Keith Hunt - Sunday and Anti-Judaism #4 - Page Four   Restitution of All Things

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Sunday and Anti-Judaism #4

The Passover-Easter Controversy


                                A study by 

                          Dr. Samuele Bacciocchi
                       (a book no longer published)

                                 Part Four



     The question arises, How did the Christian react to these
imperial injunctions which prohibited the practice of Judaism    
and in a particular way the observance of the Sabbath? Marcel
writes that "under Hadrian Judaism is the enemy and the     
Church could believe for a moment that she would gather the
benefits of that Situation." 89 This being so, it is reasonable
to assume the majority of the Christians might have adopted
Sunday as a day worship, at that time, in order to differentiate
themselves from the Jews in the eyes of the Romans and to prevent
.....

88 The Rosh Hashanah 19a in "The Babylonian Talmud," trans. I.
Epstein. 34 vols. (London: The Soncino Press, 1938), 13:78; "Baba
Nathra" 60b similarly states:
"a Government has come to power which issues cruel decrees
against us and forbids to us the observance of the Torah and the
precepts (Babylonian Talmud, 26:246); sea also "Sanhedrin" 11a,
14a; Aboda Zarah 8b; the anti-Jewish edicts of Hadrian regarding
worship, which are found in the rabbinical sources., have been
brought together by Hamburger, in "Real-Encyclopaedia fur Bibel
and Talmud," 2 ed., s.v. "Hadrianische Verfolgungsodikte"; J.
Derenbourg, who provides a well documented treatmeant of
Hadrian's war and polotics writes: "The government of Rome
prohibited, under penalty of death, circumcision, the observance
of the Sabbath and the study of the law" (Essai cur l'histoire et
la geographie de la Palestine) [Paris: L'Imprimerie Imperial,,
18671, p.430] see especially fn. 2 for additional rabbinical
sources references); refering to Hadrian anti-Jewish edicts, Jean
Juster similarly notes: "Their existence cannot be disputed since
the rabbinic sources are in agreement on the matter ; the deep
hate which is shown toward Hadrian - which is deeper even than
that shown to Titus - all of this shows that Hadrian must have
done very grevious things against the Jews" (Lea Juifs dans
l'empire romain [New Fork: Burt Franklin, reprint 1965], p.226,
fn. 3); in the "Midrash Rab-bah" (ads. H. Freedman, M. Simon,
London: Soncino Press, 1939) also occur frequent references to
Hadrian's decree. In commenting on Exodus 15,7, it states for
instance: "For even if an enemy decrees that they should
desecrate the Sabbath; abolish circumcision or serve idols, they
[i.e., the Jews] suffer martyrdom rather than be assimilated"
(3:170); as a comment to Ecclesiastes 2, 17, it says: "Imikanton
wrote to the emperor Hadrian, saying, 'If it is the circumcision
you hate, there are also the Ismmaelites; if it is the
Sabbath-observer, there am also the Samaritans. Behold, you only
hate this people [Israel]'" (8: 66-67); cf., also Baron,
"History," 2:107.
89 Simon, "Verus Israel," p.130; concerning the "favoritism"
shown by Hadrian to the Christian Church.
.......

their identification with Judaism. Unfortunately we are not
informed as to whether the law was applied with equal severity in
the East as in the West. The profound and general contempt of the
rabbis for Hadrian, who would accompany his name with the
imprecation "may his bones rot," 90  and the immediate revoking
of these measures on the part of Antoninus Pius, leave us to
suppose that the restrictions were applied to all the Jews of the
diaspora, thus creating a general dissatisfaction. 91 If such
were the case, it is possible that in the west and above all in
Rome, where the Jews (due to their recent riots and uprisings in
Libya, Cyrenaics, Cyprus, Alexandria, Mesopotamia and Palestine)
92  were strictly watched and where it was vital for the
Christians not to create suspicion in the imperial authority of
their belonging to Judaism, that here the Chgristians  - mostly
gentiles - first introduced Sunday as a new day of worship in the
place of the sabbath. 
     Bruce Metzger presents this hypothesis as "a reasonable
historical explanation":

