by Jerry Richardson 3/27/15
As a kid growing up, I loved Easter. I loved hunting and then peeling and eating Easter eggs. There have been numerous grumps around the world that have complained that such innocent activity besmirches the real meaning of Easter. Lighten-up grumps. My parents spent plenty of time teaching me the real meaning of Easter. Of course, many modern parents don’t do that, and the world is not a better place because of that ignorance.
I still remember one of my favorite Easters. During one day of the school week, several of the elementary teachers took their classes, one of which I was in, to a pre-arranged semi-wooded area for an all-day (yes, all the school day) Easter-egg hunt, along with plenty of chase, tag, and rough-housing for the boys. Can you even imagine that? I suspect that you cannot. What a row that would raise in today’s world. NO! Of course you can’t do anything like that in our multicultural society.
Our multicultural society has frowned upon much more than school sponsored Easter-egg hunts. Even speaking the name of Jesus in a public setting is highly offensive to some people.
I realize there are many people who do not believe that Jesus was who he said he was: God incarnate. I realize there are numerous people who do not like Jesus, whoever they believe he was. But whoever or whatever you believe He was, He cannot logically be called just a “good man” or a “great moral teacher.”
That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse… Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. —C. S. Lewis
Yes, Easter is a wonderful time for Easter-baskets, Easter-eggs, and Easter-bunnies; but most of all, Easter is about Jesus.
Have a blessed Easter!
APPENDIX: EASTER-DAY FACTS (or in Brad Nelson’s terminology: Esoterica)
This year Easter falls on April 5, 2015. Several billion Christians around the world will “celebrate” Easter. But why do so many people use the term “Easter Celebration”?
Since Easter honors Jesus Christ, Why isn’t Easter the anniversary of the Resurrection? Of course Easter is always on Sunday, but the actual date varies from year to year; so it cannot correctly be called an “anniversary.”
The exact date of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection has been a topic of much scholarly speculation for many years. I tend to believe the timeline offered by Harold Hoehner in his book CHRONOLOGICAL ASPECT OF THE LIFE OF CHRIST. In his well-argued approach, Hoehner concludes that the Crucifixion occurred on Friday 3 April 33 and the Resurrection occurred on Sunday 5 April 33.
It is interesting that this year, 2015, Good Friday (April 3rd) and Easter (April 5th) fall on the same dates as they do on Hoehner’s estimated date of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. If Hoehner’ timeline is true, then this year is an “anniversary” for Jesus’ Crucifixion and Ressurection.
Since the date varies for the occurrence of Easter, when can it occur? There are 35 possible Easter dates are of which occur in the months of March and April. The earliest possible date for Easter-day is March 22th and the latest possible date is April 25th. These possible dates are due to the rules established by the Roman Catholic Church for the calculation of Easter.
The current Gregorian ecclesiastical rules that determine the date of Easter trace back to 325 CE at the First Council of Nicaea convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine.
The Council decided to keep Easter on a Sunday, the same Sunday throughout the world. To fix incontrovertibly the date for Easter, and to make it determinable indefinitely in advance, the Council constructed special tables to compute the date.
In 1582 Gregory XIII (Pope of the Roman Catholic Church) completed a reconstruction of the Julian calendar and produced new Easter tables.
The usual statement, that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox, is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical [church] rules. The full moon involved is not the astronomical Full Moon but an ecclesiastical moon (determined from tables) that keeps, more or less, in step with the astronomical Moon. The ecclesiastical [church] rules are:
- Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox;
- this particular ecclesiastical full moon is the 14th day of a tabular lunation (new moon); and
- the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21.”
As peculiar as these rules seem to be, there were purposes behind them. The original primary purpose of the early Christians, as eventually canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, was to fix the week-day of Easter to always be on a Sunday. This was in opposition to another concurrent practice, of many early Christians, of celebrating the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ on the same month-date as the Jewish Passover Seder (which begins on the evening of 14th of Nisan) regardless of what week-day it fell on. Those Christians who practiced the celebration on this schedule were designated as Quartodecimans (from the Latin word quartadecima (14) taken from the Latin Vulgate Bible, Leviticus 23:5 ).
Note that though the sacrifice of the Passover lamb occurred on the afternoon Nisan 14, the ceremonial eating of the meal, or the “seder,” would begin later, just before sundown and continue throughout the night.
