Given the New Testament accounts and other historical sources of the day,
Part of the reason to consider this topic is to attempt to better understand the history so as to have a clearer perspective concerning the events of that time. Overall, I think the bible authors were truthful and what they said matches the history of that time. That said, knowing the exact year does not save you. To be saved, you need belief in what Jesus Christ of Nazareth said to the apostles and others at the time, belief that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins, to repent of your sins, and to do the will of God. See the New Testament in the Bible to find out more about this free gift from God, through his only begotten son Jesus Christ of Nazareth. ------- History records 3 prominent rulers mentioned in the New Testament at the time that Jesus was said to have died: * Tiberious Caesar ruled from 14 AD - 37 AD * Herod Antipas ruled from 4 BC - 39 AD, he divorced his wife and married his half brother Philip's wife, which caused John the Baptist to condemn that marriage, and John then lost his head for saying such. * Pontius Pilate ruled from 26 AD - 36 AD. Pilate's rule looks to limit Jesus's year of death to a span of only 10 years time. The gospel of Luke says that John the Baptist started preaching in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar's rule: 14 AD + 15 - 1 = 28 AD Given John the Baptist's arrival, needing to preach for a while first (let's guess a year for John to preach), and that Jesus had to later minister for more than 3 years, Jesus had to have died some time after: 28 + 1 + 3 = 32 AD, and also had to die before Pilate left his position in 36 AD. Therefore, Jesus died some time between 32 AD and 36 AD. What about the Jewish feasts, do they help confirm the year? To answer this, you have to know more about the Passover and which day Jesus would have died on. The bible records which day Jesus died on: John 19:31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So clearly, Jesus died just prior to the Sabbath, and it was also a Sabbath that was a "high day" of the Passover feast week. What is a "high day"? The high days in the Passover feast week, are the first and last days of the 7 Passover feast days of eating unleavened bread. The first high day could start any day of the week, due to the fact that the month of Nissan would start on the day that two witnesses would see the new moon show up, and that day of the week varied each year. They would kill the Passover lamb on the 14th day of Nissan, and the unleavened bread would be eaten from the 15th on for 7 days. The 2nd high day, was the 7th day or last day of the 7 day Passover feast. For that Passover the year Jesus died, the first high day was said by John to have been the same day as the Sabbath. In simple terms showing what occurred per day (while noting that days back then ran from evening to evening, and that the Sabbath starts on Friday evening), this is how it looked to John back then describing which day it was in the verse above: "day" What was occurring that day ------------------------------------------------------------------- | Thursday evening to | Nissan 14, Day of Preparation, Jesus dies Friday evening | during the daylight hours on Friday. | ------------------------------------------------------------------- | Nissan 15, Sabbath, the first day of the 7 Friday evening to | day Passover feast week begins, it's also Saturday evening | called the 1st "high day" of the Passover | feast week. Jesus's body is in the tomb. ------------------------------------------------------------------- etc... (the 7 days of the passover feast continue on, with the last day of the passover feast week being the 2nd "high day") It is possible to find all years where the first high day fell on the Sabbath to verify which years are possible candidates for the year of Jesus's death. As it turns out, between the years 27AD and 38AD, there are only 2 years where the high day fell on a Sabbath and those two years are 33AD and 36AD. So given this, during the period of 32AD to 36AD (after John started preaching plus Jesus's preaching, yet before Pilate's rule ended), the only years possible for Jesus to have died in, are 33 AD and 36 AD. The 36 AD year is ruled out for a number of reasons. Essentially too many things had to happen during that year, and one account given, becomes void when 36 AD is checked as a possible crucifixtion date. Pilate was told to return to Rome in 36 AD, he arrived there after Tiberius Caesar died, before Passover in 37AD. Herod Antipas was in a war with Aretus in 36AD and wouldn't have had time to be across the Dead Sea during the preparation of Passover at Jesus's trial. Herod Antipas was said to have been desiring to see Jesus, but in 36 AD, that was during a time of Herod's war and preparing for war with Aretus. There is also the issue that if Jesus died in 36 AD, with a 3.5 year ministry that makes him 32.5 (or older) at the start of it, and Luke said he "began to be about 30" (29.5?) at that time. His birth as the next article states, had to happen soon after the tetrarchy was formed so the people could be registered under their specific tetrarch, and that happened only 2 or 3 years after 4 BC, making Jesus too old for Luke's statement that Jesus "began to be about 30". The 33 AD crucifiction year, does not have any of the issues the 36AD year has. There is also one often overlooked item that tends to bias towards the earlier 33 AD year for Jesus's crucifixtion: Herodias's age. Specifically, John the Baptist was put to death by Herod Antipas for condemning his marriage to Herodias (Herodias was previously married to Philip, and they had a daughter named Salome): Mat 14: 1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, 2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. 4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. 5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. 6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. 7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. 8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. 9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. 