Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Quartodeciman Passover -- Which Day Was It?
There is no evidence to suggest that anyone in Asia Minor kept the night of Abib 14, after sunset which began that day, as Passover. All the evidence, both scripturally and historically, proves the Quartodecimans kept the Passover on the same day as the Jews. The Messiah had died on Abib 14 fulfilling the Passover sacrifice typology. Also, the Messiah did not eat the Passover at its correct appointed time prior to his crucifixion -- simply because it would be impossible for him to do so since he had to fulfill that very sacrifice at its correct appointed time because it pictured HIS sacrifice!
by George Karakasidis
Throughout the Scriptures, the divine law clearly commands one specific day as the day of the Passover sacrifice; that day is the fourteenth of Abib. That is why this day and only this day is called the Passover. When you look at a modern calendar, the Jewish Passover is indicated as the day we understand as the fifteenth of Abib. For example in the year 1998 the Jewish Passover is shown as Saturday the Ilth April, which of course is the First Day of Unleavened Bread; however THE PASSOVER itself will not be celebrated on Saturday night but on Friday night, the actual day of the Jewish Passover should be Friday the 10th April because this day is the fourteenth of Abib, the day the Passover was commanded to be killed and prepared.
Since modern calendars indicate the 15th instead of the 14th, many assume the Jews changed the appointed time of the Passover. Not so. This never happened. The Jews always understood that the Passover was to be slain on Abib 14, as the sun began to set (Deut. 16:6). Therefore, they knew it had to be eaten on Abib 15, the First Day of Unleavened Bread, after it was properly roasted by fire.
In this article we will examine the ancient records of church history and prove that the ancients recognised that the fourteenth of Abib was the day when the Jews sacrificed the Passover lamb, and that this day was being rightly maintained by them. We will see from the Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria written in the third century AD how the Romans reckoned the day of the moon in conjunction with the fourteenth of Abib. From this it will become very clear that the Asia Minor Christians observed the appointed time of the Jewish Passover which is always on the fourteenth of Abib according to Jewish reckoning, and always on the fourteenth day of the moon according to Roman reckoning.
Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons
The early church from A.D. 35 to A.D. 135 very clearly understood that the Messiah did not eat the Passover lamb at its correct appointed time before his crucifixion. They also knew that the Messiah died at the ninth hour of Abib fourteen fulfilling the Passover sacrifice typology. However it was not until the end of the second century A.D. that this view was slowly being supplanted. The knowledge that the Messiah's trial and crucifixion having occurred on separate days had become all but lost. Signs of confusion had arisen in the harmony of the synoptic accounts of the crucifixion and that of John's. John was the only surviving apostle who knew exactly what had happened, and he was now dead:
"During the first centuries after Christ there is not the least indication in the writings of the church fathers that during the first hundred and fifty years A.D. any problem (and still less a contradiction) was seen in the four Gospels in connection m,ith the dating of the crucifixion. Only about A.D. 170 do we come across signs for the first time that indicate that confusion arose concerning the evidence of the four Gospels for the dating of the crucifixion. It was about at that time that a conflict arose in Asia minor as to the day and date of the celebration of the Christian Passover" (New International Commentary, Gospel of Luke, page 652, emphasis mine throughout).
This of course is true. There was no confusion in the early church as to which day the crucifixion occurred. It was common knowledge that the Messiah's crucifixion occurred on the fourteenth of Abib early in the morning at the third hour of the day. The conflict in Asia minor alluded to in this passage is of course the Quartodeciman controversy. However, this controversy was not over the dating of the crucifixion (this comes much later), but over when to observe the Paschal Fast. I would like now to examine references from someone who was actually alive when this controversy broke out in A.D. 155, that being Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons:
"For the controversy is not merely as regards the day, but also as regards the form itself of the fast. For some consider themselves bound to fast one day, others two days, others still more, while others (do so during) forty: the diurnal and nocturnal hours they measure out together as their (fasting) day."
Clearly the issue was not over the date of the crucifixion. Polycarp and Anicetus had different days and a manner in observing the Paschal Fast. The former claimed John's authority for observing the fast at the appointed time of the Jewish Passover. The latter claimed that Peter and Paul had given them the observance of the Messiah's resurrection on the Sunday after the Jewish Passover:
"On the contrary, these Presbyters who preceded thee, and who did not observe [this custom; the Jewish Passover] sent the Eucharist to those of other dioceses who did observe it. And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome at the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain points, they were at once well inclined towards each other (with regard to the matter in hand), not willing that any quarrel should arise between them upon this head."
