Pope Notes Hypothesis on Date of Passover

Says Christ Likely Followed Essene Calendar

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- It is likely that Jesus followed the calendar of the Essenes of Qumran, possibly explaining some contradictions within the Gospel accounts of the Passover, says Benedict XVI.



The Pope made this observation Holy Thursday in his homily during the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

In his address, the theologian commented on the historical investigations on the manuscripts of Qumran, found in the Dead Sea in 1947.

"In the narrations of the Evangelists, there is an apparent contradiction between the Gospel of John, on one hand, and what, on the other hand, Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us," said Benedict XVI.

The Pope continued: "According to John, Jesus died on the cross precisely at the moment in which, in the temple, the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. His death and the sacrifice of the lambs coincided.

"This means that he died on the eve of Passover, and that, therefore, he could not have personally celebrated the paschal supper, at least this is what it would seem."

The Holy Father said that according to an interpretation of the texts, "still not accepted by all," Jesus "celebrated Passover with his disciples probably according to the calendar of Qumran, that is to say, at least one day earlier -- he celebrated without a lamb, like the Qumran community who did not recognize the Temple of Herod and was waiting for a new temple."

Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, former rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome, explained that in Jesus' time the calendar of the Essenes was more traditional that the one more recently adopted by the priests of Jerusalem. He said that this doesn't signify that Jesus formed part of the Essenes.

The new lamb

Benedict XVI, however, said that it does imply that Jesus "celebrated Passover without a lamb, no, not without a lamb: Instead of the lamb he gave himself, his body and his blood."

The Pope continued: "And he himself was the true temple, the living temple, the one in which God lives, in which we can find ourselves with God and adore him.

"His blood, the love of he who is at the same time Son of God and true man, one of us, this blood has the power to save. His love, this love in which he gives himself freely for us, is what saves us."

Benedict XVI urged those present to "ask the Lord to help us to understand ever more deeply this marvelous mystery, and to love it more and more."

The Pope added: "And within it, to love him more and more. Let us ask him to attract us more and more to him with holy Communion.

"Let us ask him to help us not to keep our lives for ourselves, but to surrender them to him, and in this way, to work with him so that all people find life, the authentic life that can only come from he who is the way, the truth and the life."