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How is the Easter date derrived from Jewish passover?


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#1 Dimitris

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 07:45 PM

Hallo!

We didn't yet celebrate Easter 2009, but I am already thinking of Easter 2010. ;-)

As far as I know, the main reason for the different Easter dates between Eastern and Western Churches is because we, the Orthodox, observe the canons of the first council of Nicaea, which state Pascha has to be the sunday after the Jewish Passover. For example, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover Passover in 2009 is from April 8 to April 15, therefore we celebrate Easter on the sunday after, which is April 19. But in 2010, Passover is from March 29 to April 5. So Easter should be on April 11. But actually we will celebrate it on April 4.

Does anyone know why? I think, the reason is the "νομικόν φάσκα" (nomikon faska), but I didn't find any information, what "nomikon faska" actually means, how it is calculated and how it is related to Passover. Does anyone have further information?

Kind regards,
Dimitris

#2 Christopher Dombrowski

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 08:05 PM

Hallo!

We didn't yet celebrate Easter 2009, but I am already thinking of Easter 2010. ;-)

As far as I know, the main reason for the different Easter dates between Eastern and Western Churches is because we, the Orthodox, observe the canons of the first council of Nicaea, which state Pascha has to be the sunday after the Jewish Passover. For example, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover Passover in 2009 is from April 8 to April 15, therefore we celebrate Easter on the sunday after, which is April 19. But in 2010, Passover is from March 29 to April 5. So Easter should be on April 11. But actually we will celebrate it on April 4.

Does anyone know why? I think, the reason is the "νομικόν φάσκα" (nomikon faska), but I didn't find any information, what "nomikon faska" actually means, how it is calculated and how it is related to Passover. Does anyone have further information?

Kind regards,
Dimitris


I could have sworn that the Julian Pascha was calculated not in reference to the Jewish Passover.

#3 Kosta

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 07:07 AM

At the time of Nicea the jews had discrepancies as to when passover should be celebrated. Some years they celebrated their passover before the vernal equinox, thus the canons state Pascha cannot be celebrated before the vernal equinox with the jews.

Nicea did take the passover into consideration but not the disfunctional way the jews of the diaspora calculated at that time. The council of Nicea decreed that Pascha is to be celebrated on the Sunday AFTER the first full moon which follows the vernal equinox. The jewish passover takes place on the first full moon, so if the full moon falls on a sunday, Pascha is moved to the next Sunday. Thus Pascha never falls on the same date as the start of the jewish passover, but may fall on a sunday before the end of passover

The other factor is that the jewish solar calendar is currently 6 1/2 minutes off per year while the julian calendar is about 11 minutes off. This makes both calendars lose days compared to the gregorian, but the julian at a faster rate than the jewish calendar. It also affects the set date for the vernal equinox between all 3 calendars.

The jewish calendar was standardized in 359 a.d. and has adopted the same 19 year cycle (Known as the metonic cycle) as we do.
Hypothetically if the west, the Orthodox, and the jews all used the same day for setting the vernal equiniox, there would be a few times where the western easter would still fall before the passover, because the papal calculation uses an 84 year cycle. Since the jews use the same 19 year cycle as we do, this discrepancy would be avoided.

With that said, im going to make a kind of unbelieveable claim, pertaining to the original post. I think Pascha falling on April 4 next year may be due to an astronomical error! If the vernal equinox is April 3 (march 21 julian) Pascha would be calculated using the next full moon following April 3. If the full moon were to fall on April 4, which in 2010 is a sunday. Then Pascha would be moved up, and fall on the next sunday. I dont think its the end of the world, the canons emphasizes the forbidding of celebrating Pascha before the equinox (wth the jews) more than anything. It does seem though that the full moon falls on the same day as the vernal equinox next year, which means the powers that be didnt take into account the full moon which falls AFTER the equinox, not on the same day as it. But maybe im all wrong, if so correct me please.

#4 Olga

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 08:54 AM

The date of Jewish Passover for 2010 is March 3, from what I've gathered. This is very, very early for Passover (normally it falls in early to mid-April), but it does explain why Orthodox Easter next year will be so early, and coincide with western Easter.

#5 Kosta

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 09:17 AM

The date of Jewish Passover for 2010 is March 3, from what I've gathered. This is very, very early for Passover (normally it falls in early to mid-April), but it does explain why Orthodox Easter next year will be so early, and coincide with western Easter.


But if the vernal equinox falls on April 3 (March 21 julian when adding the 13 days that have accrued), i dont see how Pascha 2010 can fall on April 4 without some error. It means Pascha can never fall before April 3 but neither before April 5. From what i've read its the full moon FOLLOWING April 3, not on or before it. Example: vernal equinox falls on April 3 (friday), the first full moon falls on April 4 (saturday), then Pascha would be on April 5.

If the vernal equinox and a full moon coincide on April 3, the paschal calculation disregards it. Making the first full moon fall 28 days later.

Theres something im missing.

#6 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 01:16 PM

There are several artificialities built into the calculations. For example, the calculations assume that the equinox always happens March 21. Sometimes it happens March 20. Perhaps this is one of those cases?

#7 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 01:30 PM

The date of Jewish Passover for 2010 is March 3, from what I've gathered. This is very, very early for Passover (normally it falls in early to mid-April), but it does explain why Orthodox Easter next year will be so early, and coincide with western Easter.


One of our senior priests posted to our lists about this a few months ago.

I'm quite sure the point was that the date of the Jewish Passover that we use for dating Pascha is by this time purely notional.

ie it does not coincide with the actual date of Passover as it is presently computed.

Perhaps if Fr David remembers this post he would recall more details.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#8 Dimitris

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 07:58 PM

So that means, if the wonder of the Holy Light is not working next year it does not necessarily mean the end of world, but maybe simply the Easter date was not calculated correctly.

#9 Timothy Phillips

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 01:02 AM

The date of Jewish Passover for 2010 is March 3, from what I've gathered. This is very, very early for Passover (normally it falls in early to mid-April), but it does explain why Orthodox Easter next year will be so early, and coincide with western Easter.

Nisan 15, 5770 in the Rabbinic calendar corresponded to March 30th, 2010 in the Gregorian calendar, not March 3rd. Approximate Gregorian-calendar limits for 15 Nisan Rabbinic are March 25th to April 25th, though these will change slowly over time.

By my computation, for the Gregorian calendar to have its Easter always in the same lunar month as Rabbinic Matzoth, it would need to have an equinox of March 26th. For the Julian Easter always to fall in the same lunar month as Rabbinic Matzoth, it would need to have an equinox of March 18th Julian, currently equivalent to March 31st Gregorian.

#10 Father Stephanos

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 09:54 PM

Technically speaking, Nomikos Faska refers to the (Old Testament) Law Passover. Its date of occurrence was set by our Holy Fathers using the methods for Passover calculation at the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. We did not and do not consult with post-Biblical Rabbinical authorities to determine when Nomikos Faska occurs. For this reason, Nomikos Faska and the present-day Rabbinical Passover can and do occur on different dates.

Liturgically speaking, we know that our days begin at sunset and end immediately before the sunset of the next day. Nomikos Faska begins at sunset of the day of the first full moon that follows the spring equinox in Alexandria, Egypt. Orthodox Christian Pascha is the first Lord’s Day after the first full moon that follows the spring equinox. Consequently, by definition, Orthodox Christian Pascha always follows Nomikos Faska; they cannot occur on the same day.

To help prevent dilemmas regarding errors of exactness in calculation if the spring equinox and the first full moon were occurring at the same time or within about a second of one another, the Holy Fathers specified that for determining the date of the spring equinox, it is always to occur on March 21 (Patristic Calendar). For this reason, Nomikos Faska cannot be celebrated before March 21, and Pascha cannot be celebrated before March 22.

