Easter is coming!

Just how far Christianity has strayed from the New Testament roots

This year in particular highlights how far traditional Christianity has strayed from the New Testament. Tomorrow is Good Friday when the majority of Christians celebrate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.  Yet the New Testament nowhere speaks of Easter – apart from a mistranslation in Acts 12: 3 in the King James Version.  The death of Jesus Christ occurred at the Passover season which included the seven days of Unleavened Bread.

This year, Passover falls a month after Easter.  Calculated according to the Jewish calendar which is a combination of lunar and solar elements rather than the purely solar basis of the Gregorian calendar used throughout the western world, the Jewish calendar requires the addition of an extra month in certain years to keep the calendar in line with the movement of the sun. A starting point for the calculation of the calendar was the need to offer freshly cut barley during the days of Unleavened Bread.  This year saw the inclusion of an extra month to harmonize the calendar with the solar year.  This is true for those who follow the calculations for the calendar as well as for those who observe the growth of barley within proximity of Jerusalem before declaring the start of the new month.

So how did the Christian world end up with a festival observing the death of Jesus Christ so far removed from the calendar date when the event occurred?

Christians today follow the edict of the Emperor Constantine who decreed as a result of the Council of Nicea in C.E. 325, that Easter should be calculated separately from the Jewish festival.  As a result, Christianity today follows a festival that has no connection to the timing given with the Bible. The upshot is that the detail of the event is largely lost. 

We will continue to examine some of these connections as the period of time passes from Easter to Passover.

Tags: Passover, calendar, Constantine, Council of Nicea, Easter

Lecture on the Book of Revelation Addressed to an Overflow Crowd

Noted professor and author speaks in Santa Barbara

Elaine Pagels of Princeton University, a noted scholar in the history of Christian theology and best selling author of several books about the Gnostics, addressed a capacity crowd in Santa Barbara, California, on Sunday afternoon.  Speaking at a public lecture as part of the University of California Santa Barbara’s Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life, Pagel’s discourse was titled "The Book of Revelation."

At least 100 people were left on the street, unable to gain access to Santa Barbara’s Victoria Street Hall which seats 290 patrons. Fortunately for those left outside, the lecture was recorded on video with the intention that it should be aired on the University’s Educational Access Television Channel 21.  A date for the screening has yet to be announced.

In promoting the lecture, the University highlighted the following aspects:

Who wrote the Book of Revelation, when, and why? What other “books of revelation”Jewish and Christianwere written a[t] the time but left out of the Bible? What accounts for the enduring appeal of this book during the past 2000 years, and even today.

The public lecture was part of a series titled “The Martin E. Marty Lecture on Religion in American Life”.  The lectures appear to be provided as part of the University's outreach to the community. Interestingly the demographics of the audience would appear to place a majority as senior citizens.

Tags: Gnostics, Book of Revelation, Elaine Pagels, Santa Barbara

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