     The difference between East and West in the observance of
     the Sabbath can be accounted for by a reasonable historical
     explanation, In the West, particularly after the Jewish
     rebellion under Hadrian, it became vitally important for
     those who were not Jews to avoid exposing themselves to
     suspicion; and the observance of the Sabbath was one of the
     most noticeable indications of Judaism. In the East,
     however, less opposition was shown to Jewish institutions.
     93
 
     This hypothesis of a Roman origin of the observance of
Sunday will acquire even greater credibility after our
examination of anti-Judaism in Rome. 94

(4) In the Year 135, with the prohibition of access to Jerusalem
for the Jews, a radical change took place in the leadership of
the church. "The Bishops were chosen among the Gentiles," as
Bagatti observes, "probably under the pressure of the civil
power." 95

     Thus when the city came to be bereft of the nation of the
Jaws and its ancient inhabitants had completely perished, it was
colonized by foreigners. ...The Church, too, in it was com posed
of Gentiles, and after the Jewish bishops the first who wag
appointed to minister to those there was Marcus. 96
.......

90 L. 1. Rabinowitz, "Hadrian," "Encyclopedia Judaica" 1972 ed.,
vol. 7, p.1055, writes: "To the rabbis, Hadrian was a symbol of
wickedness and cruelty. His name is usually accompanied by the
epithet "the wicked" or by the imprecation "may his bones rot" in
Hebrew or Aramaic": see also "Jewish Encyclopedia," 1907 ed.,
a.v. "Hadrian" by S. Krauas.
91 See Bruce, "Spreading Flame," p.271.
92 For a concise account of the Jewish uprising, see Graetz,
"History Jews," 2:385.
93 Bruce M. Metzger, "Studies in Lectionary  Text of the Greek
New Testament" (Chicago: The University Press, 1944), Vol.11, 
p.12.
94 See below pp. 53f. (53f in Dr Bacchiocchi's original book -
Keith Hunt)
95 Bagatti, "L'Eglise," p.8
96 Lake, "Eusebius History," 4,6,4, p.313
.......

     The fact that after the year 135 Gentile bishops replaced
the bishops of the circumision, indicates that a distinction took
place at that time between Gentile-Christians and Judeo-
Christians. We would assume that this distinction was not limited
only to the racial factor - not always perceptible - or solely to
the circumcision, but that it was characterized even by a new
theological orientation, especially towards the law and in
particular towards the Sabbath. Taking into account the existing
restrictions which prophibited every form of Jewish worship -
especially in the city of Aelia capitolina -, it would seem
logical to assume that the Gentile Christians adopted Sunday at
this time as their day of worship to avoid any possible suspicion
of connection with Judaism in the eyes of the Romans. The Judeo-
Christians who, was bagatti notes, "after a temporary absence,
returned to the city very rapidly," 97  probably endeavored to
reintegrate themselves in the church - by now ethnic - adopting
besides the observance of the Sabbath, the celebration of Sunday
as well. This appears
.......   

97 Bagatti, "L'Eglise," p.8; the possibility that the
Judeo-Christian, returned to Jerusalem shortly after Hadrian's
expulsion of the Jews, is implied, as we noted earlier (see above
pp.28-30 and below pp.45f.), by Epiphanius' statement that the
controversy over the date of the Peesover arose "after the time
of the exodus [ca. A.D.135] of the bishops of the circumcision"
(PC 42, 355-350). We would assume that it was the opposition to
any innovation on the part of Judeo-Christians that stirred up
the controversy. We also noticed (see above p.32) that when a
council was summoned in Palestine at the request of Pope Victor,
the matter was "treated at length" (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl., 5,
25), undoubtedly because of ome Judeo-Christian opposition. The
presence of such apposition seems confirmed by the fact that
Alexander, (see Eusebius, "His. Eccl"., 6, 8, 7 ; 0, 11, 1)
bishop of Jerusalem (successor of Narcissus who perticipated at
the above mentioned council), facing opposition at the beginning
of his episcopate, wrote to his teacher Clement of Alexandria who
willingly provided the needed support by writing a work entitled
"Ecclesiastical Canon" or "Against the Judaizers" (PG 9,
1480-1481; cf. Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." 6, 13, 3; NPNF, second
series, 1:259-280, fn. 11).
.......

