Volume 13, Number 3, September-October 2009

Books Worth a Look

The Passover Papers:
Controversy, Myth, Fairy Tales and Nonsense

by Paul R. Finch, Second Edition, copyright © 2009 by B-F Enterprises

 

 

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Happy book-looking!

 

Mr. Finch is an independent researcher and former member of the worldwide Church of God. He has studied the subject of this book since the 1970’s. He comes to a number of conclusions that might be upsetting to many Church of God people.

At first this reviewer thought this book might be just a rehashing of studies by Church of God researchers and a bashing of Worldwide teachings on Passover.  The author is rather critical of some of Herbert Armstrong’s and other Church of God ministers’ writings, in particular Fred Coulter’s book, the Christian Passover. But Mr. Finch goes far beyond this. He cites numerous prominent scholars from diverse backgrounds including Catholic, Protestant and Jewish; both ancient and modern.

The author begins with a discussion of the early or late 14th of Nisan Passover controversy and then reviews the so-called “Quartodeciman Controversy” of the early centuries of the church and goes on to deal with the supposed synoptic problem between John and the other gospel writers, particularly relating to the timing of Passover.

Mr. Finch does quote from many commentators on the Passover, but mostly he draws his conclusions from how terms are used in scripture itself. In particular he goes deeply into the usage of erev (evening) and ben ha-arbayim (“between the evenings”). He gives a chronology of Christ’s last week that is different from both common protestant and Church of God understanding. He studies the hour, the day and the year of the crucifixion.

One of Mr. Finches key points is the fact that the ancient world basically did not know “exclusive reckoning”, that is they did not understand the concept of a day or a year “0”. They always started with “1”! Applying modern “exclusive reckoning” has led to many chronological misunderstandings in the Bible.

The author also believes there has been a basic misunderstanding of evening and morning in Genesis chapter 1, that has implications throughout scripture. He gives a thorough analysis of the events recorded in Exodus 12 and also discusses the Israelite population figures in the Pentateuch. He even gives a new understanding to the Hebrew word pasach.

This reviewer found the first few chapters a little slow going, but after that, the rest of the book was fascinating reading. Whether or not the reader agrees with all or any of Mr. Finch’s conclusions, the reviewer believes the reader will find this book valuable and interesting. Although the nature of the subject sometimes makes the material a little hard to follow, generally the reviewer found the author’s style easy to read.

Mr. Finch has a way of expressing himself that usually makes his point quite clear. For example on page 249 he writes: “Also consider that the belief that the daily sacrifice was not to begin until sunset would also force a conclusion that ancient Israel conducted much of its Temple ritual during the darkness of night, with the entire afternoons being spent with the priesthood doing nothing but waiting until sunset so they could carry out hours of work in the dark. If this is so, then this would mean that the Passover Sacrifice itself would not be consumed until late at night rather than it being an early evening meal.”

The book has an 18 page bibliography and a 12 page index, with a total of 340 pages.

This book also makes the point that even when one uses the Bible as their knowledge filter they can still be led into error and that sometimes it is good to question long held basic assumptions.           &

 

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