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well as for a Sabbath : and since the Parasceve meant literally a preparation, it might have been fitly used to designate the day before a festival, no less than to designate the day before the Sabbath. But that it was so used is an assertion that we cannot admit without evidence of the fact : for conjectures founded on etymology alone, are a very delusive guide as to the actual meaning of words. Thus, amongst ourselves, the word Lady Day would be an appropriate title for all the festivals of the Blessed Virgin : but, as a matter of fact, only two of them, as we know, are so called, the twenty-fifth of March and the fifteenth of August. In like manner, the word Parasceve might perhaps have been a suitable name for the vigils of festivals as well as for the vigils of Sabbaths; but we are not therefore justified in inferring that it was so used in point of fact.
If it were necessary, we might confirm our argument by a long list of early Fathers, who were accustomed to speak of Friday as the Parasceve, and who, so far, bear witness to the received meaning of the word in their own time. But we have trespassed, perhaps, too much already on the patience of our readers: and we shall bring this branch of the discussion to an end, by referring to the authority of the Syriac version, which translates the Greek word Parasceve into the Syriac word for Friday. There is only one exception to this rule, and even the exception itself fully supports our argument In the passage where the friends of our Lord are said to have laid his body in the tomb that was close by, “on account of the Parasceve of the Jews", we read in the Syriac version, “ on account of the Sabbath coming on". The authors, therefore, must have understood that the Parasceve here meant the day before the Sabbath.
Once it is admitted that the word Parasceve had come to be used among the Jews as the proper name of Friday, no difficulty remains about the phrase, the Parasceve of the Pasch. Since the feast of the Pasch extended ever a period of seven days, all the days of the week must have occurred within its limits : and nothing could have been more natural than to distinguish them by their respective names, as the Monday of the Pasch, the Tuesday of the Pasch, the Friday of the Pasch; just as now we speak of Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday. Nor are we left without ancient authority, even on this point. Socrates, the ecclesiastical historian, speaks about the Sabbath of the festival, σάββατον της εορτής 3 and
See Langen, Die Letzten Lebenstage Jesu, pp. 123, 124.
Hist. Eccl. v. 22.
in the epistles ascribed to Saint Ignatius of Antioch, we find the phrase, the Sabbath of the Pasch, cáßßatov Toù ráoya.' It is therefore not uncomformable with ancient usage that Saint John should speak of the Friday of the Pasch.?
A fourth passage of Saint John, often quoted against our view, is the one where, speaking of the solicitude of the Jews that the bodies should not remain upon the cross Sabbath day, he throws in by way of parenthesis, " for that was a great Sabbath day”. 3 It is argued, that if the Saturday following the Crucifixion were the festival day of the Pasch, it would very properly be called “a great Sabbath". For, to the ordinary sanctity of the Sabbath would be added the special solemnity of a high festival. Whereas there would be no sufficient reason for making it out as “ a great Sabbath” if it were only, as we have supposed, the day after the feast.
This argument fails in two points: the foundation of fact is uncertain ; the reasoning is inconclusive. First, as regards the foundation of fact. It is assumed that Saint John, speaking of the day that followed the Crucifixion, says that it was a great Sabbath. Now according to the more common Greek reading which is supported, too, by the Vulgate version, he does not say, “That was a great Sabbath day", but rather, “Great was that day of the Sabbath"; ήν γαρ μεγάλη η ημέρα εκείνη του σαββάτου, erat enim magnus dies ille Sabbati. The difference of meaning is obvious. One expression signifies that this was a great Sabbath, as compared with other Sabbaths : while the other signifies that the Sabbath was a great day as compared with other days. Now this latter version is quite in harmony with the context of the whole passage. It furnishes an appropriate reason why the Jews were unwilling that the bodies should remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day; for, great was that day of the Sabbath among the Jews. This, no doubt, would be superfluous information if it were addressed to those who had been familiar all their lives with Jewish laws and customs. But it was not superfluous when addressed to the general body of Christians, sixty years after the Jewish religion had been abrogated, and the Christian religion set up in its stead.
Ep. ad Phil. 13. * See on this subject, Langen, loc. cit. pp. 117-128 ; Patrizzi, de Evang. Diss. I. nn. 37-43 ; Smith, Dict. of the Bible, passover, pp. 721, 722; Robinson's Harmony, pp. 158, 159.
3 John, xix. 31.
It is only fair, however, to admit that some Greek versions of high authority, give the passage thus: vov yap peydan ý quépa ékeivov Toù oaßßátov, “ great was the day of that Sabbath.” This reading certainly implies that some special solemnity belonged to the day in question, over and above the ordinary solemnity of the Sabbath. But we cannot admit that it must, therefore, have been the first day of the Paschal festival. For there are good reasons why the Sabbath which fell on the second day of the festival, might well be called a great Sabbath. First, because it fell within the seven days of a great solemnity. Secondly, because on that day, the sheaf of corn representing the first fruits of the earth, was offered to God in the temple. Thirdly, because that day was sanctified by more numerous sacrifices than the other days of the Paschal feast. We say then, that there are two readings of this passage : according to one reading, there is no difficulty at all; according to the other, the difficulty exists, but it admits of a satisfactory explanation.
