every Catholic writer I know of says He died after three hours?

According to the Gospels. Pilate sentenced Jesus to death at 6:00 am. He was not actually crucified until 9:00 am and died at 3:00 pm, a total of 6 hours.

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour” (Matthew 27:45). The sixth hour (noon) until the ninth hour (3:00 P.M.) was Jesus’ final three hours on the cross. At the end of that time, “Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit” (Matthew 27:50).

Maybe the writers are referring to Jesus’ “final 3 hours on the cross” but He was on the cross for a total of 6 hours.


#3

AFAIK, ONLY Mark refers to Jesus being crucified at 9:00. None of the other three gospels gives the time for the crucifixion. Only 3 hours of darkness mentioned also in Matthew and Luke. John says nothing about the time on the cross.


#4

AFAIK, ONLY Mark refers to Jesus being crucified at 9:00. None of the other three gospels gives the time for the crucifixion. Only 3 hours of darkness mentioned also in Matthew and Luke. John says nothing about the time on the cross.

Correct, John does mention the time that Pilate **sentenced **Jesus to death, 6:00 am, (John 19:14) but does not mention His length of time on the cross.


#5

It wasn’t all gospels - only Mark.

I personally think that’s because traditionally, the chronology in John (where Jesus was still being condemned at the Praetorium during “the sixth hour” - i.e. noon) was preferred over that of Mark (where Jesus is crucified at “the third hour” - 9 AM).

(Mark) And they crucified him, and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour, when they crucified him. …] And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

(John) When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!”

Some people nowadays might prefer the Markan version over John’s, given that the timing in John is very symbolic (Jesus is condemned to death and crucified at the same time that the Passover lambs began to be slaughtered).

But at the same time, you might notice that the chronology in Mark is also broken up neatly into three hour segments (“early morning” = 6 AM; “third hour” = 9 AM; “sixth hour” = 12 PM; “ninth hour” = 3 PM; “late/evening” = 6 PM). In fact, a few scholars have independently argued that this time division reflects early Christian liturgical practice. From here:

But this time reference [of the darkness at “the sixth hour”] is one of many in the Passion Narrative and they all have one thing in common: they happen at three hour intervals. The darkness that comes over the earth at 12 lasts three hours until 3 p.m., when Jesus dies (15.33-4). Before the darkness begins, Jesus has already been on the cross for three hours, since 9 a.m. (15.25). Before that, Jesus was brought before Pilate at dawn, πρωΐ (15.1). Nor does the pattern stop there. There appears to be something like a twenty-four hour framework, broken up neatly into three hour segments. Thus, if we imagine the Last Supper taking place at 6 p.m. (14.17, “When it was evening . . .”), Jesus and the disciples would then go to Gethsemane at 9 p.m., Jesus would be arrested at midnight, and Peter denies Jesus during the Jewish trial at 3 a.m., cockcrow (14.72).

Nor is it simply that these stories fit nicely into this schedule. Individual units themselves seem to be patterned in such a way that they reflect this kind of structure. Jesus in Gethsemane asks his disciples to watch with him and is distressed that they could not stay awake for “one hour” (14.37), and then twice again he comes to them (14.40-1). And then, similarly, Peter denies Jesus three times at cockcrow, the Roman watch at 3 a.m. (14.54, 66-72)

Explanations for this marked three-hour structure that so dominates the Passion Narrative have not, on the whole, been forthcoming. The difficulty is, of course, that life is not quite as neat and tidy as this – events do not happen in even three hour units. That the pattern is intentional and in some way significant seems to be confirmed by a saying of Jesus located just before the beginning of Mark’s Passion Narrative:

[INDENT]Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will return – whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: “Watch!” (Mark 13.35-37).

The text itself appears to be drawing attention to the three hour pattern, alerting the bright reader to what is to come. And though an explanation has been put forward separately by three different scholars, a Canadian (Philip Carrington) in the 1950s, an Englishman (Michael Goulder) in the 1970s, and a Frenchman (Étienne Trocmé) in the 1980s, it is still hardly known at all in mainstream scholarship. These three scholars claim that the liturgy is the only thing that would make sense of this. What is happening, they suggest, is that the early Christians were holding their own annual celebration of the events of the Passion at the Jewish Passover, remembered as roughly the time of Jesus‘ death. While other Jews were celebrating Passover, Christian Jews held a twenty-four hour vigil in which they retold and relived the events surrounding Jesus‘ arrest and death, from sunset on 14/15 Nisan, and for twenty four hours. Perhaps Mark‘s account of the Passion, with its heavy referencing of Scripture, its regular time notes, was itself influenced by such a liturgical memory of the Passion.[/INDENT]


#6

There is no discrepancy between the Gospels on this point. Mark simply counts the Crucifixion as including the sufferings prior to actually being nailed to the Cross.


#7

A simple explanation would be that Mark was refering to Jewish time and John to Roman time.


#8

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