The Last Supper and Passover


In John 18:28 it says the priests didn’t enter the Praetorium because they wanted to eat the Passover, indicating that the Passover was on the Sabbath, the day after Jesus’s crucifixion
But Luke 22:7-8 says that Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare for the meal on the day the Paschal lamb was sacrificed, meaning that the Last Supper was a Paschal meal. So who is right?


Both are right.


In his *The Life of Christ, * ( an excellent work IMHO), Abbot Guiseppe Riccioti points out that the Pharisees and Sadducees disagreed on the dates of Pentecost and the Passover and suggests that it may be that the Synoptics base their accounts on the calendar followed by the Pharisees while John uses that of the Sadduccees.

Accordingly, Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover meal on Thursday as would have the Pharisees while the Sadducees would have celebrated it on the next evening, Friday.

Admittedly, this is my very brief synopsis of what Abbot Ricciotti discusses at much greater length.


No one knows.

Seriously, no one knows.

We start with the Last Supper being on Thursday evening (as we think of it, although they saw it as the beginning of Friday).

According to John’s Gospel, the Passover Meal would have been Friday evening (as we think of it).

According to the Synoptics, the Passover Meal would have been Thursday evening (again, as we would call it).

We know that the 2 versions do not agree with each other. We simply deal with it, and accept that they disagree.

At least for the present, most, but certainly not all, scholars tend to take the side of John, and not just for theological reasons. There are certain “markers” in the text that lead scholars to think that John was more accurate with regard to the timing.


Several years ago I heard the explanation that the Essenes celebrated the Passover a day earlier than the Pharisees and Sadducees. I goggled and found this from Pope Benedict.

This contradiction seemed unsolvable until a few years ago. The majority of exegetes were of the opinion that John was reluctant to tell us the true historical date of Jesus’ death, but rather chose a symbolic date to highlight the deeper truth: Jesus is the new, true Lamb who poured out his Blood for us all.

In the meantime, the discovery of the [Dead Sea] Scrolls at Qumran has led us to a possible and convincing solution which, although it is not yet accepted by everyone, is a highly plausible hypothesis. We can now say that John’s account is historically precise.

Jesus truly shed his blood on the eve of Easter at the time of the immolation of the lambs.
In all likelihood, however, he celebrated the Passover with his disciples in accordance with the Qumran calendar, hence, at least one day earlier; he celebrated it without a lamb, like the Qumran community which did not recognize Herod’s temple and was waiting for the new temple.

Consequently, Jesus celebrated the Passover without a lamb – no, not without a lamb: instead of the lamb he gave himself, his Body and his Blood. Thus, he anticipated his death in a manner consistent with his words: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (Jn 10: 18).


This may not help much on this dating issue but it gives some interesting background.



…it’s much like the “World Youth Day” (a celebration that exceeds a one day period) the Passover or Pesach lasted for seven days:

The Book of Exodus says the following: “This day shall be to you one of remembrance; you shall celebrate it as a festival throughout the generations…seven days you shall eat unleavened bread…on the first day you shall hold a sacred convocation, and on the seventh day a sacred convocation; no work at all should be done on them…”

 As you can see, the Torah indicates that Pesach is to last seven days and the first and last days of the holiday are to be special. For Reform Jews, that means holding services on the first and seventh days. For others, this means holding services on days 1 and 2 plus days 7 and 8.
 Conservative and Orthodox Jews "double" the first and last days because, long ago when the Jewish calendar was set month by month, uncertainty about the exact date of festivals outside Israel arose. To be sure they "got it right," early Jews therefore celebrated two days of the festival. That way they hoped not to miss the proper day.
 Now that the calendar is fixed, Reform Jews have returned to the original biblical commandment. We celebrate Passover for seven days. Others have maintained the double days as a reminder of the way it used to be done.  ([]("")

…since Scriptures mean Passover “period” not “day” both passages are correct.

Maran atha!



The gospel of John is written after the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God (they didn’t see this right away) So John is connecting Jesus’ self-sacrifice to the Paschal lamb sacrifice in his gospel.


I’m pretty sure they did. Peter did.


The above url is found several posts above. Pope Benedict is correct except that the Essenes would have celebrated Passover on a Tuesday night.


About this:

This is a theory proposed by a French scholar named Annie Jaubert back in the 1950s. She tried to solve the discrepancy between the synoptic and the Johannine chronologies by appealing to the fact that the Qumran community followed a different calendar than that used by the temple priests and most other Jews, based on two works, 1 Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, both of which were well-read in Qumran, judging by the number of copies found there. (Now what’s interesting about this is that Jaubert came up with this theory before any Qumran text that mentioned this calendar had been identified. In other words, she struck gold here.)

