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#5c BIBLICAL TIME - INCLUSIVE AND RIGHTEOUS RECKONING

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Introduction 5c

The problem with calculating biblical time is not simple because different methods of reckoning are used in different places. First we need to determine which reckoning methods are used, and then determine where each one applies. This will give us a much more accurate understanding of biblical time. This is a excellent bible study which investigates and answers questions about inclusive and righteous reckoning of time in scripture.

#5c1 WHAT IS INCLUSIVE RECKONING?

Inclusive reckoning is a theory, a method of calculating time in scripture where part of a time period is rounded up to count as a whole time period. Any small part of a day is reckoned as the entire twenty-four hour period, any part of a month as a whole month, and any part of a year as a whole year. It has been erroneously said:

"Scores of contradictions would appear in both Old and New Testament if this principle were ignored. We must compare Scripture with Scripture and use the idiom of the language in which the Bible was written. Inclusive reckoning was taken for granted by all the writers of the Scriptures. The Hebrew usage requires only that some part of each of the days should be involved in the time period."

Look at some simple rules for its application.

(1) Part time periods, such as part of a day or part of a year, when counted as ordinals 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc., are counted as whole time periods at the beginning of the count, and at the end of the count. These are always calendar days, months, or years.

(2) Part time periods, such as part of a day or part of a year, when counted as cardinals 1, 2, 3, etc,. are counted as whole time periods at the beginning of the count, and at the end of the count. Therefore these are also always calendar days, months, or years.

(3) Concerning the regnal years of kings, when one reign ends and another begins during a year, that year is counted to the previous reign and to the following reign, because both reigned for part of that year. This is known as the non-accession year dating system.

Look how inclusive reckoning applies to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

(Matthew 12:40) "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
(Mark 8:31) "And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
(Matthew 16:21) "From that time forth began Jesus to show to his disciples, how that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."

Some people try to harmonize these apparently contradictory statements by understanding them in the light of inclusive reckoning of time. Many think that this was the method used throughout the bible in computing time.

"A short time in the morning of the seventh day is counted as the seventh day; circumcision takes place on the eighth day, even though, of the first day only a few minutes after the birth of the child, these being counted as one day."
Jewish Encyclopaedia Vol. 4, p. 475.

If Jesus and his friends spoke and wrote in harmony with this method, then it puts a completely different interpretation on the timing of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, because inclusive reckoning assumes that any part of a day was counted as a whole day. Jesus died around 3 pm on Friday afternoon, and supposedly rose sometime in the darkness of Saturday night or Sunday morning; let us assume about midnight. Here is a diagram of what inclusive reckoning assumes when applied to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Three days table

#5c2 WHAT IS WRONG WITH INCLUSIVE RECKONING?

There are a number of objections to applying the inclusive reckoning theory to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

(1) Just look at the diagram above and ask yourself the question, "How does that agree with the three days and three nights Jesus quoted" (Matthew 12:40)? In the beginning, "God called the light day, and the darkness he called night." (Genesis 1:5). So where are the three periods of darkness - three nights? Where are the three periods of light - three days? Has God contradicted himself? How does it fit in with "after three days" (Matthew 27:63, Mark 8:31)? The thing does not make sense, and makes Jesus out to be a liar. It seems as if he used three days and three nights purposely to make it obvious that the inclusive reckoning theory did not apply.

(2) I agree that we aught to use the idiom of the language in which the bible was written, but inclusive reckoning does not do that. In the first place, righteous reckoning was the predominant idiom of the Old Testament, not inclusive reckoning. The New Testament was written in Greek not Hebrew, so we aught to use the idioms of New Testament Greek when we examine this question, not the idiom of the Old Testament, which we will show only applied in specific circumstances. The famous prophecy of "Daniel's 70 weeks" (Daniel 9:25-27) left only 7 years for God to deal with the Jews as a nation after the death of Jesus. When the New Testament was written God had finished dealing with the Jews as a nation, and for almost 2000 years has been dealing with the Gentile nations of the world. Therefore, the New Testament was written mostly for Gentiles, in a Gentile language, so there is no point in trying to claim it was written with Hebrew idioms. There may be some places where the New Testament is quoting the Hebrew of the Old Testament, in which case the Hebrew idiom is just carried over in the translation, but apart from that it is wise to follow the idioms of the New Testament Greek. The Greek case indicates clearly what kind of time is meant.

2. Time - Accusative means duration over a period - τρεῖς ἡμέρας - for three days.
Genitive means within the course of a period -ἐκείνης τῆς ἡμέρας - during the day.
Dative means at a point of time - ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ - on that day.
D.F. Hudson, TEACH YOURSELF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK Page 105.

