The most important source for their view is found in the records of Anatolius of Alexandria.
To his words we can add the statements provided by the Audians and several bishops representing assemblies located in different parts of Europe.
Anatolius of Alexandria
Like the Quartodecimans, those who kept System D observed the 14th until the end of the 20th for the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
The most famous advocate of this system was Anatolius of Alexandria (c.230-283 C.E.).1
His well-known work on the Passover not only defends the System D method but notes that this view was premised upon the practice of the ancient Jewish priests, like Aristobulus of Paneas of the third century B.C.E. (System A).4
He further argues that this was also the method held by the Quartodeciman bishops of Asia, who in turn had received the rule as such:
From an unimpeachable authority, to wit, the evangelist John, who learned it on the sovereign’s breast, and drank in instructions spiritual without doubt.5
In presenting this view, as A. Yarbro Collins notes, Anatolius “defended the position of the Quartodecimans.”6 At the same time, Anatolius always kept the first day of the week during the seven days of Unleavened Bread as Passover.7
Anatolius even admitted that System D was a more recent innovation. He reminds his readers that originally those Christians who advocated the proper system always kept the Passover supper on the 14th.8
The 14th-20th, Not 15th-21st
In his discussion, Anatolius writes:
The day of Passover is fixed from the 14th day of the moon.9
Some, in part, permitted the Passover celebration prior to the spring equinox and others “erred in the matter of the 21st day of the moon,” in that they allowed that the Passover of the resurrection could be celebrated on that date.13
Anatolius, though he believed that System D was the proper observance for Christians of his day, clearly did not argue against the accuracy of the seven-day count for Unleavened Bread as promoted by the Quartodecimans of Asia, whom he points out had “kept the day of Passover on the 14th day of the first moon, according to the good news (New Testament).”14
By referencing the New Testament, Anatolius can only mean that the early Quartodecimans observed the festival in accordance with the way Yahushua and his disciples observed Passover on the night of his betrayal and deliverance into the hands of the Jewish leaders.15
On the other hand, he chastised those in the West who kept the festival from the 15th to the 21st day of the first moon, not only with regard to their allowing that Passover could be celebrated as late as the 21st day of the first moon but in the manner in which they calculated the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
As we shall show later on, those holding to the innovation of System E, beginning in the latter part of the second century C.E., held that the seven-day Festival of Unleavened Bread should be counted by the Jewish Hasidic method.16
The Passover of the resurrection, accordingly, was always placed by them on the first day of the week which fell on one of the seven days of Unleavened Bread, a period calculated from the beginning of the 15th until the end of the 21st day of the first moon.
Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Unless perchance the 14th day is not reckoned by them among the days of unleavened bread with the celebration of the festival; which, however, is contrary to the word of the good news (New Testament) which says: “And on the first day of unleavened bread the disciples came to Yahushua” (Mark, 14:12). And there is no doubt as to its being the 14th day on which the disciples asked the sovereign, in accordance with the custom established for them of old, “Where do you desire that we prepare for you to eat the Passover” (Mark, 14:12).17
In his calculation, Anatolius refers to the 14th as both the first day of Unleavened Bread and as the day on which the messiah ate the Passover. His point of reference, therefore, is a scripturally-based method.
He goes on to oppose the view that the seven days of Unleavened Bread were to be counted from the 15th to the 21st.
Instead, if the 14th day of the first moon fell after the equinox, he continues:
. . . and proves to be both dominica (the Sovereign’s day—i.e., first day of the week) and the moon’s 14th, Passover is to be celebrated on the 14th.18
At the same time, the last possible day for the celebration of the Sovereign’s day during Passover week “cannot pass beyond the close of their festival, that is to say, the moon’s 20th.”19
In another place he states:
We should keep the solemn festival of Passover on the Sovereign’s day, and after the equinox, and yet not beyond the limit of the moon’s 20th day.20
In support of the System A understanding of the Torah that the 14th and 20th of Abib were high Sabbaths, he adds:
For the sovereign ascribes no less praise to the 20th day than to the 14th.21
A Further Misunderstanding
Anatolius not only accuses the advocates of the Roman System E with ignorance of the truth and with not understanding the meaning behind those scriptural passages which state that the seven days of Unleavened Bread continue from ad vesperum (at twilight) of the 14th day of the first moon “usque (until)” (the beginning of) the 21st day of the first moon ad vesperum (at twilight),22 but he criticizes the calculators from Gaul and other regions with a further misunderstanding.
