Refutation of Bart Ehrman’s charge that the Gospel of John contradicts the Synoptics on the matter of the day of the crucifixion of Christ.
Key Historical background truths that help us understand the issue:
- The Jews started counting when a day begins in the evening – Sundown pm to next Sundown pm.
- The Gospels are also using 2 different methods of time – the Synoptics use Jewish time and the Gospel according to John is using Roman time.
- The phrase “three days and three nights” in Jonah 1:17 and quoted in Matthew 12:39-40 is an idiom for three 24 hours days in which part of one day is counted as a day. Therefore there is no contradiction between that and the statement “on the third day” Jesus rose from the dead all through the NT. (especially 1 Corinthians 15:3-5)
2 Chronicles 30:22 – shows the feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread lasted a whole week, not just one day.
Dr. White points out that the Greek word for “day of preparation” is παρασκευη / paraskeuae, which is “Friday”! Jesus was crucified on Friday and rose again from the dead on Sunday morning.
Muslims (and others) like to bring up Jonah 1:17 and Matthew 12:39-40. I remember years ago, around 1986, hearing Ahmad Deedat bring this up in his debate with Josh McDowell. Jonah 1:17 and Matthew 12:39-40 saying “three days and three nights” is a Jewish idiom and part of a 24 hour day counts for the whole day, so some of Friday, all of Saturday and some of Sunday counts the same, in Jewish reckoning, as “three days and three nights”.
James White had also spent time on this issue in an earlier DL show:
On the sign of Jonah, “three days and three nights”: