corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.12.05
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Passover

Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

In the NT we meet with two alternative names for the great Jewish festal season of the Passover-τὸ πάσχα and τὰ ἄζυμα. These are the LXX_ equivalents for the corresponding Heb. terms in the OT, πάσχα being a rough transliteration of Heb. pesaḥ (probably through the Aramaic form pasḥa), and τὰ ἄζυμα a translation of Heb. hammaẓẓôth (‘the unleavened bread,’ Exodus 12:17), a brief form of reference to ḥag hammaẓẓôth (‘the feast of the unleavened bread,’ Exodus 23:15). We have also one instance of the full phrase ἡ ἑορτὴ τῶν ἀζύμων in Luke 22:1. Similarly τὸ πάσχα is an abbreviation for ἡ ἑορτὴ τοῦ πάσχα (Luke 2:41); and this is parallel with the OT use of happesaḥ (e.g. Joshua 5:10) for the full ḥag happesaḥ (e.g. Exodus 34:25). In both cases the name of an essential feature of the feast (the lamb, the cakes) is used to denote the feast itself. The analogy of the use of the maẓẓôth (‘cakes’) as a short name for the festival suggests that pesaḥ was originally the special name for the lamb and that it is not the name of the feast transferred to the lamb. ‘Killing’ and ‘eating’ τὸ πάσχα are just as often spoken of as ‘keeping’ τὸ πάσχα.

It would be impossible for readers of the LXX_, who were familiar only with Greek, to realize such word-play between ‘passover’ and ‘pass over’ as is found in Exodus 12 -word-play which is obvious alike in EVV_ and in Heb.; e.g. Exodus 12:27 : zebhaḥpesaḥ … ǎsher pâsaḥ, ‘passover-sacrifice (to the Lord) who passed over.’ The LXX_, which uses πάσχα invariably for pesaḥ, reads in the same passage, ‘A sacrifice to the Lord is this pasch (τὸ πάσχα), for He screened (ἐσκέπασε) the houses of the people of Israel.’

The Vulg._ handling of the term is very curious. At its first appearance in Exodus 12:11 it is a sort of transliteration yielding the odd form Phase followed by an explanatory parenthesis, ‘(id est, transitus) Domini.’ So throughout the OT, except in Ezra and Ezekiel, Phase as an indeclinable substantive continues to be used, but some caprice is shown in using sometimes Phase and sometimes phase. In Ezra 6:19-20 and Ezekiel 45:21 the form Pascha appears: and in the NT this term is invariably used. It appears to be generally intended to mark the distinction between the name as applied to the feast and as applied to the lamb by using Pascha in the former case (‘facere, celebrare Pascha’) and pascha in the latter (‘immolare, comedere, manducare pascha’). Uncertainty, too, is shown as to the declension of the word, it being treated both as feminine and as neuter (e.g. Luke 2:41 ‘in die solemni Paschae’; Luke 22:8, ‘parate nobis pascha’). Similarly we have in Mark 14:1 ‘Erat autem Pascha et Azyma,’ and in Luke 22:1 ‘appropinquabat autem dies festus Azymorum, qui dicitur Pascha.’ In Acts 12:3; Acts 20:6 is found ‘dies Azymorum.’

Whether we have not here traces of two ancient Spring festivals, one pastoral (peṣaḥ) and one agricultural (maẓẓôth), now merged into one and invested with a new significance as a historical commemoration which almost wholly obliterates the primitive origins, is a question that lies beyond the scope of this article. This much, however, may be said. The real origin of the term pesaḥ (and so πάσχα) is, to say the least, obscure. The explanation given in Exodus 12 quite possibly indicates the well-known tendency to supply a derivation for a term from itself, especially when it is to be adapted to new uses. For πάσχα, we know, a connection with πάσχω (‘suffer’), was found as early as Irenaeus (2nd cent. a.d.), who says: ‘A Moyse ostenditur Filius Dei, cuius et diem passionis non ignoravit, sed figuratim pronunciavit, eum pascha nominans’ (Haer. iv. 10). Tertullian and Chrysostom repeated the error of connecting πάσχα with our Lord’s Passion. There must have been very many, familiar only with Greek, to whom the term itself was meaningless.