During the time of Polycarp and Polycrates, the non-sacrificial emblems of the bread and wine were commonly called the Eucharist, which simply means thanks giving, because the Messiah blessed and gave thanks over these emblems the night of his betrayal. In the above passage the Eucharist was partaken of by other churches who did observe the appointed time of the Jewish Passover as well as those who did not. The point being that the bread and wine in themselves was not the Passover taken on an annual basis:
"For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance (in his own way), in as much as these things had been always (so) observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other Apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep (the observance in his way), for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the Presbyters who preceded him."
'And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect; so that they parted in peace one from the other, maintaining peace with the whole church, both those who did observe (this custom) and those who did not" (Fragments from the lost writings of Irenaeus, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 1, pages 568-569).
"Moreover the Quartodecimans affirm that the observance of the fourteenth day was delivered to them by the Apostle John: while the Romans and those in the western parts assure us that their usage originated with the Apostles Peter and Paul. NEITHER OF THESE PARTIES HOWEVER CAN PRODUCE ANY WRITTEN TESTIMONY IN CONFIRMATION OF WHAT THEY ASSERT" (Sozomen's Ecclesiastical History, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Series 2 Vol. 2, pages 131).
I do not think we need to doubt that this custom was handed down to Polycarp by the Apostle John. It should also be noted that from these passages of Irenaeus that Anicetus conceded to Polycarp the Eucharist, that is the bread and wine symbols, to him and there is no indication that this had anything to do with the Passover.
Apollinaris Bishop of Hierapolis
Polycarp was martyred shortly after his visit to Rome in A.D. 156. The view that the Messiah was crucified on the fifteenth of Abib was attacked and refuted by Claudius Apollinaris Bishop of Hierapolis A.D. 160-180. He was known by Polycarp and was influenced by Polycarp's example and his teachings. Apollinaris was also a contemporary of Melito and Polycrates. Here is what Apollinaris says in regards to this view:
'"There are, then, some who through ignorance raise disputes about these things (though their conduct is pardonable: for ignorance is no subject for blame -- it rather needs further instruction), and say that ON THE FOURTEENTH DAY THE LORD ATE THE LAMB WITH THE DISCIPLES, AND THAT ON THE GREAT DAY OF THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD HE HIMSELF SUFFERED; and they quote Matthew as speaking in accordance with their view. WHEREFORE THEIR OPINION IS CONTRARY TO THE LAW, AND THE GOSPELS SEEMS TO BE AT VARIANCE WITH THEM."
Please notice that Apollinaris categorically says that this view is contrary to the law and the Gospels! (When Apollinaris says the Messiah ate the lamb on the fourteenth, it is actually the fifteenth, but according to Roman reckoning of the moon the day is still the fourteenth until midnight, when the fifteenth begins). The truth is, the Messiah did not eat the legal Passover before his crucifixion, because he had to fulfil the Passover sacrifice typology himself, and DIE as our Passover Lamb. Therefore, HE COULD NOT EAT THE LAMB THAT PASSOVER. The Messiah fulfilled that typology at the correct appointed time, late in the afternoon of Abib fourteenth; that is why Apollinaris says this view is contrary TO THE LAW AND THE GOSPELS! Keep in mind also that Apollinaris was influenced in his teachings by Polycarp, and that his contemporaries were Melito and Polycrates, who held the same views as Apollinaris.
The view of the Quartodecimans was that the Messiah fulfilled the Passover sacrifice typology, that he did not eat the legal Passover prescribed by the law before his crucifixion. In another passage, Apollinaris states the views of the Quartodecimans:
"The fourteenth day the true Passover of the Lord; THE GREAT SACRIFICE, THE SON OF GOD INSTEAD OF THE LAMB, who was bound, who bound the strong, and who judged, though judge of living and dead, and who was delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified, who was lifted up on the horns of the Unicorn, and who was pierced in his holy side, who poured forth from his side the two purifying elements, water and blood, word and spirit, AND WHO WAS BURIED ON THE DAY OF THE PASSOVER, the stone being place upon the tomb" (writings of Claudius Apollinaris, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, pages 772-773).
I believe that there is simply no way to misunderstand these plain statements by Apollinaris; he clearly states that the Messiah fulfilled the Passover sacrifice typology on the fourteenth of Abib. He also states that the Messiah was buried on the day of the Passover which is always the fourteenth of Abib. It is never the daylight part of the thirteenth and never the daylight part of the fifteenth; that is why the afternoon of the thirteenth is called THE PREPARATION OF THE PASSOVER IN JOHN 19:14.
