Colin Humphreys

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Colin Humphreys
Colin Humphreys 2015 cropped.JPG
Colin Humphreys in Cambridge, 2015
Born Colin John Humphreys
(1941-05-24) 24 May 1941 (age 77)
Education PhD (Cambridge), M.A. (Oxford)[1]
Alma mater Imperial College London
(BSc, Physics)[1]
Occupation Goldsmiths' professor of materials science
Employer University of Cambridge

Sir Colin John Humphreys, CBE FRS HonFRMS FREng[2] (born 24 May 1941) is a British physicist. He is the former Goldsmiths' Professor of Materials Science and a current Director of Research at Cambridge University, Professor of Experimental Physics at the Royal Institution in London and a Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge. He was President of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in 2002 and 2003. His research interests include "all aspects of electron microscopy and analysis, semiconductors (particularly gallium nitride), ultra-high temperature aerospace materials and superconductors."[1]

Humphreys also "studies the Bible when not pursuing his day-job as a materials scientist."[3]


Humphreys was awarded the A. A. Griffith Medal and Prize in 2001 and a CBE in 2003 for services to science as a researcher and communicator.[4] He was knighted in the 2010 Birthday Honours[5] and in 2011 elected a Fellow of the Royal Society[6] He is also mentioned in Debrett's People of Today.[7] He was elected in 1996 as a Fellow[2] of the Royal Academy of Engineering[2] In 2015 he was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society.[8][9]

Biblical study and publications[edit]

In 2011 Humphreys claimed in his book The Mystery of the Last Supper that the Last Supper took place on Wednesday (Holy Wednesday), not as traditionally thought Thursday (Maundy Thursday), and that the apparent timing discrepancies (Nisan 15 or 14) between the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke versus John are rooted in the use of different calendars by the writers. Mark, Matthew and Luke appear to use an older, Egyptian-style Jewish calendar (still used today by the Samaritans) while John appears to refer to the newer, Babylonian-style Jewish calendar (still in use by modern Jews).[10] The Last Supper being on Wednesday would allow more time for interrogation and presentation to Pilate prior to the crucifixion on Friday than given in the traditional view. Humphreys proposed the actual date for the Last Supper to be 1 April 33.[11]

In a review of Humphreys' book, theologian William R Telford points out that the non-astronomical parts of his argument are based on the assumption that the chronologies described in the New Testament are historical and based on eyewitness testimony, accepting unquestioned statements such as the "three different Passovers in John" and Matthew's statement that Jesus died at the ninth hour. He also notes that Humphreys uses some very dubious sources. In doing so, Telford says, Humphreys has built an argument upon unsound premises which "does violence to the nature of the biblical texts, whose mixture of fact and fiction, tradition and redaction, history and myth all make the rigid application of the scientific tool of astronomy to their putative data a misconstrued enterprise."[12]

Other activities[edit]

Humphreys is a member of the John Templeton Foundation.[1] and a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering.[13]


  • The Miracles of Exodus: a Scientist Reveals the Extraordinary Natural Causes Underlying the Biblical Miracles (Harper Collins, 2003).
  • "The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus." (Cambridge University Press, 2011) ISBN 0-521-73200-X


  1. ^ a b c d University of Cambridge, Colin Humphreys Archived 10 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b c "List of Fellows". 
  3. ^ "The Penultimate Supper?". Cambridge University. 17 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-23. The new study is based on earlier research which Professor Humphreys carried out with the Oxford astrophysicist, Graeme Waddington, in 1983. This identified the date of Jesus' crucifixion as the morning of Friday, April 3rd, AD 33 – which has since been widely accepted by other scholars as well. For Professor Humphreys, who only studies the Bible when not pursuing his day-job as a materials scientist, this presented an opportunity to deal with the equally difficult issue of when (and how) Jesus' Last Supper really took place. 
  4. ^ "New year honours". Times Higher Education. 3 January 2003. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 1. 
  6. ^ "Sir Colin John Humphreys CBE FREng FRS". Royal Society. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  7. ^ Sir Colin Humphreys on Debrett's People of Today
  8. ^ "Honourary Fellows". Royal Microscopical Society. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  9. ^ "Honorary Fellows Past and Present". Royal Microscopical Society. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  10. ^ Humphreys, Colin J. The Mystery of the Last Supper : Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011, p193.
  11. ^ Humphreys, Colin J. The Mystery of the Last Supper : Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011, p164.
  12. ^ Telford, William R. (2015). "Review of The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus". The Journal of Theological Studies. 66 (1): 371–376. doi:10.1093/jts/flv005. Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  13. ^ "Advisory Council of the Campaign for Science and Engineering". Archived from the original on 2010-08-28. Retrieved 2011-02-11.