The Myth of the Friday Crucifixion of the Lord Christ
“The First of the Sabbaths”
It is very troubling that major Bible translators mistranslate the same phrase used to introduce the resurrection of the Lord Christ.
[I checked the NASB, ESV, NIV, and Holman versions; all are consistent with the example from the NASB below; all miss a very descriptive and important plural noun.]
Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark …
Here is a more accurate, literal translation of the same texts followed by the original Koine Greek:
But after the Sabbaths, dawning to the first of the Sabbaths
Ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων, τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων,
Very early, the first of the Sabbaths
καὶ λίαν πρωῒ τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων ἔρχονται ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον ἀνατείλαντος τοῦ ἡλίου.
But the first of the Sabbaths, at early dawn
τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων ὄρθρου βαθέως
But the first of the Sabbaths
Τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων
As you can see, Sabbaths [σαββάτων] is plural in each of the citations. The texts are very consistent on this detail.
While it is true that the day following the weekly Sabbath would be the first day of the week, that is not what the gospel writers were saying.
[Of course the first day follows the seventh day in the unending repetition of weeks. They did not need to state the obvious for their readers!]
My point is simply that the gospel writers weren’t highlighting the fact of the first day, but rather that the prescribed sequence of weeks for the next national feasts was beginning.
The first of these was the Feast of Weeks:
You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.
You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the Lord your God blesses you;
But, when did this Feast begin? The answer is here:
You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest. You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.
The spring equinox marked the beginning of the Hebrew calendar; moreover (as we’ve seen), the Passover was prescribed to begin on the 14th of that first month. The Jews then were to begin a count of seven weeks (the Feast of Weeks), after which would be the Feast of Ingathering.
All four gospel writers, in the consistent use of the phrase “the first of the Sabbaths”, are telling us that the count of seven weeks was starting. It was, after all, the “turn of the year” and the requirements of the Passover were essentially complete. The Jews must now turn their attention to the next religious feasts.
Only Matthew supplies a detail not mentioned by the others: “after the Sabbaths”. What did he mean?
The answer is simple—and the primary premise of this article: two Sabbaths (plural!) had transpired between the crucifixion of the Lord Christ and His resurrection “three days and three nights” later (Thursday, the first day of the holy convocation and Saturday, the weekly Sabbath).
By their mystifying mistranslations, modern Bible translators have helped to promote the-Lord-was-crucified-on-Friday myth by misstating that there was a single Sabbath instead of two. Shame on them! They should have been much more careful!