To recap, the ‘official’ Jewish calendar was lunisolar (the months are lunar - strictly following the phases of the moon - but the years have to be aligned with the seasons of the year, which are governed by the sun). The Qumran community however, had a 364-day purely solar calendar.

Jaubert claimed that the discrepancy between the chronology between the synoptics and John was because the synoptics were following the solar Qumran/Jubilees calendar while John followed the lunisolar temple calendar. That’s why, in her idea, Jesus would have celebrated the Passover one day early than the Jewish leaders: He and His disciples were using the Qumran calendar. She assumed that Nisan 14 in the Qumran calendar fell just before, and in the same week as, Nisan 14 in the official calendar. (Qumran Nisan 14 always fell on a Tuesday, so Jaubert assumed that Jesus held the Last Supper and was arrested on Tuesday night-Wednesday midnight before being crucified around three days later, on a Friday, which happened to be Nisan 14 according to the official calendar.)

Jaubert’s theory is quite attractive because it’s pretty simple to follow, but there’s actually a flaw in her hypothesis: it assumes too much.

In reality, the two calendars would rarely have worked out in such a way that the synoptic date for the supper would have been on the same day in the Qumran calendar as John’s in the lunisolar one. More importantly, there’s also no evidence that Jesus or any other early Christian used the solar calendar of Qumran or any other calendar that made them noticeably different from other Jews.

Besides, we have no solid undisputable evidence explicitly tying Jesus to the Essenes or the Qumran community at all besides the theories of early modern academics and fiction writers, who often used the then-mysterious Essenes (which they pretty much portrayed as a kind of Freemason-like secret society of ‘rational’ intellectuals) as a convenient explanation to explain away everything that happened in Jesus’ life, sometimes to ridiculous extents.

Another element in Jaubert’s theory that some people usually ignore is, that she proposed that Jesus’ passion actually lasted for three whole days. As per her idea, the Last Supper and the arrest actually happened on a Tuesday, not Thursday. Obviously, this contradicts the gospels themselves, which portray the action as occurring within a short lapse of time: Jesus shared His last meal with His disciples “on the day before He suffered,” you know, as we say in the Mass.

Jaubert handwaved this by saying that it was the gospels who altered and compressed the chronology, and tried to invoke other sources in support of her idea. She invoked a 3rd century Christian document, the Didascalia Apostolorum, which asserts that Jesus had “eaten the passover on the third day of the week at even” and was arrested “on the fourth day of the week” - Tuesday/Wednesday - and was crucified on a Friday, thereby giving an explanation to the early Christian custom of fasting during those two days (already attested in the Didache). Some other early Christian writers also repeated this claim (Sts. Victorinus of Pettau and Epiphanius of Salamis are two).

But here’s the problem, I think. Did the historical memory of Jesus’ arrest really give rise to the Wednesday fast (as Jaubert claims)? Or, did the Wednesday fast actually come first, and only later did some Christians invent a reason for it, one which admittedly contradicted a plain reading of the gospels? (Jesus was crucified on a Friday (before the Sabbath), which could explain the Friday fast, but the Wednesday fast didn’t have anything to explicitly connect it with any event from Jesus’ life, unlike the Friday fast.)


Jaubert’s theory would have Jesus arrested on Wednesday, not Tuesday. The time frame in the Gospels is very short given that there were probably several hundred thousand people in Jerusalem. The Romans first concern would be controlling the crowds.


Jesus does everything with sometimes a hidden motive. When I went to the Holy Land, I asked for the grace to know why Jesus chose the Upper Room as the site of his Passover meal. He directed the apostles thus in Mark 14:

"13. He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water.* Follow him. 14. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ 15. Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.”

The Spirit helped me understand that, since the Upper Room is directly over the tomb of David, Jesus silently proclaimed by this action that He is fulfilling the Messianic promise made to David in 2 Sam. 7:12-13.

  1. When your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom. 13. He it is who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. "

When we reflect on the words of Jesus, “This is the cup of My blood, the blood of the NEW and ETERNAL COVENANT…” we can connect the fact that this upper room, is the site Jesus chose to inaugurate the new covenant to fulfill God’s promise – over David’s tomb, “above” the former covenant made with Israel.

And yes, the disciples, even after Jesus’ resurrection, were still not understanding the meaning of his sacrifice. Acts 1:6 reveals their incredulity, "When they had gathered together they asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” " Jesus no doubt explained the truth of His Kingdom during the 40 days until His Ascension. They still had a concept that His Kingdom would be an earthly reign.


Thank you for this. I never made the connection. And before visiting the Holy Land, I didn’t even know David’s tomb was in Jerusalem.


