Joseph Francis Alward
John's account of the time of Jesus' crucifixion
apparently contradicts Mark's account. John thinks that Jesus wasn't crucified
until after about 12:00 PM noon, while Mark thinks that Jesus was already
crucified three hours earlier, at about 9:00 AM. Here is the evidence:
About the sixth hour [hektos hora]…they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!" (John 19:14-15 NIV)
And it was the third hour when they crucified Him. (Mark 15:25)
Some apologists harmonize these verses by asserting that the original autographs (writings penned by the authors) were error free, but copies of the now missing originals became corrupted through scribal error. It has been suggested that either the scribe miswrote the ordinal number "third" as "sixth," or perhaps the cardinal number "3" as a "6." Consider the first possibility:
Scribe Miswrote the Ordinal
From the Blue Book Bible (www.blueletterbible.org), which uses "Stephen's Textus Receptus":
ora (hour) ekte (sixth)
ora (hour) trite (third)
Scribe Miswrote the Cardinal
Maybe John had written the "third hour" with a 3 instead of "third." How might the scribe have converted the "3" into a "6"?
The Greek cardinal (counting) numbers are shown in the table below. Note that the numbers "3" and "6" were represented by the Greek letters gamma and digamma. There is not much resemblance between the lower-case symbols, but the upper-case "six" is the same as the upper-case "three", except it has one more horizontal stroke. Thus, twice as many horizontal strokes, twice the value.
(Table is from Greek
Number Systems, by J. J. O'Connor and E. F.
Here is how the ancient scribe
might have accidentally converted John's "3" to a "6":