We have already established that the year of the passion of Jesus occurred in AD 30 and that the Passover occurs on the fourteenth day of the first month, which is the month of Nisan. What we must find out now, is when was the Passover in AD 30. Once we can establish this, then we can establish a proper chronology of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. How do we do this? It's not easy, but it can be done.
Time of the Full Moon
The time of Passover, the fourteenth day, is always calculated according to the time of the first full moon after the vernal equinox, and when the barley harvest is "aviv", or ripe. Passover always occurred at the time of the full moon. So to determine when Passover was to be observed, the Jews had to determine the first day of the month. They did this by the lunar phases. The first day of the month coincided with the new moon.
Since the new moon is not visible, how did they determine this? The new moon was calculated when the first sliver of waxing moon would appear.
Who would determine when the new moon had appeared? The Great Council, the Sanhedrin, set a body of its members to determine the appearance of the new moon by the testimony of reliable witnesses. This council would convene upon the Twenty-ninth or Thirtieth day of the month and wait for trusted witnesses to come forth, stating that they had seen the new moon, or the first sliver of light of the new moon.
Upon receiving this testimony, the council would then proclaim that day, as the first day of the new month. So when was the first day of the month of Nisan, in the year AD 30? This really is the question that we must first answer, for this will determine when the Passover occurred in AD 30.
I know from two different sources, that the new moon of the month of Aviv (or Nisan) in AD 30, occurred on March 22, at approximately 8 p.m. The first source for this calculation was obtained with the help of the Kirkpatrick Planetarium, in Oklahoma City. The second source for this is provided by NASA's website1 concerning the phases and eclipses of the moon. So, March 22 (Julian), at sunset, would have been determined to be Nisan 1, AD 30. So all that is left to do is to count fourteen days from this time, and this will give us the day of Passover.
So by counting 14 days from sunset on that day, which is the beginning of the First of Nisan, you arrive at sunset on Tuesday, April 4. So Passover would begin on our Tuesday night, April 4, or in the nighttime of the Fourteenth of Nisan.
Now there is one other way to determine this date for Passover, and that is with Mark 16:9, which we will do next.
1 http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/phase/phases0001.html 2 April 4 is the date according to the Julian Calendar, which would have been used in the first century by the Romans. The Gregorian Date would be April 2. The date is of little consequence, it is the day that is of importance. Both April 4 in the Julian and April 2 in the Gregorian both fall on Tuesday.