Plenty of Passover Papers

We have received about a dozen papers on the timing of Passover from a wide variety of viewpoints. It would simply have not been possible for us to publish all of themnot to mention difficult for our readers to go through over 1000 pages of Passover papers. We selected the two Passover articles for this issue because they were compatible with nearly all views of Passover. We realize that there is much disagreement about the proper translation for some of the scriptures we printed and with Strongs definitions of some words. Whatever your understanding of Passover may be, we felt a review of the related scriptures would be helpful at this time.

The biggest difficulty we find in reading these papers is that each author often references the scriptures that prove his thesis while nearly ignoring scriptures that do not fit well. During the next year we hope to produce a Passover study paper that explains how each point of view understands each relevant scripture. We would rather hear this matter before we answer it, even if it takes a few years.

There are several different approaches to both the New Testament and Old Testament events. The major Old Testament approaches center around when the lamb was killed. The Bible makes it very clear that the time the lamb was killed was between the evenings or in Hebrew ben ha arbayim. The question is: what do these words mean? We know of five approaches:

1. Between sunset and dark. The lamb was killed right at the beginning of Nisan 14, just after the sunset.

2. Between sunset and dark. Adopting the same meaning as above, but believing the day begins at dark and the lamb was killed just before the end of Nisan 14.

3. Between sunset and dark. Adopting the meaning above but believing a Biblical day is from sunrise to sunrise so the lamb was killed on the middle of the 14th.

4. Between noon and sunset. The lamb was killed about 3 PM on the afternoon of the 14th.

5. Between sunset and sunset. The lamb could technically be killed any time on the 14th.

New Testament questions center around the apparent difference between the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and the book of John. The synoptic gospels appear to say that the Messiah ate a passover meal with the twelve on the evening beginning Nisan 14th and John appears to say Jews were having their passover meal one day later. Exactly what is the name and nature of each of these two events. The possibilities vary greatly depending on which old testament view one accepts. Some approaches are:

1. Point 1 in the Old Testament section is correct and was continued into the New. The lamb was killed on the early 14th and the Jews were keeping the Passover 1 day late.

2. The Jews were keeping the Passover at the correct time at end of the 14th but the Messiah moved it to the early 14th.

3. The Jews were keeping the Passover at the correct time and the Messiah added a new ceremony in commemoration of his suffering.

4. The Jews were keeping the Passover at the correct time, but the Messiah kept it one day early so he could teach his disciples before he died.

5. The Passover described in the synoptic gospels was a late-14th Passover and our Savior was actually killed on the first day of unleavened bread.

There are many other sub-points that can fit with a number of the above theories. Some say we should literally wash each others feet as a ceremony, others believe it was an example for how leaders should literally serve their fellow man. Some say 1 Corinthians 11 is about the Passover or Lords supper (vv 20,23), others say that it is about the frequent taking of bread and wine in a traditional Jewish Kiddush (v 2, 26). Finally, we had one paper indicating that Jesus was taken into custody on the Nisan 10 (the day of Passover lamb selection), and was kept there until his death.

If we have missed any other major approaches to this subject, we apologize. We would caution people not to condemn anyone with any of these viewpoints if they have never heard the reasoning behind them (Prov 18:13)

Norman S. Edwards