What are the basic theological motivations advanced by the early Fathers to justify both the choice and the observance of Sunday? Were they developed out of Biblical-apostolic teachings or were they elicited by the existing need to silence opposition coming from Sabbath-keepers? Do the early theological explanations reflect an organic and positive view of Sunday observance or theological uncertainty and polemic? These are questions we shall bear in mind while surveying the theological reasons adduced by the Fathers to justify Sunday worship. Such an analysis hopefully will enable us to test the validity of the conclusions emerging from our study.
The major motives for Sunday observance which appear in the early patristic literature perhaps can be best grouped around three basic headings: Resurrection, Creation and Symbology of the Eighth Day. We shall examine them in this order, bearing in mind that the theological reflections are not static but dynamic, evolving in the course of time.
In chapter 3 we already showed that no indication can be found in the apostolic period of efforts made to institute a weekly or yearly commemoration of the resurrection on Sunday. Nevertheless it is a fact that the resurrection did become the dominant reason for Sunday observance. Augustine (A.D. 354-430) perhaps provides the most explicit enunciation of the resurrection as the reason for the origin of Sunday, when he writes, "The Lord’s day was not declared to the Jews but to the Christians by the resurrection of the Lord and from that event its festivity had its origin." (1) In another epistle the Bishop of Hippo similarly states that "the Lord’s day has been preferred to the Sabbath by the faith of the resurrection." (2) This concise and explicit recognition of the resurrection as the cause of the origin of Sunday observance represents the culmination of long theological reflection.
What did the early church teach AFTER Jesus' resurrection?
Early in the second century the resurrection is not presented as the first or the sole motivation for Sunday observance. Ignatius, we have found, alludes to Christ’s resurrection in his Epistle to the Magnesians, when speaking of the "divine prophets who lived according to Jesus Christ" (8:2). He says that they "attained a new hope, no longer sabbatizing but living according to the Lord’s life, on [or by] which also our life rose up through his death" (9:1). The probative value of the resurrection for Sunday observance is rather negligible in this text, both because the reference to the resurrection of Christ is indirect and because we have shown earlier that Ignatius is not contrasting days but rather ways of life. (3)
In the Epistle of Barnabas (ca. A.D. 135) we found that the resurrection is mentioned by the author as the second of two reasons, important but not dominant. The first reason, which we shall consider subsequently, is eschatological in nature. Sunday, which he designates as the "eighth day," is the prolongation of the Sabbath of the end of time and marks "the beginning of another world" (15:8). The second reason is that Sunday is the day "on which Jesus also (en ha kai) rose from the dead, and having shown himself ascended to heaven" (15:9). The resurrection of Jesus is presented here as an additional justification, presumably because it was not yet viewed as the primary reason for Sunday observance. (4)
In Justin Martyr (ca. A.D. 150) the situation is strikingly similar. Like Barnabas he displays a profound antagonism toward Judaism and the Sabbath. In I Apology Justin, like Barnabas, presents the resurrection as the second of two reasons:
"Sunday, indeed, is the day on which we all hold our common assembly because it is the first day on which God, transforming the darkness and [prime] matter, created the world; and our Saviour Jesus Christ arose from the dead on the same day." (5)
For Justin "the primary motivation for the observance of Sunday," as W. Rordorf admits, "is to commemorate the first day of the creation of the world and only secondarily, in addition, the resurrection of Jesus." (6) It is noteworthy that both Barnabas and Justin who lived at the very time when Sunday worship was rising, present the resurrection as a secondary motivation for Sunday keeping, apparently because initially this was not yet viewed as the fundamental reason. Nevertheless, the resurrection of Christ did emerge as the primary reason for the observance of Sunday. Several liturgical practices were in fact introduced to honor its memory specifically. The Lord’s supper, for instance, writes Cyprian (d. ca. A.D. 258), "though partaken by Christ in the evening.., we celebrate it in the morning on account of the resurrection of the Lord." (7) Similarly, "fasting and kneeling in worship on the Lord’s day," according to Tertullian (ca. A.D. 160-225), were regarded as unlawful." (8) Though he gives no explicit reason for these practices, (9) (undoubtedly well understood by his contemporaries) other Fathers clearly explain that these were designed to aid in remembering Christ’s resurrection. Augustine (A.D. 354-430) for instance, explicitly states that on Sunday "fasting is interrupted and we pray standing, because it is a sign of the resurrection." (10)
It appears therefore that initially Christ’s resurrection was not felt to be the exclusive or the preponderant justification for Sunday worship, but it did emerge rather early as the dominant reason which inspired several liturgical practices. (11) We need, then, to recognize and evaluate the role played by other theological motives as well.
