Brief Interlude: Addressing Adam’s Critiques

In a recent comment, Adam said, “I beg to differ with you on this. The “very early tradition” was what we would call Saturday night worship, not Sunday worship. The Sunday morning worship services were from the influences of the worshippers of the Sun god (Sunday — Day of the Sun God).”

For those unfamiliar with this line of reasoning, there is a revisionist history in some circles that says:
1. Sunday worship was a late tradition.
2. Constantine worshipped the sun and made Sunday the day of worship.
3. Sunday worship is therefore pagan.

All I can say is check the historical sources and don’t believe something just because I, or Adam, says so. The Didache, written about 125 C.E, indicates that Sunday worship was already by that early date the norm in Asia Minor. The Didache calls it the Lord’s Day, the same term used in Revelation, published in Asia Minor also and only about 3o years prior. Constantine wasn’t until the 300’s. Also, the days of the week got their names considerably later, and most of our names for days of the week come from German mythology, not Roman.

Yes, Acts 20 does indicate that in some places meetings were held on Saturday night (havdallah). But one example does not make the rule.

Then Adam said:

I beg to differ with you again! Most people think the commandments for Shabbat are exclusively found in the Ten Commandments, and so miss:

Leviticus 23:3
‘For six days work may be done , but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a ***holy convocation***. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.

The word translated as “convocation” is “miqra,” which means a sacred assembly for reading and worship.

This translation of MIQRA is terribly mistaken. I cite as my source Jacob Milgrom, the dean of Leviticus scholars. As a religious Jew, he would be quick to agree with Adam’s definition if there was any evidence. No, MIQRA means proclamation and Leviticus 23:3 speaks of the priests proclaiming the new moons and the festivals from the temple.

This is vital to know: there were no synagogues in ancient Israel. The synagogue began in Babylon when there was no more temple to worship at. People did not come each week to the temple. That would be impossible even in a small country like Israel. There was no weekly worship service until the Babylonian captivity and even then it did not become widespread until the second temple was destroyed in 70 C.E.

Therefore, Adam’s interpretation of Leviticus 23:3 is dead wrong.

To summarize then:
1. Early non-Jewish Yeshua-followers chose Sunday very early on as their day of worship and it is a beautiful tradition.
2. Saturday is a day of rest biblically and only in tradition is it a day of worship.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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2 Responses to Brief Interlude: Addressing Adam’s Critiques

  1. I found your blog tag surfing. I have spent the last couple of hours reading this thread. Now I have to rush to put some dinner on. :(

    I don’t disagree with your argument at all. However, I do think that the Didache was probably written earlier then 125 BC. This spring I read the writings of the early church fathers with a friend who is Orthodox. The Didache was one of our assigned readings. So was Justin Martyr’s Apology. If the Didache had been written in the 2nd century, the writer would have been a contemporary of Martyr’s. After reading these two documents, I wouldn’t think that is true. The authors seem to be from different cultures, different times and worshiping in two different styles. The Didache has none of the Greek and Roman philosophical undertones that I found in the second century writings. I think the Didache was written in the first century.

    Justin Martyr in his Apology also clearly identifies Sunday as the day of worship, “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.” The Apology is dated more than 200 years before Constantine.

    I have enjoyed this thread so far and commend you for hosting a congenial discussion of a rather controversial topic ~ Blessings

  2. This is very interesting. If true, it would totally change our interpretation of the following Scriptures:

    Ex 12:16: ‘And on the first day you shall have a holy convocation (miqra), and another holy convocation (miqra) on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.

    Le 23:2 “Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, ‘The Lord’s appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations (miqra) — My appointed times are these:

    (This is throughout Leviticus 23 — implying no service is required on ANY FESTIVAL!!!)

    Nu 10:2 “Make yourself two trumpets of silver, of hammered work you shall make them; and you shall use them for summoning (miqra) the congregation and for having the camps set out.

    (So, they were PROCLAIMING the congregation?)

    Nu 28:18 ‘On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work.

    (This is throughout Numbers 28 & 29 — implying no service is required on ANY FESTIVAL!!!)

    Isa 1:13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies (miqra) — I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
    Isa 4:5 then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies (miqra) a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.

    I think this is similar to the whole “virgin” thing in Isaiah 7:14. While the literal translation of “almah” means “a young woman,” it implies “virgin,” and in all the definitive uses, they were all virgins. While “miqra” might indeed mean “proclamation” it IMPLIES convocation, since making a proclamation with no one present is foolish, it is obviously a calling together of people, and it is certainly used to describe convocations, services, unless you think such DID NOT OCCUR on the festivals.

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