I was reading the wiki on Constantine the Great and was struck by this passage:

More significantly, in 325 he summoned the First Council of Nicaea, most known for its dealing with Arianism and for instituting the Nicene Creed. He enforced the council's prohibition against celebrating the Lord's Supper on the day before the Jewish Passover, which marked a definite break of Christianity from the Judaic tradition. From then on, the solar Julian Calendar was given precedence over the lunisolar Hebrew Calendar among the Christian churches of the Roman Empire.[232]

The footnote points to this source but it seems not to say anything about the "Lord's Supper" or Passover at all:


Was there such an edict and if so, where might it be documented?

  • 1
    There seem, to me, to be a number of issues in the question and the answer : indeed a number of issues were being settled at the historic time - the memorial of the Lord's supper, the non-observance of the Passover (it being redundant) and yet the incongruous desire to celebrate what is called 'Easter'. I am not convinced that these issues were managed clearly at the time and I do not see that this question and answer clearly focus sufficiently on the intertwined issues to satisfactorily document them decisively. – Nigel J Sep 5 '20 at 14:26
  • See quartodecimanism and the decrees of the first ecumenical council. – Lucian Sep 5 '20 at 22:34
  • Lucian! You clever fellow! Yes, the article on quatrodecimanism was spot on, and the decrees article was also relevant. Please create an answer from this raw gold! If you wish to decline, please let me know and I'll incorporate these pages into my own answer. Thanks so much! – Ruminator Sep 5 '20 at 22:52

Upon closer inspection it became evident that the discussion of "the Lord's Supper" is referred to in discussion under the term "Easter" because the Roman bishops and Constantine were intent on establishing Easter as a uniform Christian feast distinct from simply a redefinition of the Passover and to move from the OT Hebrew calendar to a date based on the solar Julian calendar. Eusebius' writings seethe with anti-Jewish ranting and drip with honeyed words about Constantine, and calls for complete obedience to orders from Rome:

Eusebius, in The Life of Constantine Book III reports (emphases via bolding mine):

Chapter 18. He speaks of their Unanimity respecting the Feast of Easter, and against the Practice of the Jews. At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Easter was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present, that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day. For what can be more becoming or honorable to us than that this feast from which we date our hopes of immortality, should be observed unfailingly by all alike, according to one ascertained order and arrangement? And first of all, it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. For we have it in our power, if we abandon their custom, to prolong the due observance of this ordinance to future ages, by a truer order, which we have preserved from the very day of the passion until the present time. Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way. A course at once legitimate and honorable lies open to our most holy religion. Beloved brethren, let us with one consent adopt this course, and withdraw ourselves from all participation in their baseness. For their boast is absurd indeed, that it is not in our power without instruction from them to observe these things. For how should they be capable of forming a sound judgment, who, since their parricidal guilt in slaying their Lord, have been subject to the direction, not of reason, but of ungoverned passion, and are swayed by every impulse of the mad spirit that is in them? Hence it is that on this point as well as others they have no perception of the truth, so that, being altogether ignorant of the true adjustment of this question, they sometimes celebrate Easter twice in the same year. Why then should we follow those who are confessedly in grievous error? Surely we shall never consent to keep this feast a second time in the same year. But supposing these reasons were not of sufficient weight, still it would be incumbent on your Sagacities to strive and pray continually that the purity of your souls may not seem in anything to be sullied by fellowship with the customs of these most wicked men. We must consider, too, that a discordant judgment in a case of such importance, and respecting such religious festival, is wrong. For our Saviour has left us one feast in commemoration of the day of our deliverance, I mean the day of his most holy passion; and he has willed that his Catholic Church should be one, the members of which, however scattered in many and diverse places, are yet cherished by one pervading spirit, that is, by the will of God. And let your Holinesses' sagacity reflect how grievous and scandalous it is that on the self-same days some should be engaged in fasting, others in festive enjoyment; and again, that after the days of Easter some should be present at banquets and amusements, while others are fulfilling the appointed fasts. It is, then, plainly the will of Divine Providence (as I suppose you all clearly see), that this usage should receive fitting correction, and be reduced to one uniform rule.