The commemoration of the anniversary of the creation of the world is a justification often adduced by the Fathers for observing Sunday. We noticed above that Justin Martyr in his I Apology 67 presents this as the primary reason for the Christian Sunday gathering:
"Sunday, indeed, is the day on which we hold our common assembly because it is the first day on which God, transforming darkness and prime matter, created the world."
What is the FASCINATING history of Earth's creation?
In our previous discussion of this passage, we concluded that Justin’s allusion to the creation of light on the first day seems to have been suggested by its analogy with the day of the Sun. The statement, however, indicates that even the inauguration of creation on the first day per se was viewed as a valid justification for the Christian weekly gathering. F. A. Regan points out that Justin’s creation motif found in chapter sixty-seven is "evolved from the opening lines of chapter fifty-nine where he unfolds the simple account of the original creation of light and the world." (12) The beginning of creation on the first day of the week is associated by Justin with the resurrection of Christ, apparently because both events occurred on the same day and could be symbolically linked together as rep. resenting the beginning of the old and of the new creation.
Justin’s effort to establish a nexus between creation and resurrection was not an isolated attempt. We noticed earlier the testimonies of Eusebius and Jerome where the two events are explicitly linked together. (13) Ambrose (ca. A.D. 339-397), Bishop of Milan, also echoes this teaching in a hymn of praise to Sunday where he says: "On the first day the blessed Trinity created the world or rather the resurgent Redeemer who conquered death, liberated us." (14) This link between creation and resurrection is found even more explicitly in a sermon of Eusebius of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 500):
"The holy day of Sunday is the commemoration of the Lord. It is called Lord’s (kuriake) because it is the Lord (kurios) of all days. ... It was on this day that the Lord established the foundation of the creation of the world and on the same day He gave to the world the first-fruits of the resurrection.... This day is therefore for us the source of all benefits; the beginning (αρχη) of the creation of the world, the beginning of the resurrection, the beginning of the week. Since this day contains three beginnings, it prefigures the principle of the Trinity." (15)
Additional patristic testimonies could be cited where the inauguration of creation on the first day is presented and defended as a valid justification for the observance of Sunday. (16) This view raises an important question: Why would Christians claim that Sunday commemorated creation, when in the Old Testament and in Jewish thinking this was regarded as an exclusive prerogative of the Sabbath? That this was well understood by early Christians is exemplified by the clear differentiation made between creation and resurrection by those who observed both Saturday and Sunday. In the Apostolic Constitutions (ca. A.D. 380), for instance, Christians are enjoined to keep the Sabbath and the Lord’s day festival:
"The Sabbath on account of creation, and the Lord’s day of the resurrection." (17)
Was perhaps the transference of the commemoration of creation from the Sabbath to Sunday a calculated attempt to deprive the Sabbath of its theological raison d’être? Was the creation motive attributed to Sunday in order to silence Sabbath-keepers who were defending the superiority of the Sabbath on account of its commemoration of the completion of creation? The echo of this controversy reverberates in several testimonies. In the Syriac Didascalia (ca. A.D. 250), for instance, the terms of the dispute are most explicit:
"Cease therefore, beloved brethren, you who from among the people have believed, yet desire still to be tied with bonds, and say that the Sabbath is prior to the first day of the week because the Scripture has said: ‘In six days did God make all things; and on the seventh day he finished all his works, and he sanctified it.