confirmed by the testimony of Euebius on the Ebionites of the
liberal wing of whom he writes: "Like the former they used to
observe the Sabbath and the rest of the Jewish ceremonial, but on
Sundays celebrated rites like ours in commemoration of the
Saviour's resurrection." 98

     It is not easy to establish when this might have happened 99
because Irenaeus, nearer in time to the Ebionites, though
describing in almost identical terms the beliefs and practices of
the Ebionites makes no mention of their observance of Sunday. 100

     Besides the testimony of Irenaeus, the very account that
Eusebius provides of both the Ebionites and of the Jerusalem
Church, rather excludes the possibility of any basic change in
the Jewish liturgical calendar before 135. Concerning both the  
radical and the liberal wing of the Ebionites, Eusebius states
that "they were equally zealous to insist on the literal
observance of the Law" 101. Similarly, the Jerusalem Church till
the time of Hadrian's War, was composed of and administered by
Christians who, to use Eusebius' words, were "of the
circumcision" or "of the nation of the Jews" 102. In such a
conservative religious climate it is difficult to conceive
of the abandonment f the Sabbath and/or of the quartodeciman
Passover. After the year 135, however, the Ethnic Church that was
established in Jerusalem and Palestine seems to have adopted the
Easter-Sunday custom 103. It is reasonable it suppose that, even
Sunday observance was introduced at that time, since we noticed
that the two festivals were closely related.  
     This could well be the historical moment when the liberal
wing of the Ebionites, desiring to reintegrate themselves within
the majority, adopted Sunday without forsaking the Sabbath.
.......

98 Lake, "Eusebius History," 3, 26, 5, p.263.
99 H. Domains, "Dim anche," DACL, Vol. IV, Col.893, holds that
the liberal group of the Ebionites adopted Sunday since their
first origins, beside the Sabbath, to commemorate the
resurrection of the Lord. Moans, "Scoria della domenica, p.
54, is practically in agreement.  Rordorf, "Sunday," p.217,
similarly holds that these liberal Ebionites represent those
orthodox Judeo-Christians who adopted Sunday beside the Sabbath
since the origin of the Church, while the conservative Ebionites
are those who already before the destruction of Jerusalem,
abandoned the observance of Sunday, returning again to a close
observance of the Sabbath and the practices of the Law. This
thesis seems, rather improbable, considering the Jewish
extraction end orientation of the hierarchy and of the member, of
the Christian community of Jerusalem.
100 See Irenaeus, "Adverus haereses" 1, 26, 2, PG 7, 687. 
102 Lake, "Eusebius History" 3, 27, 4, p.263.
102 Ibid., 4, 5, 4, p.311 and 4, 6, 4, p.313.
103 That Easter-Sunday was introduced in Jerusalem (Palestine) by
the Gentile-Christians after 135, is implied in Epiphanies'
statement where he says that "the controversy arose, after the
time of the exodus of the bishops of the circumcision" (PG 42,
355-356); see the analysis of Epiphanius text that follow.
.......

(5) After the vear 135, with the disappearance of the bishops
of the ciecumcision, according to Epiphanius 104  (ca. A.D. 315- 
403), the controversy on the date of Passover began.  It is worth
pausing here to consider briefly the implications of this
controversy on the origin of the yearly Easter-Sunday as well as
the weekly Sunday.
     The bishop of Cyprus, in chapter 70 of his "Adversus
Haereses" deals with the sect of the Audians, 105 followers of
Audius, the schismatic bishop who refused to accept the decree of
the Council of Nicaea on the Paschal reckoning. These in fact
still depended on the Jews to calculate the 14th of Nisan.  
Epiphanies endeavors to show to the Audians the necessity of
accepting the decree of Nicaea, reminding them of the anarchy
which existed in the Church on this problem before the decree. We
shall quote at length his statement, since it does offer insights
into the origin and extent of the controversy:

