Archaeology and the Crucifixion
There is evidence that the crucifixion of Christ may be the only day on which a Blood moon, noonday darkness and global or multi-tectonic earthquake coincided.
But what about the bloody moon? – Crucifixion April 3 AD 33.
Blood moon is when sometimes in a total lunar eclipse, the earth which comes between sun & moon casts a red shadow on the moon.
The earthquake during crucifixion was global in scope (affecting every tectonic boundary) as Tertullian and Africanus document.
The answer to that question fixes the date of the crucifixion with precision. Beyond reasonable doubt, in fact, because a “blood moon” has a specific meaning. In ancient literature, not only the Bible, it means a lunar eclipse. Why bloody? Because when the moon is in eclipse it is in the Earth’s shadow. It receives no direct light from the sun, but is lit only by the dim light refracted and red-shifted by the Earth’s atmosphere. The moon in eclipse does glow a dull red, as you know if you have seen it.
This matters, because with Kepler’s equations we can determine exactly when historical eclipses occurred. Perhaps it will not surprise you to learn that only one Passover lunar eclipse was visible from Jerusalem while Pilate was in office and it occurred on April 3, 33 AD, the Day of the Cross.
That day followed a night of horrors predicted by the prophet Isaiah. In place of sleep for Jesus there were torch-lit hours of interrogation and mockery, spittle in the face and beatings, barbed lashes tearing flesh from his back and thorns pressed into his scalp. Isaiah wrote that the Messiah would be beaten until “marred beyond human likeness”. And so, Jesus was brutalised during multiple “trials” and retrials before priests Annas and Caiaphas, King Herod and the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. In the end, his fate was decided by a mob. He was marched to Golgotha, the “place of the skull,” and crucified. He would die within six hours.
The gospels tell the chronology. Hammers thudded spikes through Jesus and into the cross at 9 a.m. He was raised up. At noon and for three hours the sky was darkened. In the Temple at Jerusalem, only priests were permitted to enter the presence of God—a thick curtain excluded common men. During the crucifixion, this veil was torn apart, top to bottom, as a shattering earthquake split rocks and broke open tombs). In the darkness and tumult of these signs, even the Roman guards regretted their part in the killing. Jesus died at 3 p.m. He was removed from the cross before nightfall to preserve the sanctity of the impending Passover. But the signs and wonders did not end. When the moon rose that evening, it was blood red.
Earthquake at Crucifixion
Phlegon was a Greek historian who wrote an extensive chronology around AD 137:
In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e., AD 33) there was ‘the greatest eclipse of the sun’ and that ‘it became night in the sixth hour of the day [i.e., noon] so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.’
Annular (ring) eclipse
An eclipse could NOT have caused darkness at the crucifixion because they don’t occur during the full moon.Phlegon provides powerful confirmation of the Gospel accounts. He identifies the year and the exact time of day. In addition, he writes of an earthquake accompanying the darkness, which is specifically recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 27:51).
Dr. Paul Maier, professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University, notes ‘This phenomenon, evidently, was visible in Rome, Athens, and other Mediterranean cities.’ Maier, Paul. Pontius Pilate (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1968), p. 366. Phlegon’s citation is a fragment from Olympiades he Chronika 13, ed. Otto Keller,
erumNaturaliumScriptoresGraeciMinores, 1 (Leipzig Teurber, 1877), p. 101.On the other hand, Africanus writes of the darkness as a global event. Tertullian, the famous second century apologist, also hails the darkness as a ‘cosmic’ or ‘world event’. Appealing to skeptics, he wrote: At the moment of Christ’s death, the light departed from the sun, and the land was darkened at noonday, which wonder is related in your own annals, and is preserved in your archives to this day.
Apparently, Tertullian could state with confidence that documentation of the darkness could be found in legitimate historical archives.
Death & Resurrection
Famed British archaeologist Captain Lew Wallace who wrote Ben Hur came to faith by the historical veracity of Luke’s Gospel. In his excavations he found Luke’s details were always accurate. In Jerusalem to this day there is a rock face by the gate nearest to the preserved Gabbatha – seat of governance of Pilate, the Roman Governor in 30 AD. The rock looks like a skull about the height of a coconut tree. This probably was Golgotha (Place of Skull) where Christ was crucified. Calvary = Latin Calvarium = Skull. The rock has two small caves and a big one in an inverted triangular formation looking like eyes and mouth. Adjacent is an archaeologically restored and confirmed 1st century vineyard where olives and vines grew and there is also a rich man’s tomb and rock to roll to shut the grave. In all probability this was where the Body of Jesus was laid prior to resurrection.
Here is something you can test. Some think Christ did not die – he only fainted. What happens when someone is crucified? He can breathe in (inhale) but can’t breathe out (exhale). Air is trapped in the lungs and pressure increases in the pleural cavity and lungs. Lung artery pressure and Right heart pressure which is 25/10 mmHg go up to levels of Left side pressure. The right ventricle is thin and begins to fail. Fluid leaks and fills the pleural cavity and pericardial sac. The heart is tight and fails. Cardiac Tamponade.
The Roman Government checks the death of the victim by piercing the heart with spear. In Christ’s case blood clots and fluid came out when his heart was pierced. Death was confirmed. A victim is nailed through the wrist between ulna and radius bones.
Pilate asked if Jesus had died that fast. Mark 15:44, John 19:33,34. The centurion confirmed His death. That was a part of the medico-legal Roman exercise to confirm death before burial. Theorising that Jesus of Nazareth did not die is contrary to proof.
The Resurrection marks the victory of justice over evil. The Cross was a marriage between Truth and Mercy where righteousness was groomsman and Peace was the chief bridesmaid.
“It is Finished”
- Enmity between God and man is finished
- Alienation from God is finished
- Sacrifices finished
- Penalty for sin is finished
- Tit for tat is finished
- Now we learn to forgive as He forgave.