Is the supposed date of Christ’s crucifixion.
That’s according to geologists working around the Dead Sea.
The International Geology Review investigated an earthquake that was said to have occurred the same date as Jesus’ crucifixion; which was most likely Friday April 3, 33 A.D.
In Gospel of of Matthew, Chapter 27 says: “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”
According to Discovery News, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences, analyzed earthquake activity in the area by studying three cores from the Ein Gedi Spa beach.
The research confirmed that two major earthquakes have hit the area specified, one during the period between 26 BCE and 36 CE, and could be the one referred to in the Gospel of Matthew.
All good and well, right? Until,
However, the earthquake data alone doesn’t fully confirm the date. Williams, Schwab, and Brauer admit that the earthquake implied in the gospel could be allegorical, referring to the earthquake that occurred sometime before or after the crucifixion.
This earthquake would have been powerful enough to break apart the sediments of Ein Gedi but not enough to have warranted “a still extant and extra-biblical historical record.”
“If the last possibility is true, this would mean that the report of an earthquake in the Gospel of Matthew is a type of allegory,” they write in the International Geology Review…
It’s best if I at this point defer to the outstanding biblical archaeology blog Bible Places:
A recent study of seismological activity carried out in the Dead Sea region by geologist Jefferson Williams claims to have found evidence for an earthquake that can be dated to April 3, 33 CE. This study then goes on to make the claim that this earthquake relates to the crucifixion earthquake mentioned in Matt. 27:51. However, later in the article Williams concedes that the earthquake could have happened some time “before or after the crucifixion” at which point it was “borrowed” by the “author of the Gospel of Matthew”…
What’s the point of arguing for the calendar week and day in which Jesus was crucified if you are going to say it could have happened any time in 33 CE? Moreover, the fact that he is looking for naturalistic ways of explaining the phenomena mentioned in Matt. 27 reeks of the formula used in “The Exodus Decoded.” So prepare yourself for a Discovery channel documentary in the near future. That said – if the report is to be trusted – it is quite interesting that there is seismological activity in the period in question. In fact, this lines up quite well with the late Harold Hoehner’s chronology in Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (see pg. 95-114). However, given the caveat of the geological analysis proving to be accurate, this evidence still proves relatively nothing. I suspect scholars will line up along party lines with inerrantists claiming infallible evidence and the rest claiming allegorical etiological explanations (e.g. Arad, Ai/Et-Tell, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.)