Consider, for instance, the ways of expressing time.
  (1) The accusative represents extension in time, just as it does extension in space. Therefore time how long is accusative.
e.g. δύο ἡμέρας - (acc. pl.) - for two days
μένουσιν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην - they remain that day.
  (2) The genitive represents the 'genus' or kind of time. Take the sentence: 'He journeyed by day.' Which 'kind of time' did he have on his journey? He journeyed 'during the day-time'.
Time during which is therefore genitive. So:
ἡμέρας - (gen. sing.) - by day
  (3) The dative represents a place or point in time (a locative use).
Therefore Time at which is dative.
e.g. τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ - on the third day
None of these requires a preposition, though a preposition may on occasion be added as well, e.g. 'on the third day' could be translated from ἐν τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ.
J.W. Wenham THE ELEMENTS OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK Page 64-65.

Now consider τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας (Gtr. treis hemeras kai treis nuktas) "three days and three nights" (Matthew 12 40). This was the amount of time that Jesus was buried 'in the heart of the earth', and it is accusative case in the Greek. It therefore refers to a whole period of time, that is, a whole three days and a whole three nights; 72 hours is an acceptable figure. God defined night as a period of darkness and day as a period of light:

(Genesis 1:5) "God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening, and there was morning day one."

So what Jesus was referring to here is three whole periods of darkness, and three whole periods of light. Inclusive reckoning denies this, it covers only two periods of darkness, and two periods of light  and because they are not whole periods it denies the idiom of the New Testament Greek, therefore in this case it is rejected.

(3) There are a number places in the in the Old Testament where NON inclusive reckoning is obviously used. The statement, "Inclusive reckoning was taken for granted by all the writers of the Scriptures" is false, and this bible study will prove it beyond question. In fact the number of places that inclusive reckoning is not disputed is very few.

(4) Most of the scriptures that people use to prove inclusive reckoning in the Old Testament can be easily explained by using righteous reckoning.

We have not sought to deny that inclusive reckoning does exist in scripture, but that it is not common, and does not apply in the case of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.

#5c3 WHAT IS RIGHTEOUS RECKONING?

What many people fail to realise is that there is another way of reckoning in scripture besides inclusive reckoning. Let me call it "righteous reckoning" and define what I mean by it. Here are some rules that we might apply.

(1) Time periods, such as hours, days, months, or years, when counted as ordinals 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc., are counted as whole time periods. These are always calendar days, months, or years.

(2) Time periods, such as days, months, or years, when counted as cardinals 1, 2, 3 etc., are counted as whole time periods. These are equivalent to calendar time periods in length, but may start and finish anywhere within a calendar time period. For example, a day of time may start half way through a calendar day, and end half way through the next calendar day, but only counts as one day in time.

(3) Whole time periods may or may not be exact, and can be rounded up or down to the nearest whole unit. So three years and six months may be rounded down to three years, when expressed as years, but three years and seven months would be counted as four years.

(4) Concerning the regnal years of kings, when one reign ends and another begins during a year, that year is counted to the previous reign and not to the following reign. This is known as the accession year dating system. An example is King Pekahiah, who began to reign in the fiftieth year of Azariah (2 Kings 15:23) and was replaced in his fifty second year (2 Kings 15:27), having reigned only two years (2 Kings 15:23). The fiftieth year of Azariah is counted as Pekahiah's accession year, which is shaded yellow, and the other two years are counted as his official regnal years.

Pekahiah's 2 year reign

It does not make any difference where in the accession year the actual reign begins, it is still counted the same. In this case cardinal regnal years are not rounded to the nearest whole year.

Now if we look at these rules as applied to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, it looks like this. All events do not start at the same time. Jesus died about 3 p.m. in the afternoon, called "the ninth hour" (Mark 15:34-37), and rose "after three days" (Matthew 27:63, Mark 8:31). The accusative case in the Greek indicates a whole period of time of more than three days, that is, more than 72 hours between his death and resurrection. Again with "three days and three nights" (Matthew 12:40) the accusative case in the Greek indicates a whole three days and nights, that is 72 hours, between his burial and resurrection. The starting points are different, the lengths of time are different, but they both end at the same time, when Jesus rose from the dead.

Three days and three nights

Now in this case you can see that righteous reckoning agrees with the idiom of the New Testament Greek, and Jesus was literally dead for more than three whole days, and buried for three days and three nights. If you think this is wrong because of the comment of Cleopas, "this is the third day since these things came to pass" (Luke 24:21 ), then see our bible study on the Emmaus road. This bible study will show that there is nowhere in scripture that the inclusive reckoning theory cannot be explained by righteous reckoning, except for counting the Regnal years of kings in the corrupt northern kingdom of Israel after the original kindom was divided.

Reckoning methods bible quiz  Green tick

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