We do not currently make actual calculations to determine when the astronomical first full moon after the spring equinox occurs each year since a full moon occurs on a regular cycle. The tables that were approved by our Holy Fathers to determine when the full moon occurs regarding the dates for Nomikos Faska and Holy Pascha were also made in Alexandria, and we still use these same tables to this day; just as, we use their holy ecclesiastical calendar.

In 2010, Nomikos Faska occurred on March 21, and Holy and Great Pascha was celebrated on March 22.

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#11 Father Stephanos

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 08:12 AM

Paragraph 3 of my post #10 of this thread should more accurately read:


To help prevent dilemmas regarding errors of exactness in calculation if the spring equinox and the first full moon were occurring at the same time or within about a second of one another, especially at the end or the beginning of a day, the Holy Fathers specified that for determining the date of the spring equinox, it is always to occur on March 21 (Patristic Calendar). For this reason, Nomikos Faska cannot be celebrated before March 21, and Pascha cannot be celebrated before March 22.

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos



#12 Timothy Phillips

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 04:42 AM

Technically speaking, Nomikos Faska refers to the (Old Testament) Law Passover. Its date of occurrence was set by our Holy Fathers using the methods for Passover calculation at the time of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If by "methods for Passover calculation" he means merely the metonic cycle, without any specific details of implementation, then Father Stepanos may be right. If he means the present-day Julian computus, then Father Stephanos is probably wrong. There is no evidence that the priests in Herodian times used the present-day Julian computus to determine the date of passover. One scholar, Otto Neugebauer, thought that the priests may have used a method similar to the Julian computus, but I find his argument unconvincing. My own view is that the least-unlikely possibility is that the priests followed the Babylonian calendar.

What Father Stephanos calls the "nomikos phaska" is also known as the Paschal full moon (PFM). Here is a table of PFMs in both the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Both calendars use a 19-year cycle, and for both Easter is the Sunday after the PFM.


                                Gregorian date 
Year of cycle | Gregorian PFM | of Julian PFM
-------------  --------------  ---------------
1             | April 14      | April 18
2             | April 3       | April 7
3             | March 23      | April 26
4             | April 11      | April 15
5             | March 31      | April 4
6             | April 18      | April 23
7             | April 8       | April 12
8             | March 28      | May 1
9             | April 16      | April 20
10            | April 5       | April 9
11            | March 25      | April 28
12            | April 13      | April 17
13            | April 2       | April 6
14            | March 22      | April 25
15            | April 10      | April 14
16            | March 30      | April 3
17            | April 17      | April 22
18            | April 7       | April 11
19            | March 27      | April 30


The Gregorian PFMs are valid until the end of 2199. The Gregorian-equivalent dates of the Julian PMFs will change after in early 2100.

The PFM is the 14th day of the ecclesiastical lunar month. In other words, it is the 14th day of a Christian Nisan, not of the Rabbinic Nisan, and so constitutes a Christian Passover.

Note that since Jews no longer offer sacrifices (though Samaritans do), the Passover strictly so-called, 14 Nisan, is a fairly low-key observance for them. Hence the word "Passover", in common usage and in our calendars and almanacs, refers to 15 Nisan, the first day of Unleavened Bread, not 14 Nisan.

#13 Father Stephanos

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 05:28 AM

If by "methods for Passover calculation" he means merely the metonic cycle, without any specific details of implementation, then Father Stepanos may be right. If he means the present-day Julian computus, then Father Stephanos is probably wrong. There is no evidence that the priests in Herodian times used the present-day Julian computus to determine the date of passover. One scholar, Otto Neugebauer, thought that the priests may have used a method similar to the Julian computus, but I find his argument unconvincing. My own view is that the least-unlikely possibility is that the priests followed the Babylonian calendar.