Peter Bishop of Alexandria
Another bishop, Peter of Alexandria who lived around A.D. 260-311 confirms this truth. The Messiah, during his public ministry did indeed celebrate and eat the typical Passover prescribed in the law, but prior to his crucifixion he did not eat the legal Passover -- instead HE was sacrificed as the real Passover lamb ON THE PASSOVER DAY. In the afternoon of that same day that he was killed, at that same time the lambs were being slaughtered. That was the afternoon of the preparation of the high day Sabbath:
"Himself also, with the people, in the years before his public ministry and during his public ministry, did celebrate the legal and shadowy Passover, eating the typical lamb for, 'I came not to destroy the law, or the prophets, but to fulfil them.' The saviour himself said in the gospel. . . HE DID NOT EAT OF THE LEGAL PASSOVER; but as I have said, he himself, as the true lamb, was sacrificed for us IN THE FEAST OF THE TYPICAL PASSOVER, ON THE DAY OF PREPARATION, THE FOURTEENTH OF THE FIRST LUNAR MONTH" (writings of Peter Bishop of Alexandria, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, pages 282).
These passages are true and faithful to the TRUTH, and it is important that we establish these facts because these were the original beliefs held by the early Quartodecimans. Shortly we will see why the Quartodecimans in observing the appointed time of the Jewish Passover were called fourteenthers instead of fifteenthers, it has everything to do with the way the Romans reckoned the day of the moon. This will be established from the Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria.
The original beliefs of the Quartodecimans must be established; they knew the Messiah did not eat the legal Passover before his crucifixion; they knew the Messiah was crucified on the fourteenth of Abib on the day of the Jewish Passover, fulfilling the Passover sacrifice typology. These are important facts to know because into the late second century and early third century A.D. some of the Quartodecimans were adopting the unscriptural view that the Messiah actually did eat the Passover at its correct appointed time with the Jews and that he was crucified on the fifteenth of Abib.
Hyppolytus Bishop of Portus
This unscriptural view adopted by some of the Quartodecimans, instead of helping to justify their custom, only served to work against them. For example, Hyppolytus (A.D. 170-236), who was a disciple of Irenaeus, wrote his Refutation of all Heresies around A.D. 222-230 had this to say about this view being adopted by some of the Quartodecimans:
"I perceive, then, that the matter is one of contention for he speaks thus: Christ kept the supper, then, on that day, and then suffered, whence it is needful that I too should keep it in the same manner as the Lord did but he has fallen into error by not perceiving that at the time when Christ suffered HE DID NOT EAT THE PASSOVER OF THE LAW for he was the Passover that had been of old proclaimed, AND THAT WAS FULFILLED ON THAT DETERMINATE DAY."
The determinate day Hyppolytus refers to of course is the fourteenth of Abib, but notice he very clearly says that the Messiah DID NOT EAT THE PASSOVER REQUIRED BY THE LAW, simply because it would be impossible for him to do so. he states further:
"And again the same (authority), in the first book of his treatise on the holy supper speak thus: now that neither in the first nor in the last there was anything that was evident; for he who said of old, 'I will not any more eat the Passover' probably partook of supper before the Passover. BUT THE PASSOVER HE DID NOT EAT, BUT HE SUFFERED; FOR IT WAS NOT THE TIME FOR HIM TO EAT" (Hyppolytus: Refutation of all Heresies, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pages 240).
It should be noted and understood that the Quartodeciman Christians in general were right in observing the appointed time of the Jewish Passover. However Hyppolytus is also right in upbraiding some of them for trying to justify their custom by saying the Messiah did the Passover with lamb along with the Jews before he was executed on the fifteenth. This of course was not true. Hyppolytus knew this, but it should also be mentioned that Hyppolytus was not sympathetic toward the Quartodecimans because he himself had an anti-Jewish bias against following this "Jewish Custom," in fact, since the Quartodecimans made an issue of observing the same day as the Jews he refers to them as Heretics:
"And certain other (Heretics), CONTENTIOUS BY NATURE, (and) wholly uninformed as regards knowledge, as well as in their manner more (than usually) QUARRELSOME, combine (in maintaining) that Easter should be kept on the fourteenth day of the first month, according to the commandment of the law, on what ever day (of the week) it should occur, but in this they only regard what has been written in the law, that he will be accursed who does not so keep (the commandment) as it is enjoined. They do not however attend to this (fact), THAT THE LEGAL ENACTMENT WAS MADE FOR THE JEWS, WHO IN TIMES TO COME SHOULD KILL THE REAL PASSOVER.
"And this (Paschal sacrifice, in its efficacy), has spread unto the Gentiles, and is discerned by faith, and not now observed in letter (merely). THEY ATTEND TO THIS ONE COMMANDMENT, and do not look unto what has been spoken by the Apostle:
"'For I testify to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to the whole law' in other respects, however, these consent to all the traditions of the church by the Apostles" (Hyppolytus: Refutation of all Heresies, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pages 123).