     Since long time and from early days to the present, various
     controversies and dissections have existed regarding this
     solemn [feast], which have provoked much laughter and
     ridicule .... If I were to say it in one word, there have
     been many and laborious conflicts. Nor is the question
     unknown to learned men, since at various times tumults and
     controversies have arisen one to different ecclesiastical
     rules concerning this famous feast.
     Especially at the time of Polycarp and Victor, when the
     Easterners separated from the Western ... 105 and in spite
     of reciprocal peace letters, nothing was accomplished. The
     same thing happened at different times, as in the case of
     Alexander, bishop of Alexandria (bishop from A.D.313) and
     Crescentius.     
     They wrote and fought bitterly against one another. The
     controversy arose [literally, was stirred up] after the time
     of the exodus [ca. A.D.135] of the bishop, of the
     circumcision and it has continued till our own time.
     Therefore those who came together [at Nicaea], examined the
     matter accurately and they established in common accord that
     [Passover] should be celebrated according to the same 
     computation and date. 107
.......

104 Epiphanies, "Adversus haereses" 70, 10, PG 42, 355-356.
105 Concerning the Audians, see "Dictionnaire de theologie     
catholique, 1903, s.v. "Andiens" by A. Bareille; "Dictionnnaire
d'histoire et geographie ecclesiastiques," 1937, s.v. "Audee" by
A. Reignier.
106 Epiphanies' differentiation between Easterners and Westerners
on the matter of Easter observance and his reference to the
existence of many conflicts as the one which took place between
Alexander and Crescentine, suggests that the geographical
area of the Quartodecimans extended beyond the "dioceses of Asia"
mentioned by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 5, 23, 1).
.......

     In the next paragraph Epiphanius refers to a document called
"The Apostolic Constitutions"  in which the Audians justified
their custom. Since the fragments quoted by Epiphanius are not
found in our text of the "Apostolic Constitutions" and since
especially on the Easter question they disagree, the document
cited seems to belong to a different constitution apparently
lost. Epipanius does not argue the orthodoxy of these
Constitutions which state; "You [i.e., Gentile-Christians] ought
to celebrate Easter at the same time as your brethren who have
come out from the circumcision" 108. However, with a rather
strained exegesis, Epiphanius attempts to show to the Audians
that what the apostles meant is that Christians should celebrate
Passover not according to the custom of the Jews, but with the
rest of the faithful. "The Apostolic Constitutions," according to
Epiphanies, had in view the unity and uniformity of the Church to
be achieved under the leadership of the Judeo-Christian bishops,
but since these did not succeed in establishing the unanimity  of
the celebration, a decision by the Council of Nicaea became
necessary:

     After that constitution there were fifteen bishops of the
     circumcision in Jerusalem, whose authority the, Christians
     of all the world followed and with them they should have
     celebrated Passover, in order to realize a perfect
     agreement, only one profession of faith and a sole
     celebration of the feast. Since, then, their desire to lead
     the souls of men into the unity of the Church, had not been
     realized for such a long time, it has come about at the time
     of Constantine by the grace of God and by the care and
     diligence of those Fathers [i.e., Nicene] who desired  
     harmony 109.
.......

107 Epiphanies, "Adversus haereses" 70, 10, PG 42, 355-356.
108 Ibid., PG 42, 357-358; in the "Didascalia Aposolorurm,"
similar statement is found: "It behooves you then, our brethren,
in the days of the Pascha to make inquiry with diligence and to
keep your fast with all care. And do you make a beginning when
your brethren who are of the People keep the Passover"
("Didascalia Apostolorum," ed. R. H. Connolly [Oxford Clarendon
Press, 1929], cap. 21, 17, p.187. Hereafter cited as Connolly,
D"idascalia Apostolorum); some scholars due to this similarity
identify the "Apostolic Constitutions" quoted by Epiphanies with
the "Didascalia Apostolorum." The text quoted by Epiphanies,
however, differs substantially with that of the Syriac Version of
the "Didascalia" which has come down to us. For a discussion of
the problem, sea M. Richard, "La question pascale an II siecle,"
L'Orient Syrien 6 (1961): 185-186. (Hereafter cited as Richard, 
"Question pascale").
109 Epiphanies, "Adversus Haereses" 70, 10, PG 42, 357-360
.......

