Barnabas’ first theological motivation for the observance of Sunday is eschatological. The eighth day (i.e. Sunday) is to be spent rejoicing because it represents “the beginning of another world” (The Epistle of Barnabas 15, 8). Justin’s first reason for the Christians’ Sunday assembly is the commemoration of the inauguration of creation: “because it is the first day on which God, transforming the darkness and prime matter, created the world” (I Apology 67).


The rabbinic sources speak abundantly of the restrictions imposed during Hadrian’s reign, which is commonly referred to in the Talmud as “the age of persecution—shemad—,” or “the age of the edict—gezerah” (cf. Shabbath 60a; S. Krauss, “Barkokba,” Jewish Encyclopedia, 1907, 11, p. 509). The following quotation is a sample of statements often found in the Talmud regarding Hadrian’s anti-Jewish policies: “The Government of Rome had issued a decree that they should not study the Torah and that they should not circumcise their sons and that they should profane the Sabbath” (Rosh Hashanah 19a in The Babylonian Talmud, trans. I. Epstein [London: The Soncino Press, 1938] XIII, 78).


According to Tacitus, Nero “fastened the guilt [of arson] and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abomination, called Christians by the populace” (Annales 15, 44).



Summa Theologica, Q. 122 Art. 4, (New York: Benzinger Brothers, Inc., 1947) II: 1702.


C. S. Mosna, for instance, states categorically: “Therefore we can conclude with certainty that the event of the resurrection has determined the choice of Sunday as the day of worship of the first Christian community. … We can conclude without doubt that Sunday was born in the primitive community of Jerusalem before that in the Pauline communities” (Storia della domenica, 44, 53; cf., 15, 20, 25, 27, 51, 77, 88); cf. Pacifico Massi, La Domenica, 43; J. Danielou, Bible and Liturgy, 242, 243, 222; W. Rordorf, Sunday, 215–237; Paul K. Jewett, Lord’s Day, 57, 64–67; J. Nedbal, “Sabbat und Sonntag im Neuen Testament” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Vienna, 1956) 170f.; Francis A. Regan, Dies Dominica, 191; H. Dumaine, “Dimanche,” DACL IV, col. 892f.


Rordorf, Sunday, 218; cf. Mosna, Storia della Domenica, 53.


Cf. Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, John 20:19; Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:2. Harold Riesenfeld aptly remarks that “the first day of the week, in the writings of the New Testament, is never called ‘Day of the Resurrection.’ This is a term which made its appearance later” (“Sabbat et Jour du Seigneur,” in A. J. B. Higgins, ed., New Testament Essays: Studies in Memory of T. W. Manson [Manchester: University Press, 1959] 212).


The Epistle of Barnabas 15; Justin, I Apology 67.


Danielou, Bible and Liturgy, 243.


For a concise survey of those works (such as Hegesippus, The Protoevangelium of James, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the History of Joseph the Carpenter, the Gospel of Thomas, the divers Apocalypses of James and Clementine Recognitions and Homilies) confirming the Jewish imprint of the Jerusalem Church, see B. Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision (Jerusalem: Imprimerie des P. P. Franciscains, 1971) 70–78.


Christ’s admonition “Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20), provides, as stated by E. Lohse, another “example of the keeping of the Sabbath by Jewish Christians.” (“Sabbator,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdman Publishing Company, 1971] VII, 29).


This hypothesis is advanced, for instance, by Regan, Dies Dominica, 18.


For an analysis of the objections to the migration to Pella, see M. Simon, “La migration a Pella. Legende ou realite.” in Judeo-christianisme, ed. Joseph Moingt (Paris: Recherches de science, 1972) 37–54.


Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica 3, 27, 3; cf. 4, 5, 2–11; Epiphanius, Adversus haereses 70, 10, PG 42, 355–356.


M. Simon, “La migration a Pella. Legend ou realite,” Judeo-Christianisme, ed. Joseph Moingt (Paris: Recherches de science, 1972) 48. The same view is shared by J. Danielou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity (London: Longman and Todd, 1964) 56; cf. Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, 31–35.


Epiphanius explains that those Jewish-Christians who fled from Jerusalem became known as the sect of the Nazarenes who “fulfill till now Jewish rites as the circumcision, the Sabbath and others” (Adversus haereses 29, 7, PG 42, 407).


An excellent survey of the Christian anti-Jewish literature of the second century is provided by F. Blanchetiere, “Aux sources de l’anti-judaisme chretien,” Revue d’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuse 53 (1973) 353–398.