Anatolius points to their confusion about how one determines the beginning of a scriptural day for observing the festival:
But they who are deceived with this error maintain this adjectionem (additional one), because they do not know that the 13th and 14th, the 14th and 15th, the 15th and 16th, the 16th and 17th, the 17th and 18th, the 18th and 19th, the 19th and 20th, the 20th and 21st days of the moon are, as may be most surely proved, each found within a single day. For every day in the reckoning of the moon does not end ad vesperum (at twilight)23 as the same day in respect of number, as it is at its beginning in the morning. For the day which in the morning, that is up to the six and one-half hour, is numbered the 13th of the moon is found ad vesperum (at twilight) to be the 14th.24
What Anatolius meant when he argued that two days, such as the 13th and 14th, contain a “single day” is brought into focus by Wilfrid at the Synod of Whitby.25
Wilfrid points out that the context of Anatolius was his attempt to explain the problem “after the manner of the Egyptians.”26 Both the Egyptians and the Romans (i.e., those at Alexandria and at Rome) officially determined their day “from midnight to midnight.”27
Meanwhile, the Egyptians and many other common people in the Roman world, including those of Gaul, also observed dawn as the beginning of their day.28
Anatolius challenged both systems for beginning a day and makes it a point to explain that one does not calculate scriptural days “by the beginnings of the (Egyptian) day, but by those (days) of the moon (i.e., the scriptural reckoning).”29
To understand Anatolius, we must realize that the Christians of Gaul, Rome, and Egypt who practiced System E were at that time calculating the days of the moon by the Roman system, which spoke of luna tertia, quarta, quinta, etc. (the third, fourth, fifth, and so forth, day AFTER the new moon).30
This system was used by the pagans and was based upon the fact that the Roman civil day began at midnight. Since the new moon both rose and set after sunset and prior to midnight, they calculated the days of the moon as the first, second, and so forth, day AFTER the day (midnight reckoning) of the appearance of the new moon.
Therefore, since the new moon appeared after sunset and the civil day did not end until midnight nor the common day until dawn, for the purposes of counting to Passover, the first day of the new moon was actually the “day after” the Roman day on which the new moon had made its appearance.
As a result, the days of the moon, as reckoned by the Egyptians, Romans, and people of Gaul, were not the same as the days of the moon as reckoned by Scriptures.
The Quartodecimans of Asia Minor, by the way, were not troubled with this problem, since the Greeks and their Asian colonies, like the Hebrews and others of the Near East, began their day at sunset.31
For this reason, Anatolius had to explain to the Egyptian Christians and others that the 14th day of the moon should be “calculated not by the beginnings of the day (i.e., by a midnight or sunrise reckoning), but by those of the moon (i.e., sunset-to-sunset reckoning).”32
The first day of the moon in Scriptures begins with the rising of the new moon just after sunset. It does not begin a few hours later at midnight or with the next morning following the appearance of the new moon.
Therefore, to correctly calculate Passover, one must determine the days by the scriptural “reckoning of the moon” (i.e., counting the days from sunset to sunset) against the reckoning of the days of the Egyptians and Romans or many of the common people (i.e., counting the days from midnight to midnight or from sunrise to sunrise).
Those following the midnight reckoning of the Romans or the sunrise reckoning of the common people did not take this factor into consideration.
