Today is the final day of the Jewish Hanukkah celebration, also known as the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following its desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes. It is a winter festival, mentioned in the New Testament: ‘it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem, and it was winter’ John 10:22.
In the narrative that accompanies the eight festival days of Hanukkah, the subject of Hellenization often arises. This refers to the spread of Greek culture and thought throughout the Greek empire following the rapid and extensive conquests of Middle Eastern countries by Alexander the Great. After him, Antiochus Epiphanes enforced Hellenization upon the Jews in Israel, which some accepted and others such as the Maccabees resisted.
What is not so well known is the reverse effect – the influence of Jewish and Christian thought on the Greek world, which continues to this day.
This is seen in the names of the days of the week in the Greek language. Just like the creation account in the first chapter of the book of Genesis, where the days of the week are called Day One, Two, Three, etc., the Greek days of the week for Monday to Thursday are called Day Two, Three, Four and Five.
So what about the other days? Day One in ancient Greece used to be called hemera heliou, the day of the Sun, but in modern Greece it is called Κυριακή, Kuriake, the Lord’s Day!
Saturday is called Σάββατο, Sabbato, Sabbath, the same as the seventh day in the Jewish week.
So what about Friday? It is called Παρασκευή, Paraskeue, Preparation. This is the same name as the Jewish Friday before the Passover. Christians will recognise this from the New Testament:
“It was the Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath” Mark 15:42.
So the Greek language to the present day has Jewish and Christian concepts replacing its ancient terminology for the days of the week. This is reverse Hellenization.
This confirms that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on Friday, the Preparation day before the Sabbath, and that “the Lord’s Day” in Rev 1:10 is the first day of the week, which Christ taught His disciples to use as their weekly assembly day, as a weekly commemoration of His resurrection from the dead on the first day of the week. Just as the seventh-day Sabbath commemorated God’s Rest after the work of Creation, the eighth-day Christian Sabbath commemorates His Rest after the work of Atonement and Redemption. The Christian Sabbath is the weekly remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, with more biblical basis than the annual celebration of Easter.