Another difficulty, which has been strongly urged, is founded on the strict observance of festival days among the Jews. Many of the acts, which accompanied the Passion and Death of our Lord, were such as could not be done, according to the Mosaic law, on a festival day :-his arrest in the Garden of Olives, his examination before the High Priest and before the Sanhedrim, his trial before Pilate, the scourging, the carrying of the cross, the Crucifixion. Now it can hardly be supposed that the Jewish leaders would have openly transgressed the law, in many ways, at the very time that they were clamouring for the death of Jesus Christ, on account of an alleged violation of the law. We may infer, therefore, that the day on which all these things were done, that is, the day of the Crucifixion, was not a festival day.
This argument, though plausible at first sight, derives in reality its chief strength from boldness of assertion. In the first place, it is to be noticed, that most of the acts referred to were done, not by the Jews, but by the Romans. The scourging was inflicted by Roman soldiers; the sentence of death was passed by the Roman Governor; by Roman soldiers Jesus Christ was forced to carry the cross; and by Roman soldiers He was put to death. Nothing remains, therefore,
1 Levit. xxiii. 10, 11.
• Levit. xxiii. 12-14. 3 See Patrizzi, le Evang. Diss. I. nn. 44-49.
Greswell, Diss. on Harm. iii. pp. 155-9; Jans. Gand. Concord. cap. cxxviii. p. 874 ; Maldon. in Matt. xxvi. 2, p. 528, c.
but the arrest in the Garden, the examination before the Jewish authorities, and the accusation before Pilate. And the question we have to consider is simply this, whether. the above mentioned acts were against the letter of the Mosaic law : for the enemies of our Lord paid little heed, as every one knows, to the spirit of the law, while they piqued themselves upon observing it according to the letter.
First, as regards the judicial investigation, whether before the High Court of the Jews, or beforethe Roman Governor, there is no satisfactory evidence that a trial of this kind was forbidden either on the Sabbath or on festival days. No such prohibition is to be found in the Books of Moses. And the Talmud, though it professes to enumerate all the actions that were regarded as unlawful on a day of rest, makes no mention of a judicial inquiry.?
Passing next to the arrest of our Lord in the Garden of Olives, we do not think it has been shown, either from the Sacred Books or from the Rabbinical authorities, that such a proceeding on a festival day was held to be against the law. But whether it was against the law or not, there is clear proof that the Jewish leaders had no scruple about it. When taking counsel together, how they might lay hold on Jesus, they said, “Not on the festival day, lest perhaps there should be a tumult among the people." They did not consider, therefore, that the law stood in their way; but they feared a public disturbance. On another occasion, they actually did send out their officers, although it was a great feast day, to arrest Jesus Christ; and afterwards rebuked them severely for not doing it.$
But it is further argued that many things are recorded of our Lord's own friends and followers, which could not have been lawfully done on a festival day. The taking down of the body from the cross, the preparations for the burial, and the burial itself, are among the most striking examples. Further, it was against the law to buy and sell on a feast day: yet we find that Joseph of Arimathea bought fine linen to wrap round the body of our Lord before it was laid in the tomb.* It is said, too, that some of the Apostles, when Judas went forth from the supper room, late on Thursday evening, thought that perhaps he was sent to buy what things they had need of for the feast. Now the Apostles could not think that their Master would send one of them to do what was forbidden
* See Patrizzi, De Evang. Diss. 1. n. 53 ; Langen, Die Letzten Lebenstage Jesu, pp. 132-4; Smith, Dict. of the Bible, passover, f. p.722. * Matt. xxvi. 5. 3 John, vii. 32-45. Mark, xv. 46. $ John, xüii. 29. by the law.
It follows, that the festival day had not yet arrived.
These arguments it will be time enough to answer when they are shown to have any solid foundation in the Mosaic law, either as it exists in the Pentateuch, or as it was commonly understood by the Jews at the time of our Lord. As they come before us, at present, they are based only on conjectures. It is forbidden, no doubt, in the Talmud, to bury the dead on the Sabbath, but this prohibition does not extend to festival days. Nay, even on the Sabbath, it was expressly commanded to bury the bodies of those who had suffered the punishment of death. And, of course, in those cases where it was not unlawful to bury the dead, it was not unlawful to make the necessary preparations.
The same distinction between the law of the Sabbath and of festival days, may be applied to the questions of buying and selling. It has not been proved that the practice of buying and selling, within certain limits, was regarded as unlawful on a festival. We find it laid down by Moses himself, that such work night be done on the feast of the Pasch as was connected with the preparation of food : and this privilege would seem naturally to include the buying of all things needful. Hence the Apostles may have conjectured, not unreasonably, that Judas was sent out to buy what was required for the sacrifice and feast of the Chagigah, which generally took place on the first day of unleavened bread.
But the passage of Saint John to which we have just alluded, though quoted so often against our opinion, tells, in fact, strongly in its favour. We are maintaining, be it remembered, that the feast of the Pasch was kept from Thursday to Friday evening, not from Friday to Saturday evening. If we are right, there is no difficulty in understanding how the Apostles may have supposed that Judas was sent out from the supper table, to buy at once whatever was needful for the feast, which was then actually impending. But if the feast day were Saturday, how could they suppose that Judas was sent out late on Thursday night, with the instructions, What thou dost do quickly, to buy, at that unscasonable hour, what could just as well have been provided at any time on Friday?
It may seem strange that the Jews, who had no scruple in clamouring for the crucifixion of our Lord on the festival day, were nevertheless very solicitous that his body should not 1 Patrizzi, De Evang. Diss. 1. n. 56; Langen, 135, 136.
Exod. xii. 16. 3 See Patrizzi, De Evang. Diss. I. nn. 7, 26; Langen, 136.