Unaware of the correct scriptural sunset-to-sunset reckoning, “they do not know that the 13th and 14th”— i.e., the last hours of the 13th Egyptian day (between sunset and midnight or sunset and dawn) and the following period between that same midnight or dawn and the next sunset of their 14th day—combine to form “a single (scriptural) day,”33 that day being the 14th of Abib (sunset-to-sunset reckoning).34
The same is true for each of the following days, the “14th and 15th, the 15th and 16th, the 16th and 17th, the 17th and 18th, the 18th and 19th, the 19th and 20th, the 20th and 21st days of the moon.”35
Counting from Sunset to Sunset
Anatolius calculates the seven days of Unleavened Bread by the scriptural sunset-to-sunset reckoning. He writes:
For the (Egyptian) day which in the morning, that is up to the six and one-half hour, is numbered the 13th of the moon is found ad vesperum (at twilight) to be the 14th (scriptural day).36
Put another way, when the “morning” of the Egyptian and Roman day (which follows midnight by six and one-half hours) is the 13th day of the moon, the following ad vesperum (at twilight), i.e., at sunset,37 becomes the 14th day under the scriptural system. Anatolius continues:
Wherefore, also, (according to the scriptural method) the Passover is enjoined to be extended up until the 21st day ad vesperum (at twilight); which day, without doubt, in the morning, this is, up to that term of hours which we have mentioned (i.e., the six and one-half hour), was reckoned the 20th (in the Egyptian system).38
This evidence proves that Anatolius, as articulated in System A, believed that the correct scriptural system makes the day of the moon begin ad vesperum (at twilight), which, as we have already demonstrated earlier, commences at sunset.
Accordingly, the seventh and final day of Unleavened Bread comes on the day when the morning is counted as the 20th of the moon under the Egyptian system, ending at sunset, when the 21st (scriptural) day arrives.
In turn, Anatolius reasoned that the seven days of Unleavened Bread extended from the beginning of the 14th scriptural day, i.e., at sunset, ad vesperum (at twilight), on the 13th Egyptian day, UNTIL (as far as the beginning of) the 21st scriptural day.
The 21st scriptural day begins at sunset, ad vesperum (at twilight), on the 20th Egyptian day.
Therefore, with the arrival of sunset on the 20th Egyptian day, the 20th scriptural day ends and the 21st scriptural day begins. He explains the System D count for the seven days of Unleavened Bread by writing:
Calculate, then, from the end of the 13th39 (scriptural) day of the moon, which marks the beginning of the 14th (scriptural day), on to the end of the 20th (scriptural day), at which the 21st (scriptural day) also begins, and you will have only seven days of unleavened bread, in which, by the guidance of the sovereign, it has been determined before that the most true festival of Passover ought to be celebrated.40
What makes the record from Anatolius so important is that he admits that the Quartodeciman practice was the original system of the early Jewish priests, such as Aristobulus of Paneas (System A), and of the early disciples of the messiah.
Three premises provided by Anatolius were subsequently adopted by the Alexandrian assembly and then, at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E., by the Roman Church: how the Church would calculate the beginning of the days of the moon (i.e., from sunset to sunset), that the 14th of Abib should always follow the vernal equinox, and the use of the 19-year cycle (though slightly modified) designed by Anatolius for determining the dates of Passover.41
Nevertheless, the Alexandrian and Roman Catholics held fast to their belief that the seven days of Unleavened Bread, by which the festival of Passover should be determined, was to be celebrated on the first day of the week falling within the period from the 15th to the 21st day of the first moon.
The Audians represented an early fourth century C.E. adherence to a form of the System D format which, along with the Quartodeciman view, was actively being suppressed by the Roman emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E.
The advocates of System E condemned the Audians because they kept “the Passover during the period when the Jews are keeping their (days of) Unleavened Bread, and give as their reason the fact that this was the usage of the assembly.”42
In other words, the Audians allowed for the 14th as a day of Unleavened Bread and as the Passover, for they did not observe the same seven days as the Pharisees.
