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Samuele R. Bacchiocchi (29 January 1938, Rome, Italy – 20 December 2008) was a Seventh-day Adventist author and theologian, best known for his work on the Sabbath in Christianity, particularly in the historical work From Sabbath to Sunday, based on his doctoral thesis from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was also known for his opposition to rock music, certain dress standards and alcohol. He was one of the best known Adventist scholars outside of the Adventist church.
He later earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology from Newbold College in England, which was followed by a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Divinity at Andrews University in Michigan, United States; finishing in 1964. Bacchiocchi moved with his wife Anna to Kuyera, Shashamane district, Ethiopia, where he lectured in Bible and history.
In 1969 they returned to Rome where Bacchiocchi studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was the first non-Catholic to be admitted since its beginning in the 16th century. He completed a Doctoratus in Church History in 1974 on the subject of the decline of Sabbath observance in the Early Christian church, based on his research in the Vatican libraries. He was awarded a gold medal by Pope Paul VI for the distinction of summa cum laude (Latin for "with highest praise").
Bacchiocchi taught in the religion department of Andrews University from 1974 till his retirement in 2000. He served as professor of theology and church history. He regularly presented seminars worldwide, and has written many books and articles on biblical topics, although he has been criticized by some Adventists for straying beyond his area of expertise - the Sabbath.
He was married to Anna Gandin Bacchiocchi. They had three children—Loretta, Daniele and Gianluca—and five grand-children: Christiano, Lauren, Isabella, Gianna, and Enzo.
In May 2007, Bacchiocchi announced that he had developed liver and colon cancer. He ultimately succumbed to 4th stage liver cancer, shortly after midnight, Saturday 20 December 2008, the day before what would have been his 47th wedding anniversary. He was with his three children and his wife.
In 1977 Bacchiocchi published From Sabbath to Sunday, documenting the historical transition from the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday in the early Christian church due to social, pagan and political factors, and also the decline of standards for the day. The book made an impact on the wider academic community outside of Adventism, as well as within Adventism. Prior to his work, Seventh-day Adventists had focused on the role played by either the Pope, or by Roman Emperor Constantine I in the transition from Sabbath to Sunday, with Constantine's law declaring Sunday as a day of rest for those not involved in farming work. Subsequent to Bacchiocchi's work, Adventists have emphasized that the shift from Sabbath to Sunday was a more gradual process.
Bacchiocchi has also been influential in the Worldwide Church of God (and its offshoots), which supported Sabbath-keeping until 1995, and also other Sabbath keeping groups.
Bacchiocchi supported conservative lifestyle habits, such as abstinence of alcohol and avoidance of rock music. He was a recognized authority on the Sabbath, a practice he supported keeping.
In one newsletter he submitted an hypothesis, expanding the traditional Adventist belief that the antichrist is the papacy, to also include Islam, which he reported "generated a lot of hate mail".
There was some controversy in the 2000s over Bacchiocchi's claim to have received the awards summa cum laude (Latin for "with highest honors"), the Pope's Gold Medal, and an official Roman Catholic imprimatur (Latin for "let it be printed") for his doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University. An official letter claimed Bacchiocchi did not receive these awards. By 2007, both parties agreed he had received a summa cum laude and the Pope's Gold Medal, but for the Licentia [a phase of the doctoral program]; and only a magna cum laude for the Doctoratus itself. Bacchiocchi defended his actions by claiming the difference between the Licentia and the Doctoratus is small and would not be understood by most English speakers.
Jesuit conspiracy theory
A small minority of Adventists are suspicious of Bacchiocchi because he studied at the Gregorian University, claiming he was a Jesuit spy for the Vatican. Also, Alberto Rivera claimed approval of From Sabbath to Sunday was given as a ploy to win over Adventists, as for similar ploys with other churches. Rivera was a fundamentalist Christian who claimed to be a former Jesuit priest, however this point and many of his other claims are discredited by most authors.
Bacchiocchi had a publishing arm called Biblical Perspectives, through which he has published 16 books of his own, and also a book by Graeme Bradford. He was the primary author of the Endtime Issues email newsletter. Typically four or five chapters of each of his books are freely available online. Bacchiocchi has listed a number of favourable scholarly scholarly reviews on his website. List of books:
- From Sabbath to Sunday: A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity (4 of 11 chapters online)
- Divine Rest for Human Restlessness: A Theological Study of the Good News of the Sabbath for Today (4 of 8 chapters online)
- The Sabbath in the New Testament: Answers to Questions (4 of 13 chapters online)
- The Sabbath Under Crossfire: A Biblical analysis of Recent Sabbath/Sunday Developments (4 chapters, plus chapter 7; of 7)
- Immortality or Resurrection? A Biblical Study on Human Nature and Destiny
- The Advent Hope for Human Hopelessness. A Theological Study of the Meaning of the Second Advent for Today
- Wine in the Bible: A Biblical Study on the Use of Alcoholic Beverages
- The Christian & Rock Music: A Study on Biblical Principles of Music
- Women in the Church: A Biblical Study on the Role of Women in the Church
- Christian Dress and Adornment
- The Passion of Christ: In Scripture and History
- The Marriage Covenant: A Biblical Study on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
- Hal Lindsey’s Prophetic Jigsaw Puzzle: Five Predictions that Failed!
- God’s Festivals in Scripture and History. Volume I: The Spring Festivals
- God’s Festivals in Scripture and History. Volume 2: The Fall Festivals
- The Time of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection
- Popular Beliefs, Are They Biblical?
- Biblical Perspectives has also published More Than A Prophet by Graeme Bradford, which is fully and freely available online at SDAnet
- Endtime Issues #194 gives this date approximately
- Who is Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi?
- Endtime Issues Newsletter No
- "Islam and The Papacy in Prophecy", Endtime Issues no. 86, 6 July 2002
- "Church Growth Experiments in Secular Australia"
- Barbara Bergami, then General Secretary of the Pontifical Gregorian University, to Bishop James A. Murray of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo in Michigan, which covers the area where Bacchiocchi lived. As republished by Bacchiocchi in "Bacchiocchi Responds to False Allegations". Endtime Issues newsletter #159, self-published by Bacchiocchi. Bacchiocchi says the controversy was initiated by Stephen Korsman, who runs a website "Theotokos"
- Gianfranco Ghirlanda, the Rector (President) of the university, official letter to Bacchiocchi, 23 February 2007; as republished by Bacchiocchi. Bacchiocchi, section "The Gregorian University Responds to False Allegations" in "The Achievements of the Cross – Part 2", Endtime Issues #167
- Bacchiocchi, "Bacchiocchi Responds to False Allegations – Part 1". Endtime Issues #201. See also the section "The Choice of the Pontifical Gregorian University" and onwards, in Endtime Issues #159, for his explanation of why he studied there
- Alberto Rivera, at approx. 1:31:30 in 'Jesuits The Back Door video by (Adventist) James Arrabito. Angwin, CA: LLT Productions, 1983
- Metz, Gary (1981), "The Alberto Story", Cornerstone 9 (53): 29–31, archived from the original on 2 December 2005 "Alberto Rivera: Is He For Real?", Christianity Today 2 (2), 13 March 1981
- Biblical Perspectives - the web site of Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi
- Biblical Perspectives, Bacchiocchi's personal website
- Articles by Bacchiocchi cataloged in the Seventh-day Adventist Periodical Index (SDAPI)