Astronomical Evidence During the Crucifixion of Jesus
There were stunning and supernatural forces that were present during the crucifixion of Jesus which existed without a natural cause. At no time in the history of the man has darkness overtaken the earth in the middle of the day, apart from a solar eclipse. During the crucifixion of Jesus, a profound event occurred that many attributed to the moon obscuring the sun’s light upon the earth. Unknown to the observers of this spectacle was the fact that during the particular phase that the moon, a solar eclipse was not possible. How could it become dark at noon and remain that way for three hours—specifically during the time that Jesus was on the cross, dying for the sins of the world? When we investigate the records that were written during that time, we find that this darkness was chronicled by several sources.
A substantial record from the Roman orator, Julius Africanus and the Christian theologian Origen, describes the account of this event that was written by the Greek historian, Phlegon. It seems that during the time in which Jesus was crucified, Phlegon wrote that an eclipse had occurred.
Julius Africanus also records that Roman historian, Thallus, stated that the darkness that took place during Jesus’ crucifixion could not have been caused by a solar eclipse. The feast of Passover is always observed on the 14th day of Nissan (April), during a full moon. A solar eclipse can only occur during a new moon. It is astronomically impossible for a total eclipse of the sun to occur, concurrent with a full moon. Therefore, the darkness from noon to 3pm, could not have been caused by a solar eclipse.
The fact that Phlegon believed that this darkness had resulted from an eclipse, lends great credibility to the authenticity of the events of Jesus crucifixion. The New Testament scriptures describe a period of darkness from noon to three pm, during the time that Jesus was being crucified.
Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. —Luke 23:44
If the crucifixion was a hoax, it is doubtful that so many different writers would comment on the darkness which took place at that time, and link this event to Jesus crucifixion.
Tertullian, an early Christian church defender of the faith, described the darkness surrounding the crucifixion as occurring exactly at the time of day that Jesus was upon the cross.
“In the same hour (as the crucifixion), too, the light of day was withdrawn, when the sun at the very time was in his meridian blaze. Those who were no aware that this had been predicted about Christ, no doubt thought it an eclipse. You yourselves have an account of the world portent still in your archives (Phlegon’s account).”
The secular record of history states that during the time when Jesus was under crucifixion, the moon was full; and there was a lunar eclipse that took place from 6:20 p.m. to 6:50 p.m. This would make a solar eclipse impossible during the time when Jesus was dying on the cross from 12-3 p.m. The darkness that occurred during that time was supernatural and not from any known natural event.
Incredibly, this event was predicted by the prophet Amos, more than 600 years before this took place.
And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will make the sun go down at noon, And I will darken the earth in broad daylight… —Amos 8:9
The fact that the Bible could predict an astronomical event that would occur at a specific date and time, is staggering to comprehend. God not only caused this darkness to occur, He planned it ahead of time. In this case, the Lord predicted the phenomenon of darkness at noon, more than six centuries in advance of its manifestation. Notice that Amos predicted the darkness would begin at noon. Luke records the specific moment that the darkness began: the sixth hour. In Jewish time-keeping, the first hour of the day is 6 am, the sixth would be 12 noon.
Even more significant is a comment made by the prophet Amos a little further in verse:10
I will turn your feasts into mourning, And all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, And baldness on every head; I will make it like mourning for an only son, And its end like a bitter day. —Amos 8:10
The cause of darkness at noon will be due to “mourning for an only Son…”
Amos speaks of Jesus, as the Son of God, dying during the time that God supernaturally causes darkness over Jerusalem.
Those who do not subscribe to the miraculous portions of the Bible, have great difficulty accepting that the sun could be obscured and darkness could overtake the day at noon as a supernatural event. Scientists confirm that an eclipse was impossible during this time of the month, due to the moon in its full stage. Historians have written extensively that this darkness took place—precisely at the time that Jesus was suffering upon the cross. What other explanation could there be, if a solar eclipse was not possible, other than a supernatural event?
Imagine the entire earth growing completely dark at noon and remaining in darkness for three hours. Of course in some parts of the earth, it would already be dark. This prophecy is applicable to those places on earth that would normally experience daylight, suddenly being covered in deep darkness. Luke and Amos describe the darkness as covering all the earth. At the suffering and death of Jesus, the earth would be covered by the same darkness that was poured into Jesus as He became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The subject of darkness is an enduring principle of the Bible which is always used to illustrate sin, evil, foolishness, blindness, and the power of satan.
