The Byzantine calendar, also called "Creation Era of Constantinople" or "Era of the World" (Ancient Greek: Ἔτη Γενέσεως Κόσμου κατὰ Ῥωμαίους, also Ἔτος Κτίσεως Κόσμου or Ἔτος Κόσμου, abbreviated as ε.Κ., literal translation of ancient Greek "Roman year since creation of universe"), was the calendar used by the Eastern Orthodox Church from c. 691 to 1728 in the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It was also the official calendar of the Byzantine Empire[note 1] from 988 to 1453, and of Kievan Rus' and Russia from c. 988 to 1700. Since "Byzantine" is a historiographical term, the original name uses the noun "Roman" as it was how the Eastern Roman Empire continued calling itself.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 200–260 million members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is one of the fifteen autocephalous churches that together compose the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is headed by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, currently Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople.
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".
The calendar was based on the Julian calendar, except that the year started on 1 September and the year number used an Anno Mundiepoch derived from the Septuagint version of the Bible. It placed the date of creation at 5509 years before the Incarnation, and was characterized by a certain tendency which had already been a tradition among Jews and early Christians to number the years from the calculated foundation of the world (Latin: Annus Mundi or Ab Origine Mundi— "AM").[note 2] Its Year One, marking the supposed date of creation, was September 1, 5509 BC, to August 31, 5508 BC.
The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on 1 January 45 BC, by edict. It was the predominant calendar in the Roman world, most of Europe, and in European settlements in the Americas and elsewhere, until it was refined and gradually replaced by the Gregorian calendar, promulgated in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.
Anno Mundi, abbreviated as AM, or Year After Creation, is a calendar era based on the biblical accounts of the creation of the world and subsequent history. Two such calendar eras have seen notable use historically:
The Septuagint is the earliest extant Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures from the original Hebrew. It is estimated that the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or Pentateuch, were translated in the mid-3rd century BCE and the remaining texts were translated in the 2nd century BCE. Considered the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is quoted a number of times in the New Testament,particularly in the Pauline epistles,by the Apostolic Fathers, and later by the Greek Church Fathers.
It is not known who invented the World era and when. Nevertheless, the first appearance of the term is in the treatise of a certain "monk and priest", Georgios (AD 638–39), who mentions all the main variants of the "World Era" in his work. Georgios argues that the main advantage of the World era is the common starting point of the astronomical lunar and solar cycles, and of the cycle of indictions, the usual dating system in Byzantium since the 6th century. He also already regards it as the most convenient for the Eastercomputus. Complex calculations of the 19-year lunar and 28-year solar cycles within this world era allowed scholars to discover the cosmic significance of certain historical dates, such as the birth or the crucifixion of Jesus.
For astronomy and calendar studies, the Metonic cycle or Enneadecaeteris is a period of very close to 19 years that is nearly a common multiple of the solar year and the synodic (lunar) month. The Greek astronomer Meton of Athens observed that a period of 19 years is almost exactly equal to 235 synodic months and, rounded to full days, counts 6,940 days. The difference between the two periods is only a few hours, depending on the definition of the year.
The solar cycle is a 28-year cycle of the Julian calendar with respect to the week. It occurs because leap years occur every 4 years and there are 7 possible days to start a leap year, making a 28-year sequence.
An indiction is any of the years in a 15-year cycle used to date medieval documents throughout Europe, both East and West. Each year of a cycle was numbered: first indiction, second indiction, etc. However, the cycles were not numbered, thus other information is needed to identify the specific year.
This date underwent minor revisions before being finalized in the mid-7th century, although its precursors were developed c. AD 412 (see Alexandrian Era). By the second half of the 7th century, the Creation Era was known in Western Europe, at least in Great Britain.[note 3] By the late 10th century around AD 988, when the era appears in use on official government records, a unified system was widely recognized across the Eastern Roman world.
Western Europe is the region comprising the western part of Europe. Though the term Western Europe is commonly used, there is no commonly agreed-upon definition of the countries that it encompasses.
