Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Harmony of the Gospels: The Four Passovers of John

7. That interval divided by Passovers. Four Passovers are elicited out of John. Scaliger’s opinion of a fifth is refuted.



Concerning this whole matter, we judge: Just as Thucydides[1] formerly described the Peloponnesian War by summers and winters, so also in this slightly more obscure matter certain intervals are to be assumed, by which that whole time from Christ’s baptism to His resurrection might be able clearly to be delimited. Now, we judge that that interval is rightly divided by Passovers. But, how many Passovers passed from the baptism of John unto the ascension of Christ, is able to be gathered out of Saint John best of all, who appears to have carefully indicated those. Now, he makes mention of four Passovers, no more. The First is expressly noted in John 2:13, 23, where, with the Passover at hand, Christ is said to have gone up to Jerusalem, and, while He was there during Passover, many are said to have believed in Him. The Second is in John 5:1, where it is called a ἑορτὴ/feast of the Jews, for which Christ went up to Jerusalem. That it was not Pentecost, as Chrysostom, Cyril, and Epiphanius think, but the Passover, is not only acknowledged by Irenæus, but is also gathered out of John 4:35, in which Christ says, οὐχ ὑμεῖς λέγετε, ὅτι ἔτι τετράμηνόν ἐστι, καὶ ὁ θερισμὸς ἔρχεται, Do ye not say, that there are yet four months, and then the harvest comes? Therefore, these things were spoken about the month Tevet, corresponding to December. After which time, the nearest feast was none other than Passover. For, in Palestine the barley harvest was accustomed to begin immediately after Passover, and the wheat harvest to end before Pentecost. Indeed, on the second day of Passover, bundles of ears, the harvest of firstfruits, had to be brought, as it is gathered out of Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:10; Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:9. The Third Passover in John 6:4 is indicated by these words, ἦν δὲ ἐγγὺς τὸ πάσχα, ἡ ἑορτὴ τῶν Ἰουδαίων, and the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was nigh. Following upon which is the Fourth and final, τὸ σταυρώσιμον καὶ σωτήριον, pertaining to the crucifixion and salvation, on which the true Lamb was sacrificed for us, John 11:55, 56; 12:1, 2, etc.; 13:1. But, a fifth Passover, between the second and the third enumerated by us, out of Matthew 12:1; Mark 2:23; Luke 6:1, where mention is made of Jesus walking through the ripe grain fields ἐν Σαββάτῳ δευτεροπρώτῳ, on the second-first Sabbath, which Scaliger and others attempt to elicit, does not appear solid. For that δευτερόπρωτον/second-first Sabbath either was preceded by the Passover, or was immediately followed by it; the Passover, of which mention is made in John 5:1, and which we constituted the second, either preceded that δευτερόπρωτον/second-first Sabbath, or immediately followed it. No manner of distinction appears.

[1] Thucydides (c. 460-c. 400 BC) was a Greek historian, author of the History of the Peloponnesian War.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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