1. The feast.-The Passover was a ḥag, i.e. a pilgrim feast characterized by joyousness; it was necessarily observed at the central sanctuary at Jerusalem. Josephus mentions more than once the large numbers that came up to the feast, and speaks of it as a particularly turbulent time when sedition was liable to break out on the slightest provocation (see Ant. XVII. ix. 3, XX. v. 3). He calculates that there were 2,700,200 capable of celebrating the Passover at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (BJ_ VI. ix. 3; see also [for a.d. 65] BJ_ II. xiv. 3). Whatever exaggeration there may be in these numbers, it is clear that the concourse of people at the feast must have been great. According to the same authority, more than once in the unquiet years which preceded the fall of Jerusalem the Passover was made the occasion of massacre and bloodshed in which many perished.

With the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, the Passover necessarily ceased to be a ḥag. It became simply a domestic festival, though of peculiar preciousness. Their downfall as a nation, their being scattered abroad throughout the world, could not blot out for the Jews the memory of their redemption from Egyptian bondage, which the festival commemorated, whilst it also kept alive hopes for the days to come. The scene of the celebration was the home, and those who kept the feast were the family circle or household. But we are largely in the dark as to how the Jews observed the feast, say in a.d. 71, when it was no longer possible to go up to Jerusalem, and how exactly the celebration of the Passover (as well as other matters) was adjusted to the new order of things. All we know is that out of a period of uncertainty and dimness the Passover feast emerges as one of the most distinctive features of Judaism, one that has been made the subject of a special tractate of the Mishna (Pesaḥim), and one that has continued to this day as a specially valued festival.

2. The Passover as a note of time.-Twice in the Acts (Acts 12:3; Acts 20:6) we have ‘the days of unleavened bread’ referred to as a note of time. No absolute certainty is attainable with reference to NT chronology; everything, therefore, that can shed light on it is to be welcomed. In Acts 12:3 we have the fact explicitly mentioned that it was the Passover time when the occurrences there recorded took place; but unfortunately that does not give us information as to the year. The uncertainties, however, are narrowed down to the limits of a very few years, and careful calculation has shown that Herod Agrippa I. most probably died in a.d. 44. St. Peter mysteriously disappears from view, leaving us henceforth dependent on uncertain tradition for all further knowledge of his career. The unfortunate translation of μετὰ τὸ πάσχα in AV_ as ‘after Easter’ is an obvious anachronism, unless, indeed, ‘Easter’ was in the 16th cent. used indiscriminately for the Jewish and the Christian Pasch. Acts 20:6 f. also probably indicates the Passover of a.d. 56 or 57 as marking the close of the missionary activity of St. Paul, who was arrested soon after (see art._ ‘Chronology of the NT’ in HDB_ i. 416, 420).

Nothing could show better than these scanty notes of time how deep-rooted the custom was, how the feast was observed as regularly as the year came round. Men spoke naturally of ‘the days of the unleavened bread’ as a significant point in the calendar, just as we speak of ‘after Christmas’ or ‘at Christmas.’ Ordinary dates dwindle into insignificance beside these fixed, outstanding seasons. Similarly we find the other primary Jewish festivals (Tabernacles and Pentecost) used in the same way-John 7:2 (Tabernacles), Acts 2:1; Acts 20:16, 1 Corinthians 16:8 (Pentecost).

3. How Passover was kept in apostolic times.-Even among the Jews the Paschal observance had undergone considerable changes in the course of time. Whilst a due reference was preserved to the all-important fact of the deliverance from Egypt, the emergence of the Jews as more or less a people, yet time and historical catastrophes had left their mark. What mention, e.g., is there in the Pentateuchal legislation of the four cups of wine? When were they introduced? We cannot tell; yet they were a settled feature of the feast in our Lord’s day. The cup which He took in the institution of the Lord’s Supper was no new thing. It is generally admitted that this was the third cup or cup of blessing which is still drunk at the conclusion of the meal (‘after supper,’ Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25). The greatest difference, however, was made by the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. Up to that time the paschal lambs had been slain in their thousands year by year. Then it all ceased. A roasted shank-bone of a lamb is all that remains of the most notable element of the feast as originally ordained. On the other hand, the unleavened cakes and the bitter herbs (now taking the form of horse-radish) go back to primitive times.