’We ask you now, which is first, Alaf or Tau? For that (day) which is the greater is that which is the beginning of the world, even as the Lord our Saviour said to Moses: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (18)
The issue of the controversy is precise. Jewish converts, some at least, were claiming superiority for the seventh day Sabbath on the ground that the day symbolized the completion of creation. Sunday-keepers, on the other hand, refuted such an argument by arguing that Sunday is superior to the Sabbath inasmuch as being the first day it commemorates the anniversary of creation. This reasoning appears again, though in a more refined theological form, in the treatise On the Sabbath and Circumcision, found among the works of Athanasius (ca. A.D. 296-373), but probably spurious. The author, rather than arguing for the superiority of Sunday by means of the dualism, anniversary versus completion of creation, presents the two days as symbols of two successive creations:
"The Sabbath was the end of the first creation, the Lord’s day was the beginning of the second in which He renewed and restored the old. In the same way as He prescribed that they should formerly observe the Sabbath as a memorial of the end of the first things, so we honor the Lord’s day as being the memorial of the new creation. Indeed, He did not create another one, but He renewed the old and completed what He had begun to do." (19)
Sabbath and Sunday are curiously contrasted here as symbols of the old and new creation. The superiority of Sunday is established by virtue of the nature of the "second creation which has no end," contrary to the first creation commemorated by the Sabbath which "has ended" with Christ. Moreover, since the new creation "renewed and restored the old one," it incorporated the Sabbath and its meaning. By this clever, yet artificial, theological construction, the Sabbath is made a temporary institution "given to the former people [i.e. the Jews], so that they would know the end and the beginning of creation." (20)
This notion of the Sabbath, as announcer of the end of the first and the beginning of the second creation, is totally foreign to the Scriptures. To claim, for instance, that God by resting on the Sabbath "from all His works wishes to say by this that His works need the completion that He Himself has come to bring," (21) is to misconstrue the actual meaning of the divine otiositas —rest. In the creation story God’s Sabbath rest symbolizes specifically the completion and perfection of creation. (22) What caused some Christians to devise such an artificial and unscriptural doctrine of two successive creations? In the light of the existing polemic, reported by documents such as the Didascalia, it would seem that this clever apologetic argument was evoked by the necessity to refute the Sabbath-keepers’claim of the superiority of the Sabbath as memorial of creation. (23)
In the ongoing polemic, the symbology of the first day apparently provided an effective instrument to defend the new day of worship from the attacks of both pagans and Sabbath keeping Christians. To the pagans, Christians could explain that on the day of the Sun they did not venerate the Sun god but rather they celebrated the creation of the light and the rise of the Sun of Righteousness, events which occurred on the first day. To Sabbath-keepers they could show that the first day is superior to the seventh, because the day commemorated the beginning of creation, the anniversary of the new creation and the generation of Christ. These were by no means the sole arguments advanced to justify Sunday observance. The symbology of the eighth day provided another valuable arsenal of apologetic techniques to defend the superiority of Sunday over the Sabbath. These we shall consider now in order to gain additional information on the motivations for the adoption of Sunday.
The Eighth Day
The speculations on the meaning of the first day have already made us aware of how important numerical symbolism was for early Christians. This type of symbolism, alien to modern thought, provided early Christian preachers and theologians with practical and yet profound argumentations that captivated much of the thinking of Christian antiquity. Since the Sabbath was the seventh day of the Jewish week, Sunday could be considered, as stated by Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D. 329-389), as "the first day with reference to those that followed and as the eighth day with regard to those that preceded." (24) The latter designation for Sunday, as we shall discover, was employed far more frequently than the former in the Christian literature of the first five centuries.
What do numbers such as 3, 7, 8, 9 and others represent in the Bible?