Unfortunately, Hyppolytus's attitude is much like the attitude prevalent today against any law observance as being "Jewish" or "Legalism." Admittedly his argument is an effective one against the Quartodecimans for observing the appointed time of the Jewish Passover. The truth is, Hyppolytus's attitude is one of lawlessness, his argument is similar to those used today by those who are misguided and who teach against the Jewish Passover, against the Sabbath, against YEHOVAH God's law in general and against the Hebrew calendar.
By the end of the third century A.D., the Quartodecimans were losing sight of why they kept the appointed time of the Jewish Passover, as established by the apostle John, as is our understanding, through Polycarp. By the end of the second century A.D., the knowledge of the Messiah's trial and crucifixion occurring on separate days was lost. It was because of this lost knowledge that confusion began to reign in regards to the crucifixion accounts. The Quartodecimans were also losing sight of the fact that the Messiah died on the fourteenth of Abib and that he did not eat the legal Passover required by the law. Even so, their persistence in observing the appointed time of the Jewish Passover in the midst of growing anti-Jewish sentiments served to brand them as Heretics from the truth, in the eyes of conventional Gentile church leaders.
Sozomen of Gaza
We have now come to the point were we need to establish the fact that the Quartodecimans did indeed keep the Passover on the same day as the Jews. There is absolutely no mention from the ancients of any change in the Jewish Passover which is always on the fourteenth of Abib. In fact, all are in agreement that the Jews have faithfully preserved this ancient custom. I want to quote some references that prove this and then we will examine the Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria and prove beyond doubt that the Jews and Quartodecimans kept the Passover on exactly the same day according to the Roman reckoning of the moon, in conjunction with the fourteenth of Abib.
The first reference that shows the Quartodecimans keeping the same day as the Jews is from Sozomen's ecclesiastical history, a native of Gaza. He was born in A.D. 370-380 and wrote during the fifth century, around A.D . 440. Preserved in his writings, we have during the fifth century the Novations who began adopting the Quartodeciman practice of celebrating the Passover on the same day as the Quartodecimans and the Jews:
"About this period, the Novations of Phrygia, contrary to their ancient custom, began to celebrate the festival of the Passover ON THE SAME DAY AS THE JEWS. NOVATIUS the originator of their HERESY, refused to receive those who repented of their sins into communion and it was in this respect alone that he innovated upon established doctrine. But he and those who succeeded him celebrated the feast of the Passover after the vernal equinox, according to the custom of the Roman church.
"Some Novation bishops, however, assembled about this time at Pazi, a town of Phrygia, near the source of the river Sangarus, and agreeing not to follow, in this of discipline, the practice of those who differed in doctrine from them established a new law: they determined upon keeping the feast of unleavened bread, AND UPON CELEBRATING THE PASSOVER ON THE SAME DAY AS THE JEWS" (Sozomen's Ecclesiastical History, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, series 2, vol. 2, pages 361).
Technically speaking, the Novations of Phrygia would now be numbered among the Quartodecimans for abandoning the custom of the Egyptian and Roman churches and celebrating the Passover on the same day as the Jews, as was the custom of the Quartodeciman Christians. The next reference is from the writings of Bishop Peter of Alexandria, who shows that the Jews from ancient times had accurately preserved and observed the Passover in its proper season AND ON THE RIGHT DAY. There were some (not the Quartodecimans) who thought that Passover could be celebrated before the vernal equinox. Bishop Peter refutes this practice, testifying to the fact that the Jews have accurately preserved the observance of the Passover in its proper season and ON THE RIGHT DAY:
"Much more ruthless is he who, in this respect, ventures to bring a charge against Moses, that mighty servant of God or Joshua, the son of Nun, who succeeded him, or those who in succession rightly followed them and ruled; the judges I mean, and the kings who appeared or the prophets whom the Holy Spirit inspired, and those who amongst the priests were blameless, and those who, in following the traditions, CHANGED NOTHING, BUT AGREED AS TO THE OBSERVANCE OF THE PASSOVER IN ITS SEASON, AS ALSO OF THE REST OF THEIR FEASTS.
"And after other things, but oughtest rather to have pursued a safer and more auspicious course, and not to have written rashly and slanderously, that they seem from the beginning, and always, to have been in error about the Passover, which you cannot prove, whatever charge you may wish to bring against those who, at the present time, having fallen away from the commandment of the law concerning the Passover and other things. FOR THE ANCIENTS SEEM TO HAVE KEPT IT AFTER THE VERNAL EQUINOX, which you can discover if you read the ancient books, and those especially which were written by the learned Hebrews.
