Research notes on the darkness of the Crucifixion - Eric Peterman - GBF
The darkness of the final three hours of the crucifixion: 12-3pm (6th - 9th hr).
Cultural presupposition bias: We have a cultural bias against a proper understanding of this darkness, our memories of the crucifixion having been shaped and informed and imprinted by movies, media and even artwork over the centuries. No movie can properly capture it (who would watch a film where half the crucifixion is pitch black?), and thus it is: not shown, shown as brief thunder and lightning, or shown briefly as dimmed/gray lighting.
Theological and soteriological implications: The first half (9-12 or 3rd to 6th hr) was coram hominibus – in the presence of man. It served several purposes, as outlined in the gospel accounts. But the second half (12-3pm or 6th to 9th hr) serves an entirely different purpose.
Failure to account for ½ the time of the period on the cross as dark (ie, man unable to see, and thus coram deo – in the presence of God, God being the primary audience and angels, holy and unholy in observation) results in a skewed view of what the cross is about and puts too much emphasis on the physical suffering and man's observations and feelings and Jesus' interactions with those around him (as potent and true as these all are), and vastly insufficient emphasis on the Audience of One, God the Father, and the Biblical emphasis on the wrath of God toward sin, poured out solely and fiercely on the Son, and on the necessity of satisfying the holy justice of God. The darkness served more than one purpose, but a primary one was to exclude man from and focus attention on the terrible transaction between the Holy God and the One who knew no sin, yet became sin for us.