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Are Passover and the Last Supper linked? And why is today called ‘Good’ Friday anyway? (NATIONAL POST) By Tristin Hopper 04/07/12)Source: http://life.nationalpost.com/2012/04/06/are-passover-and-the-last-supper-linked-and-why-is-today-called-good-friday-anyway/ NATIONAL POST NATIONAL POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Both Jews and Christians are wrapped up in religious commemorations this weekend due to the sync-up of the Jewish festival of Passover and Easter, the Christian commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course, the two holidays often coincide – and according to biblical scholars, that’s how it went down at the very beginning.

The Last Supper – at which Jesus began the ritual of communion and pegged Judas as his betrayer – is widely believed to have been a Passover Seder, a ritual Jewish feast commemorating the Jews’ liberation from slavery in Ancient Egypt. The Biblical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all make reference to laying a table for passover, but the gospel of John states that Jesus was crucified on the “day of Preparation for the Passover”. If that’s the case, then the meal took place the day before Passover had officially begun. A much more detailed discussion of the Passover-Easter connection can be found in this piece in the Biblical Archaeology Review.

Jerusalem, not known for its elbow room at the best of times, is downright packed this weekend by the dual holidays. In anticipation, the Israeli military imposed a two-day closure on the West Bank border, saying it would only allow Palestinians access into Israel for medical care – although 20,000 West Bank Christians were given an exemption. Jewish visitors to the Western Wall and Christian visitors to the Temple Mount did so under the watchful gaze of increased security provided by the Israeli Defense Forces. Amid increasing tensions in the Middle East, the IDF have cause to worry about a holiday attack. In 2002, Israel suffered its deadliest attack of the Second Intifada when a Hamas-linked suicide bomber blew himself up at a Passover dinner in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, killing 30 people, many of whom were senior citizens.

On Good Friday, the day on which Jesus was crucified, thousands of Christians in Jerusalem retraced the 11.4 kilometre trek Jesus took from his trial before the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate to Golgotha, site of his execution. The well-trodden path is known as the Via Dolorosa, Latin for “Way of the Suffering.” For armchair pilgrims, Google has uploaded this walk-through. The prison that held Christ the night before his crucifixion is also said to have held future Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau for a brief time during the 1948 Arab- Israeli War. Mr. Trudeau was travelling through what was then Jordanian territory when he was arrested as a Jewish spy by Arab forces.

Worldwide, Easter commemorations ranged from actual crucifixions in the Philippines to Irish commemorations of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, a key development in the Northern Ireland peace process. In Canada, plenty of lapsed Christians will commemorate the holiday with easter egg hunts and maybe a home screening of the 1973 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, staring Ted Neely as Jesus. Speaking of resurrections, Mr. Neeley may be a senior citizen, but you can still see him belting out glass-shattering falsettos in a performance of Superstar near you.

But why is it called “Good” Friday, when it commemorates the persecution of a man seen by Christians as the Son of God? On this, sources differ. In a recent column, evangelist Billy Graham asserts that the day is good because it is when Jesus died for humanity’s sins, clearing a Christian path into heaven. Of course, plenty believe the holiday’s name is simply a mistranslation, and that “good” used to be an alternative name for “holy.” Foreign- language names for the holiday seem to back that up. In French Canada, Christians commemorate Vendredi saint, which roughly translates to “Holy Friday.” In German, the holiday is known as Karfreitag, or “Mourning Friday.” (© 2012 National Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. 04/07/12)

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