"That therefore up to the period of the Lord's passion and at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened under Vespacian the Roman emperor, THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, RIGHTLY OBSERVING THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE FIRST LUNAR MONTH, CELEBRATED THE PASSOVER OF THE LAW, has been briefly demonstrated" (writings of Peter Bishop of Alexandria, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, pages 282).
In these fragments, bishop Peter clearly says that the Passover is always celebrated after the vernal equinox and more importantly that the Jews have faithfully been observing the Passover in its season after the vernal equinox and that they rightly observed the fourteenth day of the first month as the Passover, no change, no deviation from the divine commandments of the law. On the same issue of the Passover being celebrated after the vernal equinox, Sozomen mentions that some of the Novations, in the fifth century A.D., who -- even though following the custom of the Jews -- were keeping Passover before the vernal equinox contrary to the ancient custom of the Jews; not all the Novations were doing this; some however were:-
"Hence arises my astonishment THAT THOSE WHO PROFESS TO ADOPT THE JEWISH CUSTOM in the celebration of this feast, do not confirm to the ANCIENT PRACTICE OF THE JEWS with the exception of the people above mentioned, and the Quartodecimans of Asia, all Heresies, I believe, celebrate the Passover in the same manner as the Romans and the Egyptians (after the vernal equinox). THE QUARTODECIMANS OBSERVE THIS FESTIVAL, LIKE THE JEWS ON THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE MOON AND HENCE THEIR NAME" (Sozomen's Ecclesiastical History, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, series 2, vol. 2, pages 389).
From this last reference, Sozomen testifies to the fact that the Quartodemicans observed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the moon LIKE THE JEWS and hence their name. This leads right into the problem we have today: Some think that if the Quartodecimans observed the appointed time of the Jewish Passover, the same night the Jews observed it, would not they be called "fifteenthers" instead of "fourteenthers"? The answer is no -- and there is a good reason why. It has to do with how the Romans themselves reckoned the day of the moon in conjunction with the fourteenth day of Abib.
The fourteenth day of Abib from sunrise to sunrise of Abib fifteen is the fourteen day of the moon according to Roman reckoning. Now, even though the fourteenth day of Abib according to Jewish reckoning ends at sunset, the Roman reckoning of the fourteenth day of the moon is from sunrise of the fourteenth of Abib, until sunrise of the fifteenth of Abib! This is the fourteenth day of the moon according to Roman reckoning. So from this reckoning you can see why the Quartodeciman Christians were called fourteenthers instead of fifteenthers and that they kept the Passover WITH THE JEWS and were labelled Quartodecimans according to this reckoning of the moon.
The Paschal Canon of Anatolius
This logically leads us now into examining the Paschal Canon by Anatolius, a native of Alexandria, (born in A.D. 230, about six years before Hyppolytus was martyred), had written during the mid to late third century A.D. In this canon there were some in Gaul (France) who said that the Passover festival can be celebrated as far as the twenty first day of the moon according to EXODUS 12:18:
"Accordingly, it is not the case, as certain calculators of Gaul allege, that this assertion is opposed by that passage in Exodus, where we read: 'in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the first month, at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses.'
"From this they maintain it is quite permissible to celebrate the Passover ON THE TWENTY FIRST DAY OF THE MOON; understanding that if the TWENTY SECOND DAY were added, there would be found eight days of unleavened bread, a thing which cannot be found with any probability, indeed, in the Old Testament.
In order to grasp and follow what Anatolius is saying, I have given a diagram below showing the Jewish reckoning of the day which ends at sunset and the Roman reckoning of the day of the moon. This will help explain in simple terms how the Romans reckoned the day of the moon. For example those in Gaul were saying the Passover can be kept ON THE TWENTY FIRST day of the moon according to Roman reckoning. If you refer to the diagram, this will automatically add THE TWENTY SECOND DAY according to the Jewish civil day and Roman civil day, because the twenty second of Abib up until sunrise is the twenty first according to the Roman day of the moon. Anatolius says this is simply impossible because now you will have EIGHT DAYS of unleavened bread both in the Jewish reckoning from the fifteenth to the twenty second and from the fourteenth to the twenty-first according to Roman reckoning. He says that this is impossible since the Scriptures do not sanction eight days of unleavened bread.
"As the Lord, through Moses, gives charge: 'Seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread.' Unless perchance the fourteenth day is not reckoned by them among the days of unleavened bread with the celebration of the feast, which however, is contrary to the word of the Gospel which says: 'Moreover, on the first day of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus,' and there is no doubt as to its being the fourteenth day on which the disciples asked the Lord, in accordance with the custom established for them of old, 'where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?'"