In their defense, the Audians made reference to the second century C.E. Quartodeciman version of the Diataxis,43 where it is claimed that the apostles decreed that one was to “celebrate the festival (of Passover) whenever your brethren from the circumcision do. Keep it together with them.”44
Their brethren, of course, were Christian Judaeans (not those of the Jewish faith), a clear reference to the early Quartodecimans and their keeping of the 14th.
Raniero Cantalamessa rectifies this problem when he writes:
Contrary to B. Lohse, Passafest, 16-18, the followers of Audius were not Quartodecimans, for they always celebrated the Pascha on Sunday. But this had to be the first Sunday after the Pesach of their Jewish contemporaries—whose manner of computing the date was rejected at Nicaea. . . . This rejection was the basis of their grievance against Constantine.46
The advocates of System E accused the Audians of Judaizing and ridiculed their view as antithetical to unity. The effort of the Roman Catholic assembly was to eliminate the differing opinions of the various assemblies and the Audians were standing in the way.
For example, Epiphanius, writing about 375-378 C.E., chastised the Audians by noting that their view was at one time appropriate when there were Christian Judaeans acting as bishops in Jerusalem (i.e., until 133 C.E.), for “it was necessary at that time that the whole world follow them and celebrate with them, so that there should be a single confession, with all singing in unison, as it were, and celebrating one festival.”47
Yet after these Christian bishops of Judaean ancestry disappeared in the days of Emperor Hadrian, and the Jewish population was replaced by non-Jewish Roman citizens (beginning in 135 C.E.), there developed too much disunity.48
Wherefore came their concern to bring the mind of men together into the unity of the Assembly. It having been impossible for such a long time to celebrate (with them), with the deity’s approbation, under Constantine (a correction) was made for the sake of concord. It was for the sake of concord that the apostles made that decree, as they attest when they say, “Even if they err, do not be concerned.” The answer (to the Audians) becomes clear from the very things said there. For they (the apostles) tell (us) to hold the vigil during the (days of) unleavened bread, but, given the Assembly’s way of computing (the dates), this cannot always be done.49
It is interesting that even Epiphanius considers the observation of the 14th the original Christian position, thereby making the Roman Catholic System E (which regards the 15th as the legal day of the Passover supper) a later Christian innovation.
In response, the Audians laid two charges against the Roman assembly and Emperor Constantine:
From the time of Constantine, because of special consideration for the emperor, you have abandoned the observance of the fathers concerning the festival of the Passover, and you have changed the day to one decreed by the emperor.50
What the Audians were claiming was that, prior to Constantine’s decrees given at the Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.), the 14th was permitted as the first day of Unleavened Bread and was used by different assemblies in their calculation of the day of Passover.
This mutual respect had remained in the assemblies since the time of the great debate between Anicetus of Rome and Polycarp of Asia (c.158 C.E.).
These leaders had agreed to disagree as to which day the Passover Eucharist was to be celebrated and the Roman assembly agreed to live in peace with those who kept the 14th.
The Roman Church was now whitewashing its original position, which held its right to differ because of the tolerance of the “fathers.” This view allowed Rome to deviate from the conservative Quartodecimans.51
With the support of Constantine, the Roman assembly had changed to a stand of intolerance in the name of unity. What Constantine and his allies at Rome accomplished was to dismiss the 14th as part of the seven days of Unleavened Bread and the Passover festival and to introduce the 15th as its only beginning date for Christians.52
Further proof of the System D arrangement, which reflected the Quartodeciman view for the seven days of Unleavened Bread, was also retained in records from assemblies who continued until the eighth century C.E. but were stationed in outlying areas of the Roman empire.
For instance, in 598 C.E. Columbanus, representing the monastery founded by him at Luxovium in Burgundy, wrote to Pope Gregory the Great about “the seven days sanctioned by the sovereign’s command in the Torah, during which only it is enjoined that the sovereign’s Passover could lawfully be eaten.”
