The first two tasks that shall be employed toward solving the Passover controversy will be to examine and define the different Jewish and Christian schools with regard to their observance of Passover, with its seven days of Unleavened Bread, and Shabuath (Pentecost).
Different Jewish Schools
Our initial inquiry shall delve into the practices of the Jewish schools. In this effort, we will explore the history, culture, and origin of three major Jewish schools of thought regarding the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread and the Festival of Pentecost.
The three basic Jewish systems for observing the Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread were as follows:
• The Aristocratic system celebrated both the Passover sacrifice and supper after sunset on the 14th day of the first moon. The seven days of Unleavened Bread lasted from the beginning of the 14th until the end of the 20th day (sunset marking the beginning and ending of a legal day).
• The Hasidic system celebrated the Passover sacrifice on the afternoon of the 14th day of the first moon while the Passover supper was eaten after sunset during the nighttime portion of the 15th day. The seven days of Unleavened Bread continued from the beginning of the 15th until the end of the 21st day.
• The third school was the neo-Aristocratic system. This system used two parallel reckonings for a day, one ending at sunset (legal) and one ending at dark (common). Its advocates celebrated the Passover sacrifice after sunset, still being part of the 14th day by common-day reckoning but the first part of the 15th day by legal reckoning. They ate the Passover supper after dark, being the first part of the 15th day (i.e., at a time falling within both the legal and common-day reckonings).
In the process of this discussion, the competition between the various Jewish factions will be examined, especially the conflict between the Aristocratic Sadducees and the Hasidic Pharisees. The eventual victory of the Pharisees shall be placed in its proper historical context.
Finally, the date for the Khag of Shabuath (Pentecost) was heavily reliant upon how one calculated Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread. As a result, there developed four competing Jewish systems for counting the 50 days to Pentecost: the Aristocratic, the neo-Aristocratic, the Hasidic, and the neo-Hasidic. Section I shall investigate and explain each of these views and place them within their proper historical context.
Early Christian Schools
Section II is devoted to examining the systems of the early Christian assemblies, from the first until the early eighth century C.E. Four major Christian views were practiced: Quartodeciman (= Aristocratic), quasi-Quartodeciman, Roman (later called Roman Catholic), and the Syrian Hybrid (which was in part Quartodeciman but largely built upon Roman Catholic reckoning). Several minor variant views shall also be touched upon when they become relevant.
It will be demonstrated in this discussion that the most primitive Christian assemblies followed the Aristocratic system for both the Khag of Passover and Unleavened Bread and for the Khag of Pentecost.
These primitive Christian assemblies were called Quartodecimani (14th keepers) because they kept Passover on the 14th day of the moon of Abib, the first lunar month, just as some of the Aristocratic Jews did who continued to follow the ancient priestly system. Like their Aristocratic Jewish counterparts, they also kept the seven days of Unleavened Bread from the 14th until the end of the 20th of Abib.
The Quartodecimans differed from the Aristocratic Jews in that they believed in Yahushua as the messiah and saw no need for animal sacrifices or offerings, only for the repast and the seven days of eating unleavened bread. With their Passover meal they observed the Eucharist (i.e., the Passover Eucharist).
As time moved on, a large number of the Quartodecimans began altering their views and strayed from their original doctrines. As a result, several variations developed, which are all classified as quasi-Quartodeciman.
This study shall demonstrate that in the early part of the second century C.E. an important quasi-Quartodeciman view about Passover took root among Western Christians.
Under this school, heavily influenced by the joyful celebration of the resurrection of the messiah and its connection with the first day of the 50-day Pentecost season, the Passover Eucharist celebration (originally performed on the 14th day of the first moon) was moved permanently to the first day of the week falling within the seven days of Unleavened Bread (i.e., from the 14th until the end of the 20th of the month of Abib).
In the last half of the second century C.E., a newer version of this quasi-Quartodeciman view arose among the Western Christian assemblies who were led by Rome. The Roman assembly adopted the seven-day system of Unleavened Bread that was advocated by the Hasidic branch of Judaism, i.e., from the 15th until the end of the 21st day of the first month.
