11 Dec 2013 
#78 Did "Mark" "arrange" to have Jesus resurrected on Sunday?

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First, we have to investigate if Sunday (the first day of the week) was a day of celebration for Christians, before the writing of gMark. Let's examine any clues from Christian texts either written before or referring to the period prior to 70-71 CE (when the gospel was written).

There are only two:
a) Written 55C.E., Paul in 1 Cor 16:1-2 "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come."
There is no indication here of Christian gathering on this particular day. Paul's command is about setting some money aside from the earnings of the preceding week, (logically) right after it ended.
b) Written around 90 CE, Ac 20:6-7 "But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread [57 CE], and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight."
Let's note Ac 20:7 is part of one of the "we" passages, which include many details of trivial & anecdotal nature. Here, "the first day of the week" seems incidental and not necessarily an indication Paul & companions were observing a "Christian" Sunday. Rather, the cause of Paul's (long) message to his companions, probably located after supper (with its ritual breaking of the bread -- see Ac 2:46), is very obvious: after a restful stay of several days in Troas, the meeting place for Paul & his disciples, time had come to begin, on the next day, the dangerous journey to Jerusalem; therefore Paul felt obligated to address his companions the evening before.
Let's also notice 'Acts' was written about twenty years after gMark and consequently Sunday might have already become by then a special day in Luke's community!
Furthermore, neither Paul, nor gMark (or any other canonical books) asked the Christians not to observe the Sabbath. In Mark's gospel (& the other Synoptics), Jesus is shown not fanatical about the Sabbath (causing disapproval from Pharisees & teachers of the Law), but certainly not against it ("And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man but not man for the Sabbath."" Mk 2:27a, but not reproduced in GMatthew & GLuke).
Therefore, there is no evidence Sunday was observed in any ways by Christians before 70-71 CE.
Later, Sunday will become progressively the day of celebration (and rest) for Gentile mainstream Christians:
a) Written around 97 CE, epistle of Barnabas (15): "Wherefore also we keep the eight day [the day next to Sabbath, the seventh day of the week] for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead ..." 
b) Written around 135 CE, the Ignatian letter to the Magnesians (9): "... no longer keeping the Sabbath, but living in observance of the Lord's day, on which day also our life rose through him ..."
c) Written around 155 CE, Justin Martyr's 1 Apology (67): "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits ... But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because ... Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead"

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {Mark's gospel} {Resurrection} {Sunday}
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