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Good Friday

Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (among other names).

Historical Context

The events leading up to Good Friday begin with Jesus' arrest the night before, during what is known as the Last Supper with his disciples. After the meal, Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, and was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the Sanhedrin and the Roman soldiers. This was after a kiss of identification by Judas to the arresting soldiers.


Following his arrest, Jesus was taken to the house of Annas, a former high priest; Caiaphas, the current high priest; and then to the Sanhedrin—a Jewish judicial body—where he was tried and found guilty of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God. The Jewish leaders then brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, under charges of sedition against Rome for claiming to be King of the Jews. Pilate found no basis for a sentence of death but, under pressure from the crowd and Jewish leaders, agreed to Jesus' crucifixion.


Jesus was then scourged, mocked, and crowned with thorns. He was made to carry his cross to the site of execution, known as Golgotha (the place of the skull), where he was crucified alongside two criminals. The Gospels describe various events that occurred during Jesus’ crucifixion, including darkness covering the land, an earthquake, and the tearing of the temple veil. Jesus’ crucifixion is depicted as having taken place on the day before the Sabbath, which is why Good Friday is observed on a Friday.

Death and Significance

Jesus’ death on the cross is a central event in Christian theology, representing the act of atonement for humanity's sins. It is believed that through his suffering and death, Jesus took upon himself the punishment due to humankind, thus reconciling the world to God. Good Friday is observed with solemnity by Christians around the world, with services that reflect on the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus, often including the veneration of the cross, readings from the Gospels, and hymns that contemplate the significance of Christ's sacrifice.

Historical Sources

The primary sources for the events of Good Friday are the New Testament Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—which provide detailed accounts of Jesus' arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death. These texts, while sacred scripture for Christians, are also considered by historians as significant ancient sources for understanding the historical Jesus and the context of the early Christian movement.

Scholars analyze these texts alongside historical, archaeological, and other textual sources from the period to construct a historical account of Jesus' crucifixion. Despite variations in detail among the Gospel accounts and the challenges inherent in historical reconstructions of ancient events, the crucifixion of Jesus is one of the most widely accepted facts about his life among historians.

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