The issue at stake
in the translation of Luke 24:21 is whether the text identifies the day
on which the words were uttered as the "third day" or on the other hand
whether the text says that the third day had just passed. If the text
identifies the day on which the words were spoken as "this
third day," then then it will agree perfectly with the Friday to Sunday
Chronology, and it will contradict all other chronologies.
the words are spoken when the third day has just passed a Friday to
Sunday Chronology will be contradicted, and not only a Friday
chronology will be contradicted by this second case. Also any
chronology placing the crucifixion on a Wednesday and the resurrection
late on the Sabbath will be contradicted. The only chronologies that
can survive in this case are Wednesday to Sabbath dawn, and Thursday to
Sunday dawn chronologies. We already know that the resurrection was on
the "Later of the Sabbaths" (Mat. 28:1), and therefore the Thursday to
Sunday view is refuted.
The current critical text of the NT says "this day."
The Byzantine text says "this day" and then adds the word "today."
Codex Bezae, the Syriac (Aramaic), and other witnesses contradict both
the current critical text and the Byzantine text.
Codex Bezae reads "a third day passes by" which is
to say a third day has just passed by at dawn on the Sabbath. Codex
Bezae is also correct in its reading of Luke 23:54, where it omitts the
impossible word "dawning." Here too Codex Bezae (D 05) is
correct. It makes no sense to complain about the third day being
gone unless the third day actually is completely gone. If the day they
were speaking on was "this third day", then they would have to wait to
the end of it before claiming that the prophecy was unfulfilled. Luke
24:21 begins, "we had hoped..." and then the remark about the third day
passing by is made because it was evidence to them that their hope was
dashed. In otherwords, the prophecy they thought was unfulfilled!
Whenever someone makes an eschatological prediction
that something will happen on a given day, then the followers of the
prophet always wait to the end of that day before they give up
hope. They don't give up hope while the predicted day is still
So we have internal contextual evidence as to which
reading is right. Further, we have the external consideration that
Catholic Friday to Sunday teachers would be highly motivated to corrupt
Luke 24:21 to say "this third day." For if it doesn't read that way
then their chronology is in ruins. Thankfully they were not able to get
their hands on every manuscript to destroy them or to copy them wrongly
and then destroy them. Codex Bezae, some old Latin MSS, and the Aramaic
escaped from the almost sucessful attempt to add the word "this" in
front of "day" in all the texts.