At this point, it should be pointed out that Anatolius is right in his understanding that the Passover was always sacrificed by the Jews late in the afternoon of the fourteenth -- that is, between the hours of noon and sunset, which ends the day according to Jewish reckoning. But according to Roman reckoning, at sunrise of the fourteenth of Abib begins -- the fourteenth day of the moon. The view that he adopts here is the unscriptural view that the Messiah did the Passover with lamb along with the Jews at its correct appointed time before his crucifixion, which he knew was being correctly observed by the Jews and the Quartodeciman Christians. He is right in when the appointed time of the Passover is, however, he is wrong in assuming the first day of unleavened bread means the fourteenth. The fourteenth, which is the day of the Passover sacrifice (Lev.23:5), is, strictly speaking, NOT the first day of unleavened bread. The First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the fifteenth (Lev. 23:6-7).
Although Mark refers to "the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover" (Mark 14:12), he is using the term "first day" in a general sense, referring not to the first day of the Feast at all, but to the day or time when leavening was put out of the homes -- that is, the time period during which the Passover lambs were killed. The implied meaning of first day, as used by Mark in this case, is meant in a general sense of an unspecified length of time before the feast of unleavened bread. Do not forget, it was toward the end of the second century A.D. that the view of the Messiah eating the Passover lamb at its correct appointed time with the Jews was being adopted by some of the Quartodecimans.
However, this point aside, you will notice that the fourteenth day of the moon according to Roman reckoning, is technically half of the fifteenth of Abib. That is why those who observed the fourteenth of Abib as the Passover did so with the Jews. We have the many testimonies of various bishops who clearly say the Quartodecimans kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the moon, the same day the Jews celebrate the Passover, which according to the Roman reckoning of the day of the moon is the fourteenth. That is why the Quartodecimans along with the Jews were called fourteenthers and not fifteenthers!
Anatolius goes on to explain further in his Canon, exactly how the day of the moon is reckoned:
"But they who are deceived with this error maintain this addition (the twenty second day), because they do not know that the 13th and 14th; the 14th and 15th; the 15th and 16th; 16th and 17th; the 17th and 18th; the 18th and 19th; the 19th and 20th; the 20th and the 21st days OF THE MOON ARE EACH FOUND, AS MAY BE MOST SURELY PROVED, WITHIN A SINGLE DAY."
The day of the moon in this case is reckoned from sunrise til sunrise according to the Romans, for example the Romans used the Phrase luna prima, secunda; etc, as meaning the first, second day; etc, after the new moon --
"For every day in the reckoning of the moon DOES NOT END IN THE EVENING (at midnight: Roman civil) as the same day in respect of number (i.e. like the Jewish reckoning), as it is at its beginning in the morning. FOR THE DAY WHICH IN THE MORNING (AFTER MIDNIGHT) THAT IS UP TO THE SIXTH HOUR AND A HALF, IS NUMBERED THE 13TH DAY OF THE MONTH, IS FOUND AT EVENING TO BE THE 14TH" (Paschal Canon of Anatolius Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol.6, pages 148-149).
Is it any wonder, then, that today so many assume the Quartodecimans kept the Passover a night before the Jews, when all church history proves the Quartodecimans kept the same night as the Jews! When you consider the fact that the time of the Passover sacrifice, and the night's Passover celebrations, fell all within the fourteenth day of the moon according to Roman reckoning, if the Christians had been observing the "Passover" at the beginning of the 14th of Abib, as so many think today, the Romans and church historians would have referred to them as the thirteenthers!
NO CHANGE EVER OCCURRED IN THE APPOINTED TIME OF THE PASSOVER, THE JEWS HAVE FAITHFULLY PRESERVED THIS CUSTOM RIGHT DOWN TO THIS DAY!
Anatolius explains the Roman reckoning further:
"Wherefore, also, the Passover is enjoined to be extended on to the 21st day at even; which day, without doubt, in the morning, that is up to that term of hours which we have mentioned, was reckoned the 20th. Calculate, then, from the end of the 13th day of the moon, which marks the beginning of the 14th on to the end of the 20th, at which the 21st day also begins, and you will have only seven days of unleavened bread, in which, by the guidance of the Lord, it has been determined that the most true feast of the Passover ought to be celebrated.