But ‘the present Passover liturgy contains comparatively very few relics from New Testament times’ (A. Edersheim, The Temple: its Ministry and Services as they were at the Time of Jesus Christ, London, n.d., p. 231). Perhaps it is more correct to say that the present Passover liturgy contains large expansions of and additions to the ritual observed in the 1st cent. a.d. What that form was exactly it is impossible to tell. It was pre-eminently a time of revolution: the breakup and passing away of the old order to give place to a new. The transformation of Passover from a ḥag to a purely domestic festival was not so sudden as might at first appear. Even before the destruction of Jerusalem the domestic festivities were of growing importance, although that stupendous event made an end of the whole sacrificial system and yearly festal gatherings. We may be sure, however, that the kernel of the commemoration was jealously maintained, that the essential framework of the ritual to-day was there from the first. That ritual briefly is as follows. The search for leaven on the eve of Passover with quaint formulae ushers in the feast. The festival commences with a sanctification; then comes the first cup of wine; the aphiḳomen (half a maẓẓah, which is reserved to be eaten at the close) is set aside; the question is asked, ‘Why is this night distinguished from all other nights?’ to which a long response is given; this is followed by the first part of Hallel (Psalms 113, 114), the second cup of wine, washing of the hands; the unleavened bread (maẓẓôth) is eaten with bitter herbs (horse-radish); next comes Hillel’s ceremony (eating a piece of horse-radish placed between two pieces of unleavened bread); the aphiḳomen is eaten, grape after meals is said with considerable additions; then there is the third cup of wine and the opening of the door; Hallel is resumed (Psalms 115-118); Psalms 136 is recited with large expansions, followed by the fourth cup of wine and prayer for the Divine acceptance of the service; ‘Adir hu’, an impassioned song praying for the rebuilding of the Temple, brings all to a close.

Such a curious feature as the opening of the door is of uncertain date, but, though most likely later than the 1st cent. a.d., is yet of considerable age. The expansions are mostly seen in the Haggâdic matter-the long narrative sections which are so conspicuous a feature of the observance. The compositions, ‘How many are the benefits which God has conferred upon us?’ ‘And it came to pass at midnight,’ ‘Ye shall say, “It is the sacrifice of Passover,” ’ ‘To Him praise has ever been and ever will be due,’ and others, must be dated long after apostolic times. On the other hand, the Hallel and other portions of the Psalms are most probably amongst the oldest features.

One feature of the celebration on the second night of the Passover carries us back uninterruptedly to the primitive times when the Jews were settled in Canaan and were an agricultural people. It is the counting of the omer, and it most particularly reminds us that here we have originally a celebration of the recurring seasons of the year and the yearly ingathering of the earth’s fruits. The first-fruits of barley harvest were offered on the second day of Passover, and from then seven weeks were counted by primitive methods of calculation; this brought them to Pentecost and the beginning of wheat harvest. ‘Though one ephah, or ten omers, of barley was cut down, only one omer of flour, or about 5·1 pints of our measure, was offered in the Temple on the second Paschal’ (Edersheim, op. cit. p. 259). Ages have passed, the Jews are scattered throughout the world, there is no longer flour to be offered, there is no omer; still at the evening service in the synagogue and on the second night of the festival in the home, as regularly as the Passover comes round, the words are said: ‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast sanctified us with Thy precepts and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer. This is the first day of the Omer. May it be Thy will, O Lord our God and the God of our fathers, to rebuild thy Temple speedily, in our days, and to make Thy law our portion.’ And at evening service in the synagogue daily the counting goes on until the night before Pentecost (see art._ Pentecost).

