Author: Paul R. Finch
ISBN: 978-9800739-3-5

Paul R.Finch’s controversial The Passover Papers: Controversy, Myth, Fairy Tales, and Nonsense is likely to either dazzle you or offend you depending on your beliefs and perhaps even your religion.

Finch is an independent researcher who for twenty years beginning in the 1970s was a member of the Worldwide Church of God. The book is based upon an essay that Finch originally submitted in 1975 to the Doctrinal Committee of the Worldwide Church of God in Pasadena under the title “The Old Testament Passover-A Study of its Time Element.” Originally it addressed the meaning of the phrase “ben ha-arbayim” as being mid-afternoon. The primary objective of the essay was the hope that the Church would address the matter of the Passover time element. After two years, there was a report issued that agreed with Finch's conclusion however its leader, Herbert W. Armstrong and the “old guard” ministry rejected it. Armstrong, as well as others, was of the strong belief that the Jewish people had erred pertaining to the date of Passover and he was quite adamant in declaring that Passover should begin at the end of the Hebrew month of Nisan 13/14 rather than Nisan 14/15. In addition, Finch informs us in the Preface that that there exists certain religious groups that maintain that Easter is pagan and that true Christians should instead be partaking in the “Christian Passover.”

As a side note, for those of you who are not familiar with Passover it should be mentioned that it is one of the primary Jewish Holy Days and its roots can be traced to three millennia when the Israelites were miraculously delivered from enslavement in Egypt. There is however a counterpart in Orthodox Christianity with Holy Day, Easter, which commemorates the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Passover looks forward to the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God, whereas Easter ostensibly looks back to its fulfillment in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. As Finch mentions, without doubt the Exodus of Israel from Egyptian bondage and the death and Resurrection of Jesus both of which are tied to Passover should have been the common source of inspiration for both Judaism and Christianity, however, such is not the case as it has come be a major bone of contention, strife, and division among both Jews and Christians for centuries and still is to this very day. Much of the debate centers on the time element of Passover. When does it actually begin? And did Jesus in fact keep the Passover on the last night of his life?

Finch informs us that the significant question in his study is to resolve why we cannot come to a common understanding of the facts? It is his hope that “the study will lead us to a new appreciation of the problems involved and rediscovery of many overlooked facts and false theories that have traditionally surrounded the subject.” In trying to better comprehend the problem and its importance, the author hopes that it will also be beneficial in enlightening us on a number of biblical issues. In essence, the book endeavours to resolve the age old debate on the time element of Passover with some new insights on the Sabbath and the early Church controversies as well as the chronology of Passion week that are essential to the overall problem. As Finch mentions in his conclusion, a far more relevant issue is that we must not ignore the methodology that has been used by the adherents of the 13/14 Nisan theory that he claims to be chicanery rather than hard evidence.

Relying on extensive research as well as the teachings of the New and Old Testaments as well as the Gospel, Finch takes pains to present compelling arguments that are contained within twenty chapters covering the various divergence of opinions associated with the debate including the Quartodeciman Controversy, if controversy existed among Jews, the meaning of Passover, was the Last Supper a Passover Meal, the Passion Week and its chronology, the day of the week of the Crucifixion, the hour Jesus was crucified, did Jesus spend a night in jail, the time element factors according to the Hebrew Scriptures, the meaning of the Hebrew Verb “Pasach,” the population of Exodus, and an appendix discussing why the Early Church fasted on Passover.

Finch concludes that much of the problem hinges on the “true method of how the Bible originally counted days. Days were counted from sunrise-to-sunrise, which makes more sense than a sunset-to-sunset day.” And according to Finch, this simple truth solves the problem thus leading Finch to be quite convinced from his historical and biblical research that Jesus’ final meal was an ordinary meal the night before Passover- the night before he was betrayed.  

With all due respect to Finch and the tremendous amount of research he has devoted to the subject matter, the nagging problem I have with his arguments is that for the most part there is a tendency to interconnect biblical and empirical evidence. Can we place biblical evidence on the same plateau as empirical evidence?  Playing the devil’s advocate, what if you don’t accept the teachings of the Gospel, the New and Old Testaments? Moreover, what if you refuse to accept the Bible as absolute, true and without error and that many of the characters in the Bible are fictitious and are inventions of the ancient Hebrew scribes? Are we to conclude that these individuals are wrong and that Finch is correct? In other words, there are more questions than answers. 

Although, The Passover Papers: Controversy, Myth, Fairy Tales, and Nonsense is not always easy to read with its abundance of information, you will probably stick with it particularly that it is interesting and fascinating. And its extensive bibliography will also take serious students as far as they wish to go. Furthermore, as mentioned in the first chapter of the book and one that I whole heartedly concur, it does explore many questions which will no doubt have the benefit of illuminating a number of controversial subjects that will appeal to readers interested in a good old fashion biblical study. In other words, there is plenty here to sink your teeth into and ponder over.

 Click Here To Read Norm's Interview With Paul R. Finch

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