Now count the Roman reckoning of the day of the moon and you will have seven days from the fourteenth day of the moon until the twentieth day of the moon which is on the twenty first of Abib. The reason why he counts the seven days of unleavened bread from and including the fourteenth is because he mistakenly believes the Messiah ate the Passover lamb with the Jews prior to his crucifixion. The bottom line is simply this: All the ancients knew the Jews and the Christians of Asia Minor celebrated the Passover as seen through this Roman reckoning of the fourteenth day of the moon, which in reality is the end of the fourteenth of Abib and night of the fifteenth of Abib, by Jewish reckoning. That is why throughout church history the Christians of Asia Minor are constantly referred to as celebrating the Passover ON THE SAME DAY AS THE JEWS -- which was, according to the Roman reckoning of the moon, the fourteenth of Abib -- and that is why they are called Quartodecimans.
From Anatolius's Paschal Canon we have the essential knowledge that he knew the Jewish Passover was celebrated at the going down of the sun ON THE FOURTEENTH OF ABIB, even though he is wrong in assuming the Messiah did the Passover with lamb at its correct appointed time with the Jews, prior to his crucifixion. This however is not surprising. When he wrote this Canon in the mid to late third century A.D., this view was becoming fashionable.
Anatolius also mentions the fact that the Passover cannot be celebrated before or at the equinox as those of Gaul were trying to prove which was contrary to the ancient custom of the Jews:
"But what wonder is it that they should have erred in the matter of the 21st day of the moon who have added three days BEFORE THE EQUINOX, in which they hold that the Passover may be celebrated? An assertion which certainly must be considered altogether absurd since, by the best know historiographers of the Jews, and by the seventy elders. IT HAS BEEN CLEARLY DETERMINED THAT THE PASCHAL FESTIVAL CANNOT BE CELEBRATED AT THE EQUINOX."
It is clear from Anatolius's Paschal Canon that the custom of the Jews and Quartodecimans was that they celebrated the Passover on the fourteenth day of Abib according to Jewish reckoning; which fell on the same day of the Roman reckoning of the fourteenth day of the moon. Anatolius also testifies to the reliability of the Jews keeping the festival in its season after the vernal equinox on the fourteenth of Abib according to Jewish reckoning which is the fourteenth day of the moon according to Roman reckoning, and he then goes on to say that all of the bishops of Asia Minor were observing the Passover ON THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE MOON:
"But nothing was difficult to them (the Jews) with whom it was lawful to celebrate the Passover on any day when THE FOURTEENTH OF THE MOON happened after the equinox. FOLLOWING THEIR EXAMPLE UP TO THE PRESENT TIME ALL THE BISHOPS OF ASIA -- AS THEMSELVES RECEIVING THE RULE FROM AN UNIMPEACHABLE AUTHORITY, TO WIT, THE EVANGELIST JOHN, who lent on the Lord's breast, and drank in instructions spiritual without doubt -- were in the way of celebrating the paschal feast without question every year whenever the FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE MOON HAD COME, AND THE LAMB WAS SACRIFICED BY THE JEWS AFTER THE EQUINOX WAS PAST."
The important details in this Paschal Canon bear witness to the fact that the Asian bishops celebrated the Passover at the appointed time of the Jewish Passover, the day on which the lambs were sacrificed, being the fourteenth day of the moon according to Roman reckoning, and that this tradition was handed down to the Asian churches via the apostle John. Anatolius then makes mention that Peter and Paul had established the observance of Easter Sunday in the other churches, which of course is difficult to believe since John was never of a different opinion from Peter and especially Paul who was a devout Pharisee and was perfect according to the letter of YEHOVAH God's law (Philippians 3:5-6). Anatolius declares:
"Not acquiescing, so far as regards this matter, with the authority of some, NAMELY THE SUCCESSORS OF PETER AND PAUL, who have taught all the churches in which they sowed the spiritual seeds of the Gospel, that the solemn festival of the resurrection of the Lord can be celebrated only on the Lord's day. Whence also a certain contention broke out between the successors of these, namely, VICTOR, at that time bishop of the city of Rome and POLYCRATES, who then appeared to hold the primacy among the bishops of Asia, and this contention was adjusted most rightfully by Irenaeus, at that time President of a part of Gaul, so that both parties kept by their own order, and did not decline from the original custom of antiquity. The one party indeed KEPT THE PASCHAL DAY ON THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE FIRST MONTH, ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL, as they thought [the Quartodecimans] ADDING NOTHING OF AN EXTRANEOUS KIND, BUT keeping THROUGH ALL THINGS THE RULE OF FAITH and the other party, passing the day of the Lord's passion as one replete with sadness and grief, hold that it should not be lawful to celebrate the Lord's mystery of the Passover at any other time but on the Lord's day, on which the resurrection of the Lord from death took place and on which rose also for us the cause of everlasting joy" (Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, pages 148-149, the Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria).
