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QUESTION

I've heard it claimed from various people that we have historical records for the darkness that was said to engulf the earth when Jesus was crucified. In the bible, it claims that there was, but I would like more scientific/verifiable accounts on the matter.

My question is, do we have any non-biblical, reliable sources that there was an eclipse of some sort when Jesus was crucified? Or are people who claim that there was a documented eclipse during this time mistaken? Do we have any evidence that an eclipse did not happen?

{ asked by TheEnigmaMachine }

ANSWER

Passover occurs at the middle of the month in a lunar calendar which starts with the new moon. Since the crucifixion was supposed to happen close to Passover (around April), and therefore close to a full moon, there could not have been a solar eclipse, which occurs with a new moon.

If you disbelieve the Passover part of the story, you can check solar eclipses around Jerusalem here. Year 32 has a solar eclipse sort of close to Passover (i.e. two weeks away).

If you go for a lunar eclipse--which does happen with a full moon--then the only matching date is the 3rd of April, year 33.

Anyway, there were certainly solar and lunar eclipses then as there are now, but given how difficult it is to come up with any independent confirmation of when the crucifixion happened, finding historical reports of eclipses won't help answer anything.

{ answered by Rex Kerr }
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