What Father Stephanos calls the "nomikos phaska" is also known as the Paschal full moon (PFM). Here is a table of PFMs in both the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Both calendars use a 19-year cycle, and for both Easter is the Sunday after the PFM.


                                Gregorian date 
Year of cycle | Gregorian PFM | of Julian PFM
-------------  --------------  ---------------
1             | April 14      | April 18
2             | April 3       | April 7
3             | March 23      | April 26
4             | April 11      | April 15
5             | March 31      | April 4
6             | April 18      | April 23
7             | April 8       | April 12
8             | March 28      | May 1
9             | April 16      | April 20
10            | April 5       | April 9
11            | March 25      | April 28
12            | April 13      | April 17
13            | April 2       | April 6
14            | March 22      | April 25
15            | April 10      | April 14
16            | March 30      | April 3
17            | April 17      | April 22
18            | April 7       | April 11
19            | March 27      | April 30


The Gregorian PFMs are valid until the end of 2199. The Gregorian-equivalent dates of the Julian PMFs will change after in early 2100.

The PFM is the 14th day of the ecclesiastical lunar month. In other words, it is the 14th day of a Christian Nisan, not of the Rabbinic Nisan, and so constitutes a Christian Passover.

Note that since Jews no longer offer sacrifices (though Samaritans do), the Passover strictly so-called, 14 Nisan, is a fairly low-key observance for them. Hence the word "Passover", in common usage and in our calendars and almanacs, refers to 15 Nisan, the first day of Unleavened Bread, not 14 Nisan.


What I stated in my post is 100% accurate!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#14 Timothy Phillips

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 01:38 AM

What I stated in my post is 100% accurate!


But what do you mean by "the methods for Passover calculation at the time of our Lord Jesus Christ"? Do you mean that the priests in Second Temple times used the present-day Julian cycle of Paschal full moons, so that Passover in Jerusalem was without doubt celebrated in A.D. 19 on April 5th, in A.D. 20 on March 25th, in A.D. 21 on April 13th, and so on? Do you mean that Passover was always at the first full moon after the equinox, never the second? Do you mean only that the equinox never preceded Passover, and nothing beyond that? Do you mean only that the priests used the Metonic cycle? Your words are not clear.

#15 Father Stephanos

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 10:37 AM

But what do you mean by "the methods for Passover calculation at the time of our Lord Jesus Christ"? Do you mean that the priests in Second Temple times used the present-day Julian cycle of Paschal full moons, so that Passover in Jerusalem was without doubt celebrated in A.D. 19 on April 5th, in A.D. 20 on March 25th, in A.D. 21 on April 13th, and so on? Do you mean that Passover was always at the first full moon after the equinox, never the second? Do you mean only that the equinox never preceded Passover, and nothing beyond that? Do you mean only that the priests used the Metonic cycle? Your words are not clear.


Dear Timothy,

After your first question, the answer to all of your questions in post #14 is “no.”

To answer, for the last time, your first question in post #14 and those associated with it, my post was 100% correct and completely clear as to what Nomikos Faska is and how it originated. You might not agree with what our Holy Fathers did, and what we do, and why we do it, but I currently have no time for sophist polemics.

My post was to answer simply the following point and questions in post #1 of this thread:
“I think, the reason is the "νομικόν φάσκα" (nomikon faska), but I didn't find any information, what "nomikon faska" actually means, how it is calculated and how it is related to Passover. Does anyone have further information?”

I replied in post #10:
“Technically speaking, Nomikos Faska refers to the (Old Testament) Law Passover. Its date of occurrence was set by our Holy Fathers using the methods for Passover calculation at the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. We did not and do not consult with post-Biblical Rabbinical authorities to determine when Nomikos Faska occurs. For this reason, Nomikos Faska and the present-day Rabbinical Passover can and do occur on different dates.”

