- - Wednesday, March 16, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There is no holiday that is as Jesus-centric as Passover. The blood of the unblemished lambs caused the angel of death to pass over the homes of the Israelites; in like manner, the shed blood of the sinless Jesus saves Christians from the Second Death. The ancient Passover lambs, as well as “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), were both killed on the same day — in the lunar calendar, on Nissan 14. Not only did the Apostle Paul acknowledge that the gentile Corinthians were keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread, he also referred to “Christ our Passover” and enjoined the Corinthians to “keep the feast.”

At the Last Supper, Jesus changed the symbols of this most Christian of holy days to unleavened bread and wine (symbolizing His body and blood). If we read the letter of Polycrates, the bishop of Ephesus, to Victor, the bishop of Rome, we see the churches in Asia Minor keeping Passover on Nissan 14. But we also see that by the late 2nd century the Roman Church had abandoned Nissan 14 and is keeping the holiday on a Sunday.

Why did most Christians abandon Passover observance in favor of a holiday named after a pagan goddess? There were two factors at play. Firstly, due in part to the violent Jewish rebellions that were put down by the Romans in 70 AD and 135 AD, Jews fell out of favor greatly. Hadrian banned Jews and the practice of the Jewish religion from Jerusalem, which he renamed “Aelia Capitolina.” As a result, many Christian believers tried to disassociate themselves from practices that were seen as Jewish (such as Passover and the Saturday Sabbath). This religious anti-Semitism is seen in comments from Constantine the Great about the dating of the holiday after the First Council of Nicaea. Secondly, the name “Easter,” as even a cursory internet search will show, is another name for the pagan goddesses Eostre, Ishtar, and indeed, the very name “Easter” implies an origin in sun worship, since the sun appears to “rise” in the east. By adopting the name of a spring-time fertility goddess and other fertility symbols such as eggs and rabbits, more pagans were attracted to the church.

We should all remember what Paul said in Acts 17:30: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.”

BILL HEYM

Plainview, N.Y.


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