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Holman Bible Dictionary

Holy Week

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The week climaxing in Easter Sunday in which the church remembers the death and resurrection of Christ. As the observance of the Easter festival developed over the first few centuries, the week prior to Easter Sunday began to take on special significance for the early church. In the early centuries Easter Sunday celebrations included remembrance of both the crucifixion and the resurrection. By about 500, Good Friday came to be the focus of the remembrance of the crucifixion.

In a similar development Christians began to regard Thursday of Holy Week as a special time for participating in the Lord's Supper. The day came to be called “Maundy Thursday,” a reference to Christ's giving a “new commandment” (John 13:34 ) to His disciples. The word “maundy” comes from the Latin word for “commandment.” Usually the early Maundy Thursday observances included a ceremonial foot-washing, in imitation of Christ's washing the feet of the disciples (John 13:5-11 ). See Church Year .

The practice of holding special services throughout Holy Week probably began first at Jerusalem where Christians could more easily connect their observance with the places and events of the last week of the earthly life of Jesus. See Church Year .

Fred A. Grissom


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Holy Week'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/h/holy-week.html. 1991.

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