He adds that these seven days “are to be numbered from the 14th day of the moon to the 20th” and that they should not be exceeded.53
Referencing the events around the year 601 C.E., Bede writes:
For they (the Britons) kept not the Passover on the Sovereign’s day in its due time, but from the 14th to the 20th of the moon.54
And of the Scots he writes:
They celebrated not the solemnity of Passover in due time, but—as we have showed before—thought that they must observe the day of our sovereign’s resurrection from the 14th of the moon to the 20th.55
Speaking of the Scots (northern Ireland) in the period of 623-634 C.E., Bede reports of the Scottish bishop named Aidan:
For he (Aidan) was wont to keep the Sovereign’s day Passover from the 14th day after the change of the moon to the 20th according to the custom of his nation, whereof we have diverse times made mention. For the north province of the Scots (northern Ireland) and all the nation of the Picts (Scotland) did at that time still solemnize the sovereign’s Passover celebration, thinking that in this observation they had followed the advertisement written by the holy and praiseworthy father Anatolius.56
Pope John of Rome (consecrated December 25, 640 C.E.) sent a letter to the Scots of Ireland, which in part states:
We find therein that certain of your province, contrary to the sound orthodoxy, endeavor to renew interest in renewing out of an old heresy,57 rejecting through the mist of darkness our Passover in which Christ was sacrificed, and striving to celebrate the same with the Hebrews on the 14th moon.58
In 664 C.E. Coleman, bishop of the Scots of Ireland—making reference back to both the apostle John and Anatolius of Alexandria (who relied on the apostle John)—claims “that Passover ought to be celebrated from the 14th unto the 20th day of the moon.”59
Interestingly, Wilfrid (an advocate of System E) tried to discredit Coleman’s position by admitting that John did in fact keep the 14th, but did not observe the first day of the week as the Passover (as required under System D):
For John (the apostle) observed the time of Passover according to the decrees of the Mosaic law and had no regard to the first day after the (weekly) Sabbath; and this you do not follow, who keep Passover only on the first day after the (weekly) Sabbath.60
Yet, by doing so, he actually reaffirmed that the only difference between these two camps, with regard to counting the seven days of Unleavened Bread, was to point out that the early Christians always kept the 14th as the Passover.
Since John observed the week of Passover according to the Mosaic law, it is also clear that he kept both the first and last day of the week of Unleavened Bread as a high Sabbath.
This fact is yet another indication that the Quartodecimans did likewise and that they based their view upon the Aristocratic interpretation for the week of Unleavened Bread.
For they which think that the Sovereign’s Passover day must be kept from the 14th of the first moon to the 20th anticipate the time commanded in the Torah.61
Holding to the Hasidic view that the 21st was a high Sabbath, Ceolfrid later adds:
And whereas they refuse to keep the sovereign’s Passover on the 21st day of the moon, it is surely plain that they exclude utterly from their solemnity that the day which the Torah oftentimes commendeth to be had in memory above all other with a greater festival.62
Those of System D refused the 21st because they believed that the seventh day spoken of in the Torah was the 20th.
Though they themselves did not observe the first and last day of Unleavened Bread as a high Sabbath, unless the Passover of the resurrection happened to fall on one of these days, this detail does indicate that the Quartodecimans, upon whom the System D construct was built, did observe these days.
Summary of “Passover – Anatolius Speaks!”
The evidence proves that the original view of the seven days of Unleavened Bread used by the early Christian assemblies was the Quartodeciman (Aristocratic) System A practice.
In this system the seven days of Unleavened Bread continued from the beginning of the 14th until the end of the 20th day of the first moon. The first day, the 14th, was the Passover supper and a high Sabbath.
System D, developed by the orthodox Christians of the West during the early second century C.E., was built upon the same premise as System A, i.e., that the seven days of Unleavened Bread extended from the beginning of the 14th until the end of the 20th day of the first moon.
It differed in that its advocates preferred to celebrate the joyful event of the messiah’s resurrection and not the sad occasion of his death.