What I mean is, the Last Supper happens on Tuesday evening, and Jesus is arrested by midnight, so yeah, technically Wednesday.

I still stand by the opinion that the flaw in Jaubert’s argument is precisely that: stretching the chronology just so her theory of Jesus using the Qumran calendar could work and selectively using bits and pieces from early Christian writings that fit her theory, while ignoring those that do not. Brant Pitre pointed this out too (Jesus and the Last Supper, pp. 274-275).

In fact, that thing you say - “the time frame in the Gospels is very short given that there were probably several hundred thousand people in Jerusalem” - I’d say that this is actually an argument for the historical plausibility of a plain reading of the gospels’ chronology. Those who wanted Jesus dead acted quickly, because Jesus had many followers. He had to be dead before word gets out that He’s been captured.


Re: David’s tomb:

We know from the Old Testament that David was buried in Ir David, the City of David: “Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.” (1 Kings 2:1) This citadel was located on the lower part of ancient Jerusalem’s Eastern Hill, which, as the name implies, is on the eastern part of Jerusalem. The Temple Mount (aka Mount Moriah) is actually the highest part of this hill. (To put things in context, the Upper Room/‘David’s Tomb’ is on the Western Hill, on the opposite side of the city - which in David’s time wasn’t even a part of Jerusalem yet.)

In 1913, French archaeologist Raymond Weill found around nine man-made burial caves on the southern tip of Ir David (labelled T1 to T9), among them three horizontal gallery graves. Weill believed that he had found what was the royal cemetery of Jerusalem, an identification many modern archaeologists today still share (though this has recently come under question); he also identified T1, the most monumental of the tombs, as that of David.

Two of the caves Weill discovered (T1 and T2).

The original location of David’s tomb was apparently well-known; during the 5th century BC, Nehemiah refers to “the tombs of David” in his description of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem when the exiles returned from Babylon in the late 6th century BC (Nehemiah 3:16).

We might infer that the location of the tomb - or a site that was claimed to be the location of the tomb - was still known just before and during the time of Jesus. The Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities 7.393; 16.179-183) claimed that around three thousand talents of silver buried with David in his tomb was looted by the high priest John Hyrcanus (reigned 134-104 BC) to pay Seleucid king Antiochus VII Sidetes in exchange for lifting his siege on Jerusalem. Later, he claims that Herod the Great once clandestinely tried to loot the tomb as well; however, when two of Herod’s guards met a mysterious death, fear overcame him and he ordered a tomb-memorial (mnēna) of white stone erected at the site. This monument erected by Herod was probably what Peter was referring to in Acts 2:29 when he says that “David’s tomb/monument (mnēna) is with us to this day.”

The last person we know of who knew the location of David’s tomb was the 1st-2nd century Jewish rabbi Akiva. Akiva was once asked why the graves of the Davidic dynasty were allowed within the city (remember, as I noted earlier, it became customary for Jews to build tombs outside the city walls). He responded that impurity of David’s grave was diverted out of the city to the Kidron Valley via a rock channel. This information is important because the Kidron lies on the east side of Ir David. It clearly indicates that Akiva placed the royal tombs on the Eastern Hill close to the Kidron.

So, how did David’s tomb end up being in the Upper Room?

Knowledge of the real location of David’s tomb was lost when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans and the Jews kicked out of the city. When the Jews were banned from entering Jerusalem (except for one day every year), the location of David’s tomb went along with them. So, from about the 2nd century up to the 11th-12th century, the Jews venerated David’s tomb in his native Bethlehem, an identification Christians also came to accept. After all, doesn’t the gospel of Luke call Bethlehem “the city of David” (the same term that was applied in the OT to ancient Jerusalem)? As a result, Christian pilgrims in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages who visited the Holy Land all reported seeing the purported tomb of David in Bethlehem rather than in Jerusalem.

Then, when the Crusaders came along, they again shifted the location of David’s tomb back to Jerusalem; they began to claim that it was actually under the Cenacle, aka Upper Room. (The Cenacle was an ancient Christian site; we don’t know if it is the actual upper room Jesus held the Last Supper in, but some archaeologists do believe that it was the site of a synagogue/house church used by the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem.) We don’t know exactly what caused the Crusaders to identify David’s tomb as being in the Cenacle. Maybe it was done out of convenience; I mean, the Bible does say David was buried in Jerusalem, so they needed to find a location for it. And the Upper Room is an important church, so hey, why not place David’s tomb there?

Soon, the Jews themselves also began to accept this identification, and the rest is history.


