Archive E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

Zanchi on Festivals (3)

Zanchi continues his comparison of gentile, Christian, and Jewish festivals, drawing on Festus for what he has to say about the gentiles. 

Christians festivals are like those of the gentiles in some respects, but not in others. For instance, Zanchi does not believe that “games” (ludi, a term that included all kinds of spectacle in ancient Rome, from athletics, to theater, to gladiatorial competitions) are appropriate for Christian feasts. Rather, Christians have their own “games,” which consists of the duties of piety toward God and one’s neighbor.

On Feasts (continued)

For feast days were, for the gentiles, days on which it was appropriate for them, having set aside the business of the forum and of civic life, to celebrate (as Festus says) sacrifices, games, and solemn banquets; to be occupied with sacred matters; and to abstain from profane words. That is how Festus describes gentile festivals. But games are not appropriate for us Christians on feast days. Our “games” ought to be sacred songs, readings from the Divine Word, visits to the sick, consolations for the afflicted, provisions for the poor, and things of a like nature. For although we ought to do these things every day, nevertheless, because we are hindered by other duties, we often are unable to. For that reason, certain days have been instituted for sacred exercises, which we call “festivals.” It will therefore be right that the church of Christ have particular days on which it can both serve God with external rites and, at the same time, promote well-being of one’s neighbor–just as the church of Israel, too, had, although the church does not have the same ones, nor is it bound by the same obligation as Israel was.1

  1. The translation is my own.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.