Jim Meritt of Infidels.org claims the Bible contradicts itself here and asks "How long was Jesus in the tomb?" Meritt's explanation is as follows, with the related verses provided:
|“|| "Depends where you look; MAT 12:40 gives Jesus prophesying that he will spend "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth," and MAR 10:34 has 'after three days (meta treis emeras) he will rise again.' As far as I can see from a quick look, the prophecies have 'after three days,' but the post-Resurrection narratives have 'on the third day.'"
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Mark 10:34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.
If ancient Israelites had the same concept of a 'day' as modern Americans this might be easier to call a contradiction, but they didn't, and several differences existed:
- The Hebrew concept of a day did not begin with the day, but with the night, so each 'day' was a combination of night/day, not day/night. Even today the Jewish day is considered to start at sundown, not sunup. This is primarily because of Genesis 1, "the evening and the morning were the first day." According to Jewish custom at the time, the 'day' would have actually began the previous evening. This is specifically stated in Leviticus 23:32 as well, "from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath."
- Likewise with the Jewish concept of hours, the "ninth hour of the day" would not mean 9 am. In Judaism the total daylight of a given day is divided into 12 equal parts, so the ninth hour would mean 9/12 or 3/4 of the daylight in the day has elapsed. Once all daylight is gone, a new day begins in the evening, contrary to modern American thinking. If daylight began at 7 am and ended at 7 pm, for example, then the ninth hour would be 9/12 of the 12 hours of daylight, or 9 hours after 7 am, or 4 pm. This is referenced in John 11:9 when Jesus said, "Are there not twelve hours in the day?"
Now, with all of that said, what does the timeline show occurred?
- The crucifixion proceedings/trial began the third hour on Friday. (Mark 15:25)
- Pilate appealed on the sixth hour of Friday one last time to the crowd, asking if they were sure they wanted to crucify their King before the crucifixion itself began. (John 19:14-18)
- The land experienced unusual early darkness, perhaps an eclipse, from the sixth to ninth hours, meaning the sun apparently came out afterward. (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44-45)
- One of Jesus' last cries being crucified is said to be the ninth hour, Friday afternoon by our time. (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)
- Jesus had died by the time the evening (new day) began and Joseph of Arimathaea came to bury Jesus. (Matthew 27:57) This day after Jesus died is said to be "preparation, the day before the Sabbath," i.e. Saturday by Jewish time and Friday evening by our time. (Mark 15:42-43; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:40-42) During this time the chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate to set a watch over the tomb to prevent the disciples from taking the body. (Matthew 27:62-66)
- The women prepared spices for Jesus' burial and rested on the sabbath (Saturday) according to Jewish commandment. (Luke 23:56)
- After the sabbath (Saturday) had ended as dawn began for the first day of the week (Sunday) meaning Sunday had already begun in the evening and the daylight phase was beginning the women came to the tomb to find Jesus risen. (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-2,9; Luke 24:1-6; John 20:1,19)
So in summary, by Jewish reckoning, Jesus was crucified at the end of Friday's day during which an eclipse began. He was in sheol the heart of the earth throughout Saturday as well until the beginning of Sunday. So Friday day/Saturday night/Saturday day/Sunday night/Sunday day. However, where did the additional night come from?
This is where God decided to make a supernatural night per what was an apparent eclipse, remember? See Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, and Luke 23:44-45. The Gospel writers knew this was important and gave special attention to it because it was this that fulfilled the last night of the prophecy, so counting this, Jesus was indeed three days and nights in sheol, the heart of the earth. Indeed, if Jesus died before the eclipse began, one could consider there to be an extra full day and night rather than just night since the sun came out again. Thus by counting the eclipse the time could indeed be easily considered three days and nights by Jewish reckoning.
God the Father may have intervened this way to supernaturally save His Son from an extra day in Hell while still fulfilling the prophecy, per Jesus' appeals to Him. Knowing His Son was exhausted and weakening, God the Father may well have granted Jesus' request that "if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him." If so, God essentially removed the most trying day from His Son by supernaturally altering Jewish record-keeping itself. The only such lunar eclipse that could have occurred near that time would have been Friday, April 3, 33 A.D., which in 1983 led scholars to proclaim (in the journal Nature no less) this the date of the crucifixion.
|“|| Mark 14:35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
Matthew 26:38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
John 12:27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
Just as God made the rainbow a naturally reoccurring phenomenon after the Flood as a symbol to later generations (Genesis 9:12-17) even so He may have changed the solar cycles so eclipses would reoccur in such a way as to make evident the timing of what He had done earlier for His Son.
TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:
|“|| Matthew 20:29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.
30 And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
Jesus healed the two men in verse 34.
Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
There was only one blind man.
Mark 10:46 never says there was "only" one blind man, it just happens to mention one. It's not uncommon for witnesses in court to only mention people at a scene they consider relevant. No court would take seriously a claim that the testimony of witnesses contradicts because they mention different unconflicting details of what occurred; it's just taken for granted their accounts need to be accepted as different perspectives of what occurred until they disqualify themselves as dishonest, or the evidence does.
Mark perhaps interviewed Bartimaeus or someone in his family who mentioned him specifically, while Matthew mentioned both people. This isn't in any way a contradiction, just mentioning varying levels of detail about what happened. The Gospels are different accounts from different people. You expect different levels of detail in different accounts so long as there's no clear conflict, which there isn't here.
Had the Mark passage used the word "only" then there would be a contradiction, but nowhere is the word found in the passage. The critic is putting words in God's mouth, essentially.
- Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
- Hecht, Mendy. Why does the Jewish day start at sundown? AskMoses.com. Retrieved from http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/423,198/Why-does-the-Jewish-day-start-at-sundown.html.
Chabad.org. The Jewish Day. Retrieved from http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/526873/jewish/The-Jewish-Day.htm.
- Taylor, P.S., Van Bebber, M., & Easton, M.G. Day. ChristianAnswers.net. Retrieved from http://christiananswers.net/dictionary/day.html.
- Chabad.org. Hours. Retrieved from http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/526872/jewish/Hours.htm.
TorahCalendar.com. Determining the Hebrew Hour. Retrieved from http://www.torahcalendar.com/HOUR.asp.
- Ogden, Arthur M. (1984, May 17). The Crucifixion Date. Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 10, pp. 296-297. Truth Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.truthmagazine.com/archives/volume28/GOT028159.html.
- TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions.