Scholars continue to debate the year and date of Jesus’ crucifixion. Several pieces of evidence, both inside and outside the Bible, help historians to calculate and determine this date, and are described below. ## John the Baptist’s Ministry Begins: The 15th Year of Tiberius Caesar Luke ties the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry to “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1). Through confirmation of the Roman Senate, Tiberius succeeded Augustus as emperor on August 19 in a.d. 14. The “fifteenth year” has been calculated in various ways, but the most likely possibilities are that his reign was counted either from the day he took office in a.d. 14 or from January 1 of a.d. 15. This means that the earliest beginning of the “fifteenth year” of Tiberius Caesar, during which John the Baptist began his ministry, would be August 19, a.d. 28, and the latest end of that 15th year would be December 31, a.d. 29. If Jesus began his ministry shortly after John the Baptist, at the very earliest it would have begun in latea.d. 28 and at the latest sometime in a.d. 30. If Jesus was born in 5/4 b.c. (see notes on Luke 1:5–7; 2:2), and he began his ministry sometime in a.d. 28–30, then he would be 31–34 years old when he began his ministry (5 b.c.–a.d. 30 would make him 34, while 4 b.c.–a.d. 28 would make him 31, since there was no year 0). Any age between 31 and 34 would fit with Luke 3:23: “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age.” ## Jesus Is Crucified on the Day of Preparation: Friday, Nisan 14, in a.d. 30 or 33 The Gospel of John (19:31) notes that Jesus was crucified on “the day of Preparation,” a phrase referring to Friday (cf. Mark 15:42), the day before the Sabbath (Saturday). But this was also a Passover week (seeMark 14:12), and Jesus had eaten a Passover meal with his disciples the night before (Thursday). Passover is always on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan, and Nisan 14 (by Jewish reckoning) would have extended from Thursday sundown to Friday sundown. If the Pharisaic-Rabbinic lunar-solar calendar (the one in common use by Jews at that time) was followed, the only plausible years for such a Friday corresponding to Nisan 14 are a.d. 30 or 33. The question then becomes, does a.d. 30 or a.d. 33 best fit with other evidence regarding the years of Jesus’ ministry? ## Arguments for a.d. 30 A number of NT scholars believe that Jesus died in a.d. 30, advancing the following arguments. _Tiberius’s 15th year._ Although Tiberius became emperor in a.d. 14, some have suggested that he may have begun as a co-emperor with his stepfather, Caesar Augustus, in a.d. 11/12. If so, and if Luke counts Tiberius’s “fifteenth year” from the beginning of this co-regency, then John the Baptist could have begun his public ministry in a.d. 25/26, and Jesus sometime in a.d. 27 or 28, hence giving enough time for Jesus’ ministry as reported in the Gospels and fitting with a crucifixion in a.d. 30. _The 46 years of building the temple._ When Jesus says to his Jewish opponents, “Destroy this temple [Gk. _naos_], and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), the Jews respond by referring to the “forty-six years” of building Herod’s temple (John 2:20). According to Josephus (Jewish Antiquities 15.380, 421), Herod the Great began to restore the temple sanctuary (Gk. _naos_) in the 18th year of his reign (20/19 b.c.). If the Jews are saying that it has been 46 years since construction of the temple sanctuary_began_ in 20/19 b.c., this would place Jesus’ first Passover in a.d. 27/28 (20 b.c. plus 46 years equals a.d.27) and hence would fit with a date of his death in a.d. 30. _Passovers in John._ Another way to reach a date of a.d. 30 for Jesus’ death is to argue that there are only two Passovers in John, not three, because the Passover mentioned in John 2:13 did not occur at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry but was actually the same Passover as in John 11:55 at the end of Jesus’ ministry. Those who hold this view say that Jesus cleansed the temple only once, and this cleansing reported in John 2 is the same as the one mentioned in the Synoptics at the end of Jesus’ ministry (Matt. 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46), and that John placed it at John 2:13–17 for topical and thematic reasons. This gives Jesus a two-year public ministry, from a.d. 28 to 30, and Jesus’ death could then be on Nisan 14, a.d. 30. ## Evidence for a.d. 33 The other possible date for Jesus’ crucifixion is a.d. 33. The following arguments can be made for this date. _Tiberius’s 15th year._ As mentioned above, the ancient sources unequivocally state that Tiberius began his reign upon the death of Emperor Augustus in August of a.d. 14. While some scholars, as noted above, propose that there was a co-regency of Augustus and Tiberius between a.d. 11/12 and 14, no reliable ancient evidence for such a co-regency has ever been found. But even if, for argument’s sake, such a co-regency did in fact occur, it is still much more likely that the calculation of Tiberius’s reign would have begun in a.d. 14, and therefore Jesus’ ministry began sometime between late a.d. 28 and a.d.30 (see first section, above). _The 46 years of building the temple._ In seeking to understand the references to the temple in Jesus’ interchange with the Jewish leaders in John 2:20, it is important to recognize that “temple” in this