Friday, April 02, 2010

On the Third Day (or Thereabouts) He Rose Again

So today is Good Friday, the day when Christians worldwide commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It’s a sad day, and I’ll preface this blog post with the disclaimer that I mean no disrespect towards anyone’s religion with the question I’m going to ask here. It’s a legitimate point of confusion for me that I’m not able to answer despite my years of Catholic school. The question is this: How is it possible that Jesus Christ died and rose again in three days?

I’m not inquiring about the nature of death and resurrection, here, however. My confusion is about the timeline. Think about it: Today is Friday. In two days, we celebrate Easter Sunday, the day on which Jesus is believed to have risen from the dead. If that’s the way the Easter story goes, then why do so many Christians believe that Christ rose from the dead on the third day? After all, Sunday is only two days after Friday, at least according to how anyone today reads a calendar.

For Catholics and other Christian denominations, the belief is put forward in the Nicene Creed, a profession of various tenets of faith often recited by the whole congregation during liturgies. At one point, the current version of the creed goes as follows:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ… who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father …
I mean, I know that technically speaking, Sunday is the third day, after Friday and Saturday. But in the way the story is usually told, Jesus died on the cross at 3 p.m. on Good Friday and was alive again on Sunday morning. Wouldn’t that be less than a day-and-a-half? And just like how Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25, he might not have been crucified on a Friday — and that day of the week wouldn’t have been called Friday, even if the calendar lined up. But then why don’t we space out Holy Week so that Christians get three days to observe the period that Jesus was dead?

I’ve always wondered this. If anyone can set me straight, I’d love to hear it.


i resisted the urge to photoshop a basketball onto jesus’s finger

2 comments:

  1. There is a pretty straight foward reason, actually. They counted inclusively.

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  2. Anonymous2:38 PM

    In the Jewish calendar, a day starts at sundown. so then Jesus would've died late on "Friday", was dead "Saturday" (aka Friday evening-Saturday evening), and was still dead on "Sunday" (aka Saturday evening-Sunday evening), until he rose from the dead. It's still not quite three days but this seems more plausible of an interpretation.

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