Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi
Biblical scholar Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, best known for his teachings on how Sabbath observance shifted toward Sunday worship in much of Christendom, died yesterday at his Michigan home at the age of 70 after a two-year battle with fourth-stage liver cancer.
The retired theology professor from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich., passed away shortly after midnight Saturday, surrounded by his three children and wife, who would have marked their 47th wedding anniversary today.
“We are very grateful that we could all be together at this time and believe that it is fitting that God chose the Sabbath day, the day that he loved most and spent his life preaching and writing about, to be the day that he entered into his final earthly rest,” his family said. “We take comfort in the fact that the next time he will open his eyes he will see his Lord and Savior, and that we will be reunited with him in heaven. His incredible journey here on earth has come to an end, but may we continue his legacy until Jesus returns!”
Family members read together what are believed to be some of the apostle Paul’s final words: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
“This quote sums up the life of a man who sacrificed practically all of his time and energy to help others understand the Bible more fully, even up to end as he gave his last seminar in England the Sabbath before being taken to the emergency room,” they said.
Bacchiocchi earned his doctorate in Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was awarded a gold
medal by Pope Paul VI for his summa cum laude class
work and dissertation, “From Sabbath to Sunday: A Historical Investigation of the
Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity.”
A Seventh-Day Adventist, Bacchiocchi believed there was no Scriptural mandate to change or eliminate Sabbath-keeping, and he singled out the Catholic Church for its role in changing the day.
“The Church of the capital of the empire, whose authority was already felt far and wide in the second century, appears to be the most likely birthplace of Sunday observance,” he wrote.
Bacchiocchi previously told WND: “Anti-Judaism caused the abandonment of the Sabbath, and pagan sun worship influenced the adoption of Sunday.”
He said evidence of anti-Judaism is found in the writings of Christian
leaders such as Ignatius, Barnabas and Justin in the second century. He
noted these three “witnessed and participated in the process of separation from
Judaism which led the majority of the Christians to abandon the Sabbath and
adopt Sunday as the new day of worship.”
Bacchiocchi also explained the influence of pagan sun worship provides a “plausible
explanation for the Christian choice of Sunday” over the day of Saturn. Its
effect wasn’t just limited to Sunday. It apparently led to the placement of
Jesus’ birth in late December.
“The adoption of the 25th of December for the celebration of Christmas is perhaps the most explicit example of sun worship’s influence on the Christian liturgical calendar,” Bacchiocchi wrote. “It is a known fact that the pagan feast of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti – the birthday of the Invincible Sun, was held on that date.”
Funeral services will be held Saturday, Dec. 27, at 4:00 pm at the Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University.