Fixing the date of Easter

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An academic is saying that the date of Easter can become a fixed date according to his calculations:

Christians have marked Jesus’ final meal on Maundy Thursday for centuries but thanks to the rediscovery of an ancient Jewish calendar, Professor Colin Humphreys suggests another interpretation.

….

His findings help explain a puzzling inconsistency between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, who said the Last Supper coincided with Passover and John, who said the meal took place before the Jewish holy day commemorating the Exodus from Egypt.

Humphreys’ research suggests Jesus, and Matthew, Mark and Luke, were using the Pre-Exilic Calendar, which dated from the time of Moses and counted the first day of the new month from the end of the old lunar cycle, while John was referring to the official Jewish calendar of the day.

With the help of an astronomer, Humphreys reconstructed the Pre-Exilic calendar and placed Passover in the year AD 33, widely accepted as the year of Jesus’ crucifixion, on Wednesday April 1.

That means if modern Christians wished to ascribe a date for Easter based on Humphreys’ calculations, which he has been mulling over since 1983, Easter Day would fall on the first Sunday in April.

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Matthew Buterbaugh+
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Matthew Buterbaugh+

But, then nobody would bother coming to church on April 3 if it were, say, a Wednesday.

Also, it wouldn't be nearly as fun to read the calculation as that bit in the back of the prayer book.

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John B. Chilton
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John B. Chilton

Jesus told me, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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Bill Moorhead
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It's deja vu all over again!

Back when I was in seminary (and now you know what an old coot I am) the hot new book was Dr. Annie Jaubert's "The Date of the Last Supper." As I recall she was pushing for the use of an Essene calendar to explain the discrepancy between the synoptists and John. That boat didn't float, and so now we have a Pre-Exilic calendar. Why would anyone observing Passover in Jerusalem (not Qumran) in the first century C.E. care a fig about a pre-exilic calendar? And what evidence is there that anyone did?

The placing of the Last Supper on the first night of Passover (Mark, and apparently Paul; obviously an early tradition) or on the night before Passover (John) are theological constructs for the authors, not chronological/calendrical issues. I don't think we'll ever know for sure which (if either) is calendrically accurate.

(I asked Jesus about it, and Jesus replied, "Why is it important to you that you should know this?")

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Execute
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Somehow, I don't think this will affect any time soon the conversations on the calendar between the Roman and post-Roman West and the Orthodox East.

Marshall Scott

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