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The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus Paperback – March 28, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (March 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052173200X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521732000
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Advance Endorsement: "There have always been great difficulties in knowing quite how to fit together the precise details of the Last Supper and Jesus's arrest and trial. With the clearest possible presentation of fresh evidence and good historical imagination, Colin Humphreys here tackles this problem in a completely fresh manner. His 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." - Hugh G. M. Williamson, University of Oxford

"Colin Humphreys' Mystery poses an intriguing detective story. ... The argument is presented so logically that non-specialists should be able to follow it easily." Owen Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and History of Science, Harvard University and author of God's Universe "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.' Alan Millard, University of Liverpool 'I would like to commend Colin Humphreys ... on this remarkable book reconstructing the final days of Jesus." John Sentamu, Archbishop of York "A gripping read that is hard to put down ..." Sir John Houghton, Chairman of the Scientific Assessment Committee of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change

Book Description

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. But apparent inconsistencies in the gospel accounts of Jesus' final week have puzzled Bible scholars for centuries. In The Mystery of the Last Supper, Colin Humphreys uses science to reveal the truth about Jesus' final days. Reconciling conflicting Gospel accounts and scientific evidence, Humphreys reveals the exact date of the Last Supper in a definitive new timeline of Holy Week.

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Written very well.
Mevashir
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the historical Jesus.
Susan McCosker
It is really neat!
Paul S Boyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Nate on May 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
We seem to be caught in an age where the Bible is just a story, and science regularly trumps religion. As a result, when there is apparent disagreement between science or reason and the Bible, both Christians and non-Christians alike tend to roll over and say one or the other must be wrong.

Yet, if we go back in history, the most learned and influential individuals did not settle for an easy way out or watered down theology. In this same manner, Humphreys approaches apparent disagreements among the gospels. Instead of saying that one or the other must be incorrect, he approaches the issue with a mindset of "what are we missing?" As a result, we learn that, once again, the Bible stands as an authority. We also learn about cultures of the time, and realize great symbolism in the Passion week.

This book is written in a simple presentation and remarkably easy to follow. He chooses to write to the average person, with references and lengthy supporting documentation (such as astronomical calculations) in footnotes and references. As a result, I sometimes forgot I was reading a scholarly work. Despite my tendency to peek ahead while reading, the book was suspenseful in an odd sort of way. I was continually looking forward to see exactly how pieces would fit together and what new bit of trivia would gain meaning as they did. Through his presentation, I learned of several apparent contradictions in the Bible that I had not realized, as well as a few I had, followed by an explanation of how they were actually clues to additional meaning that we do not readily recognize in today's world.

A few times in the second half of the book I found myself thinking one or the other arguments were weaker than others.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Newman on April 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent discussion (and I think solution) to a number of features that have been alleged as contradictions between the last supper accounts in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) and the Gospel of John. Using astronomical information, a careful and sympathetic reading of the Gospels, and materials from the literature of the rabbis, Qumran and early Christians, the author is able to pin down a definite date for Jesus' crucifixion and a very reasonable explanation for these discrepancies. His solution points up some striking symbolism in the timing of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, and it provides some powerful evidence for the historical reliability of the biblical accounts.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul S Boyer on February 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book on several levels. First, it is rather astounding that the problem of dating the events of Holy Week has not been not tackled so clearly in all these years. Humphreys's approach is logical and step-by-step. He repeats his explanations in each chapter, puts the possibilities in little tables, and at the end of each chapter gives a concise summary. This makes the whole process clear and very easy to understand, and also makes it easy to go back and review his thinking. The author also distinguishes between those things about which we can be certain, and those which are likely, but at a somewhat lower confidence level.

He saves for a later chapter one of the most amazing confirmations of the Biblical account. I will not give it away, except to say that it depends on modern calculations not available to earlier researchers. It is really neat!

I would recommend this little book to a wide audience, beyond just those likely to read books of religious significance. It should also be read by all serious Christian clergy, starting with the Pope, who is very much nterested in the problem Humphrey tackles (and solves) here.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James A. Nollet on January 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Dr. Humphreys does a brilliant -- and reverential -- job of reconciling certain apparent difficulties which have arisen in the Gospel accounts of the final two weeks of his life.

He does this with the initially-starting theory that Jesus functioned by using a version of the Jewish calendar which was -- allegedly -- used before the Babylonian Exile, but which the Jews abandoned in favor of the Babylonian calendrial structure upon their return from Babylon. According to Humphreys, Jesus used a calendar in which days began at sunrise, and when Jewish months commenced on the first morning following the final sighting of the Old Moon on the previous morning.

Fundamentalist, literalist Christians will not be happy with Dr. Humphreys' claim that the events of the Last supper happened on Holy WEDNESDAY night, and not Thursday.

I myself found support for Dr. Humphrey's theories in an odd place. I write a monthly article for The Jewish Press, which is a translation from German of Mark Wischnitzer's 1935 book The Jews of the World, and in the story of the Jews of Cyprus, I found Wischnitzer's mention of a journal kept by a Jew travelling through Cyprus in 1170, one Benjamin of Tudela, who encountered a clan of isolated Jews way in the mountains who -- oddly enough as far as Benjamin was concerned -- observed a Sabbath which ran from Saturday morning to Sunday morning, as opposed to Friday evening to Saturday evening, which is the standard Jewish practice.

In his book, Humphreys cites a recent remark by Pope Benedict expressing his openness to new ideas about the events of Holy Week -- though I could never see Pope Benedict ordering Holy Thursday services to be held on Wednesday!

For those who wish to REALLY understand the events of the Passion, I can't too strongly recommend Dr. Humphreys' book.
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