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Philo and the Passover lamb

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  • Kevin O'Brien
    Dear Frank, You wrote: In Philo s statement, he emphasises that every Hebrew is a priest at Passover and, so, can sacrifice the victim. Comment: for the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 7, 2001
      Dear Frank,

      You wrote:

      In Philo's statement, he emphasises that every Hebrew is a priest at Passover and, so, can sacrifice the victim.

      Comment: for the Paschal lamb to be a sacrifice it is necessary for its blood to be poured out on the base of the National Altar in the Inner Court of the Temple; it does not lie in the slaughtering of the lamb by the disciples nor by any Jew nor in its later eating. Still less does it lie in slaughtering the lamb in private houses by Jesus' disciples . You seem to be weakening your seeming Philonic position by admitting: ". while it was customary at Jerusalem to have the priests sacrifice the victims at the temple." That being so, then I repeat what I insisted upon in a previous e-mail, viz. that none of Jesus' disciples would dare set foot on the Temple platform without first carrying out the necessary week long purificatory lustrations required of those not visiting the Temple after a long time, such as might be the case of Galilaeans and/or pilgrims. The penalty for violating this cultic ruling , according to Jewish records, was death and Jesus and they would know it.

      Again you wrote:

      Further, he (Philo) also emphasizes each residence "is invested with the outward semblance and dignity of a temple." Hence, on the 14th of the month, it is the right of any Hebrew to
      sacrifice the victim in a residence. Therefore, this is not a requirement of the Law.

      Comment: Frank, you have given us elaborated perspectives of Philo based not on Passover procedure in the time of Jesus but on the Passover of Egypt 1,280 years previously when the lamb was slaughtered in the Jewish private houses! It is to be noted that the Samaritans at their Passover even today sacrifice their Passover lambs at Mt. Gerizim according to the same order and procedure as in Jesus' time. This is not a battle between what the Mishnah (m. Pesah. 5 passim says and what Philo says; rather it is a matter of correct understanding of what Philo is referring to.

      You wrote:
      The bottom line: It is possible that, Jesus and his disciples believed, the true beginning of the month was a day earlier than reckoned by the Jerusalem Sanheidrin. If so, then Mark is correct in saying that they observed the Passover meal on Thursday evening and John is correct in saying that the official Passover meal was observed on Friday evening.


      There is no way that the Passover lamb as a sacrifice was slaughtered on two consecutive days in the Temple. The well-oiled Temple procedure practiced for centuries was not geared for it. Since private homes slaughtering did not allow it to be a sacrifice, that can forever be dismissed (hopefully)!

      If the Jews of modern times at their Seder do not have a Paschal lamb neither as a sacrifice nor for eating, we can be pretty sure that if it were otherwise, every Passover celebrated by them would be regarded as cultically no different from Temple days and yet they draw the distinction. For one thing: it would largely obviate the yearning of Jews for a new Temple to be built to re-introduce the ancient sacrifices.

      You wrote:

      In this regard, it is significant that, according to Mark 14:12-16, Jesus had two disciples go ahead of the others to make preparations for the Passover meal in an upper room of a residence and, furthermore, the two disciples were led to the residence by a man carrying a pitcher of water. In this scenario, these preparations at that residence would have included the sacrificing of the victiim. Further, the water would have been very useful because the two disciples (if not already ritually pure) would have needed to be ritually cleansed by purificatory lustrations and because they would have needed some water to help clean up the mess after sacrificing the victim.


      Since the lamb's slaughter, preparation etc. was not carried out in private homes, eliminated from all historical consideration is a Passover meal that same night. Eliminated from history is the preceding watercarrier and the water. In regard to the lamb: The only operation conducted in private homes was the lamb's roasting and its eating. In a previous e-mail I think I gave you or the List a sufficient rationale for deleting Mark 14.12-16 par. as a chrono/geographical indicator for a Passover meal. Instead, it is a midrash on 1 Sam 10.1-9 set in the context of Josh 9.21-23.

      You wrote:

      So, as far as I am aware, these three propositions are not necessarily incompatible with each other: (1) Mark is correct in saying that the Last Supper on Thursday night was a Passover meal, (2) John is correct in saying that the official Passover meal was observed on Friday night, and (3) Jesus perfectly obeyed the Law of Moses.


      There are at least ten other alternatives that you haven't yet proposed Frank, all of which are equally found wanting. Will I detail them for you?


      Kevin O'Brien


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