Whenever the custom may have originated, it is curious to think that still in every Jewish home, just after the third cup, or cup of blessing, has been drunk, the door is opened to admit the prophet Elijah, for whom a spare cup of wine is always set, as the forerunner of the Messiah. ‘May the All-merciful send us Elijah the prophet … who shall give us good tidings, salvation, and consolation.’ We think of the question: ‘Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come?’ (Matthew 17:10), and of the answer: ‘Elijah is come already.’ That which differentiates between Jew and Christian is mainly the recognition of Jesus as the Christ. How can we fail to feel the pathos in the impassioned prayers with which the Paschal service closes? ‘O mighty God, rebuild Thy house speedily, speedily even in our days, rebuild it. O God, rebuild Thy Temple speedily!’ and in the aspiration repeated more than once, but especially before the fourth cup: ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’ We wonder how far these words really express the yearning of the Jewish heart. Words and formulae often live on and survive the original desire, very intense and sincere, which prompted them.

The question arises, as in the matter of keeping Sabbath on the seventh day, whether the early Christians continued to observe these festivals just the same as the Jews. They did not at once break away from the practices in which they had been brought up (see, e.g., Acts 3:1). ‘The Christian Churches in Judaea existed as Jewish sects’ (C. von Weizsäcker, The Apostolic Age, i.2 [London, 1897] 175), and it is with Jewish Christians that we are first of all concerned. In all probability they went on for years observing the festivals with their old Jewish significance as they also complied with other traditional usages. J. Bingham, indeed, on very slender grounds holds that the ‘first Christians of Jerusalem … did not keep Easter with the Jews on what day of the week scever it fell, but on the Sunday following in honour of our Saviour’s resurrection’ (Ant. XX. v. 4 [in Works, Oxford, 1855, vol. vii.]). Apart even from the loose wording here, when we come to look into matters we see that he has little, if any, authority for the belief. The ‘first day of the week,’ the Lord’s Day, was the regular, weekly commemoration of our Lord’s resurrection. It is more than doubtful if there was an annual commemoration (‘Easter’) in apostolic times.

But the old runs into the new. Even though still marking events by ‘the days of unleavened bread’ (Acts 12:3), they might well invest the season with a new significance as time went on, and associate it with a new commemoration. ‘When the apostles came to write of the bondage of sin and the new liberty and life in Christ, their teaching would be all the more easily understood and more lovingly accepted, because to many of their readers it recalled the Passover table of the family and the sound of silent voices’ (G. M. Mackie, ‘The Jewish Passover in the Christian Church,’ ExpT_ xiii. [1901-02] 392).

St. Paul, however, who divined most accurately the true genius of Christianity as a religion with universal aims, evidently disapproved of the continuance of Judaism as a system crippling the spiritual energies of the Church, the new liberty in Christ. He explicitly deprecated the observance of Jewish feasts (Galatians 4:8-11) on the part of purely Gentile converts. Colossians 2:16 is equally decided. Though he was, as he himself proudly claimed, ‘a Hebrew of Hebrews,’ it is more than questionable if he kept the Passover after his conversion and after he had grasped the meaning of Christianity for the Gentile world. And when he makes an allusion to the feast in writing to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:6-8), it shows only that the feast per se has no longer any interest for him. It may, indeed, show incidentally that it was somewhere about the time of its celebration that he was writing his Epistle; but his allusions are purely symbolic. He gives to the Paschal lamb and to the unleavened bread a meaning of which his forefathers never dreamed. To St. Paul more than to any other is it due that Christianity broke away from the swaddling-clothes of Judaism and became a faith with a far more glorious redemption than the Exodus to commemorate.

As L. Duchesne remarks, ‘There was no reason why Christians should observe the feasts and fasts of the Jewish calendar. They were allowed to drop out of use. Nevertheless, each year one of these holy days, the Paschal Feast or the Feast of the Azymes, recalled the memory of the Passion of the Saviour. The memories which Israel had connected, and still connected, with this anniversary might no longer be of interest; but it was impossible to forget that Our Lord had died … on one of those days. The Pasch was therefore retained, though the ritual details of the Jewish observance were omitted’ (Early History of the Christian Church, Eng. tr._ of 4th ed., i. [London, 1909] 207 f.).