I will use slightly different wording here to try to help you better understand what I stated:
The date of occurrence of Nomikos Faska was determined by our Holy Fathers, who were devout Christians of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. They, using what they knew to be the standards for computing Passover during the lifetime of our Lord Jesus Christ before His glorious Resurrection, determined the dates for Nomikos Faska in the 4th century and onwards. This was done, since after the dispersion of the Jews from Palestine during the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries, the Jewish way of calculating their Passover had deviated from how it was calculated during the lifetime of our Lord Jesus Christ. Nomikos Faska, which is the Orthodox Christian determination of the first day of the Old Testament Law Passover, is termed such, so as to avoid any confusion with the Jewish Passover from the 4th century onwards. For this reason, Nomikos Faska and the present-day Rabbinical Passover can and do occur on different dates. The Nomikos Faska, which some Orthodox Christians colloquially term as the Jewish Passover, always occurs before Holy and Great Pascha!

I hope this helps!

With agape in my Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#16 Timothy Phillips

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 05:41 AM

Dear Fr. Stephanos,

 

Thank you for your reply.  It clarifies for me what your sources are--and what they aren't.

 

My post of paschal full moons ("Lawful Passovers") was also 100% accurate.

 



#17 Timothy Phillips

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 07:39 PM

Here is a web post that repeats some of the errors that have been dealt with in this thread:

 

http://www.orthodoxw...-is-determined/

 

So don't believe everything you see on the internet.  :)



#18 Anthony H.

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 11:09 PM

[A response by Fr. Emmanuel to an e-mail from Mr. Phillips, regarding the link in the prevoius post:]

 

Dear Mr. Phillips,

Thank you for your input and your suggestions. My purpose was to give our faithful a simplified method for calculating the date of Pascha – not to give them a listing of the dates of Pascha, Eastern or Western, which can be readily obtained in many websites and Church books.

As far as your suggestion to disregard the Jewish Passover, we cannot do that because in our tradition we cannot celebrate our Pascha on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox if the Jewish Passover coincides with or comes after that date (whereas Western Christianity does precisely what you suggest, i.e., disregard the Jewish Passover and celebrate their Easter together with it or even prior to it).

It is known that the old method of establishing the Jewish Passover is based on algorithmic calculations with the result that the dates of both our Pascha and the Rabbinical Passover are incorrect. The same is true with the establishment of the vernal equinox and full moon. All these days are fictitious, not actual. What is needed is the establishment of a scientific calendar based on modern astrological calculations.

One thing is certain: regardless of what course of action, if any, will be undertaken by the Orthodox Churches, because of theological considerations the date of our Pascha will always be celebrated after the Jewish Passover.

Sincere regards,
Fr. Emmanuel



#19 Father David Moser

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 11:31 PM

Here is a copy of a message sent by the most senior active priest in our diocese (who, btw, is also quite a scholar).  He explains that the date of Pascha has absolutely nothing to do with actual astronomical equinoxes, full moons or other phenomena - nor does it have any real relationship with the Jewish Passover

 

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the way Orthodox
Pascha is calculated. This has become a frequent topic of discussion
because of how late Orthodox Pascha comes this year.

Many articles give completely incorrect information. For example, the
article at:

http://www.factmonst...ot/easter1.html

is completely in error. It totally reverses the methods of calculating
Pascha in the West and the East, describing the Eastern method as the
Western, and vice versa.

For example, it states:

"The Eastern Church sets the date of Easter according to the actual,
astronomical full moon and the actual equinox as observed along the
meridian of Jerusalem, site of the Crucifixion and Resurrection."

This is absolutely incorrect. The Eastern Church uses a fixed equinox
(March21 which is April 4 on the New Calendar)--which has nothing to do
with the time of the actual astronomical equinox.

The Eastern Church also uses an ecclesiastical full moon which based on
tables created from mathematical formulas, rather than using the time of
the actual astronomical full moon.

This year 2013, the astronomical spring equinox fell on March 20
(Gregorian Calendar).