So, in a nutshell:

Historical tomb of David: somewhere on the Ophel / Ir David, Eastern Hill (southeast side of Jerusalem)
’David’s tomb’ (AD 70 / Byzantine period): Bethlehem
’David’s tomb’ (Crusader period onwards): Cenacle / Upper Room, Western Hill (western side of Jerusalem)

Off the top of my head, I could name reasons why David’s tomb could not have been on the Upper Room at the time of Jesus.

  • As noted in the last post, Josephus says that Herod had a monument (mnēna) built on David’s tomb, or on what he believed to be David’s tomb. This wasn’t a kind of house, but probably a big edifice something similar to the monuments Herod erected at Hebron and Mamre.

  • The idea that a tomb (even of a distinguished figure like David) would be located inside the city walls, smack dab in the middle of a residential compound is unthinkable for the Jews of Jesus’ time. Corpses were a source of ritual impurity, which is why tombs were situated outside urban areas, outside the city walls. What’s more, the Cenacle is located in the Upper City, where the aristocrats and priests - who would have taken the purity laws seriously - lived.

Seriously, living or having residential quarters on top of a tomb, a place of death, even if were David who was buried in it, would have been kinda ‘eh.’ When Antipas built Tiberias on the site of an ancient cemetery, pious Jews found that very repulsive; Herod had to entice gentiles as well as less-scrupulous or less well-off people to populate his new city.


This is not a helpful article and is actually a smoke screen to distort the reality of the Upper Room being above David. In truth, it is a casket with a drape over it, and not an actual burial cave or tomb. Every pilgrim to the Holy Land understands that the Cenacle as it is known today was the site of both the Last Supper and Pentecost. There is a carved ledge within that was understood as being the foot-washing ledge.

Patrick, why would you post nebulous information such as this? You might find it helpful to view the Holy Land Rosary on EWTN by Fr. Pacwa where this site is presented with the rosary mysteries… With his extensive knowledge, I sincerely doubt he would knowingly perpetrate a fraud.

Do you believe this “tomb” is just a replica?

Furthermore, I had no way of connecting the dots outside of special revelation by the Holy Spirit. It seems you would call this into dispute.


Okay, this is my point.

On the one hand, you have ancient sources - the Bible, Josephus, and Rabbi Akiva - that unequivocally say or imply that David was buried on the Ophel, on the Eastern Hill, that his tomb was there. (As far as we know, there is no record of David’s corpse being transferred somewhere else, and as I pointed out, given what we know about Jewish attitudes towards death it would be unlikely that his remains would be placed smack dab in the middle of a populated area and have a house or a residential quarter built over it.) Then you have sources from the Byzantine period (e.g. Eusebius’ Onomasticon) that say David’s tomb was actually in Bethlehem. Then by the Middle Ages, David’s tomb is now in the Cenacle. Am I in the wrong for pointing out this fact?

‘Distort’? I know this whole issue of sacred places is a touchy subject especially for people of faith, but if you know your history, this location-shifting is nothing out of the ordinary. As people keep forgetting the exact location of a given sacred place, they’ll keep on finding a new one for it. That the exact spot of a sacred area would be actually transmitted to future generations is actually the exception to the rule. Seriously, in the whole history of Jerusalem - the Holy Land even - various biblical events were at one time or the other associated with different places. Why should this information be troubling to you? Our faith is not based on whether or not this place is actually the ‘real location’ or whether this or that relic is the genuine article.

Patrick, why would you post nebulous information such as this? You might find it helpful to view the Holy Land Rosary on EWTN by Fr. Pacwa where this site is presented with the rosary mysteries… With his extensive knowledge, I sincerely doubt he would knowingly perpetrate a fraud.

Oh, you won’t believe it. I’ve watched the Holy Land Rosary a lot of times since I was a kid; it was one of those programs on EWTN that I’d watch. I’d actually credit that with whettinf my appetite in learning about history and religion.

In his defense, Fr. Pacwa is not hosting a program about the exact history of all the sites in the Holy Land. I would not expect him to go into an in-depth archaeological or geo-political analysis of sacred places in the Holy Land or the authenticity thereof in a program about the Rosary. He is showcasing, introducing, using these places as a means of meditation and reflection (which I believe is a valid thing to do), not engaging in a scholarly lecture.


What I hear you saying is that any reputed holy place is left up to our imagination as to whether or not it is truly authentic. How many millions have reverenced the sacred spot in the cave of Jesus’ birth, with a star marking the spot? How many have reverenced the sepulcher of Jesus? Do you honestly believe God would permit false veneration of these places without someone authenticating that these are merely a fabrication? Why tamper with the sacred beliefs of many millions of Christians? Is this wise?

Enough said. I’m not going to dicker with you, but I do trust that what was revealed to me after my trip to Jerusalem was truly of the Holy Spirit, judging from the interior fruits I received.

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