In this last reference, Anatolius explains in very elucidating terms the custom of the eastern churches and he explains exactly what POLYCRATES means in his letter to Victor which is so often misquoted today by those who erroneously believe that since the Quartodecimans were called fourteenthers that they kept the Passover before the Jews. It is simply amazing that the important facts that I have shown, proving the Quartodecimans kept the Passover at the appointed time of the Jewish Passover celebrating WITH THE JEWS ON THE SAME FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE MOON according to Roman reckoning, is always overlooked by those today who are mistaken in believing the Jews changed the appointed time of the Passover, thinking that the Messiah did the Passover on the night of his betrayal -- which was not even the night of Abib fourteen!
In conclusion then, we can deduce the following FACT'S about the Quartodecimans: That is, first, that they believed the Messiah had died on the fourteenth of Abib fulfilling the Passover sacrifice typology. Also, second, that the Messiah did not eat the Passover at its correct appointed time prior to his crucifixion, simply because it would be impossible for him to do so, especially when he had to fulfill that very sacrifice at its correct appointed time because it pictured HIS sacrifice. Third, that between the period of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the second Jewish revolt A.D. 132-135, these facts were common knowledge for the early church, along with the fact that the Messiah's trial and crucifixion had occurred on separate days. But, fourth, after the time of the second Jewish revolt this knowledge about the Messiah's trial and crucifixion became lost and after A.D. 135 toward the late second century A.D., signs of confusions over the date of the crucifixion and the harmony of the Gospels was evident. Some Quartodecimans began to adopt the view that the Messiah had actually eaten the Passover with lamb at its correct appointed time. This view, however, did not gain a substantial foot hold until the third century A.D.
Even though by this time most were deceived about the accounts of the crucifixion and what actually happened, some bishops continued to refute the unscriptural view that the Messiah did the Passover with lamb and was then killed on the fifteenth, because it meant he did not fulfill the Passover sacrifice typology which would have been contrary to the law. Such bishops who refuted this view were Apollinaris, a contemporary of Polycrates, A.D. 180, and Hyppolytus, who refutes this view in his refutation of all Heresies written about A.D. 222, and Peter, bishop of Alexandria who wrote in the mid to late third century A.D. By the third century A.D., some of the Quartodecimans were adopting the unscriptural view that the Messiah did the Passover with lamb at its correct appointed time and that he was crucified and died on the fifteenth.
And finally, we were able to conclusively prove from the Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria, written mid to late third century A.D., that the Quartodecimans were called fourteenthers and not fifteenthers because in the reckoning of the Roman day of the moon the fourteenth of of the moon, Roman time, began on Abib fourteenth, at sunrise, and lasted until Abib fifteenth, sunrise -- Jewish reckoning. Since the Christians were celebrating the Passover at the same time as the Jews, this was done on Abib fifteen, Jewish reckoning, but still the fourteenth, by the Roman calendar. This is why the Romans called them "fourteenthers." But if they had been celebrating Passover a night before the Jews, the Romans, using their own calendar, would have called them thirteenthers!
The Roman day was from sunrise to sunrise, and the Jewish day from evening to evening. Understanding this fact, we can see that the Jewish Passover, which fell on the fourteenth of the lunar month, and was eaten on the fifteenth, was according to the Roman calendar eaten on the fourteenth, which did not end until the next sunrise. Therefore, the fourteenth day of Abib, along with the evening celebration of Passover on Abib fifteenth, which was observed by the Quartodecimans, all fell within the fourteenth day of the moon according to Roman reckoning.
That is why the Christians of Asia Minor who followed the custom of the Jewish Passover were labeled as QUARTODECIMANS, fourteenthers, according to the Roman reckoning of the moon. The Quartodeciman controversy is well documented and there is no evidence to suggest that the Jewish people changed the appointed time of the Passover. There is equally no evidence to suggest that anyone in Asia Minor kept the night of Abib fourteen, after sunset which began that day, as Passover. All the evidence, both scripturally and historically proves the Quartodecimans kept the Passover on the same day as the Jews. It is my hope that this study will clarify the misunderstanding that is so prevalent among many today, who falsely assume and believe that the Jews changed the appointed time of the Passover. That simply never happened. It is simply not true.
New International Commentary Gospel of Luke.
Fragments from the "Lost Writings of Irenaeus" Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 1.
Apollinaris Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 8.
Bishop Peter of Alexandria Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 6.
Hyppolytus "Refutation of all Heresies" Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 5.
Sozomens "Ecclesiastical History" Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers Series 2 Vol. 2.
"Paschal Canon" of Anatolius of Alexandria Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 6.
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