They the Quakings Did Last for About the Space of Three Hours

Alan C. Miner

According to John Pratt, another witness to the happenings attending the crucifixion of Jesus comes from Phlegon, a Greek secular historian from Caria (in Asia Minor), writing soon after A.D. 137, who "reported that in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad there was 'the greatest eclipse of the sun' and that 'it became night in the sixth hour of the day [i.e., noon] so that the stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea." The year mentioned began on 1 July A.D. 32 and ended 30 June A.D. 33, a period which includes the time identified as that of the Savior's crucifixion. The fact that Phlegon records both darkening of the sun at noon and earthquakes, just as Matthew describes (see Matthew 27:45,51) in that same year, makes it apparent that he is describing the same events that were also witnessed in distant cities in modern-day Turkey. This also confirms traditions that "the terror of the earthquake continued from the sixth hour of the preparation until the ninth hour" (from noon till 3:00 P.M. on Friday; compare 3 Nephi 8:17-19), and that "when he was crucified darkness came over all the world," the sun was altogether hidden," "the stars were seen," and "in all the world they lighted their lamps from the sixth hour until evening." [John P. Pratt, "Passover--Was It Symbolic of His Coming?", The Ensign, January 1994, p. 44]

Note* "About the ninth hour," or 3:00 P.M. in Jerusalem, would be about 7:00 A.M. in Central America (compare 3 Nephi 10:9) due to the difference in longitude. [John P. Pratt, "The Restoration of the Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836 -- Part 1: Dating the First Easter," The Ensign, June 1985, p. 67]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary