The Importance of the Number Three

The number three is extremely prevalent in the story of Jesus’ Crucifixion. It is a crucial motif that ultimately creates the basis for the entire New Testament. It is also mentioned many times throughout the course of the story. For example, Peter denies Jesus three times, Jesus hangs on the cross for three hours, there are three people being crucified at Golgatha, and, of course, the Holy Trinity which is always present and referenced. Despite all of these examples of the number three, the most important one is the fact that Jesus was in the tomb for three days before rising from the dead. These three days, referred to as the Triduum, are extremely significant because they link Jesus’ death to His Resurrection. From a literary point of view, it continues the cycle of Jesus’ journey as a hero and links the conflicts in his life to the resolutions.

The Crucifixion of Jesus image by Richard Goerg 

  • Romanticism: The Scarlet Letter– Hester’s punishment for her crime of adultery is to stand on the scaffold in front of the whole town for 3 hours. This is just like Jesus hanging from the cross because everyone in the community came to watch him be humiliated and ultimately die. Hester is transformed into a Christ figure as a result of her 3 hour penance.
  • Realism: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn– Huck lives on the island for 3 days before he finds Jim and starts the next journey of his life.
  • Modernism: The Great Gatsby– Gatsby is turned into a Christ figure by Nick before his character is even introduced because he is portrayed as a holier being.



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