*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 25th of October 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
It is a mailbag Monday and I wanted to get to a few emails from listeners who had questions that I thought I could put together in a kind of rapid-fire show. Thanks to Jordan, Mary, Dale, and Eric. Let’s go
Jordan asked a question about the dating of Easter. We talked about the Gregorian calendar the other day on the show and mentioned how important it was for Christians to have the same calendar for observing feasts together. Since 325 and the Council of Nicea celebrating Easter on the same date had been paramount. The question was whether to have it tied to Passover and the Jewish Lunar calendar or to make it a different kind of moveable feast. A moveable feast is one that can occur on different dates, but the goal is that it always stays in the same season. With calendar slippage you wouldn’t want Easter- a celebration of rebirth to take place in the icy cold of winter. And unlike Christmas which moves from day to day every year, Easter is always on Sunday. Here is how it is calculated:
“Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox…the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21. resulting in that Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25.”
Mary asked the question that I actually suggested a few months back regarding Study Bibles. Alright- first, the Bible was not meant to be solely read alone. And one of the ways we read the Bible in a community is to read with Christians throughout time and space. Early manuscripts would often include “gloss” which is little notes between the lines of a text to explain or clarify. When Bibles were too expensive to own your own you would hear a pastor or church leader read and then discuss. Of course, we still do these things today. We also have commentaries on scripture which work as an extended gloss. But one wrinkle from the Protestant Reformation was the inclusion of extended gloss and commentary in the text of Scripture itself. And these “study bibles” as we call them can be very useful. But also…. If you teach that scripture is all-sufficient and clear it seems strange to say “yeah, but we need to make sure it’s clear in the way we mean it”. I don’t mean to be snarky. In an age where Bible reading is almost always an individual act, it can be helpful for the necessary conversation that should take place around difficult texts. Don’t throw away your study Bible- just get a second or third, too. And then maybe try a non Study Bible version and see what that does.
And then lastly, Dale asked the question about the Perpetual Virginity of Mary and he actually asked this question back in the Summer and it waited in the stack until now.
The problem with calling James the brother of Jesus is that many- especially Roman Catholics have held to the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary- that is, she gave birth miraculously to Jesus and then never again. The text itself doesn’t take you there but church tradition does. With the rise of Monasticism and asceticism in the 4th and 5th centuries, the virtue of chastity became a call for abstinence and those who were never married took a higher place in the celestial realm. So if Mary wasn’t a virgin she would be lesser than those who were celibate and that can’t happen if the elevation of Mary and her supremacy (to all but Christ) is an important doctrine.
As always- firstname.lastname@example.org or the other ways people connect with people.
The last word for today comes from Acts 3:
17 “Brothers and sisters, I know you acted in ignorance. So did your rulers. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he foretold through all the prophets: that his Christ would suffer. 19 Change your hearts and lives! Turn back to God so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then the Lord will provide a season of relief from the distress of this age and he will send Jesus, whom he handpicked to be your Christ.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 25th of October 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man who still uses his EXTREME YOUTH STUDY BIBLE FOR BOYS. He is Christoper Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man still waiting for a Modified EXTREME STUDY BIBLE FOR MIDDLE-AGED MEN, Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.