|HISTORY – OLD & NEW
Outside sources are good to use in support of an established truth that one has already
proved from the Bible. However, to use outside sources to help "prove" something that
is still uncertain leads only to further confusion.
For example, one source that an early 14th Passover advocate uses for proof of the
theory is, The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, under the subject Passover, pg. 668,
Current interpretations, beginning on line eleven, "From all this Wellhausen concluded
that the coalescence of Passover and Unleavened Bread did not occur until the time of
Josiah.... The section in Deuteronomy 16:1-10 was interpreted as an attempt to abolish
the private Passover celebration...therefore, Passover was combined with the national
feast in Jerusalem...” In other words, Wellhausen is saying that during the time of
Josiah, someone in authority reinterpreted, or misinterpreted Deuteronomy 16:1-10 for
his own purposes. Notice that Wellhausen is not saying that someone tampered with the
Scriptures in Deuteronomy 16:1-10, but that they misinterpreted them, bringing about
changes from a private celebration to a national one. Of course, The Interpreter's
Dictionary is well capable of making changes in the Bible. About 3 lines above this quote
in their dictionary, it says, in reference to Exodus 34:25, "...while the reference to
Passover in 34:25 is suspect of being an insertion because of its context." Of course,
they do not explain why God had nothing to say about this. We are talking about the
Bible! It is God's word to humanity. Surely, He would have had something to say about
changes that He did not authorize. We have noticed over the years that this Interpreters
Dictionary has no respect for the Bible whatsoever. They will go to almost any length to
"prove" that the Bible is in error in almost every category. It is devious to use such a
reference to try to “prove” a theory. If one must resort to Interpreters Dictionary to
prove one’s point, one is desperate to find a morsel of information for his theory! There
should be abundant information in the bible to prove one’s premise without resorting to
dubious outside sources.
What is at stake here is nothing less than the faithfulness of God! Of course, there have
been deletions and additions to the Word of God, as we will later see, but there is only
one way that we should ever accept that someone has tampered with this or any other
Scripture – there must be irrefutable proof – beyond any doubt. Otherwise, every time
we come up with something we cannot understand, we will just pitch it out because we
cannot reconcile it with our beliefs of the Scriptures. That is no way to treat God's
Word. In the words of E.W. Bullinger, "We believe what we have received from man; and we do
our best to get it confirmed by the Bible. When we are unable to get the confirmation we are in
search of, than we find what we call a "difficulty." But the difficulty is not in the Word of God itself;
it is in our own minds. The real difficulty is in giving up our own views because we fail to make the
Bible conform to them. It does not, at first, occur to our minds that we may have to abandon some
of our views if we would get rid of the difficulty."
However, that was in Bullinger's day. In our day, one just says someone has tampered
with it and pitches it out! We say show us irrefutable proof that this has been changed as
far as the meaning is concerned, or where is the faithfulness of God? Moreover, how can
we believe the rest of the Bible if we accept this as wrong without concrete proof? Let
us just say, that if Ezra or anyone else edited Deuteronomy 16:1-10 in any way, it was
under the watchful eye of God and no meaning was changed. We have proved that the
Passover Feast was on the night of the 15th, without Deuteronomy 16.
If the bible uses the word Passover in Deuteronomy 16 to mean the entire festival of
Unleavened Bread, this just helps to establish a broader definition for the word
Passover. When put with the rest of the Bible there should be no problem. God is not
the Author of confusion, and any change of meaning to the foundational instructions for
Passover would have introduced gross confusion. This is the Word of God, not the word
of man. If we tremble at the word of God rather than search in dubious historical records
to sustain a tradition, we will have better success at finding truth.
Isaiah 66:2 For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the
LORD: but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and
trembleth at my word.
One has to be careful about history in regards to Passover or any other issue related to
the Bible. History does not have the authority of the Bible. One can prove nothing from
history because each party involved will accept only that part which seems to support his
The second problem with history is that we tend to interpret history according to our own
theories. When history records early Christians keeping the Passover on the 14th, an
early 14th Passover advocate’s mind tends to jump to the beginning of the 14th. When
we see such a statement, we understand it as the afternoon of the 14th. Again, in this
case, they may see the keeping of the Passover as drinking the wine and eating the
unleavened bread. We see the keeping of Passover as referring to the sacrifice of
Christ. Therefore, we are all loaded with preconceived ideas.
In addition, we cannot use today's mode of thinking on the word <evening>. The Bible
does not use terminology such as Passover eve. In the Bible, evening is the end of the
day, not the beginning of the day. It is true that the 24-hour day began with evening, but
in the practical day-to-day usage, the evening was the end of the 12-hour daylight portion
of the day, not its beginning.
