Contra Taylor Marshall on the year of the Assumption

In this post, Dr. Taylor Marshall concludes that the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed in the year AD 53.

Dr. Marshall errs because he attempts to answer a question without considering all of the relevant sources. He considers only what Ven. Agreda says. He ignores the very many sources that serious works of biblical chronology consider. And so his argument arrives at an erroneous conclusion. I’ve seen this type of chronological error many times online. One author or another considers VERY FEW sources, and by very simplistic reasoning makes those sources agree, resulting in what seems like a firm conclusion.

Marshall claims:
“Christ did not live out a full 33 years and Mary did not live out a full 21 years beyond the resurrection of Christ our Lord. So we should not look for AD 54, but for AD 53.”

First, Jesus could not have died in 32 AD, because Passover did not fall on a Friday that year. No Biblical chronologist places the Crucifixion in 32 AD. As for the year of Christ’s Crucifixion, Biblical chronologists — scholars who have studied this topic for many years — do not agree on the year. Suggested dates range from AD 19 to AD 36.

Second, if Jesus died in 33 AD, and his life was not a “full 33 years”, as Marshall suggests, then He would have been born in 1 AD. The latest date for the death of Herod is 1 BC, with the more usual date being 4 BC. But Jesus could not have been born AFTER the death of Herod (since Herod sought the death of the Christ child). So 1 AD is ruled out, and 1 BC is very unlikely. Herod sought the death of all the infants two years of age and younger, therefore Herod lived for some length of time after the Birth of Christ. This is one reason why scholars — those who actually study Biblical chronology before writing about it — generally do not place the Birth of Christ later than about 2/3 BC

Third, even if we assume that Jesus died in 33 AD, and that the Assumption was 20 or 21 years later (in 53 or 54 AD), neither year works.
In the year AD 53, August 13 was a Monday.
In the year AD 54, August 13 was a Tuesday.

Marshall’s statement that “In the Julian AD 53, the 13th of August is a Friday and the 15th of August is Sunday.” is factually false.

Sources for this calendar calculation:

Julian Calendar at:
http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/calendar/

CalendarHome.com:
http://calendarhome.com/day-of-week.html

Time and Date:
http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/monthly.html?year=53&month=8&country=23
http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/monthly.html?year=54&month=8&country=23

Fifth, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich says that Mary died “thirteen years and two months after Christ’s Ascension,” not 20 or 21 years later. Sources differ on the length of time between those two events.

Finally, there are very many sources that need to be considered when proposing any date for the life of Mary or Jesus. All these dates and events are interconnected. You cannot propose one date for one event, without considering what this implies for the dates of all the other related events. Also, the vast amount of information used by Biblical chronologists needs to be evaluated and weighed. So we cannot simply take one source, such as Ven. Mary of Agreda or Bl. Emmerich, at their word. It takes much study and interpretation to arrive at even a viable theory as to when a date occurred.

See my book, Important Dates in the Lives of Jesus and Mary for a comprehensive NT chronology, based on many sources. I spent over 4 years researching and writing that book. So you can understand why I take offense when someone makes this type of chronological claim based on minutes or hours of research, rather than months or years.

UPDATE: Dr. Marshall has published a new post on the topic, now placing the Assumption in about the year AD 63 (about ten years later), and without specifying the day of the week or the number of the day of the month.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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