The Passover Eucharist, accordingly, was placed on the first day of the week falling within those seven days. This became the Roman Catholic system and was subsequently followed by the Protestants.
During the years when Roman assembly dominance became increasingly present throughout the Christian world, a compromise developed in the East forming a hybrid Syrian system.
Under this system, Passover was kept on the 14th but the seven days of Unleavened bread were observed from the 15th until the end of the 21st. Its advocates nonetheless followed the Roman Catholic guide and celebrated the Passover of the resurrection on the first day of the week during these seven days.
This section shall also investigate the history and evidence for the transformation of the Christian Passover, as it moved from its original Aristocratic roots to the Roman assembly system. The key element for this change was the Christian Pentecost system, which was modeled after the Jewish Aristocratic Pentecost system.
It shall be demonstrated that the first day of the 50-day Pentecost count, the day of the עמר (omer) wave offering, was also the anniversary of the messiah’s resurrection.
In the process of separate development, it was the Western Christian groups who abandoned their original Aristocratic construct for Passover and replaced it with a Passover celebration on the day of the messiah’s resurrection. Resurrection day had become a time of joyous celebration and for many Western Christians this day was deemed a more appropriate time to celebrate the Passover Eucharist.
The 14th of Abib, on the other hand, was now viewed by many Westerners as far too sad an occasion for celebration due to its remembrance of the messiah’s death. The Passover Eucharist for the Western Christians, as a result, became the first day of the week (Sunday) that fell during the week of Unleavened Bread.
Essential Christian Differences
The evidence will reveal that there are seven basic Jewish and Christian systems for the celebration of Passover that we must consider. Other minor variations are all ultimately based on one of these seven views. Separating these systems are some essential differences.
In all cases, the 14th of the moon of Abib—counted as the first month of the year—is recognized as the day commanded in the written Torah (Old Testament) for the Passover lamb to be slaughtered. The Passover supper was then eaten in the night immediately following that sacrifice. Here the agreement ends.
As our investigation shall prove, the advocates of the Christian Quartodeciman (Aristocratic) system, which view was held by the early assemblies who followed Yahushua the messiah, contended that the seven-day Festival of Unleavened Bread began with the 14th of Abib and ended at the close of the 20th of Abib.
This system recognized that the 14th was not only the date for the ancient Passover sacrifice (an event no longer required) but was the correct date for both the Passover supper and the first high Sabbath day of that khag. In this construct, Passover is the first day of the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
This research shall also prove that the early assemblies believed that the messiah did in fact observe the 14th of Abib as the date of his famous “Last Supper,” and that most Christians believed that Yahushua celebrated this dinner as the Passover repast.
In the afternoon of that same day (Hebrew reckoning, sunset-to-sunset), the Pharisees, who dominated the Judaean state religion in those days, sacrificed their Passover lamb. It was at that time that the messiah was wrongfully executed. The following night, i.e., on the 15th of Abib, the Pharisees ate their Passover supper.
Disregarding whether any particular system believes that the legal Passover supper was held on the 14th or 15th of Abib, there is another essential difference between the Aristocratic Passover system (which includes the Quartodeciman and some aspect of the quasi-Quartodeciman models) and all of the other varieties.
All of the other systems disassociate the 14th of Abib from being the high Sabbath which marks the first of the seven days of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Indeed, this was at the heart of the ancient debate between the Quartodecimans (14th day keepers) and the Quintodecimans (15th day keepers) in the early Christian assemblies. The debate was never just about what day one was to eat the Passover Eucharist.
Practice of the Aristocratic system, which was followed by Yahushua and the early assemblies, or anything like it, has been totally suppressed since the eighth century C.E. Except for the most ardent students of history, few are even aware that it existed.
The Hasidic or Pharisaic model, on the other hand, which in some way or another serves as the basis for the constructs of almost all the remaining systems (despite its late appearance relative to the Aristocratic system), has become so well-entrenched that few pundits have thought to search beyond its perimeters to solve the several contradictions presented by its format.
This study shall expose these problems.
Our Passover series will continue via the main text beginning with our next post titled 3. Passover – What Is It?
For further reading see the publication by Qadesh La Yahweh press titled The Festivals and Sacred Days of Yahweh.