The irrationality of an eighth day in a seven day week did not seem to bother the ancients. An explanation is suggested by the prevailing custom, still common in countries like Italy, to reckon a week by counting inclusively from any given day to the same day of the following week. For instance, an Italian will often set an appointment on a Sunday for the following Sunday not by saying, "I will meet you a week from today," but rather "oggi otto—eight days today" since both Sundays are counted. By the same principle the Romans called their eight-day marked cycle "nundinum-ninth day." That this method of inclusive reckoning was used by Christians is indicated by several patristic testimonies. Tertullian (ca. A.D. 160-ca. 225), for instance, writes that pagans celebrated the same festival only once a year, but Christians "every eighth day," meaning every Sunday. (25)
The fact that Sunday could be viewed as the eighth day "with reference to those preceding" (26) does not explain why such a name became so popular a designation for Sunday until about the fifth century. The task of tracing its origin is not an easy one, because, as A. Quacquarelli observes, "the octave [i.e., the eighth] provided the Fathers with material for continuous new reflections." (27)
W. Rordorf proposes that "Sunday came to be associated with the number eight because baptism was administered on Sunday and we know that baptism was early connected with the symbolism associated with the number eight." (28) While it is true that baptism came to be regarded as the fulfillment of the typology of the eighth day of the circumcision and of the eight souls saved from the waters of the flood, this connection, however, is not common in the writings of the Fathers before the fourth century. Eusebius (d. ca. A.D. 340), to our knowledge, is the first to explain explicitly that
"the ogdoad is the Lord’s day of the resurrection of the Saviour when we believe that the cleansing of all our sins took place. It was on that day that children were symbolically circumcised, but that in reality the whole soul which is born of God is purified by baptism." (29)
This theme of the baptismal resurrection, built on the typology of the circumcision and of the story of the flood, occurs again in the fourth century in several texts (30) and it gave rise to the octagonal shape of Christian fonts and baptistries. "At this moment," however, as J. Daniélou points out, "we are very far from its relationship to Sunday." (31) In earlier texts the eighth day of the circumcision and the eight persons saved from the flood are regarded primarily as a prefiguration of the resurrection of Christ on Sunday. Justin Martyr (ca. A.D. 100-ca. 165), for instance, interprets the eight persons of the ark as "symbol of the eighth day, wherein Christ appeared when He rose from the dead, for ever the first in power." (32) Cyprian (c. A.D. 258) flatly rejects the suggestion that children should be baptized on the eighth day in accord with the ancient custom of the circumcision, because, he maintains, "the eighth day, that is to say, the first after the Sabbath, was to be that day on which the Lord would resurrect and vivify us and give to us the spiritual circumcision. " (33) Origen (ca. A.D. 185 - ca. 254) similarly views the eighth day as the symbol of the resurrection of Christ which provided an immediate and global circumcision, namely the baptismal purification of the world. He writes,
"Before the arrival of the eighth day of the Lord Jesus Christ the whole world was impure and uncircumcised. But when the eighth day of the resurrection came, immediately we were cleansed, buried, and raised by the circumcision of Christ." (34)
How BIG was Noah's Ark?
Does the Bible APPROVE of Infant Baptisms?
In these texts the circumcision is not associated with Sunday baptismal ceremony, but rather with the event itself of the resurrection, to which is attributed cleansing power. Moreover, baptism was not administered in the primitive ‘Church exclusively on Sunday. Tertullian (ca. A.D. 160-ca. 225) in his treatise On Baptism, while he recommended Passover and Pentecost as the most suitable times for baptism, also admits that "every day is the Lord’s, every hour, every time is apt for baptism." (35)
More plausible appears the explanation that the "eighth day" became a designation for Sunday as a result of prevailing chiliastic-eschatological speculation on the seven day creation week, sometimes called "cosmic week." In contemporary Jewish apocalyptic literature the duration of the world was commonly subdivided into seven periods (or millennia) of which the seventh generally represented paradise restored. (36) At the end of the seventh period would dawn the eternal new aeon which, though not so designated, could readily be viewed as "the eighth day," since it was the continuation of the seventh.
These speculations were common in Christian circles as well. (37) In the Slavonic Secrets of Enoch, for instance (an apocryphonof the Old Testament interpolated by Jewish Christians toward the end of the first century) we find not only the seven day millennia scheme, (38) but also the first explicit designation of the new aeon as "the eighth day":
"And I appointed the eighth day also, that the eighth day should be the first created after my work and that the first seven should revolve in the form of seven thousand, and that at the beginning of the eighth thousand there should be a time of no-counting, endless, with neither years nor months nor weeks nor days nor hours." (39)
This eschatological symbol of the eighth day as a type of the new eternal world apparently appealed to those Christians who were trying to break away from the Sabbath, since it provided them with a weighty argument to justify their choice and observance of Sunday. In The Epistle of Barnabas (ca. A.D. 135) we find the first instance of this usage. Here the teaching of the Book of Enoch concerning the cosmic week followed by the eighth day is polemically employed to repudiate the Sabbath and to justify Sunday observance. " (40) Barnabas interprets the six days of creation as meaning "that in six thousand years the Lord will bring all things to an end, for a day with him means a thousand years" (15:4). The seventh day, he explains, represents the return of Christ that will put an end to the reign "of the lawless one and judge the ungodly and change the sun and moon and stars, then he will rest well on the seventh day" (15:5). Therefore, he argues, the sanctification of the Sabbath is impossible at the present time, but it will be accomplished in that future age (seventh millennium) "when there is no more disobedience, but all things have been made new by the Lord" (15:6-7). Barnabas then closes making a renewed attempt to disqualify the observance of the Sabbath for the present age and to present instead the "eighth day" as a valid substitution:
"Further he says to them, "Your new moons and Sabbaths I cannot endure." You see what he means: it is not the present Sabbaths that are acceptable to me, but the one that I have made, on which having brought everything to rest, I will make the beginning of an eighth day, that is, the beginning of another world. This is why we also observe the eighth day with rejoicing, on which Jesus also rose from the dead, and having shown himself ascended to heaven." (41)
This cosmic-eschatological symbolism of the eighth day employed by Barnabas to justify the observance of Sunday is constantly reiterated and elaborated by numerous Fathers. This bespeaks a widespread tradition that speculated on the duration of the world by means of the cosmic week. The existence of such speculation could readily have encouraged the choice of the "eighth day" because as symbol of eternity it not only provided a valid justification for Sunday observance, but, in the polemic against Sabbath-keepers, offered also an effective apologetic argument. (42) In fact, as symbol of the eternal new world, the eighth day far surpassed the seventh day which symbolized the kingdom of one thousand years in this transitory world.