4. ‘Christ our Passover.’-We have already referred in passing to 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, but both here and in 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Corinthians 15:23 there are allusions to Passover (‘the firstfruits,’ ἀπαρχή) which call for a rather more extended notice. For they show us better than anything else how the transition from the Jewish to the Christian Pasch was made, how the new interest and commemoration swallowed up and superseded the old. Once again Passover was in all probability being celebrated in the Jewish community. But St. Paul, perhaps for the very first time, was quick to see an illustration of Christ and His redeeming work in the sacrifice of the lamb, and in the complete removal of leaven which preceded the feast (Exodus 12:15) an illustration of the moral purification which Christianity calls for. He sees, again, in the first-fruits offered at the Passover an illustration of what Christ is in His resurrection to the harvest field of the dead.

(a) τὸ πάσχα ἡμῶν: ‘our Paschal lamb,’ i.e. of Christians as distinct from Jews. It is altogether unnecessary to see in the lamb of the original institution an actual prototype of our Lord. To see in the Paschal lamb ‘the prefiguration of Jesus Christ whose death is the sacrifice which averts the wrath of God from His community’ (C. von Orelli, art._ ‘Passover’ in Schaff-Herzog_, viii. 370) is to go beyond what is warranted. The reference is too casual for so much to be built upon it. The Apostle never again speaks of Christ as a lamb. The lamb of the Passover, moreover, was partaken of in a festal meal, and St. Paul was probably thinking specially of this. For he immediately follows with ‘Therefore let us keep festival’ (ἑορτάζωμεν); not with a reference to any feast in particular, but to the new life of joyousness Christians are to live, in which ‘sincerity and truth’ are essential (so Chrysostom, Hom. in 1 Cor. xv. 3. 8). Again we have Christ compared to a ‘lamb without blemish and without spot’ (1 Peter 1:19), absolute purity, however, being a general requirement in any sacrifice offered to God (Deuteronomy 17:1). Allegory soon became busy with these representations of the Lord. He was ‘the Lamb of God’ (John 1:29) rather in antithesis to the whole sacrificial system of the Jews. The majestic apocalyptic figure of the Lamb which is all-prominent in Rev. is the outgrowth of this conception, and is mainly responsible for the Agnus Dei of Christian art._

(b) ἀπαρχή, LXX_ for Heb. re’shîth (Leviticus 23:10), ‘firstfruits.’ It is almost impossible that St. Paul should use this particular term without having in mind a reference to the offering of first-fruits at Passover, especially when we take it in connection with Leviticus 5:6. R. F. Weymouth (The NT in Modern Speech3, London, 1909, p. 469) translates (no doubt advisedly) 1 Corinthians 15:20, ‘being the first to do so of those who are asleep’; and again 1 Corinthians 15:23, ‘Christ having been the first to rise’: but this entirely obscures the beautiful figure of the harvest field. As used by St. Paul, the gathering of first-fruits and the presenting of them to God is a pledge that the whole harvest shall be reaped.

5. Passover and the Eucharist.-Is there any connection between the Passover of the Jews and the Lord’s Supper of the Christian Church? Our limitations forbid any treatment in detail of what is still a very vexed question. It must be admitted that the materials are scanty and not free from obscurity. The difference, e.g., between the Synoptists and the Fourth Gospel as to the actual time when the Lord held His Last Supper, whether the meal was an ‘anticipated Passover’ or Passover itself, is well known. Referring to the repeated attempts to harmonize them, Duchesne sensibly remarks: ‘It is wiser to acknowledge that, on this point, we are not in a position to reconcile the evangelists’ (op. cit. p. 209, n._ 4). And why trouble, when even the fact that the Lord instituted some memorial observance for His disciples is itself open to question? Wilder extremists see in the Supper, not a simple memorial instituted naturally by Jesus and suggested by the circumstances of the time, but the influence of mystery-religions and strange cults with their eating and drinking of a god.

