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

Zanchi on Festivals (5)

In today’s post, Zanchi deals with the second type of licit festivals: those instituted by men with the consent of the church. As examples, he points to Purim (Esther), as well as to Hanukkah, the origin of which is recounted in 1 Maccabees. 

Zanchi notes that these festivals, although not instituted by direct divine command, were nevertheless consecrated by the presence of Christ. Logically, he says, we can thus deduce that festivals can be established by human authority. Having drawn on the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, and the New Testament for support, he then calls to his aid Augustine, and his argument about the continuation of established festivals in Epistle 118. (The letter in question is actually Epistle 54, to Januarius, in modern editions of Augustine.)

On the Second Question (Continued)

The second type, as I have said, consisted of those that were instituted by certain men, but were celebrated with the consent of the whole church, such as Purim or the Feast of Lots, which Mordecai instituted, as is explained in Esther 9; or the Feast of Dedication [Encoenia]1, instituted by Judas Maccabeus for the commemoration of the repair of the Temple and the liberation of the Jews from the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Maccabees 4). Christ honored these festivals with his presence. From this fact, it is inferred that festivals that have been approved by the universal church ought not to be scorned. Augustine argues to this effect in Epistle 118, where he speaks about preserving all those festivals originating after the close of the canon that are said to have been observed in the whole world.2

  1. I.e., Hanukkah.
  2. The translation is my own.

By E.J. Hutchinson

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