Discourses against Judaizing Christians

By Saint John Chrysostom; Paul W. Harkins | Go to book overview

DISCOURSE III

Against those who keep the first Paschal Fast1

ONCE AGAIN A NECESSARY and pressing need [861] has interrupted the sequence of my recent discourses. 2 I must put aside my struggles with the heretics for today and turn my attention to this necessary business. For I was ready to address your loving assembly again on the glory of the only-begotten Son of God. But the untimely obstinacy of those who wish to keep the first paschal fast 3 forces me to devote my entire instruction to their cure. For the good shepherd does more than drive away the wolves; he also is most diligent in caring

____________________
1
Quasten 3.452 says that this Discourse deals with those who held their Easter with the Jews on the 14th of Nisan, the so-called Protopaschites. The thrust of the work is more against the contentiousness of this group, which may have been a closely knit portion of the larger body of Judaizing Christians. Nowhere in the Discourse do we find evidence of a pre-Passover fast by the Jews; those who followed the Jewish calendar, however, to fix the date of Easter might find their lenten fast extending beyond the feast of the Resurrection.
2
Again the series De incomp. is interrupted, perhaps after the second, third, or fourth homily against the Anomoeans. See Disc. 1.1.1-6 and Montfaucon's Monitum (PG 48.840).
3
Chrysostom is not referring to Quartodecimanism but to a lenten fast preceding Easter which the Quartodecimans (who waned in the 3rd century) celebrated on the Jewish Passover. Cf. J. Ford, "Quartodeciman," NCE 12.13. During the first three centuries the period in preparation for Easter did not exceed two weeks. A forty-day period is first mentioned in Canon 5 of the Council of Nicaea (325) but not in connection with fasting. See C. Hefele, Histoire des Conciles 1.1 549; W. O'Shea, "Lent," NCE 8.634-36; E. Vacandard, "Carême," DACL 2.2.2139-58.

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