Quartodecimanism and the Easter Controversy

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Quartodecimanism and the Easter Controversy

Post  Hannah on Sun 17 Apr 2011, 10:49 am

The Easter controversy is a series of controversies about the proper date to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. To date, there are four distinct historical phases of the dispute and the dispute has yet to be resolved. For the details of the various systems used to calculate dates for Easter computus is used.

Computus (Latin for computation) is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was one of the most important computations of the age.

The canonical rule is that Easter day is the first Sunday after the 14th day of the lunar month (the nominal full moon) that falls on or after 21 March (nominally the day of the vernal equinox). For determining the feast, Christian churches settled on a method to define a reckoned "ecclesiastical" full moon, rather than observations of the true Moon. Eastern Orthodox Christians calculate the fixed date of 21 March according to the Julian Calendar rather than the modern Gregorian Calendar, and use an ecclesiastical full moon that occurs four to five days later than the western ecclesiastical full moon.

In modern language, this definition is best described as: Easter is the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon date. The Paschal Full Moon date is the Ecclesiastical Full Moon date following 20 March and, for the years 1900 to 2199, can be found in Tabular methods.

There are four phases related to this controversy

First Phase

Some see this first phase as mainly concerned with whether Christians should follow Old Testament practices, see also Biblical law in Christianity and Judaizers. Eusebius of Caesarea (Church History, V, xxiii) wrote:

"A question of no small importance arose at that time [i.e. the time of Pope Victor I, about A.D. 190]. The dioceses of all Asia, [probably meaning the Roman Province of Asia, possibly greater Anatolia, but the entire Asian continent or even Southwest Asia is unlikely] according to an ancient tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon [of Nisan], on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should always be observed as the feast of the life-giving pasch (epi tes tou soteriou Pascha heortes), contending that the fast ought to end on that day, whatever day of the week it might happen to be. However it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world to end it at this point, as they observed the practice, which from Apostolic tradition has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast on no other day than on that of the Resurrection of our Saviour."

Quartodecimanism, a word not used in Eusebius' account (which was written in Greek), is the Latin
term for the practice of fixing the celebration of Passover for Christians on the fourteenth (Latin quarta decima) day of Nisan in the Old Testament's Hebrew Calendar (for example Lev 23:5). This was the original method of fixing the date of the Passover, which is to be a "perpetual ordinance". According to the Gospel of John (for example John 19:14), this was the day that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. (The Synoptic Gospels place the day on 15 Nisan, see also Chronology of Jesus.)

A letter of St. Irenaeus (who was born in Smyrna) shows that the diversity of practice regarding Easter had existed at least from the time of Pope Sixtus I (c. 120). Further, Irenaeus states that St. Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, observed the fourteenth day of the moon, whatever day of the week that might be, following therein the tradition which he claimed to have derived from St. John the Apostle.

Around 195, Pope Victor I attempted to excommunicate the Quartodecimans, turning the divergence of practice into a full-blown ecclesiastical controversy. According to Eusebius, synods were convened and letters were exchanged, but in the end Victor allowed the issue to slide.

Second phase

The second stage in the Easter controversy centers around the First Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). Granted that the great Easter festival was always to be held on a Sunday, and was not to coincide with a particular age of the moon, which might occur on any day of the week, a new dispute arose as to the determination of the Sunday itself, since Sunday's can occur on any date of the month. Shortly before the Nicean Council, in 314, the Provincial Council of Arles in Gaul had maintained that the Lord's Pasch should be observed on the same day throughout the world and that each year the Bishop of Rome should send out letters setting the date of Easter.

The Syriac Christians always held their Easter festival on the Sunday after the Jews kept their Pesach. On the other hand at Alexandria, and seemingly throughout the rest of the Roman Empire, the Christians calculated the time of Easter for themselves, paying no attention to the Jews. In this way the date of Easter as kept at Alexandria and Antioch did not always agree. The Jewish communities in some places, possibly including Antioch, used methods of fixing their month of Nisan that sometimes put the 14th day of Nisan before the spring equinox. The Alexandrians, on the other hand, accepted it as a first principle that the Sunday to be kept as Easter Day must necessarily occur after the vernal equinox.

The Council of Nicaea ruled that all churches should follow a single rule for Easter, which should be computed independently of the Jewish calendar, as at Alexandria. However, it did not make any explicit ruling about the details of the computation, and it was several decades before the Alexandrine computations stabilized into their final form, and several centuries beyond that before they became normative throughout Christendom.

