Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quartodeciman Controversy

Random quotes on the Quartodeciman Controversy, the first-recorded Easter controversy

Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor and a disciple of the Apostle John, observed Easter or Communion on Nisan 14. After Anicetus became bishop of Rome, Polycarp visited Rome and discussed their differences on this custom (the Sunday following for Anicetus), among other things. According to Irenaeus:

"Anicetus could not persuade Polycarp to forgo the observance [of his Nisan 14 practice] inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of the Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to keep it: Anicetus said that he must hold to the way of the elders before him."

Neither persuaded the other, but it did not cause a schism.

Polycrates (around AD 190) says he followed the tradition as passed down:
"As for us, then, we scrupulously observe the exact day, neither adding nor taking away. For in Asia great luminaries have gone to their rest who will rise again on the day of the coming of the Lord...These all kept the 14th day of the month as the beginning of the Paschal feast, in accordance with the Gospel, in no way deviating therefrom, but following the rule of faith." [Polycrates bishop of Ephesus, to Victor bishop of Rome, as quoted in Eusebius, Church History, 5.24.]

Victor, a later bishop of Rome wanted to impose the "Sunday view" on all the churches, including those in Asia who ended their fast on the 14th.
See, e.g., The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius, by Paul Trebilco, Eerdmans, 2007

Note: Quartodeciman refers to the 14th (day of the month).

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