New Testament Chronology
New Testament Chronology, (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990)
Excerpt from: Kenneth F. Doig, .
TABLE OF CHARTS, ABBREVIATIONS, PREFACE, INTRODUCTION, and ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
TABLE OF CHARTS
I. Possible Flood Calendars 11
ABR - Australian Biblical Review
Spellings for the months of the Jewish, Babylonian and Syro-Macedonian
calendars are taken from R. A. Parker and W. H. Dubberstein, Babylonian
Chronology 626 B.C.-A.D. 75 (Providence, RI: Brown University Press,
Jesus, the promised Messiah of many Jews and later Gentiles, walked the hills of Judea and Galilee for a few short years almost two millennia past. He performed miracles that drew large followings. He spoke words of truth that either cut to the depths of one's soul or were not comprehended. He spoke of what was and what was to become. His words and deeds soon brought opposition from the Jewish religious leaders, who sought his death. One of His sayings, illustrated by a Roman silver coin, was prophetic in its own way: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." (Matt. 22:21) Jesus' own people divided, and the world divided, some rendering to God, but more following their own Caesar. This division is reflected in the words of two historians that lived shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus.
Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian born in 37 CE.1 His writings record the most complete account of events in Judea until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. His works include The Wars of the Jews, an eyewitness account that chronicles the first Jewish rebellion against Rome. His larger work, The Antiquities of the Jews, records Jewish history from the Creation. In his later historical work he wrote:
"Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."
Josephus, Antiquities XVIII 3:3
Although the authenticity of this passage has been challenged as an interpolation, the essential reference to Jesus can be taken as written by Josephus.2 He also notes in passing a reference to, "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James." (Ant. XX 9:1) This passage is seldom disputed as the words of Josephus.
Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman historian born in 55 CE. One of his histories, The Annals, was published in 116 CE and covered the period from 14 to 66 CE. In relating the burning of Rome by Nero in 64 CE, he wrote:
"Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they wore torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired."
Tacitus, Annals 15:44
There is the division. One historian reflects a neutral, or perhaps Godly concern, the other a worldly condemnation of Jesus as Christ. Not that Jesus was different, but the perspective of the two writers was different. Thus it is to this day. The concerns of the writer color the selection, interpretation and presentation of the "facts." Such is also the case in an examination of the life and times of Jesus, even between writers with a Godly concern.
This is a brief introduction to Jesus and His Jewish adversaries, to Matthew and the writers of Scripture, to two historians of the first century CE, and to a coin of the period. Such primary sources can be used to reexamine the history and dating of the time of Jesus. With careful approaches and conclusions it is possible to date His life accurately. Such is the aim of this work.
This also will touch on some underlying concerns of many students of the period. This is usually related to Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Of particular interest are the implications of the year of Jesus' death as the Messiah described in the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9:24-27.
Jesus said, "There is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known." (Luke 12:2) A bit more knowledge of the life and times of Jesus will here be revealed.
1. CE, or Christian Era, will be used for A.D. BCE will be used for B.C.
2. G. Vermes, "The Jesus Notice of Josephus Re-Examined," JJS 37
(1987) 1-10 and J. P. Meier, "Jesus in Josephus: A Modest Proposal," CBQ
52 (1990) 76-103.
I wanted to understand. Daniel and Revelation made no sense to me. I read and read, and they made different sense in every article and book. As allegory they made less sense. The many "exact" solutions could not all be the correct solution. The historical dating shifted with each approach. However, that seemed the entree to confirming or eliminating specific dating of the first or second appearance of the promised Messiah. Thus began my studies on the calendars and chronology of Scripture.
The following work in some way faults all the exact solutions to establishing Jesus as "Messiah the Prince" of Daniel. No alternate solution is here proposed. I still only partially understand Daniel and the Revelation. However, what I discovered about the calendars in Scripture and the dating of a historical Jesus is here offered.
The book's first section explores the evolution of the Jewish calendar, as influenced by Scripture, the Babylonian and Syro-Macedonian calendars. The conclusion reached here is that the Sadducees' calendar which controlled the festivals at the Jerusalem Temple, when Jesus was crucified, began the new year in the spring and the day at sunrise.
The Pharisees, who used sunset reckoning, strongly disputed the sunrise reckoning of the Sadducees. The difference between sunrise and sunset reckoning often caused the required festivals to fall on different days. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE the Pharisees began to record their oral traditions. In their Mishna and Talmud sunrise reckoning was suppressed and eventually eliminated. The calendar system of Scripture and the Temple disappeared.
When Jesus was crucified in 30 CE the calculation of Passover by the Pharisees fell one day after the celebration of the Temple Passover. Thus we find the synoptic Gospels reporting the crucifixion of Jesus after the Passover, while John suggests the Passover is yet future. The use of sunrise reckoning also helps to establish that there are no other possible years for the crucifixion of Jesus.
An interesting byproduct of my investigation is three tentative proofs for the conception of Jesus on March 25, 5 BCE. Nine months later we find the traditional birth of Jesus on December 25. In 5 BCE this day on the Jewish calendar was also Kislev 25, or Hanukkah.
An unpopular conclusion of my investigation is that Jesus' ministry lasted two years and three months, not three and a half years. This solution follows from a close look at the arrival of Pontius Pilate in Judea in 27, not 26 CE. However, with the shorter time the events of His ministry fall nicely into place. This allows exact dating of many events during Jesus' last years.
The time of Jesus is followed by a quick look at the dating of the early church as found in Acts. This covers the period from 30 to 62 CE.
Scripture repeatedly reveals itself as the word of God. Our problems
of interpretation lie not in the Bible, but with our own understanding.
I hope the findings in this book will further the reader's understanding
and pleasure in Scripture.
This book was essentially done in the author's den, either in reading or at the word processor. Of particular help has been my wife, Linda. She has brought the needed cup of coffee, listened to some obscure argument, or made a book run to a local library. She has read the book in bits and pieces and has provided much help it making it more readable.
My further thanks to the many helpful librarians and their assistants in finding difficult references. Whether in Fresno, Los Angeles, Berkeley or Chicago, they have helped to make my search exciting.