Crucifixion Darkness

The darkness that appeared during the crucifixion of Christ

'Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land . . . And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit . . . So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!" Matthew 27:45-54

The first reference found outside of the Bible mentioning this darkness, which fell over the land during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, comes from a Samaritan historian named Thallus, who wrote around 52 A.D. His history was quoted by another early writer by the name of Julius Africanus, who researched the topic of this darkness and wrote the following:

Upon the whole world there came a most fearful darkness. Many rocks were split in two by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. It seems very unreasonable to me that Thallus, in the third book of his histories, would try to explain away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun. For the Jews celebrate their Passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the death of our Savior falls on the day before the Passover. But an eclipse of the sun can only take place when the moon comes under the sun, how then could an eclipse have occurred when the moon is directly opposite the sun? (Scientifically it is impossible to have a full moon on the same day that there is an eclipse of the sun.)

Another first-century historian who also mentions this darkness was Phlegon, who wrote a history entitled the "Olympiads. Julius Africanus mentioned a quote taken from the Olympiads which said: Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour until the ninth . . . It is evident that he did not know of any such events in previous years.

Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen in his work Against Celsus Book 2: The darkening of the sun took place at the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus was crucified, and the great earthquakes which also took place, Phlegon, I believe, has written an account in the thirteenth or fourteenth book of his Chronicles.


" I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

"When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." John 12:44-46

Biblical Archeology website

This article on the Crucifixion darkness is taken from our 4 volume book series "Bible Believer's Archaeology" which can be downloaded for your ebook reader by visiting our resource download page by Clicking Here.

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Sources used in compiling data and illustrations for this article:

Title: Evidence That Demands A Verdict (Vol1), Author: Josh Mcdowell, ISBN 0-7852-4219-8

Pg.84 (Quotes from Thallus and Phlegon).

III. The Extant Fragments of the five Books of Chronography of Julius Africanus XVIII, Quote from Thallus third book of histories and Phlegons Olympiads.

Origen Contra Celsum (Against Celsus) Book 2 - XXXIII. Quote from Phlegon on the Crucifixion Darkness.

Artwork: 'The Crucifixion ', Illustrated in “Dore’ Bible Illustrations” (1891) Artist: Gustave Dore’, Publisher: Bedford Clarke Publishers.

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