The Old City of Jerusalem is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

How did Jesus' final days unfold? Scholars are still debating

The people and places of the Passion are well documented in the Bible, but pinning down the exact locations and timing of the trials of Jesus in Jerusalem is an ongoing challenge.

The Old City of Jerusalem is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Photograph by sallyliversage—Fotolia/Adobe Stock

One of the most sacred times in Christianity is Holy Week, which falls between Palm Sunday and Easter. It is a time where believers mark the events leading up to the Passion of Jesus Christ, including the trial of Jesus before the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate. Biblical scholars and historians have pored over surviving records to determine the exact timing and location of this crucial event, but definitive answers have yet to be found.

In the Bible, the apostle Judas betrays Jesus by revealing where he has sought refuge after celebrating the Passover feast: the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. The Temple Guards discover Jesus there, arrest him for the disturbance at the Temple on the eve of Passover, and take him before Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, at his private residence where Jesus would be interrogated.

Caiaphas may have deliberately sought to indict Jesus in a private session to avoid having certain council members—notably, the Pharisees (a Jewish sect, some of whose members were supporters of Jesus)—rise to his defense. Many scholars have argued that without the full backing of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish political and judicial council, the high priest did not have the power to order a man’s death. Therefore, the only solution was to refer the matter to the local Roman authorities and bring Jesus before Pontius Pilate. Caiaphas’s challenge was to come up with a charge that would justify a sentence of death.

Read This Next

How one island is rallying to save an endangered parrot
Why seashells are getting harder to find on the seashore
225-year-old working warship sustained by a Navy forest

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet