The Story: According to Discovery News, a new report in the International Geology Review claims that, based on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea near Jerusalem, Jesus was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.
The Background: Matthew 27 says that at the moment Jesus died on the cross “the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Based on that evidence, a team of geologist believe they are able to narrow down the date of an earthquake in the first century.
Annual layers of deposition in the sediments near the Red Sea reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 31 B.C. and a seismic event that happened sometime between the years 26 and 36. “The day and date of the crucifixion (Good Friday) are known with a fair degree of precision,” said geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical. But the year has been in question.
When data about the Jewish calendar and astronomical calculations are factored in, a handful of possible dates result, with Friday, April 3, 33, being the best match, according to the researchers.
Why It Matters: In a recent discussion on science and the Bible, theologian R.C. Sproul said,
I believe firmly that all of truth is God's truth, and I believe that God has not only given revelation in sacred Scripture, but also, the sacred Scripture itself tells us that God reveals Himself in nature—-which we call natural revelation. And, I once asked a seminary class of mine that was a conservative group, I said, “How many of you believe that God's revelation in Scripture is infallible?” And they all raised their hand. And I said, “And how many of you believe that God's revelation in nature is infallible, and nobody raised their hand. It's the same God who's giving the revelation.
Because all truth is God's truth we can expect to find examples of natural revelation shedding light on that which is revealed to us through special revelation (i.e., the Bible). It also means that there will be times when special revelation illuminates our study of natural revelation.
Whether this recent finding is of significance for Biblical studies or for geology is a question that only geologists and theologians can answer. But for the rest of us the significance is that it provides a tangible reminder that while our interpretations may be flawed, all God's revelation—-whether in nature or his Word—-is infallible.