And since the Jewish day begins after sundown (when three stars are visible in the night sky), the traditional Passover Seder would begin just before sundown on Nisan 14 but would continue into the new day of Nisan 15, which is also the start of the seven-day festival of chag ha-matzot, the “Feast of Unleavened Bread” (Lev. 23:6). —When Does Passover Begin
There are some obvious, but often little known, results of the Easter calculation rules; for one thing, the rules dictate what can be the earliest and latest possible dates for Easter Sunday.
The earliest date that Easter can occur is March 22th. If a calculated full-moon happens to occur on March 21st (the ecclesiastically fixed vernal equinox), and if the next day (22nd) is Sunday, that day will be Easter.
The latest date that Easter can occur is April 25th. If a calculated full-moon occurs on March 20th (1 day before the required March 21st) then we must wait 29.5 days (approximately one full lunation) for the next full moon. This takes us to April 18th (March 20th plus 29.5 days = April 18th). If the April 18th full moon happens to be on Sunday, then we must wait another 7 days for the Sunday after the full-moon which will be April 25th.
The church’s rules, stated in the referenced quote above, have some interesting consequences.
The first consequence is that the calculating rules preclude Easter from falling on the Gregorian date that coincides with 14 Nisan on the Jewish calendar; which is the beginning of the Jewish Passover Seder. So if anyone says that Easter never falls on the Passover, they mean that the Gregorian date of Easter will never coincide with the Jewish date of 14 Nisan—Jewish Passover celebration lasts for 7 days (Nisan 15-21) in Israel. Easter will and does coincide with the first full-day of Passover, 15 Nisan, although not very frequently.
In the calendar period from 1583-2015 there has been 8 times that the Gregorian date of Easter has coincided with the corresponding date of the first full-day of the Jewish Passover, 15 Nisan. The last such occurrence was 19 April 1981. The next occurrence will be 11 April 2123. (Note: The reason for using 1583 is that it was the first full-year on the Gregorian Calendar for countries who had converted from the older Julian calendar; Great Britain and the American Colonies did not convert until 1752 (first full-year 1753.)
The rule that produces perhaps the most surprising results for Easter dates is the first rule: “Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox.” This rule can result in the Gregorian date of Easter occurring before the corresponding date of Jewish Passover (14 Nisan).
The reason for this is that the vernal equinox does not always occur during the Jewish month of Nisan because of Jewish leap years. For example in 2016, Easter will fall on March 27th and Passover Sedar will begin as always on the evening of Nisan 14th. The actual vernal equinox will occur on March 20th (UT) Gregorian calendar, and on Adar II 10 on the Jewish Calendar; Nisan 14, 5776 coincides with April 22, 2016. Hence, Easter will occur before Passover next year (2016).
In the calendar period from 1583-2015 there has been 62 times that the date of Easter Sunday has occurred before the corresponding date of the Jewish Passover. The last such occurrence was Easter: 23 March 2008; Passover: 19 April 2008/14 Nisan 5768. As already stated, the next occurrence will be Easter: 27 March 2016; Passover: 22 April 2016/14 Nisan 5776.
The reasons these numbers are of interest is that we know that the Resurrection of Jesus occurred, after the first day of Jewish Passover (Nisan 14) and on the first day of the week (Sunday) not on the same day or before the Passover.
Part of the reason for the specific Easter-calculation rules, developed under the auspices of the Catholic Church, was to preclude the possibility of Easter-day falling on Nisan 14th and to minimize Easter falling before Nisan 14th. They did minimize the before-Passover occurrences, but they did not prevent them.
In the period 1583-5000 there are 91 dates where Easter-day falls on the same day as the first full-day of Jewish Passover (Nisan 15th ), and 946 dates where Easter-day falls on a date before Jewish Passover (before Nisan 14th).
Since there are 3418 years in the period 1583-5000; that means that about 30 percent of Easter-day Dates fall on (Nisan 15th) or before (Nisan 14th) Jewish Passover, (946+91)/3418 ≈ .30 (30 Percent).
Frankly the coincidence of these dates does not bother me in the least, but I cannot help thinking how simple it would have been to set Easter-day as the first Sunday following the first full-day of Jewish Passover (Nisan 15). That would have easily achieved the objective of Easter-day falling after Jewish Passover. But, at some point, early Christians wanted to completely disconnect the calculation of the date of Easter-day from the date of Jewish Passover.
© 2015, Jerry Richardson • (3658 views)