Again, Jesus is said to have suffered and died on the “parasceve of the pasch”, or simply on the “parasceve” (John 19:14, 31); as “parasceve” meant Friday, the expression “parasceve” denotes Friday on which the pasch happened to fall, not the before the pasch. Finally, the day following the parasceve on which Jesus died is called “a great sabbath day” (John 19:31), either to denote its occurrence in the paschal week or to distinguish it from the preceding pasch, or day of minor rest.
No student of the life of Jesus will question the chronological order of its principal divisions: infancy, hidden life, public life, passion, glory. But the order of events in the single divisions is not always clear beyond dispute.
The infancy of Jesus
The history of the infancy, for instance, is recorded only in the First Gospel and in the Third. Each Evangelist contents himself with five pictures:
St. Matthew describes the birth of Jesus, the adoration of the Magi, the flight into Egypt, the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, and the return to Nazareth.
St. Luke gives a sketch of the birth, of the adoration of the shepherds, of the circumcision, of the purification of the Virgin, and of the return to Nazareth.
The two Evangelists agree in the first and the last of these two series of incidents (moreover, all scholars place the birth, adoration of the shepherds, and the circumcision before the Magi), but how are we to arrange the intervening three events related by St. Matthew with the order of St. Luke? We indicate a few of the many ways in which the chronological sequence of these facts has been arranged.
This order implies that either the purification was delayed beyond the fortieth day, which seems to contradict Luke 2:22 sqq., or that Jesus was born shortly before Herod’s death. so that the Holy Family could return from Egypt within forty days after the birth of Jesus. Tradition does not seem to favour this speedy return.