One thing is pretty certain. There was a meal in some form or another associated with Christianity from the very beginning. In Acts 2:42 the κλάσις τοῦ ἄρτου, ‘the breaking of the bread,’ suggests a distinctive custom of the first disciples. Still more in Acts 20:7 is it apparent that this custom was observed ‘on the first day of the week,’ and it becomes a more definitely religious ordinance. More than all we have fortunately St. Paul’s treatment of a crying scandal in the Church at Corinth which incidentally gives us some light on the practice of the times (1 Corinthians 10:16 f., 1 Corinthians 11:17 ff.). From the first, apparently, the commemoration (Eucharist) was observed in connection with a common meal to symbolize and to foster fraternity (Agape). The Apostle’s action here was to set a hedge round the commemoration and rescue it from the disgraceful abuses which attended the common meal. It distinctly contributed to the ultimate separation of the Eucharist as a purely religious and symbolic feast, although at the time of the Didache (c._ a.d. 100) the Agape appears still to have been associated with it ( 10), at any rate in certain localities.

But St. Paul’s mention of the ‘cup of blessing’ (1 Corinthians 10:16), coupled with the fact that he had already seen in the Paschal lamb an illustration of Christ, makes it clear that he at any rate viewed this ordinance as the Christian counterpart of the Jewish Passover. Edersheim (LT_4, London, 1887, ii. 511) is very decided as to this relation, and even goes so far as to venture the opinion that the broken bread was none other than the aphiḳomen or unleavened cake eaten at the close of the meal. A. C. McGiffert (A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, Edinburgh, 1897, p. 70) seems hardly consistent in saying there is no indication in our sources that the Lord’s Supper was viewed as thus related to the Jewish Passover, as he remarks, ‘It can hardly be doubted, in other words, that it was believed, at any rate at an early day, if not from the beginning, in the church of Jerusalem, that Jesus had commanded them to do as they actually were doing.’ If Jesus gave the command He gave it at the Paschal meal, or at least in close association with it. ‘Whether in the words and acts of Jesus there is an implied reference to the Passover or not, the association of the Eucharist with the Passover was a natural one, though we may have to admit that the Paschal features in the language of St. Paul represent the later reflexion of a period when the idea of Christ as the true Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7, John 19:36) had influenced the conception of the institution’ (art._ ‘Eucharist’ in ERE_ v. 543a). We may notice that really St. Paul’s language is separated from the Crucifixion only by a score of years or so, no great interval after all. It is the more natural to think, considering the relation of Christianity to Judaism, that we have here a close point of connection between the old and the new.

6. Passover and Easter.-The true celebration of Easter, the festival of our Lord’s resurrection, was, as we have seen above, a thing of weekly occurrence. ‘The first day of the week’ became established even in the Apostolic Church as the special day of joyful commemoration on the part of Christians. In that they were most sharply in contrast with the Jews. But whatever obscurity may hang round the original connection between the Paschal feast and the Eucharist, there can be no question that when Easter came to be observed, as it was observed at the same season of the year,-in spring-it was regarded as the counterpart of the Jewish Passover. Speaking of the movable feasts, Duchesne says: ‘Dans ces fêtes, comme en tant d’autres choses, l’Eglise est, à un certain degré, héritière de la Synagogue. L’année ecclésiastique n’est autre chose que la combinaison de deux calendriers, l’un juif et l’autre chrétien. Au calendrier juif correspondent les fêtes mobiles, au calendrier chrétien les fêtes fixes’ (Origines du culte chrétien4, Paris, 1909, p. 225). After observing that this symmetry must not be pressed too far, he remarks: ‘Les chrétiens ne conservèrent point toutes les fêtes juives; et quant à celles qu’ils retinrent, ils y attachèrent de bonne heure une signification appropriée à leurs croyances.… On ne conserva que celles de Pâques et de la Pentecôte’ (ib.).

This correspondence is made abundantly clear by the fact that the name for the festival of the resurrection of our Lord is in most countries simply the name ‘Pascha’ reproduced in various forms. Thus Lat. festa paschalia, which has passed into Fr. as Pâques (a plur. form), Ital. Pasqua, etc. (see CED_, s.v. ‘Pasch’). The name ‘Easter’ is, quite differently, from A.S._ plur. eâstron, a relic of heathenism with dim suggestions of the worship of nature powers awakening in spring. But even where ‘Easter’ became the settled name, some form of Pascha such as ‘Pasch’ existed side by side with it.