Therefore, those following System D moved the celebration of the Passover supper up to the first day of the week that fell within the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
Yet, the key to System D is that it was born from the Quartodeciman construct for the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
Eventually, both the Quartodeciman System A and quasi-Quartodeciman System D practices were eventually suppressed by the Hasidic-based System E, developed and advocated by the Roman assembly toward the end of the second century C.E.
We can conclude this particular discussion knowing that more than enough evidence has been provided to demonstrate the true practice of Passover and Unleavened Bread by the early Christian assemblies who also claimed apostolic authority for doing so.
We will next tackle the subject of Roman influence on Passover and Unleavend Bread. So be on the lookout for 25. Passover – Roman Corruption.
For further reading see the publication by Qadesh La Yahweh press titled The Festivals and Sacred Days of Yahweh.
Click this link for Bibliography and Abbreviations.
3 Jerome, Lives, 73.
4 Anatolius, 3. Socrates Schol., 5:22, (writing about 439 C.E.) points out that even in his day the practices of the “modern Jews,” that is, the Jews of his day, were at odds with those of the “ancient Jews,” including the first century C.E. Pharisees like Josephus.
5 Anatolius, 10.
8 Anatolius, 10.
9 Anatolius, 6.
10 Anatolius, 8; cf., Lev., 23:6.
11 See our discussion in 25. Passover – Roman Corruption.
14 Anatolius, 10.
17 Anatolius, 8.
18 Anatolius, 16.
20 Anatolius, 11.
22 Anatolius, 7, 9, 11, 16; cf., his use of ad vesperum in translating Exod., 12:15, 18-19 (Anatolius, 8). That Anatolius counts the seven days of Unleavened Bread by this method is confirmed when he writes that these seven days continue “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” (Anatolius, 8).
24 Anatolius, 8.
25 Wilfrid tries to confuse the issue by interpreting the words of Anatolius in such a way as to include the 21st, stating, Anatolius “also assigned the 20th day to the sovereign’s Passover in such a way that he held it for the 21st when the sun had set.” Of course, this was not the intent of Anatolius. Anatolius was trying to show that those keeping the Egyptian method for determining a day erred in that they should not be observing Passover beyond sunset of the Egyptian 20th day, because in that case it had become the 21st scriptural day.
26 Bede, Hist., 3:25.
27 Pliny, 2:79.
29 Anatolius, 15.
31 Pliny, 2:79; CGS, p. 589.
32 Anatolius, 15.
33 Anatolius, 8.
34 See Chart A.
37 See 13. Passover – Hasidic Practice II, n. 9.
38 Anatolius, 8.
40 Anatolius, 8.
41 HCC, pp. 298-332; NCE, 5, p. 8. For the acceptance of Anatolius by the Roman Catholics also see the comments in Bede, 3:25. As a result of the acceptance of several important parts of Anatolius’ conclusions, the Roman theologian, Jerome, applauds him, writing, “We can get an idea of the greatness of his genius from the volume which he wrote On Passover and his ten books On the Institutes of Arithmetic” (Jerome, Lives, 73). Eusebius, in his Historia Ecclesiastica, also praises Anatolius and even records a long quote from a portion of his book on the Passover.
42 Epiphanius, Pan., 70:9:2.
43 CJO, pp. 108-109.
44 Epiphanius, Pan., 70:10:2.
47 Epiphanius, Pan., 70:10:4.
49 Epiphanius, Pan,, 70:10:5.
50 Epiphanius, Pan., 70:9:3.
53 Gregory, Epist., 127.
54 Bede, Hist., 2:2. If the 14th of the moon after the spring equinox fell on Sunday the Britons would keep Passover on that day; the Roman Catholics would defer it to the following Sunday.
55 Bede, Hist., 2:4.
56 Bede, Hist., 3:3.
58 Bede, Hist., 2:19.
59 Bede, Hist., 3:25.
61 Bede, Hist., 5:21.