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Last Supper a day earlier: British research

LONDON (AFP) - Christians have long celebrated Jesus Christ's Last Supper on Maundy Thursday but new research released Monday claims to show it took place on the Wednesday before the crucifixion.

Professor Colin Humphreys, a scientist at the University of Cambridge, believes it is all due to a calendar mix-up -- and asserts his findings strengthen the case for finally introducing a fixed date for Easter.
Humphreys uses a combination of biblical, historical and astronomical research to try to pinpoint the precise nature and timing of Jesus's final meal with his disciples before his death.

Researchers have long been puzzled by an apparent inconsistency in the Bible. While Matthew, Mark and Luke all say the Last Supper coincided with the start of the Jewish festival of Passover, John claims it took place before Passover.

Humphreys has concluded in a new book, "The Mystery Of The Last Supper", that Jesus -- along with Matthew, Mark and Luke -- may have been using a different calendar to John. "Whatever you think about the Bible, the fact is that Jewish people would never mistake the Passover meal for another meal, so for the Gospels to contradict themselves in this regard is really hard to understand," Humphreys said.

"Many biblical scholars say that, for this reason, you can't trust the Gospels at all. But if we use science and the Gospels hand in hand, we can actually prove that there was no contradiction." In Humphreys' theory, Jesus went by an old-fashioned Jewish calendar rather than the official lunar calendar which was in widespread use at the time of his death and is still in use today.

This would put the Passover meal -- and the Last Supper -- on the Wednesday, explaining how such a large number of events took place between the meal and the crucifixion. It would follow that Jesus' arrest, interrogation and separate trials did not all take place in the space of one night but in fact occurred over a longer period.

Humphreys believes a date could therefore be ascribed to Easter in our modern solar calendar, and working on the basis that the crucifixion took place on April 3, Easter Day would be on April 5.

Christians celebrate last Easter in united Sudan

KHARTOUM, April 23, (AFP) - Easter in Sudan this year should be an occasion to celebrate the imminent secession of the mostly Christian south, but tribal violence and threats to reinforce sharia law in the north have muted festivities.

“Our church here, it is a church of struggle. That is why in our songs, the congregation sings loudly and with the drums, just to emphasise their presence,” said Father John Dingi, 66, a priest at the Catholic Cathedral in Khartoum.

His congregation of mostly southern Sudanese has dwindled since the mass exodus of southerners from the mainly Arab Muslim north, leaving a vacuum in once-thriving church parishes.

Almost 300,000 people have returned to south Sudan since October, according to UN estimates.
But a wave of violence has erupted there in recent months between rebel militia groups and the southern army that has left hundreds dead, including women and children, and soured the mood ahead of independence in July.

The Archbishop of Sudan's Episcopal Church, in his Easter message earlier this week, spoke pointed words about the need for courage in the face of “betrayal” by the north. Khartoum strongly rejects southern allegations that it is arming the rebels, saying the Juba government is simply struggling to control its own people.

Quran-burning pastor briefly jailed in Michigan

Michigan, April 23 (AFP) -The US pastor whose burning of a Quran sparked deadly violence in Afghanistan was briefly jailed in a heavily Islamic suburb Friday after a court banned his protest outside a mosque.

A local judge jailed pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida and his associate Wayne Sapp after a court found their planned protest outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan, could lead to violence.

During his court appearance, Jones argued that the Quran “promotes terrorist activities around the world.” Judge Mark Somers set bond at the symbolic amount of $1 each for the two pastors, which they initially refused to pay.

Following their refusal, both were escorted to a local jail. But local media reported both men changed their minds after spending about an hour behind bars and posted the $1 bond. Under the judge's ruling, both Jones and Sapp are now prohibited by the court from going to the mosque for three years.

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