     Marcel Richard 110, derives from the analysis of these texts
certain conclusions which, even though in some cases they are
hazardous and unacceptable, still are worth considering, inasmuch
as they offer us certain useful hints for reflection on the
origin of both Easter-Sunday and the weekly Sunday. Richard holds
in fact that the text of Epiphanius implies that (1) the
controversy over the date of Passover would have begun after the
disappearance of the Judeo-Christian bishops from Jerusalem 
(A.D.135); (2) before these events only one Passover was
celebrated "after the indications of the bishop of Jerusalem,
naturally according to the quartodeciman rite"; 111 (3) only in
the countries influenced by the Judeo-Christians such as
Palestine and Syria, was Passover celebrated. The other Churches
limited themselves to "a strictly weekly liturgy, in which each
Sunday recalled the memory of the resurrection of Christ and
revived the expectation of his coming"; 112 (4) the Greek
bishops, not having celebrated Passover previously, to avoid the
appearance of "Judaizing" to the Roman authorities, adopted the
Sunday which followed Nisan 14 to celebrate Passover; (5) "Egypt
adopted without doubt very quickly the new Palestinian feast.
Other churches followed. That of Rome delayed a little and ...
under Pope Sorer, she finally decided." 113
     While the first conclusion, i.e., that the Easter
controversy started after the disappearance of the bishops of the
circumcision, is credible, since the informer, Epiphanius, a
native of Palestine, was interested in the traditions of his
country and possessed documents which have since disappeared, 114
the other implications are not acceptable. It is difficult to
maintain the hypothesis that before then, only the quartodeciman
Passover was celebrated, and that it was the Greek bishops of
Jerusalem who originated the conflict by adopting Sunday for the
Easter celebration. It is
.......

110 Richard, "Question Pascale," pp.187-188.
111 Ibid., p.187. 
112 Ibid., p.188. 
113 Loc. cit.
114 Epiphanies, "Adversus Haereses" 70, B, PG 42, 358B, mentions,
for instance, the conflict between Alexander of Alexandria and
Crescentius on the problem of the Paasover, which is not reported
by others.
.......

more credible to assume that these bishops, coming from the
Gentiles, had already known and celebrated the Roman Easter
(Easter-Sunday) and that to make evident their separation from
the Jews, they introduced it in Jerusalem as well. The
differentiation from Judaism and the necessity for Christians not
to appear Judaizing, arose, as we have seen and as it will be
further noticed, earlier in Rome than in Palestine.  Irenaeus,
in a text quoted by Eusebius, traces back the non-observance of
the Asiatic Passover to Pope Sixtus (ca A.D. 116-125), implying
that he already celebrated the Roman Passover:

     Among these too were the presbyters before Soter, who
     presided over the church of which you are now the leader, I
     mean Anicetus and Pius and Telesphorus and Xystus. They did
     not themselves observe it, nor did they enjoin it on these
     who followed them, and though they did not keep it, they
     were none the less at peace with those from the dioceses in
     which it was observed when they came to them, although to
     observe it was more objectionable to
     those who did not do so. 115

     M. Richard holds that the conflict in this text of Irenaeus
as well as in the whole Easter dossier of Eusebius, is not about
two different Easter customs, but between the quartodeciman
celebration of Easter in Asia and its non-celebration of
Easter in Rome prior to Pope Soler. 116 
     Christine Mohrmamn, 117, in a thorough analysis of the
thesis of Richard, demonstrates exhaustively how some of his
argumentations are based on erroneous grammatical interpretations
and that the terms "observance - non observance"  are the two key
words of the conflict, representative of the two Easter
practices: Quartodeciman versus Roman Easter. Considering the
text of Eusebius without seeking mysterious or secret meanings,
it is difficult to maintain that Easter-Sunday originated in
Jerusalem after the year 135 and was introduced to Rome
subsequently under Pope Soler (A.D. 168-176). 