10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. Josephus's historical account of the time does say that Herod Antipas married Herodias before Philip died in 34AD. Philip was previously married to Herodias and Philip is the brother of Antipas. Jewish law said that a man should marry his brother's wife if his brother died. Given that Philip was not yet dead by the time Antipas married Herodias, this puts an upper bound on when John the Baptist would be speaking out about the marriage of Herodias and Antipas of 34 AD, as John would likely not speak out about it after Philip had died. Given Antipas's reluctance to have John put to death, I tend to think that John was arrested near the time Antipas married Herodias, while Philip was still alive and after Jesus began his ministry. Additionally, Herod's prior wife was the daughter of Aretus and she was sent by Herod to Machaerus, (the same city John the Baptist was sent in chains and later put to death) after Herod had agreed with Herodius that they should marry and divorce their spouses. Aretus (Herod's prior wife's father) and Herod Antipas eventually went to war in 36AD. Herodias died in 39AD at 53 years old. John the Baptist died early on in Jesus's ministry, possibly at either 33AD - 3 years, or the later date of 36AD - 3 years. Comparing the two for Herodias's age when John the Baptist could have died: * John the Baptist dies in 30 AD, Herodias remarries at 44 years old * John the Baptist dies in 33 AD, Herodias remarries at 47 years old A number of reasons would push towards a younger age for Herodias: * women would be getting pregnant earlier then * for Salome to be dancing, it's likely she'd be younger and not married, given Antipas offering her any wish after * Herod Antipas divorced his wife for Herodias and her being younger would be more of an incentive for Herod Antipas, and to grant Salome her and her mother's wish at the birthday party for Herod Antipas that Salome was dancing at. Given those above, it's more likely that John the Baptist died at the ealier year, rather than latter. And this too sides for Jesus's crucifixtion year as being 33 AD. Lastly, John the Baptist in starting preaching in 28 AD, a known year, it is also more likely that he preached for a couple years rather than 5 years, to preach about the coming messiah. The year that best matches all accounts timing for Jesus's crucifixtion, is 33 AD. If it's confusing, the graph below might help visualize the setup over the time period surrounding Jesus's crucifixtion year:
Putting this all together in an estimated timeline: --------------------------------------------------- Ruling leaders: Tiberius Caesar rules Rome, Herod Antipas rules Peraea and Galilee, Philip rules East of Jordan, Pilate is the ruler of Judaea. 28 AD - John the Baptist begins preaching in 15th year of Tiberius's reign 29.5 AD - Jesus shows up to be baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus is announced as the messiah and starts finding apostles. 30 AD - Herod Antipas, and Philip both divorce their wives, Herod Antipas then marries Herodias when she is 44 years old. John the Baptist says it is wrong for the marriage to happen, he is arrested and put in prison. During Herod's birthday party, Herodias's daughter, Salome is dancing. Herod is so impressed with her dancing, he says she can have anything she wants. Salome asks for the head of John the Baptist, and he is executed. Jesus tells others that John the Baptist is dead. Jesus continues preaching during his ministry. 33 AD - Jesus is taken by the high priests and soldiers, judged, crucified, and buried (in the hands of sinful men for 3 days). 34 AD - Philip the Tetrarch dies. 36 AD - Pilate's rule ends. 37 AD - Tiberious Caesar's rule ends. 39 AD - Herod Antipas and Herodias both die. --------------------------------------------------- As the Sabbath is Friday evening until Saturday evening and Jesus died just prior to the Sabbath (they didn't want his body to be left on the cross during the Sabbath), Jesus had to have died prior to Friday evening. Therefore, Jesus died just prior to the 1st Passover feast day (which that year fell on the Sabbath), on Friday before evening, in 33 AD. Is there more confirmation of this? Absolutely. At the last supper, Jesus told them that he wanted to eat the Passover feast with them, but never would, in fact, he didn't even eat the night before he died. Jesus handed them the bread at that last supper, but didn't eat any of it himself. Jesus was the first born, and the first born would be fasting on the day the Passover lamb was sacrificed. That 'day' would be Thursday evening, to Friday evening, and Jesus would be fasting during that time. Friday afternoon when Jesus was crucified, it was just before the Passover feast's first day, just before the evening of the Sabbath, when they would have all ate together later that night on the Sabbath... but by then, Jesus was dead, dead before the start of the 1st day of the Passover feast, having died during the time of the lambs being sacrified prior to the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. In the translations of the verses, there are instances where it's a little confusing concerning the days of the Passover. For example: Mt 26:17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover? Obviously, the preparation for the Passover is BEFORE the Passover feast week. Typically it takes days or even weeks to clean the rooms. That verse should have been and can be translated as: Mt 26:17 Then to first honor the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover feast? Again, that preparation could take days, where they'd first have to clean all traces of the leaven from the place they'd be having the Passover feast, and that cleaning is before the Passover started. So they were asking Jesus before the Passover, and NOT on the 1st day of Passover. You can find confirmation of this in a prior verse: Mt 26:2 Ye know that after two days, is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. In other words, Jesus just told them that in two days, the feast of the Passover would start, and the verses continue on where they then replied back to him "Where should we go prepare for the Passover feast?". Obviously they weren't asking him on the first day of the Passover feast week, but had to be asking him prior to the first day... that same 2 days before when Jesus said they needed to go to Jerusalem. The Mt 26:17 verse to make proper sense with the Jewish feasts, it should have been translated to english with regards to the timing of events in those feast days such that they'd simply be replying back on the same day, "where should we go to prepare?". Retranslating other similar verses: Mk 14:12 Then to first honor the time of unleavened bread after they would kill the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare, that you may eat the Passover feast?" Lu 22:7 But approaching was the time of unleavened bread, with the Passover to be killed. 