Continuation of Sabbath
Some scholars suggest that Sunday was denominated "eighth day" because it originated as a continuation of the Sabbath services which extended into Sunday time. (43) According to Jewish reckoning, the first day of the week began on Saturday evening at sunset. Any worship conducted at that time could readily have been regarded as a continuation of the Sabbath services. Christians who gathered for worship on Saturday night could then have coined the denomination "eighth day," to signify that their worship was the prolongation of that of the Sabbath. Barnabas suggests this possibility. We noticed that he defends the eighth day more as a continuation of the eschatological Sabbath than as a commemoration of the resurrection. The irrationality is striking since Barnabas justifies the observance of the eighth day by the very same eschatological reasons advanced previously to abrogate the Sabbath. This effort does suggest however that the "eighth day" (as implied by the number) was viewed at that time not as a substitution but as an addition to the Sabbath. Note that Barnabas says, "This is why we also (dio kai) observe the eighth day." The adjunctive "also" presupposes that the Sabbath still enjoyed recognition, in spite of the prevailing efforts to invalidate it. (44) It is possible, therefore, that Sunday was initially denominated "eighth day" because, as J. Daniélou realistically explains, the Judaeo-Christians
"who celebrated the Sabbath, the seventh day, as the rest of the Jews, after the Sabbath, they prolonged the Jewish liturgy with the specifically Christian eucharistic cult. This was regarded by the Christian community as the continuation of the Sabbath, that is of the seventh day. It was therefore only natural that they should consider it as eighth day, even though in the calendar it continued to be the first day of the week. And the feelings which Christians had to succeed to Judaism, of which the Sabbath was a symbol, must have contributed to confirm this impression." (45)
(1) Augustine, Epistula 55, 23, 1, CSEL 34, 194.
(2) Augustine, Epistula 36, 12, 14, CSEL 34, 4.
(3) The passage is discussed above pp. 213f.
(4) In Barnabas, the material cause of the origin of Sunday is the exigency to break with Judaism (see above pp. 218f.) of which the Sabbath was a chief stronghold. The formal cause, on the other hand, is the fact that the eighth day represents eschatologically the beginning of the new world and in the present age it commemorates the risen Christ. The resurrection is not viewed as the first cause but as the second of two reasons.
(5) Justin, I Apology 67, 5-7, Falls, Justin’s Writings, pp. 106-107. These are not the only motivations, since we noticed that in his polemic with Jews and Jewish Christians Justin argues for Sunday observance on the basis of the eighth day of the circumcision and of the eight persons saved from the flood; see above pp. 230-232.
(6) W. Rordorf, Sunday, p. 220.
(7) Cyprian, Epistola 63, 15, CSEL 3, 2, 714; Jerome, Commentarius in epistola ad Galatos 4, 10, PL 26, 404-405, extends the symbol of the resurrection to the daily celebration of the Eucharist as well.
(8) Tertullian, De corona 3, 4, ANF III, p. 94.
(9) The reason is suggested by Tertullian in his treatise On Prayer 23, ANE III, p, 689 where he admonishes to stand for prayer on "the day of the Lord’s Resurrection" and "in the period of Pentecost" because both festivities were distinguished "by the same solemnity of exultation."