     Eusebius writes that the churches of Asia allegedly based
themselves on a "more ancient tradition" for holding the date of
Nisan 14. But, on the other hand, even "the Churches throughout
the rest of the world" who celebrated
.......

115 Lake, "Eusebius History" 5, 24, 14, p.511. 
116 Richard, "Question pascale," pp.183-207.
117 Christine Mohrmann, "Le ccnflit pascal au He siecle,"
"Vigiliae Christianae" 16 (1962): 154-171; see also P. Nautin,
"Lettres et ecrivans chretiens des 11 et III siecles" (Paris:
Editions du Cerf, 1961), pp,65-104.
.......

Easter on Sunday, also leaned upon an "apostolic tradition"
118. In the following chapter Eusebius reports some excerpts from
the letter of Irenaeus where it says that "the controversy is
not only about the day [implying that the day was being
discussed], but also about the actual character of the fast" and
that "such variation of observance did not begin in our own
time, but much earlier, in the days of our predecessors." 119   
Irenaeue then lists the bishops of Rome going back to Pope Sixtus
(116-125 A.D.), who did not observe the quartodeciman Easter but
allowed it to be observed by the Quartodeciman in Rome, implying
that that they on the contrary celebrated Easter on Sunday    
Then Eusebius goes on referring to the bishops of Palestine who
gathered at Caesarea (ca. A.D.196) and approved the adoption of
the Easter-Sunday formulating what may be called an ecumenical
letter. The first part of the letter, which unfortunately
Eusebius does not quote but synthesizes, reads: "they treated at
length the tradition concerning the passover which had come down
to them from the succession of the apostles...." 120
One notices in these texts how both Eusebius and Irenaeus rec-
ognize the antiquity of the Roman Easter tradition, 121 
but while Eusebius does not hesitate to trace it back, to the
Apostles, Irenaius on his part, a witness of the controversy,
speaks of "earlier times" and mentions specifically Pope Sixtus
(A.D.116-125) as the first non-observer of the quartodeciman
Passover.

     The fact that Irenaeus, peace-maker in the controversy and
supporter of the Roman Easter does not refer to Apostles, basis
to "earlier times" mentioning specifically Pope Sixtus as the
first non-observant of quartodeciman Passover, would leave us to
suppose that its origin should be placed toward the beginning of
the second century, and possibly at Rome. This hypothesis would
explain how the introduction of the Roman Easter in Palestine by
the Greek bishops after the disappearance of the bishops of the
circumcision (which became a necessity after the edict of Hadrian
that prohibited the practice of Judaism) would have provoked 
conflict with the Judeo-Christians current that (as Bagatti
observes) "after a temporrary  withdrawl, returned to the city 
very fast" 122
     J. B. Lightfoot recognizes that the adoption of the Roman
Passover by the Gentile bishops of Palestine was motivated by
the necessity of avoiding even the appearance of Judaism. He
writes:

     In the Pascal controversy of the second century the bishops
     of Jerusalem, Caesarea, Tyre and Ptolemais ranged themselves
     not with Asia Minor, which regulated the Easter festival by
     Jewish passover, but with Rome and Alexandria, thus avoiding
     even the semblance of Judaism 123.

     It is in this historical moment that the observance of the
weekly Sunday, too, finds its logical origin Palestine, as an
expression of Christianity's official separation from Judaism, a
separation which was encouraged by Hadrian's policy that
prohibited any practice of Judaism.  It is then probable that the