8 And he sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare us the Passover feast, that we may eat. The translators basically didn't check to insure that the translated english description matched with regard to the Old Testament laws of the Passover feast. Choosing proper english wording from available translation options, helps substantially in conveying what Jesus had said and when he had said it, verses the actual events occurring then. There is nothing wrong with the original scriptures concerning the verses, but there is a problem with how the scriptures were translated to english. Regardless, Jesus knew he was being betrayed by Judas Iscariot 2 days before the Passover started, so the timeline of Jesus's death looks like: Weds - They were in Simon the leper's house in Bethany. Jesus told them he was being betrayed (by Judas Iscariot), and the woman put the spikenard on Jesus's head and feet for his burial, while Judas complained that the spikenard could have been sold for a lot of money, and the money should have been given to the poor. John said that Judas had a bag of money at the time that the chief priests gave Judas to tell them who Jesus is and point him out. Jesus reminded them that in two days the feast of the Passover would start and they had to move on into Jerusalem. The disciples knew they had to prepare for the Passover so they asked Jesus where they'd be having the Passover so they could go there and start preparing for it. Jesus then tells them to follow a man bearing a pitcher of water to where ever he went in the city to a new house, with a new large room where they'd be preparing the Passover feast at. In that they didn't yet know where the house was, Judas wouldn't know, and couldn't report back to the high priests or soldiers. And this delayed Jesus being taken, while Judas looked for an opportunity where he'd know where Jesus was that was close enough to go get the soldiers to turn him in. Thurs - They entered Jerusalem, Jesus rode on an ass's colt and was praised by them, mostly over Lazarus being raised. They quickly became disenchanted in that they expected Christ would abide forever, yet Jesus told them he'd die. That evening they went to the large room for the last supper, Jesus didn't eat. Judas had the money bag, he was anxious to turn Jesus in, and he now knew where they were staying for the Passover feast. Being in Jerusalem, it was closer to the chief priests and soldiers than it was when they were back in Bethany. Now it was easier for Judas to walk off and quickly get the soldiers. Judas then left the last supper, to go get permission to get the soldiers and to then bring them to take Jesus. But they left while Judas was gone. That night, Judas helped the soldiers find Jesus, he then identified him, the soldiers took him and his disciples deserted him. Fri - Jesus was taken to prison, interrogated, beaten, ridiculed, mutilated, and crucified until he died. John confirms the the day by saying Jesus was there being questioned by Pilate and accused by the chief priests and elders (of which Jesus did not defend himself against their claims) on the day of preparation for the feast days of Passover. The preparation day is when the Passover lambs would be slaughtered, much like Jesus was about to be after Pilate washed his hands of it and told the chief priests and elders that Pilate would be innocent of Jesus's death. The chief priests and elders convinced the crowd to demand they crucify Jesus and let Barabbas go free. Just before evening, after Jesus died, he was taken down off the cross, wrapped in linen and laid in the tomb. The Sabbath then started that evening, as did the 1st day of the 7 day feast of Passover, the feast of unleavened bread. Sat - Sabbath continues through the daylight hours, no work allowed to finish Jesus's burial. The chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate to tell him to place guards at the tomb as they'd heard Jesus say he'd rise again after the third day. Pilate told them to guard it and make it as sure as they liked. During the evening, Jesus's disciples stayed away from the tomb probably because it was: too dark to see in the tomb, there were now guards there guarding it, and they probably feared using lamps as that would draw attention to themselves, them being seen as followers of Jesus after he'd been crucified the previous day by the chief priests, elders and crowd. Sun - Early morning, the women went to the tomb to see about finishing the burial, the angel appeared with the appearance of lightning, and the guards fell to the ground. The angel rolled back the stone while telling the women that Jesus had risen, and for them to go tell the others. The 3 days and nights article discusses Jesus being in the hands of sinful men from Thursday evening, until Sunday morning. The accounts seem to line up in many ways with Jesus dying in 33 AD, before the Passover feast's 1st day (or "high day", which was also on the Sabbath), and on the same day as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered that year.
Note: See the Bible first if you have questions about the Bible, paying particular attention to what Jesus said to the apostles and others with him then. Consider what Jesus said, and how it applies to you and others. Pray to God and discuss with other believers about matters of faith. What is written above is my opinion freely given, based on how I perceived the topic content at the time it was written. This page's content may change over time. My belief in God will never change.