Friday, March 29, 2013

How is Easter Sunday if Good Friday's Friday?

Today is Good Friday, the day that Christian's "celebrate" the death of Jesus. Then Sunday is Easter, celebrating Christ's resurrection. Except that Christianity also tells us that Christ died and on the third day he rose again. Wait a minute. As my wife pointed out the other day, if he died Friday afternoon, Sunday morning is barely 36 hours later. That's not three days and three nights. How does that work?

The best answer I've found comes from this article on the United Church of God web site. The first thing to know is that "Easter" is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the idea of celebrating and commemorating Christ's resurrection isn't mention anywhere in the bible (neither is the concept of Lent). Whereas celebrating Passover is mentioned in the New Testament, something early Christians did but modern Christians have long since dropped. Instead, like all good Christian holidays, Easter was co-opted from pagan festivals celebrating the beginning of spring. The word "Easter" comes form the Anglo-Saxon word "Eostre", the goddess of spring. Bunnies and eggs all come directly from this pagan tradition.

It was a long time before any of these traditions were officially adopted by the church as official holidays. Then there were all sorts of battles over when the holidays should be, and what should be celebrated when. When everything was settled, Christ's death was Friday and his resurrection was Sunday mostly due to a lazy reading of the Bible.

The Bible talks about Christ dying and being buried just hours before the Sabbath began. Then the women, after resting on the Sabbath, show up to his tomb the next day to anoint him with oils and he's gone. So, he died the day before the Sabbath and rose the day after. He died Friday. He rose Sunday. The Jewish Sabbath being of course on Saturday. But that's not three days.

Right, because if you read the Bible more carefully you realize that somewhere in there the women had time to go buy and prepare the oils. Something they couldn't have done on the Sabbath itself.

Remember how I mentioned early Christian's celebrated Passover? That's because Jesus celebrated Passover and the subsequent Feast of the Unleavened Bread. Those two Jewish festivals are generally combined these days into one event, but they weren't always that way. You'd have your Passover seder, then you might have a day to prepare, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread would begin... with a "high day" or Sabbath.

Ding ding ding. There were TWO Sabbaths that week. We have a winner.

In the year 31, the Feast of Unleavened Bread started on Thursday. Read the Bible closely, and you realize that Jesus died on Wednesday, the day before the "high day" Sabbath that began the festival. Sunset Wednesday to sunset Thursday is one day and night. Sunset Thursday to sunset Friday is day two, and the day the woman buy and prepare the oils. Sunset Friday to sunset Saturday is day three, the regular weekly Sabbath. Christ then presumably rises Saturday night, which by the Jewish reckoning is already Sunday. The woman go to the tomb before sunrise the next day and find it empty.

There you go.

So Good Friday should really be Good Wednesday, and the Last Supper was Tuesday night. What did Christ do all night Saturday? Who knows. Maybe he rested up from dying or spent one last wild night on the town turning water into wine before he had to start ministering to his followers. In any case, good luck getting the world's 2 billion Christian's celebrating Good Wednesday.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.