Chapter 19. Exhortation to follow the Example of the Greater Part of the World. Since, therefore, it was needful that this matter should be rectified, so that we might have nothing in common with that nation of parricides who slew their Lord: and since that arrangement is consistent with propriety which is observed by all the churches of the western, southern, and northern parts of the world, and by some of the eastern also: for these reasons all are unanimous on this present occasion in thinking it worthy of adoption. And I myself have undertaken that this decision should meet with the approval of your Sagacities, in the hope that your Wisdoms will gladly admit that practice which is observed at once in the city of Rome, and in Africa; throughout Italy, and in Egypt, in Spain, the Gauls, Britain, Libya, and the whole of Greece; in the dioceses of Asia and Pontus, and in Cilicia, with entire unity of judgment. And you will consider not only that the number of churches is far greater in the regions I have enumerated than in any other, but also that it is most fitting that all should unite in desiring that which sound reason appears to demand, and in avoiding all participation in the perjured conduct of the Jews. In fine, that I may express my meaning in as few words as possible, it has been determined by the common judgment of all, that the most holy feast of Easter should be kept on one and the same day. For on the one hand a discrepancy of opinion on so sacred a question is unbecoming, and on the other it is surely best to act on a decision which is free from strange folly and error.

Chapter 20. Exhortation to obey the Decrees of the Council. Receive, then, with all willingness this truly Divine injunction, and regard it as in truth the gift of God. For whatever is determined in the holy assemblies of the bishops is to be regarded as indicative of the Divine will. As soon, therefore, as you have communicated these proceedings to all our beloved brethren, you are bound from that time forward to adopt for yourselves, and to enjoin on others the arrangement above mentioned, and the due observance of this most sacred day; that whenever I come into the presence of your love, which I have long desired, I may have it in my power to celebrate the holy feast with you on the same day, and may rejoice with you on all accounts, when I behold the cruel power of Satan removed by Divine aid through the agency of our endeavors, while your faith, and peace, and concord everywhere flourish. God preserve you, beloved brethren!

The emperor transmitted a faithful copy of this letter to every province, wherein they who read it might discern as in a mirror the pure sincerity of his thoughts, and of his piety toward God.

Of late there appears to be a great deal of interest in restoring the biblical calendar to Protestant and "Messianic Jewish" practices:

When is Passover - Learning Yahweh's Calendar - Assembly of Yawheh in North Alabama

Creator's Calendar - 119ministries.com

What remains an open question to me is when the annual Passover-based celebration of the Lord's Supper changed to one every Sunday. Apparently it was after the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, yes?

  • Everything called 'anti-Jewish' or 'anti-semitic' in the early Christian Church is really just Christians admitting and noting that God punished and abandoned those who rejected the Messiah. That's as much a historical fact as Christianity is, because the destruction of Jerusalem, which Jesus calls sending in God's armies to destroy the city of "those murderers," is equally true. Obviously the Church Fathers never meant every single Jew, just as Jesus didn't. They mean those who explicitly reject the Messiah, whom God says in the Old Testament are cut off. "Restore" begs the question. – Sola Gratia Sep 5 '20 at 15:10
  • Also, the necessity of obedience to Rome is found from the first century consistently onwards. It wasn't invented in the fourth century. – Sola Gratia Sep 5 '20 at 15:10
  • Is it found in the scriptures? – Ruminator Sep 5 '20 at 15:23
  • I was commenting on your implying obedience to Rome was something newly added in the fourth century (i.e. about Christian history) not inviting you to debate the Biblical basis for the papacy. – Sola Gratia Sep 5 '20 at 15:32
  • True. Christians were to rendered to Caesar the things that were Caeser's. However, an Emperor as Pontiff Maximus of the Body of Christ was not in Paul's description in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 11 or anywhere else in the scriptures. – Ruminator Sep 5 '20 at 15:37

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