Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dinner Reservations

Professor Colin Humphreys, a scientist at the University of Cambridge in England, would like us all to know that the Last Supper was actually held on the Wednesday before Good Friday. For centuries, Christians have been the dinner party on the Thursday before the crucifixion. Getting this kind of news after two thousand years is bound to shake things up a little, right? Matthew, Mark and Luke all say the Last Supper coincided with the start of the Jewish festival of Passover, John claims it took place before Passover.

Who are you going to believe? First of all, they were all probably a little worse for wear after partaking of all that "blood." Secondly, the apostles were under a fair amount of stress back in those days. What had been a non-stop caravan of preaching and miracles was becoming a great big political mess. Humphreys makes the logical argument that all the events that occurred after the Last Supper would probably not have happened over the course of just one day. Then there was the confusion over which calendar was being used. The professor believes that Jesus was probably using the old-fashioned Jewish calendar, rather than the lunar calendar that is still in use today.

This doesn't even take into account how hard it is to get a table for thirteen on such short notice. Humphreys suggests for all of these reasons that he can pinpoint the date for Easter as the fifth of April. At last there would be a fixed day of the year for this celebration. The pagan origins of a vernal equinox celebration that was most likely co-opted by proto-Christians are not mentioned in his calculations. Or maybe it would make it easier to schedule spring vacations. Perhaps when he returns in just about a month, Jesus can fill us in on the details. Happy egg hunting!

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