For the second century nothing is known of the Jerusalem Church with the exception of a few uncertain names of bishops, cf. Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica 5, 12.


cf. Romans 1:13–15. The predominance of Gentile members and their conflict with the Jews, resulted, as well stated by Leonard Goppelt, in “a chasm between the Church and the Synagogue … unknown in the Eastern churches” (Les Origines de l’Eglise [Paris: Payot, 1961] 203).


Dialogue with Trypho 23, 3; cf. 29, 3; 16, 1; 21, 1.


Pope Innocent I (A.D. 402–417) in his famous decretal established that on the Sabbath “one should not absolutely celebrate the sacraments” (Ad Decentium, Epist. 25, 4, 7, PL 20, 550); Sozomen (ca. A.D. 440) reports that no religious assemblies were held on the Sabbath in Rome or at Alexandria (Historia ecclesiastica 7, 19); cf. Socrates, Historia ecclesiastica 5, 22.


S. R. E. Humbert, Adversus Graecorum calumnias 6, PL 143, 933.


Victorinus (ca. A.D. 304), De fabrica mundi 5, CSEL 49, 5.


The connection between the two is clearly established by several Fathers, see Tertullian, On Fasting 14; Augustine, Epistle to Casulanus 36, 34; cf. Rordorf, Sunday, 143.


The Didascalia Apostolorum (ca. A.D. 250) enjoins Christians to fast on Easter-Friday and Saturday “on account of the disobedience of our brethren [i.e., the Jews] … because thereon the people killed themselves in crucifying our Savior” (14, 19, trans. H. Connolly [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929], 190); cf. Apostolic Constitutions 5, 18.


For a list of patristic testimonies treating the two feasts as being basically the same, see From Sabbath to Sunday, 204–205.


Eusebius’ account of the Easter controversy is found in his Historia ecclesiastica 5, 23–24.


Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica 5, 24, 14.


Epiphanius, Adversus haereses 70, 9, PG 42, 355–356.


J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, 4 vols. (London: Macmillan Company, 1885) 11, part I:88. Some scholars rightly label Easter-Sunday as “Roman Easter,” see Mosna, Storia della domenica 117, 119, 333; also Mario Righetti, L’Anno liturgico, manuale di storia liturgica, 4 vols. (Milan: Ancora 1969) 11:245–246.


Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3, 18–19, NPNF 2nd, I:524–525 (emphasis supplied).


See From Sabbath to Sunday, 204–205.


Irenaeus, Adversus haereses 3, 3, 1.


The Cult of Sol Invictus (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972) 26. The study is part of the series on Oriental Religions in the Roman Empire edited by the greatest living authority on the subject, M. J. Vermaseren.


A concise survey of the influence of astrological beliefs on early Christianity is provided by Jack Lindsay, Origin of Astrology (London: Muller, 1972) 373–400.


For examples of literary application of the motif of the sun to Christ, see From Sabbath to Sunday, 253–254.


That primitive Christians prayed toward Jerusalem is evidenced by the Judeo-Christian sect of the Ebionites, who according to Irenaeus, “prayed toward Jerusalem as if it were the house of God” (Adversus haereses 1, 26). For references on the eastward orientation, see for instance, Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7, 7, 43; Origen De oratione 32; Apostolic Constitutions 2, 57, 2 and 14; Hippolytus, De Antichristo 59.


That the day of Saturn was originally the first day of the week is clearly evidenced by the Indices Nundinarii and by the mural inscriptions found in Pompeii and Herculaneum where the days of the week are given horizontally starting with the day of Saturn. For a source collection see: A. Degrassi, Inscriptiones Italiae (Rome Libreria Dello Stato, 1963) XIII 49, 52, 53, 55, 56.


In die dominica Paschae homilia CCL 78, 550, 1, 52; the same in Justin Martyr, I Apology 67; Eusebius, Commentaria in Psalmos 91, PG 23, 1169–1172; Maximus of Turin, Homilia 61, PL 57, 371; Augustine, Sermo 226, PL 38, 1099.


In his Commentary on Psalm 91, Eusebius (ca. A.D. 260–340) writes: “It is on this day [Sunday] of the creation of the world that God said: ‘Let there be light and there was light.’ It is also on this day that the Sun of Justice has risen for our souls” (PG 23, 1169–1172). In his Life of Constantine, Eusebius states explicitly that “the Savior’s day … derives its name from light, and from the sun” (NPNF 2nd, I, p. 544). Maximus of Turin (d. ca. A.D. 400–423) views the day of the sun as a proleptic announcement of the resurrection of Christ: “This is why the same day was called day of the Sun by the pagans, because the Sun of Justice once risen would have illuminated it” (Homilia 61, PL 57, 371).