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6. The three great national festivals were the Passover, the Pentecost, and the Tabernacles. The Passover took place at that full moon which occurred at the vernal equinox, or first after it, or to the extent perhaps of two or three days before it: the Pentecost occurred seven weeks after the Passover: the Tabernacles on the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the Jewish year;-the year commencing at the new moon before the Passover. Besides these, there was another considerable festival, the Feast of Dedication, held near the end of the ninth month, in commemoration of the purification of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus: but this was in no way obligatory; and as it usually occurred in December, it is not likely that it would be frequented by the inhabitants of Galilee. Compare Matt. xxiv. 20.

The Passover, the Pentecost, and the Tabernacles, were of divine appointment. The Passover, or Feast of Unleavened Bread, was designed to commemorate the preservation of the Israelites from the destruction which overwhelmed the first-born of the Egyptians; and at this, the first-fruits of the barley-harvest were offered. At the Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, the first-fruits of the wheat-harvest were offered; and it became, by the event, the commemoration of the giving of the Law. The Tabernacles occurred in that part of the year, when the produce of the fields and vineyards had been gathered in: it was appointed in commemoration of the abode of the Israelites in the Desert, and the divine protection during it; but with it was connected a thanksgiving for the blessings of the year; and some of the ceremonies in the later times appear to have had a peculiar reference to the expectation of the Messiah. This festival was observed with great solemnity, connected with extravagant festivity and rejoicing.

At each of these three festivals, every adult Jew, at least if dwelling in the land, was under an imperative obligation to attend. The divine command is very express. Exod. xxiii. 14. Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord thy God.' And again in ch. xxxiv. 23. 'Thrice in the year shall all your men-children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel.' So also in Deut. xvi. 16. Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose; in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Tabernacles.'

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7. In investigating the preliminary question-What was the Duration of our Lord's Ministry ?-it is requisite to leave out of view, in the first instance, all inferences deducible only from particular arrangements of the facts of the Gospels, or from calculations founded upon them; and to confine ourselves to the information which we derive from the Gospels alone. If such can be found that establishes any system, all other facts, correctly

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ascertained, will prove capable of satisfactory reference to it: nevertheless, if we find the facts of the Gospels, when fairly considered in detail, inconsistent with that system, we must, for the same reason, retrace our steps, and try some other hypothesis.

8. No inferences from expressions capable of a satisfactory explanation upon any other hypothesis, can be admitted as proof of that for which they are adduced nevertheless, by the accumulation of such inferences, legitimately drawn, the presumption in favour of it may be greatly


Agreeably to this principle, we should do wrong to rest, as some of the Ancients did, upon the prophetical expression, 'The acceptable YEAR of the Lord', in proof of the bipaschal system; because, if it really denote a definite period of time, it may well mean the remarkable year of our Lord's Preaching in Galilee, whether or not this were the first year of his Ministry. In like manner, no decisive inference for the quadripaschal system can be justly derived from the parable of the Barren Fig-Tree, (p. 140), in which the Master says, 'Three years I come seeking fruit and finding none': for, (1) The nature of parabolic language forbids us to strain expressions of this kind too closely; (2) If we interpret the expression as referring to the years of Christ's Ministry, the following words, 'Let it alone this year also', best agree with the opinion of Sir Isaac Newton, Macknight, &c., that it included five Passovers; (3) On the bipaschal theory, it is capable of a perfectly close reference to the three national festivals at which our Lord had already visited Jerusalem and wrought miracles there, the fourth being the approaching Passover, when the Jews decided their doom by rejecting and crucifying him: those festivals were THEIR fruit-seasons.

SECT. IV. On the Quadripaschal Hypothesis-that the Ministry of Christ included Four Passovers.

In the last paragraph of the preceding Section, sufficient notice has been taken of the only expression which can be considered as intimating the length of our Lord's Ministry: and though it is sometimes adduced in support of the quadripaschal system, it is obvious that it yields no proof of it. It deserves further to be observed, that it is recorded by St. Luke alone, who, though very particular in his notes of time in relation to the commencement of the Baptist's Ministry, gives no reason (see Sect. iii. 2) to suppose that, in the period between that epoch and the Crucifixion of Christ, there were more than one Passover.

There is no other expression which appears capable of presenting any direct evidence in favour of the quadripaschal system.

Taking the Gospels alone as our guide, the opinion that our Lord's Ministry lasted above three years, so as to include four Passovers, depends upon the two following positions conjointly: 1. That the Feast, in John v. 1, at which the miracle was wrought at the Pool of Bethesda, was a Passover; and, 2. That the Passover spoken of, John vi. 4, as approaching when the miracle of the Five Thousand was wrought, occurred the year before that at which our Lord was crucified.

The second of these arguments it has in common with the only form in which the tripaschal system is now held, though not, there is reason to think, so held in the ancient times, (see Sect ii. 4); and this argument will be considered in the following Sections.

The first position may possibly be the fact; but it cannot be admitted to prove the quadripaschal hypothesis, when the belief that it is the fact has no other solid support than the hypothesis which it is adduced to prove. The presumption is strongly against it. For, (1) Coming as it does after a Passover, with no more events intervening than might well have occurred before the ensuing Pentecost, it may reasonably be regarded as the Pentecost, unless some strong reason to the contrary could be shown; and, (2) The absence of the definite article in ch. v. 1, 'After this there was a feast of the Jews, where we find ην ἑορτη, not ην ἡ ἑορτη, is almost conclusive against the supposition that it was a Passover.