The era was ultimately calculated as starting on September 1, and Jesus was thought to have been born in the year 5509 since the creation of the world. Historical time was thus calculated from the creation, and not from Christ's birth, as in the west after the Anno Domini system was adopted between 6th and 9th centuries. The western Church avoided the use of the Anno Domini system of Dionysius Exiguus, since the date of Christ's birth was debated in Constantinople as late as the 14th century. Otherwise the Byzantine calendar was identical to the Julian Calendar except that:
Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, and is widely described as the most influential person in history. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.
The terms anno Domini (AD) and before Christ (BC) are used to label or number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The term anno Domini is Medieval Latin and means "in the year of the Lord", but is often presented using "our Lord" instead of "the Lord", taken from the full original phrase "anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi", which translates to "in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ".
Dionysius Exiguus was a 6th-century monk born in Scythia Minor. He was a member of a community of Scythian monks concentrated in Tomis, the major city of Scythia Minor. Dionysius is best known as the inventor of the Anno Domini (AD) era, which is used to number the years of both the Gregorian calendar and the (Christianised) Julian calendar. Some churches adopted his computus (calculation) for the dates of Easter.
the names of the months were transcribed from Latin into Greek;
its era was based on the year of creation, reckoned September 1, 5509 BC, to August 31, 5508 BC, rather than the foundation of Rome; years were also reckoned by their place in the indiction and not by the years' consuls.
The Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Calendar describes and dictates the rhythm of the life of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Passages of Holy Scripture, saints and events for commemoration are associated with each date, as are many times special rules for fasting or feasting that correspond to the day of the week or time of year in relationship to the major feast days.
The Roman calendar was the calendar used by the Roman kingdom and republic. The term often includes the Julian calendar established by the reforms of the dictator Julius Caesar and emperor Augustus in the late 1stcenturyBC and sometimes includes any system dated by inclusive counting towards months' kalends, nones, and ides in the Roman manner. The term usually excludes the Alexandrian calendar of Roman Egypt, which continued the unique months of that land's former calendar; the Byzantine calendar of the later Roman Empire, which usually dated the Roman months in the simple count of the ancient Greek calendars; and the Gregorian calendar, which refined the Julian system to bring it into still closer alignment with the solar year and is the basis of the current international standard.
The ancient Egyptian calendar was a solar calendar with a 365-day year. The year consisted of three seasons of 120 days each, plus an intercalary month of five epagomenal days treated as outside of the year proper. Each season was divided into four months of 30 days. These twelve months were initially numbered within each season but came to also be known by the names of their principal festivals. Each month was divided into three 10-day periods known as decans or decades. It has been suggested that during the Nineteenth Dynasty and the Twentieth Dynasty the last two days of each decan were usually treated as a kind of weekend for the royal craftsmen, with royal artisans free from work.
The leap day of the Byzantine calendar was obtained in an identical manner to the bissextile day of the original Roman version of the Julian calendar, by doubling the sixth day before the calends of March, i.e., by doubling 24 February.
The Byzantine World Era was gradually replaced in the Orthodox Church by the Christian Era, which was utilized initially by Patriarch Theophanes I Karykes in 1597, afterwards by Patriarch Cyril Lucaris in 1626, and then formally established by the Church in 1728. Meanwhile, as Russia received Orthodox Christianity from Byzantium, she inherited the Orthodox Calendar based on the Byzantine Era (translated into Slavonic). After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the era continued to be used by Russia, which witnessed millennialist movements in Moscow in AD 1492 (7000 AM). It was only in AD 1700 that the Byzantine World Era in Russia was changed to the Julian Calendar by Peter the Great. It still forms the basis of traditional Orthodox calendars up to today. September AD 2000 began the year 7509 AM.[note 7]
Earliest Christian sources on the age of the world
The earliest extant Christian writings on the age of the world according to the Biblical chronology are by Theophilus (AD 115–181), the sixth bishop of Antioch from the Apostles, in his apologetic work To Autolycus, and by Julius Africanus (AD 200–245) in his Five Books of Chronology. Both of these early Christian writers, following the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, determined the age of the world to have been about 5,530 years at the birth of Christ.
