Samuele Bacchiocchi

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Samuele Bacchiocchi
Born(1938-01-29)January 29, 1938
Rome, Italy
DiedDecember 20, 2008(2008-12-20) (aged 70)
OccupationAuthor and theologian
EducationPontifical Gregorian University
Alma materNewbold College
SubjectSabbath in Christianity
Literary movementSeventh-day Adventist
Notable worksFrom Sabbath to Sunday
Notable awardsPope's Gold Medal

Samuele R. Bacchiocchi (29 January 1938[1] – 20 December 2008[2]) 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. Bacchiocchi defended the validity of the Feasts of the Lord, situated in Leviticus 23, he wrote two books on the subject. He was also known within the Seventh-day Adventist church for his opposition to rock and contemporary Christian music, jewelry, the celebration of Christmas and Easter, certain dress standards and alcohol.


Bacchiocchi was born in Rome, Italy on 20 January 1938.[3]

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 establishment in the 16th century.[4] 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.

Bacchiocchi taught in the religion department of Andrews University from 1974 till his retirement in 2000. He taught theology and church history. He regularly presented seminars worldwide, and wrote many self-published books and articles on biblical topics. He was married to Anna Gandin Bacchiocchi. They had three children.

In May 2007, Bacchiocchi announced that he had developed liver and colon cancer.[5] 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.[6] The book made an impact on the wider academic community outside 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 the conservative lifestyle habits of Seventh-day Adventists, such as a vegetarian diet; abstinence from alcohol, coffee, and tea; and avoidance of rock music in church worship services.

In one newsletter he submitted an hypothesis, expanding upon the Adventist (and historical Protestant) teaching that the antichrist is the papacy, to also include Islam,[7] which he reported "generated a lot of hate mail".[8]

Controversy over academic awards[edit]

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.[9] By 2007, both parties agreed he had received a summa cum laude and the Pope's Gold Medal, 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.[10]

Conspiracy theory[edit]

Some Adventists are suspicious of Bacchiocchi because he studied at the Gregorian University, claiming he was a covert Jesuit for the Vatican.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]


Bacchiocchi owned a small non-academic publishing house called Biblical Perspectives, through which he self-published 16 books[14] of his own, and also a book by Graeme Bradford. He was the primary author of the Endtime Issues email newsletter.



Other authors:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Endtime Issues #194 gives this date approximately
  2. ^ The Bacchiocchi Family, Passing of Dr. Bacchiocchi Spectrum Magazine 21 December 2008.
  4. ^ Who is Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi?
  5. ^ Endtime Issues Newsletter No
  6. ^ From Sabbath to Sunday: A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity Biblical Perspectives
  7. ^ "Islam and The Papacy in Prophecy", Endtime Issues no. 86, 6 July 2002
  8. ^ "Church Growth Experiments in Secular Australia"
  9. ^ 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 "Catholicism and Adventism"
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ Alberto Rivera, at approx. 1:31:30 in Jesuits The Back Door video by (Adventist) James Arrabito. Angwin, CA: LLT Productions, 1983
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ Biblical Perspectives - the web site of Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi

External links[edit]