The Earliest Eucharist: Saturday or Sunday?

Paul F. Bradshaw

Abstract

Partially in response to an article by Henk Jan de Jonge, the evidence for the day of the week when the earliest Christians would have held their eucharistic meals is re-examined. It is argued that at least Jewish Christians would have gathered on Saturday evenings, but that other possible indications are ambiguous. The transition to Sunday appears to have begun around the end of the first century in Syria and Asia Minor, but usually to Sunday morning, because of the effect of an imperial edict against evening gatherings. Later evidence from North Africa suggests that evening meals there continued down to the third century, and that the eventual choice of Sunday morning was influenced by the tradition of distributing gifts to the needy at that time.


Sommario

Parzialmente in risposta a un articolo di Henk Jan de Jonge, si riesaminano le prove riguardanti il giorno della settimana in cui i primi cristiani avrebbero tenuto il loro pasto eucaristico. Si sostiene che almeno gli ebrei cristiani si sarebbero radunati il sabato sera ma altre possibili indicazioni sono ambigue. Lo spostamento alla domenica sembra essere iniziato intorno alla fine del primo secolo in Siria e in Asia Minore ma di solito si trattava della domenica mattina, a causa di un editto imperiale contro i raduni serali. Prove successive provenienti dal Nord Africa suggeriscono che i pasti serali continuarono fino al terzo secolo e che l’eventuale scelta della domenica mattina fu influenzata dalla tradizione di distribuire doni ai bisognosi in quel momento della giornata.

Paul F. Bradshaw, Emeritus Professor of Liturgy, University of Notre Dame, USA, a specialist in early Christian worship, has written or edited more than 30 books and over 130 essays or articles. A former president of the North American Academy of Liturgy and of Societas Liturgica, he was also editor-in-chief of Studia Liturgica 1987-2005.

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