After Dan Brown's bestseller Da Vinci Code which challenged inconsistencies in the painting, here is another angle at the day of Last Supper itself. Last Supper was on Wednesday, not Thursday, challenges Cambridge professor Sir Colin J. Humphreys, a physicist from Cambridge University saying there are inconsistencies in the gospel accounts of Jesus's final week and the author uses his knowledge of physics to reconstruct the truth.
For hundreds of years, we thought we knew what happened during Jesus' last days. Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are not only observed by Christians around the world, but are also recognized in calendars and by non-practitioners as commemorating the true timeline of events in the life of Christ, he said unveiling his new book titled The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus.
Jesus Christ's Last Supper was observed on Maundy Thursday, but Humphreys suggests it took place on the Wednesday before his crucifixion. Prof Humphreys reconstructs the date to April 1, 33AD saying discrepancies in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke compared with John's version essentially arose because they used an older calendar than the official Jewish one.
He also says it would mean Jesus's arrest, interrogation and trials did not take place on the same day. Hence, the author argues for re-fixing Easter Day to the first Sunday in April.
While Matthew, Mark and Luke said the Last Supper coincided with the start of the Jewish festival of Passover, John claimed that it took place before Passover festival. This has puzzled Biblical scholars for centuries. In fact, someone said it was 'the thorniest subject in the New Testament', he told the BBC.
Unlike Matthew, Mark and Luke who used an old Jewish calendar that was adapted from Egyptian usage at the time of Moses, John used the official lunar calendar prevalent then to come to this conclusion, he argues in his book.
In John's Gospel, he is correct in saying the Last Supper was before the Passover meal. But Jesus chose to hold his Last Supper as a Passover meal according to an earlier Jewish calendar, Prof Humphreys said and re-fixes the Last Supper on Wednesday, April 1, 33AD, based on the standard Julian calendar.
If you look at all the events the Gospels record - between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion - there is a large number. It is impossible to fit them in between a Thursday evening and Friday morning... But I found that two different calendars were involved. In fact, the four gospels agree perfectly, he said.
Humphreys, who is director of research at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge, is also known for his previous book The Miracles of Exodus: A Scientist's Discovery of the Extraordinary Natural Causes of the Biblical Stories.
His university colleague Robert P. Gordon says, The last hours before the Crucifixion are challenging, and many technical issues - legal, calendrical and other - are involved. In bringing his great technical expertise to bear on these questions, Colin Humphreys contrives to present a reconstruction and a narrative of the last hours that is also a very readable retelling of events.
Alan Millard of University of Liverpool agrees with Humphreys' findings. By linking scientific knowledge with biblical study, Colin Humphreys gives a welcome demonstration of a way apparent contradictions in the Gospel texts may be reconciled, he said.
Humphreys' suggestions are likely to have a significant impact both on scholarly appraisal and on the regular Christian appreciation of these climactic events of the faith, says Hugh G. M. Williamson of Oxford University.
A benchmark for future scholarship, it reinforces the veracity of the New Testament record, says Michael Quicke of Northern Seminary.
The definitive timeline that Prof Humphreys follows in 13 chapters of the 264-page book which was published by Cambridge University Press and priced $24.99.
The chapters are:
1. Three mysteries of the last week of Jesus
2. Dating the crucifixion - the first clues
3. The problem of the last supper
4. Can we reconstruct the Jewish calendar at the time of Christ?
5. The date of the crucifixion
6. The moon will be turned to blood
7. The Passover puzzle and the calendar of Moses
8. Did Jesus use the solar Passover calendar of Qumran?
9. The date of the last supper: the hidden clue in the synoptic gospels
10. Was the Moses calendar used in Israel at the time of Jesus?
11. The Galilean Passover and the date of the last supper
12. From the last supper to the crucifixion
13. The last days of Jesus: an overview.