Third Phase

The Roman missionaries coming to Britain in the time of St. Gregory the Great (590-604) found the British Christians, and the Irish missionaries who evangelized the English from the north, adhering to a system of Easter computation which differed from that used in the Mediterranean world. This British and Irish system, on the evidence of Bede, fixed Easter to the Sunday falling in the seven-day period from the 14th to the 20th of its lunar month, according to an 84-year cycle. The limits of luna 14-luna 20 are corroborated by Columbanus.

The 84-year cycle, the lunar limits, and an equinox of March 25 also receive support from MacCarthy's analysis of Padua, Biblioteca Antoniana, MS I.27. Any of these features alone could have led to occasional discrepancies from the date of Easter as computed by the Alexandrine method.

This 84-year cycle (called the latercus) gave way to the Alexandrine computus in stages. The Alexandrine computus may have been adopted in parts of the south of Ireland in the first half of the 7th century.

Among the northern English, the use of the Alexandrine computus over the Brittano-Irish cycle was decided at the Synod of Whitby in AD 664. The Alexandrine computus was finally adopted by the Irish colonies in northern Britain in the early 8th century.

Fourth phase

After the promulgation of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, the Catholic and Protestant churches of the West came to follow a different method of computing the date of Easter from the one that had been previously accepted. Most Eastern Orthodox churches continued to follow the older practice and this difference has continued to the present time, despite several attempts to achieve a common method for computing the date of Easter. In 1997 the World Council of Churches proposed a reform of the method of determining the date of Easter at a summit in Aleppo, Syria: Easter would be defined as the first Sunday following the first astronomical full moon following the astronomical vernal equinox, as determined from the meridian of Jerusalem. The reform would have been implemented starting in 2001, since in that year the Eastern and Western dates of Easter would coincide. This reform has not yet been implemented.

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Re: Quartodecimanism and the Easter Controversy

Post  hannielebed on Sun 17 Apr 2011, 2:29 pm

Don't worry too much about Easter. There is no command to celebrate Easter and there is no command prohibiting the celebration of Easter. So if we celebrate on the wrong day, it doesn't really matter. What matters is why we celebrate Easter. Are we celebrating Jesus and the work he did on the cross conquering sin and death or are we celebrating magical rabbits that hide colorful eggs. Even if we have an Easter egg hunt, it isn't going to condemn us so long as the point of the holiday is Jesus and not eggs.

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Re: Quartodecimanism and the Easter Controversy

Post  Hannah on Sun 17 Apr 2011, 7:22 pm

i am not worried about the date of Easster, i have posted this article for the knowledge and background history. As i know many people are interested to know this and might many know it as well. i know the spirit of Easter and why we celebrate it. therefore the article was for info.

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Re: Quartodecimanism and the Easter Controversy

Post  hannielebed on Sun 17 Apr 2011, 11:26 pm

Sorry, I've had several people tell me lately that Christians shouldn't celebrate Easter because it's a pagan holiday or they've tried to persuade me to celebrate passover or some Judaized form of Easter. I was already on the defensive before I even read what you wrote. Again, sorry.

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Re: Quartodecimanism and the Easter Controversy

Post  Waqar Daniel on Mon 18 Apr 2011, 3:41 pm

Thank you for an informative article on Easter. Two years back we discussed "Is Easter Evil" You can read it for more information as we discussed each and every aspect of celebrating Easter

For those who advocate that Christians should not celebrate Easter one verse is enough from the Bible:
If part of a batch of dough is made holy by offered to God, then all of the dough is holy. If the roots of a tree is holy, the rest of the tree is holy too. (Romans 11:16)
Secondly the most important thing is that I divide the history in two eras:
1. Pre Crucifixion Era;
2. Post Crucifixion Era.

In Pre Crucifixion Era in mythology, heaven is shown like god Father, god Mother and god Son. They all enjoy pranks of satan but then god Son decides to end mischief of satan.

Post Crucifixion Era, satan denies Jesus as Son and denies crucifixion because after crucifixion satan loses.

Anyone who promotes and advocates that celebrating resurrection of Jesus Christ is satan follower. Only satan denies crucifixion and resurrection.

_________________


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ. (Philemon 1:3)


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