Roman Easter-Sunday as well as the weekly keeping of Sunday were
both introduced in Palestine simultanously, prompted by the same
causes - though toth institutions would have risen previously in
in the West, possibly in Rome. This hypothesis of a Roman origin
of both the annual and weekly celebration of the resurrection on
Sunday, will be further verified in the treatment that will
follow of the anti-Judaism in Rome.
     The year 135, as we have seen, marks a significant and
decisive break in the relationships between Judaism and
Christianity 124.
     The total cessation of the sacrificial and sacerdotal
system, the official repudiation of Christ with the proclamation
of Barkokeba as Messiah, the cruel persecution of the
Judea-Christians on the part of the rebellious Jews in 132-135,
the edict of Hadrian which prohibited the practice of Judaism and
the entrance of the Jews into the new Aelia Capitolina - these
and all factors that must have had decisive weight in creating
the necessity on the part of the Christians to separate and
differentiate themselves from the Jews, thus acquiring an
autonomous physiognomy. The abandoning of the Sabbath and the
adoption of Sunday as a day of worship and rest is probably the
most evident sign of this process.
     Is it not even true today that the weekly day of rest
and worship makes the difference between the Moslem, the Jew and
the Christian more noticeable ?
.......

118 Lake, "Eusebius History" 5, 23, 1, p.503. 
119 Ibid., 5, 24, 12-13, p.509.  
120 Lake, "Eusebius History" 5, 25, 1, p.613. 
121 Rordorf, "Zion Ursprung do; Osterfestes am Sonntag"
"Theologiache Zeitachrift" 18, (1962): 167-189, favors the
priority of the Roman Easter (Sunday-Easter) or better, its
apostolic origin.  B. J. Van Der Veken, "De primordis liturgiae
paschalis," Sacris Erud. (1962): 500f., holds, on the contrary,
that while the quartodeciman Passover has an effective
apostolicity, less probable is that of the Roman Easter. Kenneth
A. Strand (see "Three Easays en Early Church with Emphasis on the
Roman Province of Asia" [Ann Arbor, Mich: Braun-Brumfield, 1967],
pp.33-45) advances persuasive arguments in support of the thesis
that possibly "Rome and other places where Peter and Paul labored
did indeed receive from these apostles a Sunday-Easter tradition,
whereas Asia received from John a quartodeciman observance" (p.
36). Strand's arguments are basically the following:   (1) The
364 days fixed solar "priestly" calendar used by various
sectarian groups like the Qumranites where the day of omer or
first fruit was celebrated always on Sunday, could well have been
adopted by a segment of early Christianity. (2) A Roman
innovation could not have "so successfully and universally
supplanted an apostolic tradition at so early a period,
especially at a time when the flow of Christian tradition was
still definitely from East to west rather than vice versa" (p.
35). (3) Irenaeus, reared in Asia, disciple of John and defender
of the apostolic tradition would hardly have yielded to the
quartodeciman tradition for the Easter-Sunday, if the latter had
no apostolic authority.  (4) The geographical distribution of the
two customs given by Eusebius (supposedly only the Asian
Christians observed the quartodeciman Passover) fits with the
geographical sphere of influence traditionally attributed to
Peter and Paul. 
While it must be admitted that these arguments have been cogently
formulated, it would seem to us that they do not take into
account the following facts: 
(1) Various sources (see above p.32, fn.54) suggest that the
quartodeciman Passover was far more widespread than Eusebius is
willing to admit. In fact, prior to Pope Victor's time, it seems
to have been practiced by some Churches even in Rome (see above
p.31, fn.49). The fact that Irenaeus referred to "the presbyters
before Soter" (Eusebius, Hist Eccl. 5, 24, 14), by-passing the
latter, as examples of bishops who allowed the observance of the
quartodeciman Passover, suggests that the change in the Roman
policy on the Easter question, took place at the time of Soter.
L. Duchesne, a renowned Hellenist, notes in this regard that
"under Soter, successor of Anicetus, the relations seem to have
been m tense" (Histoire ancienne de l'Eglise [Paris: E. Thorin,
1889,] 1 :289). In Gaul, however, the two divergent Easter
celebrations seem to have coexisted, even at the time of
Irenaeus, without causing major problems. In fact Irenaeus
testifies: "We also live in peace with one another and
our disagreement in the fast confirms our agreement in the 
faith" (Lake, "Eusebius History" 5, 24, 13, p.611). (2) The
Easter-controversy, as we have noticed (see above pp.29f. and pp.