It was only to be expected that with the weekly celebration there should gradually grow up a special yearly commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is so tremendous and vital a fact that as each Paschal season came round the tendency would be more and more to give importance to the annual celebration at the very season when our Lord died and rose again. But this was after the Apostolic Age.

So there is no need to enter with any minuteness upon a controversy which, springing up in the 2nd cent., continued for long to agitate the Christian Church and was the occasion of great and widespread bitterness of feeling. Pity that such things should be! But it was a controversy that grew up out of this very relation of the Christian to the Jewish feast; and it had reference to the time when the festival should be kept. A large section of the Church, believing that on the 14th Nisan, the day of the Paschal sacrifice, Jesus also died, were firm in their resolve to keep their Pasch on the same day as did the Jews. (The term Pascha, it may be said, originally included a reference to the death as well as the resurrection of Christ. A distinction was made between τὸ πάσχα σταυρώσιμον, the Pascha crucifixionis, and τὸ πάσχα ἀναστάσιμον, the Pascha resurrectionis.) On the other hand, seeing that the 14th Nisan could fall on any day of the week, and therefore the celebration of Easter also, the Roman Church, and those who were influenced by it, kept the festival on Sunday as a fixed day, arriving at the date by more or less intricate calculation. It was not, however, by any means the same Sunday that Christians observed even where this principle obtained. The former, mainly Asians, were called Quartodecimans or ‘Fourteenthers.’ At first they agreed to differ. ‘Polycarp [c._ a.d. 150], during his stay in Rome, tried to convince Pope Anicetus that the quartodeciman use was the only one permissible. He did not succeed. Neither could Anicetus succeed in persuading the old master to adopt the Roman method. They parted, nevertheless, on the best of terms’ (Duchesne, Early Hist. of the Christian Church, i. 210). A very different state of things followed when a later pope, Victor, interfered to secure one uniform way. It is a sorry story of schism and strife. But where now are the Tessarescaedecatitae, Audiani, Sabbatiani, Protopaschitae and other curious sects, who ‘would not hold any communion with … any that did not keep the Pasch at the same time that the Jews did’? (Bingham, op. cit. XX. v. 3).

The two festivals still exist side by side. It is true that, quite apart from the Jewish feast, Christians would still have celebrated the resurrection of the Lord. But, be that as it may, the historical connection of Christianity and Judaism is indubitably signified as year by year at the same time the Christian keeps Easter and the Jew Passover-though with what radical difference of meaning!

Literature.-In addition to works and articles quoted throughout, see artt._ ‘Passover’ in HDB_ (W. J. Moulton), in EBi_ (I. Benzinger), in JE_ (E. G. Hirsch); art._ ‘Pasch or Passover’ in CE_ (C. Aherne); in ERE_, artt._ ‘Festivals and Fasts (Christian)’ (J. G. Carleton), ‘Festivals and Fasts (Hebrew)’ (F. H. Woods); A. Hilgenfeld, Der Paschastreit der alten Kirche nach seiner Bedeutung für die Kirchengeschichte, Halle, 1860; Eighteen Treatises from the Mischna (including Pesahim), tr._ D. A. de Sola and M. J. Raphall, London, 1843; F. Delitzsch, ‘Der Passahritus zur Zeit des zweiten Tempels,’ Zeitschr. für die ges. luther. Theologie und Kirche, xvi. [1855] 257 ff.; P. Gardner, The Origin of the Lord’s Supper, London, 1893; A. A. Green, The Revised Hagada, do., 1897; H. C. Trumbull, The Blood Covenant, do., 1887.

J. S. Clemens.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Passover'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/p/passover.html. 1906-1918.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 5th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
ADVERTISEMENT
Search for…
Enter query in the box:
 or 
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

 
Prev Entry
Passion Week
Next Entry
Passover (I.)
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology