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Paschal Controversies


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Disputes on how to settle the date of Easter. (1) Whether Easter should be observed on a fixed day of the lunar month (14 Nisan) or on the following Sunday. See Quartodecimanism. (2) Divergences in the different methods of determining the ‘Paschal Moon’ used by the Antiochenes (who accepted the Jewish reckoning) and the Alexandrians, who used an independent reckoning; the first Council of Nicaea (325) decided in favour of the latter. (3) Differences between the Roman and Alexandrian methods of computation through the use of divergent ‘paschal cycles’ in the 4th and 5th cents. The Metonic 19-year cycle used at Alexandria was formally adopted in the W. by Dionysius Exiguus (525). (4) The Celtic Churches had their own method of computing Easter; this was a matter of dispute after the arrival of St Augustine's mission. The Roman practice was accepted for Northumbria by the Synod of Whitby (664) and subsequently through the whole of England.

(1) Whether Easter should be observed on a fixed day of the lunar month (14 Nisan) or on the following Sunday. See Quartodecimanism. (2) Divergences in the different methods of determining the ‘Paschal Moon’ used by the Antiochenes (who accepted the Jewish reckoning) and the Alexandrians, who used an independent reckoning; the first Council of Nicaea (325) decided in favour of the latter. (3) Differences between the Roman and Alexandrian methods of computation through the use of divergent ‘paschal cycles’ in the 4th and 5th cents. The Metonic 19-year cycle used at Alexandria was formally adopted in the W. by Dionysius Exiguus (525). (4) The Celtic Churches had their own method of computing Easter;

With the introduction of the Gregorian calendar (1582), Easter was again observed on divergent dates in different parts of Christendom. The Orthodox Churches, even though most of them have adopted the Gregorian calendar for fixed feasts, still calculate Easter according to the Julian calendar, and, as their calculation of the Paschal full moon is five days later than the astronomical full moon, their Easter sometimes coincides with the W. date, but is often one, four, or five weeks later.

Subjects: Christianity.


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