Leviticus 11:25 And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be
unclean until the even.
The above verse, one of many in this regard, says that one was unclean until the evening.
This cannot be retrospective. One could not be unclean all day and then become clean
the previous evening. One became clean at the end of the day when evening began.
Now as for Polycarp, there is a character. History records that Polycarp kept Easter
with the bishops in Rome even doing the service of Easter Mass. It seems that Polycarp
conceived himself a peacemaker. He tried to persuade the bishop at Rome to see that
the 14th was when Christ was crucified, but at the same time involved himself in the
worship of the Catholic Church. We are not able to look up the words of Polycarp to see
if the translators have faithfully translated them.
What does it mean to observe something? Our dictionary gives several definitions. The
first is, "to be or become aware of, especially through careful and directed attention; notice. 2) To
watch attentively; 3) To make a systematic or scientific observation of; 4) To say casually; remark;
5) To adhere to or abide by; 6) To keep or celebrate. The first 6 definitions are transitive verb
usage. Notice that only the last one refers to celebrating something. As an intransitive
verb: 1) To take notice; 2) To say something; make a comment or remark; 3) To watch or be present
without participating actively;
So, which definition describes best Polycarp’s actual words? If we could look at Polycarp’
s original words used in this history, we might not even use the word <observe>. When
an early 14th Passover advocate looks at this piece of history, he may see Polycarp
keeping the Passover as he does today. When we look at this account, we see Polycarp
taking note of Christ’s crucifixion on the afternoon of the 14th – the time that the lambs
had always been slain – or keeping the Passover Feast on the 14th by Roman time, which
was the same as the 15th, by biblical time. Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle
and would have been well aware of his writings.
The reader should be aware of the fact that a controversy exists over John's gospel and
the other 3 gospels concerning the timing of the Passover. The Gospel according to the
Apostle John indicates that the night the disciples were with Christ was before Passover,
while the other gospels appear to say that that night was the Passover. We must resolve
this apparent discrepancy.
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he
should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he
loved them unto the end.
Another thing one cannot prove: When Polycarp was relating that he kept the Passover
on the 14th, was he using Bible terminology for the day or Roman terminology? By
Roman standards, the 14th ran into the 15th until midnight. The Passover would be over
by midnight of the 14th by Roman standards. We feel this is exactly what was involved in
One quote from this history, "Those who continued to keep Easter with the <Jews> were called
'Quartodecimans" and were excluded from the church." Notice that Polycarp was apparently in
with the lot of people who kept Easter (Passover) with the Jews. We know when the
Jews kept Passover. In order for all the evidence to fit, we have to have Polycarp
keeping the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, considering the day ending at midnight by
Another quote in this history, "The question thus debated was therefore primarily whether Easter
was to be kept on a Sunday, or whether Christians should observe the holy day of the <Jews>, the
fourteenth of Nisan, which might occur on any day of the week. Those who kept Easter with the
<Jews> were called Quartodecimans..." Notice that the Roman Catholics accused Polycarp
and the true Christians of keeping the Passover with the Jews. The Jews did not keep
the Passover on the early part of the 14th. Also notice something very interesting – this
was the <holy day> of the Jews. We know that the holy day was on the 15 of the Hebrew
calendar, according to the bible. The 14th was not a holy day. If Polycarp used Roman
terminology for the day, the holy day would have begun on the 14th at sunset and
continued to sunset of the 15 the next day. Passover would have been over by midnight
and therefore, completely observed on the 14th by Roman standards. This is very
damaging evidence against the early 14th Passover theory.
Another statement, "...And first of all it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this
most holy feast we should follow the practice of the <Jews>, who have impiously defiled their hands
with enormous sin…” Here again the Roman Catholics accused the Christians of “keeping
the Passover” according to the practice of the Jews. This in itself should be enough to
cause anyone to shun this history to prove an early 14th Passover, because, indeed, it
proves that the Christians were “keeping the Passover” on late 14th/15th.
As for the Celtic Church in Britain, when they kept the 14th, were they translating that
into the terminology of Britain's day? Did they simplify this to just the 14th, because the
14th of Britain went to midnight including the part necessary to observe Passover,
according to Roman time.
Perhaps you will see why we are unconvinced by historical records. No history, outside
the Bible, is God breathed. Therefore, errors creep in; local customs become a part of
terminology. One should stick to the Bible for proof of biblical subjects.
Now we would ask a question. Does the New Testament contradict the Old Testament?
Did Christ change when we should observe the Passover Feast? The Israelites kept the
Old Testament Passover/Passover Feast at the end of the 14th day and during the night
of the 15th. Some claim that Christ changed the timing of Passover – but is that true.