My question does not involve understanding what the meaning of the Day of Preparation is. This is about which day of the week.

While there are contrary opinions on this, I believe all gospels point to Christ's crucifixion on the day of the Passover, Nisan 14. My question is, and I've searched far and wide on this, which day of the week was this? The Day of Preparation is the day before the first day in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is Nisan 15.

*"Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath..." (Mark 15:42)

"On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate..." (Matthew 27:62)

"That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near." (Luke 23:54)

"So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby." (Luke 19:42)*

Because the first day of the week (Sunday) was when Jesus was recorded as being resurrected, it seems the following increments in time appear to be true:

  1. Jesus was crucified and buried on Nisan 14
  2. The next day was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a day where no work could be done (Exodus 12). In essence, treated as a Sabbath. This day was called a High Day in John 19:31.
  3. The following day after #2 above could have been a regular Sabbath day.
  4. Jesus was resurrected on Sunday.

If these four things above are true, and it's difficult to find reliable data on #3, Jesus did indeed stay in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights. But, because of the lack of clear and scientific proof of #3 above, I'm not certain upon which day Nisan 14 fell. It appears to be Wednesday or Thursday, per my posted increments above.

Because in my research I'm not seeing any consistent proof about this particular question, I'm curious what proof exists. Also interested in anything clear, even though contrary to my stated assumptions.

  • 1
    – user35953
    Nov 14, 2021 at 15:36
  • 1
    Jesus might have risen on Saturday just before sunset.
    – user35953
    Nov 14, 2021 at 16:49
  • 1
    In any case, I do my reasoning probabilistically when there is no clear binary (yes or no) answer.
    – user35953
    Nov 14, 2021 at 17:00
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    Seeing your researching - consider looking into what’s coming out from the translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially regarding the difference in calendars used by the Essenes and the Pharisees. There is an argument that John was possibly using a different calendar (to that used in the other gospels) in his book. Overall, IIRC the scrolls support your increments.
    – Dave
    Nov 14, 2021 at 17:43
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    @MartinHemsley, "why would the women not buy the spices and take them to the tomb to further prepare the body on Friday?". Mark says they bought the spices when the sabbath was past. Luke says they then prepared those spices and then rested on the sabbath. Either that's a contradiction, or they bought and prepared the spices on Friday, after the Thursday high sabbath and before the Saturday weekly sabbath. Nov 14, 2021 at 21:04

2 Answers 2


On which day of the week was Jesus crucified - Wednesday or Thursday?

1 Jesus was crucified the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42). He also died on the Preparation Day that was not only the preparation day of the Passover but the preparation of the weekly Sabbath. This would be on a Friday, not Wednesday or Thursday. The reason the Passover holy convocation had a preparation day was that all leaven had to be cleansed from the homes. This required some work and inspection. On the other hand, all weekly sabbaths had a preparation day that preceded them (that was Friday). It is interesting to note that the Greek word today for Friday is still "preparation".

2 The confusion comes from mislabeling Nisan 15 as an annual Sabbath. Nisan 15 was never called a Sabbath in the Hebrew Scriptures. It didn't qualify as a Sabbath because it did NOT forbid ALL work like the weekly Sabbaths and the Day of Atonement did. Nisan 15 made an exception to the NO WORK rules in Exodus 12:16 and later, after Israel left Egypt it was modified to forbid only servile work. Once you realize what made a Sabbath a Sabbath then confusing Nisan 15 as a Sabbath disappears.

3 However, despite all that, the Pharisees (Rabbinic Authorites) of Jesus day celebrated Nisan 15 as a Sabbath but not as strictly as an actual Sabbath. Work at your occupations and strenuous labor was forbidden but not all work was forbidden. If Nisan 15 had fallen on a Thursday and the crucifixion had fallen on a Wednesday then there would have been no rush to bury the body as the Nisan 15 drew on. However, if Nisan 15 had fallen on the weekly Sabbath that would not only be a "great" Sabbath but Joseph and Nicodemus would have had to rush the burial of Jesus.

4 So, I believe Wednesday or Thursday could NOT be the day Jesus was crucified. It had to be on a Friday. This of course leaves us with Matthew 12:40 where Jesus said he would be in "the heart of the earth" three days and three nights. That verse is a thorn in the side of those who hold to the Friday crucifixion. It's hard to "explain it away" but there are holes in the arguments one puts forth to place the crucifixion on a Wednesday or Thursday.

5 It's interesting to note that Matthew is internally consistent with himself. There is a conflict between Matthew and the other three gospels though. It's also interesting to note the spurious Gospel of Peter places the crucifixion on a Wednesday or a Thursday, depending on how you interpret "night and day" in verse 27. The writer probably had the gospel of Matthew as his source.


6 See my answer here: can Nisan 15 be referred to as "the sabbath"?

  • +1. The three nights and days only fits on Jesus food consumption, because there is exactly three nights and three days between the last supper and his consumption of fish and honey comb on Sunday evening. Dec 19, 2021 at 23:17
  • @Constantthin LOL. Thank You for that comment Dec 19, 2021 at 23:22
  • The difficulty most have with the "three days and three nights" comes from focusing on the time rather than the event. The "heart of the earth" does not necessarily mean the tomb. If one considers that it might mean in custody of the kingdom of Rome, at that time the greatest kingdom in the known world, then this would have begun at his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Thursday evening. Three nights (by Biblical reckoning): preparation day, Sabbath, first day ; three days: preparation day, Sabbath, first day. Modern reckoning would have the nights as Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
    – Biblasia
    Dec 11, 2022 at 3:12
  • The ancients did not see earth as we see it. They did not know how deep the earth was; all they knew was Hades was the subterranean region where all departed souls would go. A tomb was not in the center of the earth or even under the earth. The tomb Jesus was in was ABOVE the surface of the earth. Dec 12, 2022 at 18:52
  • The question of whether Hades or the tomb was meant is discussed here: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/78708/… Dec 12, 2022 at 19:30

If you are willing to have your assumptions challenged, you may wnat to read here: https://www.academia.edu/37253590/When_was_Jesus_crucified



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