With respect to the first point, no necessity occurs for regarding the festival in John v. 1 as the Passover, except what arises from the hypothesis itself. Suppose it were an established fact that our Lord's ministry included four Passovers, then it might have been allowable-for the purpose of expanding the records over as large a space as possible, in order to make those records accord with the supposed fact,-to represent the festival in the fifth of John as a second Passover. Nevertheless, the Ancients, as it appears universally, (not excepting those in the fourth century who adopted the quadripaschal system), ascribed the events following the Imprisonment of John to the year which preceded the only Passover that is recorded by the first three Evangelists; and those, consequently, who regarded the festival in the fifth of John as a Passover, must have placed it before that



With respect to the second reason-the absence of the article before Eoprn, feast, this really seems next to decisive on the subject; and the need of the article if the festival were the Passover, is the probable cause of the introduction of it in MSS. which were copied under the influence of the opinion, (which became prevalent after the fourth century), that

there were four Passovers in the Ministry of Christ.-" Josephus, "I believe," says Mr. Benson, "as well as the sacred writers, always distinguishes the Paschal from the other feasts by the use of the definite "article."*


It may, however, be requisite to advert to what has been regarded as an intimation of time, and as best suiting the supposition that the festival in the fifth of John was a Passover. When the men of Sychar were coming out to our Lord, in consequence of the report of the Samaritan woman, our Lord said to his disciples, John iv. 35, Say not ye, There are yet four months and then cometh harvest?' It has been hence inferred that this was four months before harvest time, viz. at the end of the year, or very early in the spring,-the wheat-harvest usually being in May. Mr. Benson has entered fully into the consideration of this passage; and he thinks (p. 247) that our Lord's assertion which follows the above-Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest'-" has much more the appearance of being derived from "the contemplation of the actual face of the country, as it was then spread "before him, than the one before mentioned, and would almost seem to "determine the period at which it was made to have been in the midst of "the harvest, instead of four months before it." It does not appear necessary to suppose that the period was "in the midst of harvest"; or even, as Mr. Benson afterwards says, (see the foregoing note), when the fields were "ripe and ready for the reapers' labours." It is sufficient for

See Chronology of our Saviour's Life, p. 252, to which work, (p. 249–254) the reader may be referred for a judicious and conclusive defence of the received reading, without the article, and also of the position above stated in relation to the interpretation of it.

"Certainly," continues this judicious critic, "it is to be allowed that in these words "our Saviour's principal reference was to the spiritual harvest which his disciples might "gather into the garner of their Lord from the ready-minded and believing Samaritans; "but it is also equally natural to suppose that our Saviour was led to the use of this “peculiar metaphor by the existing appearances of Nature around him, which, through"out his Ministry, were the general source of his language and instruction. Now had "this incident occurred four months before the harvest, that is in the middle of Winter, "the desolation of the surrounding scene could scarcely have recalled to his mind the "beauties and the riches of the fields, ripe and ready for the reapers' labours. Such an "allusion would have surely been unnatural at such a season, and therefore contrary to "the simplicity of our Lord, who seldom strayed to a distance for his illustrations, but "drew them in the fulness of his wisdom from the most appropriate and immediate "objects which presented themselves to his view, knowing that by this means he would "render himself most intelligible to his hearers, and produce the deepest impression “both upon their hearts and memories.”—I have quoted the passage as capable of extensive application to our Saviour's mode of teaching.

the application of his just remarks, if the grain were ripening for harvest. The contrast appears best maintained thus: The usual four months from seed time have not elapsed; and the corn around is not yet ready for the reaper; but, from the seed which I have only just now sown, the harvest is already arrived; the fields-presenting numerous companies coming from the city-are already white for harvest. See Harm. p. 32.-It cannot be denied that the passage will bear the interpretation given to it by those who are of opinion that the festival in the fifth of John was a Passover; but it in no way proves that opinion; for the interpretation rests upon the opinion, and not the opinion upon the interpretation.*

There is, then, no adequate proof that the festival in the fifth of John was a Passover; nor, consequently, any adequate proof, from the Gospels alone, that there were four Passovers in the Ministry of Christ.

There are, however, two arguments of a different nature, on which much stress is sometimes laid by the advocates of the quadripaschal hypothesis, and which must be noticed. The first is that by which Eusebius supported the hypothesis, derived from Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, ch. ix. 24-27. In the 27th verse the Prophet says, 'He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.' The midst of the week (of years) is supposed by those who rest on this argument, to refer to the period of our Lord's death; and to imply that his Ministry had previously lasted three years and a half. If the fact had been previously established, this reference might not have been altogether inadmissible: but it is not allowable to explain a prophecy by a fact which rests upon that prophecy for the evidence of its reality.+-Dr. Priestley and Mr. Wintle interpret

Mr. Greswell adopts the same view with Mr. Benson, referring the visit at Sychar to May, while Newcome places it in the winter months. See Greswell's Diss. VOL. II. p. 209-215.

† Dr. Stonard, in his Dissertation on the Seventy Weeks of Daniel, regards the week as commencing with the baptism of our Lord, which he places in the autumn of the year 27, and terminating in 34, which he considers as the time of the conversion of St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles. He reckons the period of Seventy weeks backward from the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70, which brings to the close of the Old Testament Canon; and regards the first period of seven weeks as preceding the Seventy. His view as to the Seventy Weeks is very striking; but since our Lord so distinctly declared that no one knew the exact time when his prediction respecting Jerusalem would be fulfilled, I cannot think that this could have been the object of so definite a prophecy. On the whole, I prefer the opinion of Prideaux respecting the commencement of the 490 years, viz. from the commission of Ezra, B. C. 458. The seven weeks from this, brings us to the accomplishment of Nehemiah's; and the sixty-two weeks onward, after

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