Professor Moore wrote me as follows:
Divinity Ave., Cambridge, Mass.,
There are two seven-day weeks: the Jewish week, with a Sabbath on the seventh day; and the Astrological week, with days named after the sun, moon, and five planets, in our order determined by the theories of astrology, but without any day of rest. The combination of the two is Christian. The Astrological week first appears in Greek and Latin writings about the beginning of the Christian era. Its antecedents are unknown. It had no use in ordinary life.
Abstinence from labor on the seventh day, or on one day in seven, is a distinctively Jewish institution. The edict of Constantine (321 A.D.) closing the courts on Sunday and prohibiting some kinds of labor on that day, is the first recognition of a seven-day week in Roman law. The ancient Romans had a market day every eight days, when the peasants came to town to market, but it was in no sense a day of rest. In the old Roman calendar there were many days w hen the courts were closed and other public and private business was not done. They had also many festivals on which the people left their ordinary occupation to take part in the celebrations, but these have no periodicity like that of the week.
Very truly yours, GEORGE F.
MOORE In a second letter he says:
Dear Sir: In reply to your inquiries in your letter of November 23d, I would say:
1. The planetary week in which the days were named from their regents, Saturday, Sunday, etc., was an invention of the astrologers, probably in the second century, B.C., and has no relation to religion or influence upon it. Saturn, for example, was not worshipped on Saturday, nor Jupiter on Thursday. The festivals of the several gods were never weekly festivals, nor did they occur on days fixed by other divisions of the month, say the tenth day.
2. The religious calendars of the Greek cities were independent of one another and underwent many changes in the course of time. Our knowledge of these calendars is incomplete; only that of Athens is pretty fully known. The festivals fell in certain months, and on certain days of the month. Thus, at Athens, where the first month of the year, Hekabombaion, began at the new moon following the summer solstice (roughly corresponding, therefore, to our July), there was a festival of Apollo on the first (or on the seventh of the month). The great festival of Athena Polias, the prophetess of the city, was on the 28th. There were often festivals on the 12th (Kronia) and on the 16th (Synorkia).
The second month had only one, rather insignificant, festival. In the third month, the 5th day was an All Souls’ Day, a feast of the dead; a thanksgiving was observed on the 12th-15th; from the 16th to the 25th were the great Athena Elensinia, and so on. No particular days of the month were to be especially favored, either in general or for any individual god.
3. The Roman calendar is preserved only from a comparatively late time, when the worship of Greek and foreign deities was fully established. So far as the old Roman calendar can be reconstructed it appears that the Ides of every month were dedicated to Jupiter, who had, besides, festivals on the 23rd of April, 5th of July, 19th of August, 11th of October, 25th of December. The festivals of Mars occur chiefly in the month named after him, 1st, 14th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, also February 27th, October 15th and 19th. These examples may suffice to show that no principle determines the fixing of these days. It may be observed, however, that, as among many people, the solstices and equinoxes, which mark the seasons of the year, are recognized in the calendar. Also that all who have a calendar based on lunar months give some importance to the first appearance of the new moon, and often to the full moon also.
The festivals were public holidays, each with its own rites, and customs, sacrifices, processions, etc. The priests in Greece and Rome, speaking generally, officiated on these occasions only. The priest was a citizen, elected or chosen by lot, for a longer or shorter time (sometimes for life): in most cases he was not expected to demerit his ordinary occupation.
A priesthood who were priests and nothing else, who spent their lives in the service of the temples, with daily offerings and liturgies came in only with foreign, chiefly Oriental, gods, like the Magna Mater.
Private persons went to the temples when they had occasion to offer prayers or sacrifices or to make vows, etc. There were no stated days for such visits-though some days were in some temples luckier than others, and there was nothing like a stated day for the assembling of a worshiping congregation except the festivals of the local calendar.
Yours very truly, GEORGE F. MOORE It will readily be seen that this is a valuable historical document covering in detail every phase of Roman and Greek festivals. A weekly Sunday festival was utterly unknown to either pagan nation.
No weekly worship or sacredness whatever attached to Sunday. Our Advent brethren, if candid, must abandon that theory.
Source: The Lord’s Day From Neither Catholics nor Pagans – D.M. Canright