Death of Jesus

The death of Jesus coincided with the world turning dark. The most common natural cause of this is an eclipse.

A lunar eclipse is less dramatic than a solar eclipse but would, in our terms, equate to extinguishing street lighting and would be noticed; it is considerably easier to find ones way around with a full Moon than without one.

Passover - a Full Moon Festival

The Jewish Calendar is based on the Moon. Each month begins at the New Moon with calendars adjusted using ”Leap Months” specifically for Passover to occur during the month of Spring. (This “month of Spring” is then referred to as Nisan. Deut 16:1 )

Passover corresponds to the 14th day of Nisan. (Exodus 12:2) which places Passover at the full Moon following the Spring Equinox.

By the Julian Calendar, the Spring Equinox occurred on 22nd/ 23rd March between 1 AD and 59 AD.

Only a Lunar Eclipse can occur at Full Moon

An Eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon and Earth are in line. A Lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is in the middle and its shadow blocks out the Sun’s rays to the otherwise fully illuminated Moon.

By contrast, a Solar Eclipse occurs when the Moon is in the middle and blocks out the light from the Sun

Lunar Eclipses during the Prefecture of Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate was Prefect of Judea from 26 AD to 36 AD. This is one of the few facts free of controvesy.

Three Lunar eclipses were visible in Judea during March and April between 26 AD and 36 AD

A Time Zone offset of 2h 20m is applied reflecting the longitude of Jerusalem.

    Wednesday 25 April 31 AD   20:02 to 26th/ 00:32

    Friday 3 April 33 AD           18:17 to 19:42

    Tuesday 23 March 34 AD     18:09 to 18:44

    (For 33 AD and 34 AD, the starting time is Moonrise.)

Twilight Times for the Possible Eclipses

Date                        Sunset        Civil          Nautical          Astronomical

25 April 31 AD            18:31        18:56          19:26             19:58

3 April 33 AD             18:18        18:42          19:11             19:41

23 March 34 AD          18:12        18:36          19:04             19:33

The eclipse of 34 AD can be discounted as it ended within minutes of the end of Civil twilight and there would have been no discernible effect.

25th April 31 AD

Moonrise                             18:15

Penumbral Phase Started      20:02

Partial Phase Start               21:17

Maximum Eclipse                 22:17

Partial Phase End                 23:18

Penumbral Phase End           24:32

As the eclipse started after Astronomical twilight, there would have been a significant loss of light even though only a quarter of the Moon was totally immersed in the earth’s shadow.

This eclipse took place 36 days after the Spring Equinox which probably exceeds the margin of error for estimating the seasons in those days. However it is the earliest possible eclipse.

3rd April 33 AD

Penumbral Phase Started      14:07

Partial Phase Start               15:29

Maximum Eclipse                 16:55

Moonrise                             18:17

Partial Phase End                 18:20

Penumbral Phase End           19:42

At some point between the end of Civil twilight and the end of the Lunar eclipse the loss of “street lighting” may have been noticeable. Unfortunately the Moon was only in the Penumbra of the Earth’s shadow from 18:20 onwards and the Moon would have been getting brighter all the time.

That this eclipse occurred in the thirty third “year of our Lord” (AD) and on a Friday is obviously significant. It should however be noted that the eclipse would not have been visible in Rome, but would have more noticeable to the east (Babylon/ Persia.)

If texts were modified to fit known events then they were altered to fit eastern records rather than Roman ones.