45-46), according to Epiphanius, "arose after the time of the
exodus of the bishops of the circumcision " (PG 42, 355, 356).  
This statement seems to imply that prior to that time,
Easter-Sunday was unknown in Palestine and probably was practiced
only by a few Christians in the rest of the world. If this
were so, then Irenaeus' reference to Sixtus (ca. A.D. 115-125)
as the first non-observer of the quartodeciman Passover
(Eusebius, Hist. Encl. 5, 24, 14), should be regarded not as a
passing or casual example, but rather as accurate historical
information. (3) It is rather inconceivable that a man like
Paul could have been influenced by a sectarian calendar that laid
stress on days, and that, he should have introduced it in the
areas where he labored, since, as P. K. Jewett notes "he is the
only New Testament writer who warns his converts against the
observance of days (Col.2:17; Gal.4:10; Rom.14:6)"
("The Lord's Day" [Grand Rapids, Mich.: 1971], p.56). Furthermore
it should be noticed that Paul respected the normative
Pharisaic-rabbinic calendar as is indicated by the fact that he
was in a hurry to be at Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 20:16;
cf., I Cor.16:8). In fact Paul's public free ministry
ended (ea. A.D. 68-60) at the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of
Pentecost, while undergoing the rite of purification to
demonstrate to the Jewish brethren that he also was living "in
observance of the law" (Acts 21:25). (4) Concerning Irenaeus,
while on the one hand it is true that he had been reared in Asia
and that he was a defender of the apostolic succession, on the
other hand it should be noted (a) that he always advocated peace
and compromise as indicated not only by his letter to Pope Victor
but also by his embassy to Pope Eleutherus, Victors predecessor,
on behalf of the Montanists (see Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 5, 4, 1;
5, 3, 4); (b) that he had studied in Rome and was serving the
Church in the West (bishop of Lyon, from ca. A.D. 177); (c)
that he greatly respected and supported the Church of Rome
founded "by the two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul" and
with which "every church should agree, on account of it.
preeminent authority" ("Against Heresies" 3, 3, 2, ANF, l, 415).
(5) The authority that the Pope of Rome exerted by the end of the
second century should not be underestimated. It is worth noting
that even though Polycates disagreed with Victor on the
observance of the Passover, he complied with the Pope's order to
summon a council. In fact he states: "I could mention the bishops
who are present whom you required me to summon and I did so"
(Lake, "Eusebius History" 5, 24, 8, p.507). Similarly Irenaeus
did not challenge Victor's right to excommunicate the Asian
Christians, but only advised a more magnanimous attitude. (6) The
conflict and tension between Judaism and the Empire, which became
particularly acute under Hadrian, may well have induced bishop
Sixtus to take steps to substitute those distinctive Jewish
festivities as the Passover and the Sabbath with new dates and
theological motivations, in order to avoid any semblance of
Judaism (see discussion below pp. 58f.). The anti-Judaic
motivations for both the Pascal and weekly Sabbath fast would
seem to provide additional support to this hypothesis (see below
pp.61f.). All these indications seem to challenge and discredit
the hypothesis of an apostolic origin of the Roman Easter
tradition.
122 Bagatti, "L'Eglise", p.8; it is also possible that the
controversy may have been provoked by some of the new Gentile
Christian, who were still loyal to the quartodeciman custom.
123 J. B. Lightfoot, "The Apostolic Fathers" 4 vols. (London;
Macmillan Company, 1885), vol.11, part 1, p.88. (Hereafter
cited as Lightfoot, "Aposolic Father",).
124 Graetz, "History Jews," 2:431, comments perspicaciously;
"From this time dates the unity and identity of most of the
Jewish-Christian and heathen-Christian sects. The Jewish
Christians gave up the Jewish laws which they had hitherto kept,
in a greater or less degree, adopting the dogmatic precepts of
Christianity as they had been developed under heathen-Christians
views, and as proof of their sincere convictions, they for the
first time placed an uncircumcised bishop at the head of the
community. From the time of Hadrian all connection between Jews
and Christians ceased, and they no longer occupied the position
of two hostile bodies belonging to the same house, but they
became two entirely distinct bodies." 

                             .................

TO BE CONTINUED


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