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

Zanchi on Festivals (4)

Today we move onto the second quaestio, now that Zanchi has established that festivals, as a matter of natural law, are appropriate not only for the church of the Old Testament, but also of the New Testament. That second question is: which ones?

In answering the question, Zanchi makes a very important distinction, viz., that there is not only one type of licit festivals, but rather that there are two: those that are established directly by God, and those that are established by man with the approval and consent of the church–and that this was true already in the Old Testament. 

In the excerpt below, he first sets up the distinction, and then treats the festivals that fall under the first category. The second category will be treated in the next post.

On the Second Question

What feast days did the church of Israel have, and what feast days can the Christian church have? I will say a few things about the church of Israel, and then I will speak about the Christian church.

There were two types of festivals in the church of Israel. The first type was instituted by God; the other type consisted of those that were, on the one hand, instituted by men, but, on the other, were approved and received by the consent of the whole church. To the first type belonged the Sabbath on every seventh day of the week (Exodus 20), and this was the chief festival of them all; the New Moon, celebrated each month (Numbers 10 and 26); the annual festivals, Passover (also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread), Pentecost (Leviticus 23), the Feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month (which was also called the Feast of Trumpets and of Atonement, and an assembly);1 and the Feast of Jubilee every fifty years (Leviticus 25), on which liberty was granted to all slaves and captives. These were all shadows of future things. Examples of the Hebrews’ Sabbath, Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, and Year of Jubilee are found everywhere in the Scriptures. These belong to the first type, that is, those that were commanded by God through Moses.2

  1. Zanchi appears to join all the seventh-month festivals together as part of one larger observance.
  2. The translation is my own.

By E.J. Hutchinson

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