Hebrew Voices #68 – An Early Christian Passover (Rebroadcast)

Melito of SardisIn this episode of Hebrew Voices, An Early Christian Passover, Nehemia Gordon continues his fascinating discussion with Prof. Shaye Cohen of Harvard University. This time, the two focus on a Christian Church Father named Melito of Sardis, who in the second century, wrote a prayer service or sermon, for a Christian Passover. This leads Gordon and Cohen to discuss the differences and similarities between Easter, Pascha and Passover, what each commemorated, and when each of these holidays were observed by different historical groups. Be sure to also listen to Part 1 - Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder!

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Related Posts:
When was the Passover Sacrifice Brought
Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder
Pesach: Feast of Protection
Guess Who’s Coming to Seder
How the New Testament Interprets the Tanakh
Pesher in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Show Notes:
Exodus 12
Deuteronomy 26
Psachim Chapter 10, Mishnah 5
Psachim Chapter 10, Mishnah 1
Philo – Allegories 394
Prof. Shaye Cohen
Prof. Shaye Cohen on iTunes University
On Pascha by Melito of Sardis (Author),‎ Alistair C. Stewart (Translator)
On Pascha and Fragments by Melito of Sardis (Author),‎ Stewart George Hall (Editor)
Christ Killers by Jeremy Cohen

32 thoughts on “Hebrew Voices #68 – An Early Christian Passover (Rebroadcast)

  1. Absolutely love the thoughtfulness and information from this post. Thank you for sharing the history and the background!

  2. Easter Sunday, is just a excuse to have eggs candy, lost the real foues,in the foues today, it just a excuse to keep pagan holiday .That all it is

  3. Oohhh! There’s a Classic! Will have to listen to that(both parts) several times – and a future episode with a Wed. pesach/crucifixion for a Sat. sunset resurrection, sounds about right.

  4. I thought I heard your guest say that Yeshua died on Passover/Friday. I don’t know that I have heard you discuss this either. Wouldn’t ‘Passover’ have been on Wednesday that year?

    • Professor Cohen was echoing the scholarly consensus, which in turn reflects the mainstream Christian understanding that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. The alternative Hebrew Roots explanation that he was crucified on a Wednesday afternoon would would make a great future episide!

      • Jesus said that he would spend three nights and three days in the heart of the earth Matthew 12: 39 – 40.

        So if Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, and buried before sundown =

        Wednesday night, Thursday day day of the eating of passover lamb
        Thursday night Friday day Feast of Tabernacles High holy day ? like a Sabbath
        Friday night, Saturday day Sabbath and the next day was day of the Firstfruits?

        Then he would have risen just as the Sabbath ended after dusk on the day of the firstfruits which makes sense..

        Which would fit with the stone being rolled away before dawn.

        On the basis of what Jesus said, I can’t see how he could have been crucified on a Friday.

        So the question is, how did mainstream christianity make three night and three days into Friday to Sunday?

        Sounds intellectually challenging to me….

        • He was buried in haste on Tuesday, just before the High Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread, which began Wednesday evening.

          “And taking it down, he wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb hewn out of the rock, where no one was yet laid. And it was Preparation day, and the Sabbath was approaching” (Luk 23:53-54).

          “Therefore, since it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the stake on the Sabbath – for that Sabbath was a high one – the Yehudim asked Pilate to have their legs broken, and that they be taken away. Then they took the body of Yehoshua, and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as was the habit of the Yehudim for burial” (Joh 19:31, 40)

          So after 3 days and nights, He rose shortly before sunset on the Sabbath.

  5. Nehemia, they blame the Jews and not the Romans because some of the Jews of that time handed over Jesus to the Romans according to NT.

    • The word Jew may not be an appropriate description of what you are trying to say.


      The high priests/hood in the time of Yeshua must have feared for their position, hence their hatred for him….

      if anybody knew, then “they” would have known who Yeshua was, as they had the knowledge of the genealogy of people and they knew that he was the legitimate and rightful king through his parents.(King Herod in times before knew too , why else would he have wanted to kill the children, those after king Herod , the Herodians must also have had knowledge of it, Yeshua himself warned of them)

      Most of the Jewish people loved Yeshua and great multitudes followed him ..

  6. No one had/has authority to change the instructions for Passover or Unleavened Bread from Leviticus, Exodus and as observed by Jewish Jesus and His Jewish Followers. There is no good friday and resurrection Sun god day. You cannot get 3 days and 3 nights in the grave from Fri to Sun. Must use the biblical defintion for begining of a day erev to end of next day erev. No such thing as a Christian Passover, as defined by the bible, do not add to or subtract from the Hebrew instructions, they are eternal for all your generations.
    Easter is from pagan fertility goddess Israr, which was accepted in Roman pantheon, where Istar rolled eggs in blood, and rabbits connected with fertility. Do not study what the nations do, to do what they do. You shall have no other gods or goddess before me, especiallly not Istar/Easter.