Darkness used as prior judgement of the Earth:
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. —Genesis 1:2
Darkness used as judgment of the Egyptians:
So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. —Exodus 10:22
Darkness as evil:
But when I looked for good, evil came to me; And when I waited for light, then came darkness. —Job 30:26
Darkness used as foolishness:
The wise man’s eyes are in his head, But the fool walks in darkness. —Ecclesiastes 2:14
Darkness as spiritual blindness:
The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light. —Isaiah 9:2
Darkness as sin:
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. —John 3:19
Darkness as the power of satan:
to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. —Acts 26:18
In this context, Light is understood as: righteousness and goodness, the ability to see spiritual truth, as well as the presence and work of God.
Isaiah’s describes the Messiah as bringing Light to the world. When we arrive at the Book of John in the New Testament, this Apostle of Jesus, describes light in terms of the spiritual truth that Jesus has announced to the world: As the Messiah, Jesus is God’s remedy for sin, and the only way to the Father.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. —John 1:1-5
That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. —John 1:9
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. —John 3:19-21
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” —John 8:12
Jesus As The Light Of The World
As the Light of the world is put to death—when all of the sins of the world are placed upon Him—darkness covers the land, signifying the attempt of sin and death to smother and eradicate the light. For three days, the world remained in spiritual darkness and utter hopelessness, until the third day—when Jesus burst forth from the darkness, defeating sin and death. At that moment and forevermore, Light has reigned victoriously, having defeated all the forces of darkness once and for all.
The Darkness Over The Land Had A Second Purpose
As the Son of God was made sin, His eternal fellowship with the Father was broken. All of the sins of the world were placed upon Jesus while He hung on the cross. In that hour, God could no longer have communion with His Son, as He was made sin for us. In a vivid illustration of this moment, God covers the land with darkness. Perhaps, He was speaking of the sadness, the mourning, and anger, that was experienced by God during that time.
This moment, while Jesus was on the cross, was certainly not pleasant for the the Father who had enjoyed unbroken fellowship with the Son, forever. Although it certainly pleased the Father for His Son to redeem the world, this was also a time when the full wrath of God was poured out on His Son, who bore those sins.
The testimony of those who were present at the crucifixion of Jesus, describes three hours of darkness. The significance of this event appears to be for the purpose of demonstrating how the sins of the world were placed upon Jesus, for a world that had rejected Him.
What Was the Darkness That Covered the Earth?
There are many extra-biblical sources outside of the Bible that describe a period of darkness over the earth during the time that the gospels detail Jesus’ crucifixion.
In a commentary by Tertullian in his “Apologeticus,” he writes that there were many who were in attendance at the crucifixion of Jesus who did not know the prophecies of Amos and Isaiah which describe the darkness that would occur. They believed that the darkness was an eclipse. Tertullian wrote that the evidence for this event was still available in the archives of Roman history.
This claim by Tertullian is an extraordinary secular confirmation, that the record of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, existed in the records of Rome as early as the first century.
One of the first historians of this period, Rufinus of Aquileia, as a part of the work he completed on Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, contains a section that describes a defense given to Maximus by Lucian of Antioch before his death by martyrdom in 312 A.D. This Roman writer was quite certain that the darkness described by the gospels that is said to have happened at the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, was a part of the historical record of the Roman archives.
“Search your writings and you shall find that in Pilates time, when Christ suffered, the sun was suddenly withdrawn and darkness followed”.
This statement, by a Roman historian, not only confirms the New Testament account that darkness occurred at Jesus’ crucifixion but also serves as proof that documents, other than the Bible, exist in the records of antiquity, which describe the crucifixion of a man called The Christ.