(10) Augustine, Epistola 55, 28, CSEL 34, 202; cf. Epistola 36, 2, CSEL 34, 32; the same reason is given by Hilary of Poitiers, Praefatio in Psal mum 12, PL 9, 239; Basil, lie Spiritu Sanctu 27, 66, SC p. 236 explains that the standing position during the Sunday service helps to remember the resurrection. However, he comments that the origin of the custom is veiled in mystery; cf. Apostolic Constitutions 2,59, ANF VII, p. 423: "We pray thrice on Sunday standing in memory of Him who arose in three days."
(11) The fact that in the mind of many Fathers Easter Sunday and weekly Sunday were regarded as one basic festival commemorating at different times the same event of the resurrection (see above pp. 204f.) suggests the possibility that both of these originated contemporaneously, possibly in the early part of the second century in Rome (see above pp. 198f.).
(12) F. A. Regan, Dies Dominica, p. 86.
(13) See above p. 262.
(14) M. Britt, The Hymns of the Roman Breviary and Missal, 1948, p. 91; Britt attributes the hymn to Pope Gregory the Great while J. Daniélou to Ambrose (Bible and Liturgy, p. 249).
(15) Eusebius of Alexandria, De die Dominico, PA 86, 416.
(16) See, for instance, Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 44 In novam Dominicam, PG 36, 612: "As the first creation began on the Lord’s Day (this is clearly indicated by the fact that the Sabbath falls seven days later, being repose from work), so the second creation began on the same day"; Dionysius of Alexandria, Analecta sacra spicilegio solesmensi 4, ed. J. B. Pitra, 1883, p. 421: "God Himself has instituted Sunday the first day both of creation and also of resurrection: on the day of creation He separated light from darkness and on the day of the resurrection He divided belief from unbelief"; the author known as the Ambrosiaster, Liber quaestionum veteris et novi testamenti 95, 2, CSEL 50, 167, proposes a variation on the same theme: "In fact the world was created on Sunday and since it fell after creation, again it was restored on Sunday......In the same day He both resurrected and created.
(17) Apostolic Constitutions 8, 33, 1, ANF VII, p. 495; cf. ibid. 7, 36, 1, ANF VII, p. 474: "O Lord Almighty, Thou has created the world by Christ, and has appointed the Sabbath in memory thereof, because that on that day Thou hast made us rest from our works, for the meditation upon Thy laws"; Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians 9 (longer version), ANF I, p. 62: "But let every one keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in the meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship or the works of creation of God."
(18) Syriac Didascalia 26, ed. Connolly, p. 233; other interesting arguments are submitted to prove the superiority of Sunday over the Sabbath. For instance, the author argues that when the first day Sunday was made, "the seventh day was yet unknown. ... Which is greater, that which had come into being, and existed, or that which was yet unknown, and of which there was no expectation that it should come to be?" Another argument is drawn from the priority enjoyed by the firstborn in the paternal blessings: "Are your last children blessed, or the firstborn? As the Scripture also saith: Jacob shall be blessed among the firstborn"; the author then argues for the superiority of Sunday by quoting Barnabas 6:13: "Behold, I make the first things as the last and the last as the first" and Matthew 20:16: "The last shall be first, and the first last"; he concludes by referring to the contention that Sunday as the "ogdoad [i. e. eighth day] ... is more than the Sabbath" (Connolly, pp. 234-236). The variety and bizarre nature of these arguments is indicative of an ongoing polemic between Sabbath and Sunday-keepers, as well as of an effort put forth by both sides to defend the superiority of their respective day of worship.
(19) Athanasius, lie sabbatis et circumcisione 4, PG 28, 138 BC.
(20) Loc. cit.
(22) J. Daniélou, "Le Dimanche comme huitième jour," Le Dimanche, Lex Orandi 39, 1965, p. 62: "In the Old Testament... the Seventh Day is the expression of perfection"; Niels-Erik A. Andreasen, The Old Testament Sabbath SBL Diss. Series 7, 1972, p. 196: "We must remind ourselves that it is not the rest (cessation from work) which concludes creation, but it is the concluded creation which occasions both rest and the Sabbath"; on the seventh day as symbol of totality, completion and perfection, see Nicola Negretti, Il Settimo Giorno, Analecta Biblica 55, 1973, pp. 44-45, 57-58.