  7. There is really no difference between the synoptic Gospels and John. The main problem with Matthew’s gospel is the translation of the Greek “protos” which with a genetive does not mean “first” but should be understood as “before” as is the case in the correct translations given in John 1:15, 30; 15:18. The problem with Matthew is translation and not any calendrical or any other issues. Mark and Luke present somewhat different problems to Matthew but these can be easily reconciled with John. It seems that Christian translators were careless with their translations probably because they did not and still do not value the Holy Days of Lev 23 in the way that they should. Jesus did not eat a Passover meal with his disciples at his last supper at the end of the 13th day of Aviv if only because he was the passover lamb who died the next day on the 14th day of Aviv.

  8. As always breathtaking, perplexing. Of course I had to listen to both parts about five times with many rewinds.

    So, I believe the are powers that be that have always found cause to separate Jewish people from Christian people so that neither can realize the gifts they have for each other.

    I have received so much revelation from your teaching that I can now see through ignorance to a greater realization of truth, and that without hating the ignorant institutionalization and stifling tradition binding of the people.

    I have come to appreciate truth and hope to recognize it on all fronts as I look to both camps, Jewish and Christian, and peel back the pages of history to uncover it.

    Thank you, once again, Nehemiah.

    Also, per both lessons,I have a roadmap of practices to memorialize the Passover and the crucifixion all over my calendar.

    Seeking Eliyahu,

  9. Shalom Nehemia, I know it sounds like accusations for the Jews. Roman occupation was a perfect death machine for those thrown in. Yeshua was betrayed by a friend for money from the Jewish Prists at a time. Accused for talking to destroy Jerusalem Temple, given to Romans and pushed in until executed. Even though performed by Romans he became Jewish sacrifice by the Prists and Jewish National rulers at the time. If Israel extradited prime minister to Iran for accusation of a bribe to cut his hand who do you think could be blamed? But Yeshua knew and prophesied that it was a plan from the beginning of time and for a reason. God bless you, thank you for sharing.

  10. Melito is thought to be the immediate successor of the “angel” (or “apostle”) of the church of Sardis in Rev 3. He says the Jews lie dead and the Torah is depleted. It is to this church that Yeshua said, ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but YOU ARE DEAD. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.’

    • Revelation 3:1-6 KJVS
      [1] And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. [2] Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. [3] Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. [4] Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. [5] He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. [6] He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

  11. St Patrick and the early Celtic church were quartodecimans and Torah keepers until the catholic church decided to make them into good catholics about 500 years later!

  12. I can hardly express my appreciation for coming accross this web site. Knowing the Lord, as it is said, for 30 years, finding my jewish roots as an African American following this movement than that movement I’m astounded at how much i am lacking. Thanks to a reply from this site ” Read your Bible” my life has taken a vast about face. Thank you for sharing what some believers dont know because we are spoon fed instead of taking responsibility for ” study(ing) to show yourself approved”. No offense to others, i am speaking for myself and of my experience.

  13. Interesting, Michael Rood in Chronological Gospels doesn’t see a conflict between John and other gospel accounts. He views other accounts as a just a normal evening meal on the 13th, then Yeshua killed on the 14th.

    • Interestingly enough, I too understand it that way , one of the reasons , Yeshua’s disciples didn’t even understand what he has been trying to tell them, as they were distressed at his death. To remember also , these people have been Torah keeping people, including keeping the feast days in its correct fashion..

      • Oooh another good clue, I missed so much in reading the gospels before learning to look at the context. This is such an exciting time, having the eyes of my/our hearts opened

  14. Dear Nehemiah, Thank you for your excellent work helping Christians to understand the Jewish roots of Yashuah Ha Messiach! I hope all Christians will love the Jewish people as I do.
    The Jewish people are not dead to YHWH. When Yeshuah returns, all Jewish people will be given the chance to see he is Ha Meshiach. Your good works are appreciated by YHWH. Even Yeshuah said “even those who speak against me can still be saved, but those who offend the Ruach Ha Kodesh will suffer the second death.”
    Yeshuah said, in Mathew, that “I would not change one mark or dot in the Torah, I came to fulfill it.” He preached the 10 commandments. He said “This above all: Love YHWH with all your heart, all your mind and all your might; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
    My question is: Since Yeshuah was a devout Jew, who observed Shabbat and the High Holy Days, does this mean Christians should do also?
    Shalom, Margaret East

    • Oops! Yeshuah said Love YHWH with all your SOUL, all your heart, all your mind.” I confused might with soul.

    • Amen!…starting with sin in the Garden. And even then, His death was the plan from the beginning:

      “No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again. This command I have received from My Father” (Joh 10:18).

      “…knowing that you were redeemed from your futile behaviour inherited from your fathers, not with what is corruptible, silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Messiah, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, foreknown, indeed, before the foundation of the world…” (1 Pet 1:18-20).

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