Christian historian Paulus Orosius (375 – 418) wrote:
“Jesus voluntarily gave himself over to the Passion but through the impiety of the Jews, was apprehended and nailed to the cross, as a very great earthquake took place throughout the world, rocks upon mountains were split, and a great many parts of the largest cities fell by this extraordinary violence. On the same day also, at the sixth hour of the day, the Sun was entirely obscured and a loathsome night suddenly overshadowed the land, as it was said, ‘an impious age feared eternal night.’ Moreover, it was quite clear that neither the Moon nor the clouds stood in the way of the light of the Sun, so that it is reported that on that day the Moon, being fourteen days old, with the entire region of the heavens thrown in between, was farthest from the sight of the Sun, and the stars throughout the entire sky shone, then in the hours of the day or rather in that terrible night. To this, not only the authority of the Holy Gospels attest, but even some books of the Greeks.“
When the prophet Joel penned his famous prophetic verse in chapter 2, we were all surprised to read in the New Testament that Peter had declared this prophecy was being fulfilled in the text of the Book of Acts, even as he spoke.
And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. —Joel 2:28-29
Peter’s Declaration Of Fulfillment
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days,’ says God, ‘That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’ ” —Acts 2:14-21
Peter not only attributed Joel Chapter 2, verses 28 and 29 to the birth of the church, he also ascribed the rest of Joel’s prophecy to the events that were taking place, in Acts Chapter 2.
And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness And the moon into blood…” —Joel 2:30-31
Unlike many of Peter’s declarations that were directed by his flesh, the words that he spoke here, in Acts Chapter 2, were clearly directed by the Holy Spirit, as he made these observations after the Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost. Peter was certain that the darkness which covered Jerusalem, at the precise moment that Jesus was being crucified, and the subsequent “blood moon” that occurred that evening, were “signs” that Joel’s prophecy of the last days was fulfilled.
Colin J. Humphreys and W. G. Waddington were able to reconstruct the events that took place during the darkness which occurred while Jesus was being crucified. By their calculations, a “Blood Moon” occurred from about 6:20 p.m. to 6:50 p.m., at the start of the Jewish Passover. This would confirm both parts of Joel’s prophecy, that Peter declared, as being fulfilled the day Jesus was crucified. Darkness at noon and the moon turned to blood in the evening, during a lunar eclipse.
“The sun shall be turned into darkness And the moon into blood…”
As the darkness passes and the sins of all people for all time are fully paid for by Jesus’ death, the promise of His resurrection will arrive in three days.
On the morning of the third day, when the disciples and Mary arrive at the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, they find that the burial cloth that was wrapped around Jesus is empty, and the Lord’s body is no longer there.
As the day dawns and the resurrection is confirmed, the incredible news of man’s first day of freedom and forgiveness of all sins—becomes reality. Light saturates the earth with God’s glory, as Jesus has triumphed over all darkness. In the death and resurrection of the Messiah, as God had promised, all people who have been born on the earth have the opportunity to have all their sins removed and obtain eternal life.
 Origen. “Contra Celsum (Against Celsus), Book 2, XXXIII”
 Donaldson, Coxe (1888). The ante-Nicene fathers. 6. New York: The Christian Literature Publishing Co.. p. 136.
 Tertullian. “Apologeticum” Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, known as Tertullian, was an early Christian author. 160-220 AD, Carthage, Tunisia.
 Isaiah 42:16
 Tertullian, Apologeticus, Chapter 21, 19 cited in Bouw, G. D. (1998, Spring). The darkness during the crucifixion. The Biblical Astronomer, 8(84). Retrieved November 30, 2006 from . Tertullian, Apologeticus, Chapter 21, 19
 Rufinus, Ecclesiastical History, Book 9, Chapter 6 Ussher, J., & Pierce, L. (Trans.)(2007). Annals of the World [p. 822]. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Publishing Group. ISBN 0-89051-510-7
 Orosius, P. (A.D. 417). The Seven Books of History Against the Pagans. In, R. J. Deferrari (Trans.) & H. Dressler, et al. (Vol. Eds.) (1964). The Fathers of the Church – Vol. 50 (1st short-run printing 2001, pp. 291-292). Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 978-0-8132-1310-1.
 1.Colin J. Humphreys and W. G. Waddington, The Date of the Crucifixion Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 37 (March 1985)
2.Colin Humphreys, The Mystery of the Last Supper Cambridge University Press 2011 ISBN 978-0-521-73200-0, p. 193 (However note that Humphreys places the Last Supper on a Wednesday)