(23) Another interesting variation of the creation argument is the interpretation of the first day, not as the anniversary of the creation of the world but of the generation of Christ. This idea appears in Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 150-ca. 215) for whom "the seventh day, by banishing evils, prepares the primordial day, our true rest." This first day of creation is allegorically interpreted as "the Word illuminating hidden things," since on that day "He who is the light was brought forth first of all" (Stromateis 6, 16, GCS 2, 501-502); Eusebius elaborates this concept by explaining that on the first day only light was created, since "there was no other creation that would befit the Word" (Commentaria in Psalmos, PG 23, 1173-1176). This concept of the generation of the Word on the first day, which most Christians today would reject as subordinationism, must be regarded as another ingenious attempt to devise a viable theological justification for the observance of the Sabbath.
(24) Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 44 In novam Dominicam, PG 36, 612C - 613A.
(25) Tertullian, On Idolatry 14, ANF III, p. 70; Syriac Didascalia 26, Connolly, p. 236: "But the Sabbath itself is counted even unto the Sabbath, and it becomes eight [days]; thus an ogdoad is [reached], which is more than the Sabbath, even the first of the week"; it is not clear how the eighth day could be applied to Sunday, when the number is derived by counting from Sabbath to Sabbath; see below p. 290; Justin, Dialogue 41, ANE I, p. 215: "For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle"; cf. Dialogue 138.
(26) See footnote 24.
(27) A. Ouacquarelli, L’Ogdoade Cristiana e i suoi riflessi nella liturgia e nei monumenti, 1973, p. 45.
(28) W. Rordorf, Sunday, p. 277. In the New Testament a typological relationship is established between the circumcision and baptism, but there are no allusions to the significance of the eighth day per se; see Colossians 2:11-13; cf. O. Cullmann, Baptism in the New Testament, 1950, pp. 56ff.
(29) Eusebius, Commentaria in Psalmos 6, PG 23, 120A.
(30) Ambrose, Expositia Psalmi 118, 2:1-3, CSEL 62. 4f., teaches that the eighth day of the circumcision is the symbol of baptism, the spiritual circumcision inaugurated at the first Easter; cf. also De Abraham 2, 11,79, CSEL 32, 631; Gregory of Nyssa, De octava, PA 44, 608-609; Athanasius, lie sabbatis et circumcisione, PG 28, 140C-141B; Chrysostom, De circumcisione, PA 50, 867D.
(31) J. Daniélou (footnote 22) p. 88.
(32) Justin, Dialogue 128, ANE 1, p. 268; cf. Dialogue 41, ANF 1, p. 215: "The command of circumcision, again, bidding them always to circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath"; cf. Dialogue 23.
(33) Cyprian, Carthaginense Concilium sub Cypriano tertium 3,3, 1. PL 3, 1053; cf. Epistola 64 CSEL 3, 719.
(34) Origen, Selecta in Psalmos 118, PG 12, 1588.
(35) Tertullian, On Baptism 19, ANE 111, p. 678.
(36) W. Rordorf, Sunday, pp. 48-51, provides a concise summary and an illustrative chart of the prevailing eschatological interpretations of the cosmic week found in late Jewish apocalyptic literature. The eschatological Sabbath, usually viewed as a seventh millennium which would follow the present age (measured in six millennia) was interpreted according to three basic variants: (1) paradise restored, (2) an empty time of silence which would follow the Messianic age and precede the new age and (3) an interim period of the Messiah which marks the anticipation of the new world. These divergent interpretations are indicative of the keen interest in late Judaism and in New Testament times, for eschatological-chiliastic problems. F. A. Regan, Dies Dominica, p. 212, comments in this regard: "The Judaic preoccupations with the millennium ... gained a wide following during the New Testament era and the centuries immediately preceding it. The coming of the Messianic age, the so-called ‘days of the Messiah’ with its transition between ‘this world’ and ‘that world to come’ as well as the ‘end of days’ were terms that dotted the vocabulary of the age"; cf. J. L. McKenzie, "The Jewish World in New Testament Times," A Catholic Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, 1953, ed. 738t.; J. Bonsirven, Judaisme Palestinien au temps de Jesus Christ, 1935, pp. 341f.