The first full moon after that fell on March 27 (Gregorian).

If Orthodox Pascha were calculated as being the first Sunday after the
first full moon after the spring equinox, it would have fallen on March
31 (the date of Western Pascha).

Orthodox Pascha instead falls on May 5, 2013, which is not even the
Sunday after the **second** full moon after the spring equinox. (The
second full moon fell on April 25, and the next Sunday after that would
have been April 28).

Why is this?

It is because the Orthodox Church uses Paschal Tables based on
mathematical formulas rather than astronomical events.

And the Paschal Tables are off by 14 days with regard to the spring
equinox (April 4 rather than March 20), and with regard to the Moon, the
cycles are off by five days.

According to the Orthodox Paschal Tables, the Ecclesiastical Full Moon
occurs on April 17 (Old Calendar) which is April 30 in the New Calendar.
The next Sunday after that is May 5-- Pascha Sunday.

This is what should be understood by Orthodox Christians.

The Orthodox Calculation of Pascha:

1) Does NOT depend on the date of the astronomical vernal equinox

2) Does NOT depend on the time of any astronomical full moon

3) Does NOT depend on any Sunday with relation to the vernal equinox or
any full moon

and

4) Does NOT depend on the time of the Jewish Passover.

The calculation of Orthodox Pascha is done independently of any
astronomical calendar, or any cycles of the moon or sun or any Jewish
holiday.

It is found by consulting perpetual Paschal Tables, developed by
astronomers and mathematicians in Alexandria, Egypt, in the fourth
century -- tables which are printed in the Typikon.

In these tables, you look up any year, and it gives you the date of Pascha.

The perpetual cycle length is 532 years. The current cycle started in 1940.

The tables are based on a purely mathematical formula, which has nothing
to do with anything astronomical at all.

It's a formula, just like the calculation used for conversion of Celsius
degrees to Fahrenheit, which, of course, has nothing to do with
equinoxes or full moons or Passovers.

You put the year into the formula, and out comes the date of Pascha for
that year.

Very simple.

So it's pure math -- nothing to do with solar cycles, lunar cycles, or
Jewish Holy Days.

I know that using a table lookup or applying a mathematical formula is
not as exciting as telling people that Pascha is calculated as being on
the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox
after the Jewish Passover, but that's the way it is.

The Church, over 1500 years ago, made a deliberate and conscious
decision to ignore the astronomical data, and established the vernal
equinox to be fixed on March 21 (Old Style), --no matter when the actual
vernal equinox occurs.
The Church also established Moon Cycle tables of its own, which do not
correspond to the current astronomical tables of the cycles of the moon.

Instead, the Church preferred to use perpetual tables, based on a purely
mathematical formula, knowing full well that these calculations would be
astronomically inaccurate.

The time of the Jewish Passover also has nothing to do with the date of
Orthodox Pascha -- in fact, the 1st Ecumenical Council explicitly
forbade Orthodox Christians to calculate Pascha the same way as the Jews
did. Actually, the Jewish Calendar, now also based on perpetual tables
CANNOT calculate a date of Passover that would later than the date the
Orthodox Tables determine Pascha will fall.



#20 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 02:31 PM

Tables, being "calculated" things, can also be recalculated, like when a completely arbitrary and increasingly inaccurate "Equinox" no longer even vaguely represents the astronomical event for which it is named. The Vernal Equinox was chosen to calculate Pascha, no matter how you explain it. The issue becomes which Vernal Equinox to use: a totally arbitrary one, or the real one that God uses.

Math is how we humans try to imperfectly characterize His Creation. God is not bound by any mathmatical formula. Making Pascha obey man's imperfect math does not seem like a very good icon. It is basically saying "we don't care when God makes things happen, we will make them happen when we want to." That just doesn't seem like very good theology. Especially since it continues to violate the spirit of the First Ecumenical Council. Bit of a shame, that.




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