passage refers to Greek _naos_, the sanctuary or temple proper (see Herod’s Temple in the Time of Jesus), not the surrounding temple complex (Gk. _hieron_) (see Herod’s Temple Complex in the Time of Jesus). Josephus (Jewish Antiquities 15.380, 421) does not merely refer to the beginning of renovation of the temple sanctuary in 20/19 b.c. but also to its completion one and a half years later in 18/17 b.c. (The wider temple area, however, continued to be renovated.) Therefore, when Jesus and the Jewish leaders are speaking of the construction of the temple proper (_naos_) in John 2:20, they cannot be talking about that renovation as still ongoing, because, as Josephus makes clear, that renovation had in fact been completed decades prior to that time (46 years, to be exact). For this reason it is much more likely that the Jews are saying that the construction of the temple sanctuary was _completed_ 46 years ago (18/17 b.c.). (The Gk. expression in John 2:20 can legitimately be translated, “This temple was built forty-six years ago.” This makes better sense of the Gk. grammar: the dative case of “forty-six years” is most likely a reference to a point in time [it is not accusative, which would indicate length of time or duration], and the aorist verb for “built” most likely fits with a completed action [if it were referring to a continuing process of 46 years, the imperfect tense would have been better suited].) If this is the case (as seems much more likely), then 46 years later than 18/17 b.c.yields a.d. 29/30, which, in turn, comports well with a three-year ministry of Jesus and a crucifixion date of a.d. 33. Thus, John 2:20 occurred at the Passover on Nisan 14 of a.d. 30, and Jesus was crucified three years later, in a.d. 33. _Passovers in John._ John seems to assume that Jesus’ ministry coincided with at least three or possibly four Passovers, which he mentions at different points in Jesus’ ministry (John 2:13//23; 6:4; 11:55//12:1). These make an a.d. 30 crucifixion difficult to maintain, because even if Jesus began his ministry in late a.d. 28 (the earliest date likely from Luke 3:1, see first section, above), the first of these Passovers (at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry; John 2:13) would fall on Nisan 14 in a.d. 29 (because Nisan is in March/April, near the beginning of a year). The second would fall in a.d. 30 at the earliest, and the third would fall in 31 at the earliest. This means that if Jesus’ ministry coincided with at least three Passovers, and if the first Passover was in a.d. 29, he could not have been crucified in a.d. 30. But if John the Baptist began his ministry in a.d. 29, then Jesus probably began his ministry in late a.d.29 or early a.d. 30. Then the Passovers in John would occur on Nisan 14 in a.d. 30 (John 2:13), Nisan 14 in a.d. 31 (either the unnamed feast in John 5:1 or else a Passover that John does not mention), Nisan 14 in a.d. 32 (John 6:4), and Nisan 14 in a.d. 33 (John 11:55, the Passover at which Jesus was crucified). If this reckoning is correct, then Jesus was probably crucified on April 3 (Nisan 14) in a.d. 33. These references to Passover in John, then, most naturally suggest that during Jesus’ ministry he attended at least three, and possibly four, Passovers (perhaps including a Passover alluded to only in the Synoptics), resulting in a three-year ministry. Together with the reference to Tiberius’s 15th year—which, starting from a.d. 14/15 (see above), brings us to a.d. 29/30 for the beginning of Jesus’ ministry—the three-year ministry of Jesus indicated by John yields a crucifixion date of a.d. 33. As noted in the arguments for a.d. 30, some have proposed that the _first_ Passover mentioned in John (at the occasion of Jesus’ cleansing of the temple) is the same Passover mentioned by the Synoptics at the _end_ of Jesus’ ministry, and that John transposed it for theological reasons. This would result in only two Passovers in John, and a crucifixion date of a.d. 30 would still be possible. But this is problematic in light of the explicit time markers in both John and the Synoptics with regard to the respective temple cleansing they record. The Synoptics all agree that the temple cleansing took place at the end of Jesus’ public ministry (Matt. 21:12–17 par.). John, on the other hand, says in 2:12 that “after this” (the miracle at Cana), Jesus went with his mother and disciples to Capernaum “for a few days,” and that then “the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem” (2:13). These specific time markers make it difficult to conclude that John transferred an event that actually took place at the end of Jesus’ ministry to the beginning of his account of Jesus’ ministry merely for theological reasons. In addition, there are other differences in detail between the respective temple cleansings recorded by the Synoptics and John. For this reason many (though not all) conservative evangelical interpreters believe that the temple cleansing recorded in John 2:13–22 is different from that recorded in the Synoptics and took place, as John seems to indicate, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, most likely in a.d. 30. ## Conclusion Given the arguments above, the evidence for a date of a.d. 33 for Jesus’ crucifixion seems much stronger. However, because the date of a.d. 30 is held by a number of respected NT scholars, both dates are included in the various chronologies herein.