(37) In the Oriental tradition, as we shall see, the Biblical week was usually interpreted as representing the whole duration of the world in contrast to the eighth day of eternity. In the Western tradition, however, the cosmic week was interpreted historically as representing succession of specific time periods; cf. Irenaeus, Adversus haereses 5, 28, 3; 5, 33, 2; Hippolytus, In Danielein commentarius 4, 23-24; Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem 4, 39; De anima 37, 4; see J. Daniélou, "La typologie mill6nariste de Ia semaine dans le christianisme primitif," Vigiliae christianae, (1948):1-16.
(38) See. J. Quasten, Patrology, 1950, 1, p. 109. The prevailing interpretation of the millennium as a thousand years reign of Christ and of His saints upon the earth, was based upon a misinterpretation of Revelation 20:lf. It was believed that "during this time, intervening before the final end of the world, there would be a superabundance of spiritual peace and harmony ... It can be easily seen how such a theory would fit into a formulation of a Christian world-day-week" (F. A. Regan, Dies Dominica, p. 214).
(39) "Enoch 33:7, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, ed. R. H. Charles, 1913, 11, p. 451. This millenarian interpretation of the week possibly derived from another apocryphal work, the Book of Jubilees. Mario Erbetta comments on this regard: "From the fact that Adam did not attain to the age of one thousand years, Jubilees 4:30 concludes that the prophecy of Genesis 2:17 ("In the day that you eat of it you shall die") was effectively fulfilled. It is clear that such way of reasoning must have led, already before the Christian era, to suppose that one day of the world was equivalent to one thousand years. The transition to a world week of 7000 years: 6000 from creation to judg,xnent and 1000 of rest, did not require much acumen" (Oh Apocrifi del Nuovo Testamento, 1969, III, p. 31, footnote 67); cf. F. A. Regan, Dies Dominica, p. 215; P. Prigent, Les Testimonia dans le christianisme primitif. L’Èpître de Barnabe I-XVI et ses sources, 1961, pp. 65-71, argues for the presence of the notion of the eighth day already in Jewish apocalyptic.
(40) F. A. Regan, Dies Dominica, p. 215: "The dependency of the author of the Epistle of Barnabas is also quite evident. In the fifteenth chapter, verse four of this work we have an exposition of II Enoch 32:2-33."
(41) Epistle of Barnabas 15:8-9, trans. Edgar J. Goodspeed, The Apostolic Fathers, 1950, p. 41.
(42) Since Jewish Christians belonged to those Jewish apocalyptic circles (see J. Daniélou, footnote 22, p. 71) who attributed great importance to calendric speculations, it is easy to understand why in the controversy between Sabbath-keepers and Sunday-keepers, the latter capitalized on the eschatological value of the eighth day, inasmuch as being a symbol of the eternal new world, Sunday could devaluate the meaning and role of the Sabbath.
(43) J. Daniélou (footnote 22), p. 70; the passage is quoted below, see footnote 45; Jean Gaillard, "Le Dimanche jour sacré" Cahiers de la vie spirituelle 76, 1947, p. 524: "Initially Sunday was a Christian complement of the Sabbath, without any thought of supplanting the traditional sacred day of the Jews"; H. Riesenfeld, "Sabbat et jour du Seigneur," New Testament Essays. Studies in Memory of T. W. Manson, 1958, pp. 210-217, suggests that initially Christians assembled for worship on Saturday evening and later the meeting was shifted to Sunday morning; cf. H. Leclerq, "Dimanche," DACL, col. 1523; C. F. D. Moule, Worship in dig New Testament, 1961, p. 16. It is possible that Saturday evening was reckoned as Sunday time not only by the Jews but by Christians as well. Augustine, for instance, referring to the vigil of Easter Sunday, explicitly states: "Then in the evening as the Sabbath was over, began the night which belongs to the beginning of the Lord’s day, since the Lord consecrated it by the glory of the resurrection. Therefore we celebrate now the solemn memory of that night which belongs to the beginning of the Lord’s day" (S. Guelf. 5, 4, Miscellanea Augustiniana I, p. 460; cf. Epistola 36, 28, CSEL 34, 57). C. S. Mosna, Storia della domenica, pp. 46, 59, observes that Sabbath evening was "a favorable time" for a Christian gathering, since it followed the rest of the Sabbath and Christians at that time were free to meet.
(44) C. S. Mosna, Storia della domenica, p. 26, perceives in this "the effort which Judaeo-Christians were making to justify their worship"; see above p. 222 for a discussion of the passage.
(45) J. Daniélou (footnote 22), p. 70.