50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth shook, the rocks split
52and the tombs broke open.
- Matthew Chapter 27
Was there really
an earthquake when Jesus died ?
My name is Jefferson Williams. I am a Geologist and I have been studying Dead Sea
seismites since 1999. Seismites are sedimentary layers that were deformed by
earthquake shaking. In the process of studying seismites I have also been trying to answer that question.
To answer that question, we have to travel to the Dead Sea; a large body of water that gets
as close as 13 miles (21 km.) from the city of Jerusalem where Jesus died.
The muds of the Dead Sea record earthquakes. Normally sediments accumulate in the
Dead Sea layer by layer leaving a steadily growing thickness of Dead Sea mud.
But, during earthquakes, the top layer deforms - leaving something known as a seismite.
The seismite labeled as Event B to the right was formed during the
31 BC Josephus Quake
. Josephus wrote about this in his book "The Jewish War" (Book 1, Ch. XIX)
But as he [King Herod] was avenging himself on his enemies,
there fell upon him another providential calamity; for in
the seventh year of his reign, when the war about Actium
was at the height, at the beginning of the spring the earth
was shaken, and destroyed an immense number of cattle, with
thirty thousand men; but the army received no harm, because
it lay in the open air.
Approximately 60 years later, the
formed Event C.