Maundy Thursday Was Really A Wednesday?John Cave Osborne
There is a distinct buzz in my house this week and it’s all about Easter. The triplets are a little young yet to fully grasp the significance of the holiday, but our nine-year-old isn’t. She understands that it’s to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. This year, as we do every year, we’ll discuss the importance of a couple of days this week leading up to Easter, starting with Maundy Thursday which commemorates the Last Supper.
But a recent article I read has me wondering if we now need to be telling my daughter about Maundy Wednesday. As if religion wasn’t hard enough to articulate to your children!
According to a BBC News story, recent research suggests that Christ’s Last Supper actually took place on the Wednesday before his crucifixion, not Thursday. Inconsistencies surrounding religion in general and Easter in specific, are hardly anything new. Even the Gospels don’t agree. Matthew, Mark and Luke contend that the Last Supper coincides with the beginning of Passover, but John claims it took place before.
Colin Humphreys of Cambridge University, author of The Mystery Of The Last Supper, believes he’s reconciled the different versions. In his work, he relies upon the Bible, history and astronomy to set the record straight. And in so doing, he’s concluded that Maundy Thursday actually took place on a Wednesday.
Humphreys believes that Matthew, Mark and Luke relied upon an antiquated Jewish calendar rather than an official lunar calendar which John used.
“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.”
If his theory is correct, then John’s version is the actual version which means that the Last Supper really did happen before the beginning of Passover and occurred on Wednesday, 1 April AD33.
But to me, unless it will always be Maundy Thursday, regardless of whatever credible theories float around out there. At least that is how I will explain it to my children. Religion is difficult enough to articulate without delving into the various Biblical inconsistencies which abound.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I won’t address these inconsistencies as my children get older. For, indeed, I will. It’s always been my opinion that doubt is a powerful force in religion. When I was younger, I had plenty of it which served to test my faith time and time again. In fact, I’ve not always been a believer. I’ve spent a large portion of my life agnostic. As such, I’m certainly not one to shy away from discussions such as Maundy Thursday vs. Maundy Wednesday.
So you can be certain that as my children grow, I’ll never steer clear of potentially controversial conversations which may conjure up doubt in the minds of my children. And if ever such doubts threaten to boil over and cause my kids to question everything we’ve ever taught them, I’ll likely tell them but two simple things.
First, I don’t have the answers. And second, if believing were easy 100% of the time, it wouldn’t require any faith. And that’s why I love the occasional and healthy doubt, so. Faith was meant to be tested. For as it passes such tests, it does nothing but grow stronger. And that’s the real reason why I will never try to avoid topics which might make my children doubt.
But for now, instead of addressing such topics, I believe I’ll just stick to dyed eggs and chocolate bunnies.