Christian Churches of God
The Calendar and the Moon
Postponements or Festivals?
(Edition 1.3 19970308-19990315)
The postponements were themselves not fully in place until the eleventh century from the admission of the proponents of the postponement system themselves.
The Calendar and the Moon
Postponements or Festivals?
Note: See paper (No. 195) where extensive quotes from authoritative sources, and Scripture, are used to enable the reader to see from the Judaic and other references the uncertain and ad hoc derivation of their postponement system.
The Hillel calendar is a more recent derivation of the postponement system according to the Encyclopedia Judaica, and was not in place until the eleventh century, and is not the product of Rabbi Hillel II from 358 CE.
The conjunction, or molad, is the astronomical cross-over point from one month to the next. An example of the third postponement rule is: If the molad of Tishri occurs at 12 noon on Saturday, Rosh HaShanah would be deferred to Sunday, “which again is not permitted, so that the festival will be moved one further day, to Monday” (Encyc. Judaica, Vol. V, Jerusalem, 1972, p. 44). In such eventuality some would decide to start the observance of 1 Tishri on Friday evening, some Saturday evening, and those following Jewish reckoning would start observance Sunday evening.
The crescent is the ancient symbol for the moon god Qamar and his female consort is Shams the sun. The crescent is not the New Moon and never has been acknowledged as being the New Moon under the Bible system.
Genesis 1:14 tells us that the sun and moon [hence a solar-lunar calendar] are for “signs and for seasons (mo’ed = time(s); season(s); festival(s); assembly), and for days and years”. The LXX confirms this translation.
It is generally accepted that this Targum Neofiti pre-dated the apostolic times and so its value in revealing the earlier understanding of Genesis 1:14 is rather graphically shown.
The month of the Passover, which is Nisan or Abib, is specifically commanded by the Lord as being the beginning of the year (see Ex 12:1-11; Num. 9:1-3; 33:3; Josh. 4:19; Ezek. 45:18,21).
It is quite evident that if 1 Abib is incorrectly calculated then the festivals at the start of the year will be observed on wrong dates and, if 1 Tishri is incorrectly determined, the remaining festivals will be observed on incorrect dates.
From Isaiah 1:13-14; Hosea 2:11 we see the pollution of the Feasts, New Moons and Sabbaths. God ends them here because he has not sanctioned the manner in which they have been determined or kept.
From the Soncino Talmud Holy Days were noted to have fallen on the day before or after the Sabbath also. It is thus impossible for the postponements to have been in place at the time of Christ.
The methods of determining the calendar evolved around the traditions of Judah until the tenth century when they were then in place.
The New Moon was the most important aspect of determining the months. The New Moon of Nisan determined the year, not Tishri as observed by Judaism. Rosh HaShanah, under its present system of determination, cannot be regarded as a correct biblical observance nor as being a correct Christian observance.
Philo of Alexandria tells us: “The third [feast] is the new moon which follows the conjunction of the moon with the sun”. “This is the New Moon, or beginning of the lunar month, namely the period between one conjunction and the next, the length of which has been accurately calculated in the astronomical schools”.
The Calendar of Christianity
Readers should note the indications of no postponement rules in the early Church, admittedly Catholic, but nevertheless pertinent to our decision-making on these matters of determining what calendar Christians ought to observe.
Easter should be kept on the fourteenth day of the first month, according to the commandment of the law, on whatever day (of the month) it should occur.
Anatolius of Alexandria:
(I) just as they [Isodore, Jerome, Clement] differ also in language, have, nevertheless, come harmoniously to one and the same most exact reckoning of Easter, day and month and season meeting in accord with the highest honour for the Lord’s resurrection.
A post-Nicean letter from the emperor, Constantine I (306-337 CE), should further illustrate the kind of calendrical problem with which we are confronted.
Wilfred’s comment is fascinating:
Far be it from us to charge John with foolishness, for he observed the precepts of the Law of Moses literally… So, John, according to the custom of the Law, began the celebration of the feast of Easter on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, paying no attention to whether it fell on the Sabbath or on some other day [So there were no postponements here!] (pp. 161-162).
Note the word Easter is used here in place of the word Pesach or Pascha meaning Passover. The latest possible dates on which the Passover may fall are dictated by the ancient rules, which also state that the sun is in the sign of Aries. The sun leaves Aries from the 10-20 April and the latest possible date for the Passover is 20-21 April.
From the quotes we see that the influence of both Rome and, later, Judaism has all but obscured the true Passover. The later Orthodox schisms have made the problem even more complicated in that they adopted the later Jewish postponements.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “At the Council of Nicaea, in 325, all the Churches agreed that Easter, the Christian Passover, should be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon (Nisan 14) after the vernal equinox.
The Jews are a month later than the West in the eighth and the nineteenth years of their calendar cycle. Syria and Mesopotamia kept to the quarto-deciman system until that matter was resolved. Canon I of the Council of Antioch of 341 shows that the eastern bishops were coerced into accepting the Roman system as determined from Alexandria (see the paper Jeroboam and the Hillel Calendar (No. 191) for details).
When Jesus Christ met with the apostles for what Paul calls the Lord’s Supper (1Cor. 11:20; see also Jn. 13:2,4; 21:20), that night was the night before the Jewish Passover.
The evening of 15 Nisan is described as the Night to Be Much Observed and the Christian thus observes both evenings, but the emphasis is on 14 Nisan not 15 Nisan. The fixing of the Easter system is accorded to the Council of Nicea but there is no record in the canons of the Council of such a decision.
Biblical calendars and the times of the feasts are determined from the first month, Abib (Ex. 12:2; 23:14-16). Postponements are in effect a denial that the calendar is determined from the first day of the first month! The flow of festivals is from the first month and not the seventh month, Tishri. It is therefore self-evident that we have an awesome responsibility to faithfully observe the correct sacred days and to also help to fully restore them.