Ben Zion Wacholder points out that the writings of the Church Fathers on this subject are of vital significance (even though he disagrees with their chronological system based on the authenticity of the Septuagint, as compared to that of the Masoretic Text), in that through the Christian chronographers a window to the earlier Hellenistic biblical chronographers[note 8] is preserved:
The Alexandrian Era (Greek: Κόσμου ἔτη κατ’ Ἀλεξανδρεῖς, Kósmou étē kat'Alexandreîs) developed in AD 412, was the precursor to the Byzantine Era. After the initial attempts by Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria and others[note 9], the Alexandrian computation of the date of creation was worked out to be 25 March 5493 BC.
The Alexandrine monk Panodorus reckoned 5904 years from Adam to the year AD 412. His years began with August 29, corresponding to the First of Thoth, the Egyptian new year.Annianos of Alexandria however, preferred the Annunciation style as New Year's Day, 25 March, and shifted the Panodorus era by about six months, to begin on 25 March. This created the Alexandrian Era, whose first day was the first day of the proleptic[note 10] Alexandrian civil year in progress, 29 August 5493 BC, with the ecclesiastical year beginning on 25 March 5493 BC.
This system presents in a masterly sort of way the mystical coincidence of the three main dates of the world's history: the beginning of Creation, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection of Christ. All these events happened, according to the Alexandrian chronology, on 25 March; furthermore, the first two events were separated by the period of exactly 5500 years; the first and the third one occurred on Sunday — the sacred day of the beginning of the Creation and its renovation through Christ
Dionysius of Alexandria had earlier emphatically quoted mystical justifications for the choice of March 25 as the start of the year:
March 25 was considered to be the anniversary of Creation itself. It was the first day of the year in the medieval Julian calendar and the nominal vernal equinox (it had been the actual equinox at the time when the Julian calendar was originally designed). Considering that Christ was conceived at that date turned March 25 into the Feast of the Annunciation which had to be followed, nine months later, by the celebration of the birth of Christ, Christmas, on December 25.
A new variant of the World Era was suggested in the Chronicon Paschale, a valuable Byzantine universal chronicle of the world, composed about the year 630 AD by some representative of the Antiochian scholarly tradition. It had for its basis a chronological list of events extending from the creation of Adam to the year AD 627. The chronology of the writer is based on the figures of the Bible and begins with 21 March, 5507.
For its influence on Greek Christian chronology, and also because of its wide scope, the "Chronicon Paschale" takes its place beside Eusebius, and the chronicle of the monk Georgius Syncellus which was so important in the Middle Ages; but in respect of form it is inferior to these works.
By the late 10th century, the Byzantine Era, which had become fixed at September 1 5509 BC since at least the mid-7th century (differing by 16 years from the Alexandrian date, and 2 years from the Chronicon Paschale), had become the widely accepted calendar of choice par excellence for Chalcedonian Orthodoxy.
"Let us omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say when they speak of the nature and origin of the human race...They are deceived by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousands of years, though reckoning by the sacred writings we find that not 6,000 years have passed. (City of God 12:10).
Augustine goes on to say that the ancient Greek chronology "does not exceed the true account of the duration of the world as it is given in our documents (i.e. the Scriptures), which are truly sacred."
St. Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170–235) maintained on Scriptural grounds that Jesus's birth took place in 5500 AM, and held that the birth of Christ took place on a passover day, deducing that its month-date was 25 March (see Alexandrian Era). He gave the following intervals:
"...from Adam to the flood 2242 years, thence to Abraham 1141 years, thence to the Exodus 430 years, thence to the passover of Joshua 41 years, thence to the passover of Hezekiah 864 years, thence to the passover of Josiah 114 years, thence to the passover of Ezra 107 years, and thence to the birth of Christ 563 years."
In his Commentary on Daniel, one of his earlier writings, he proceeds to set out additional reasons for accepting the date of 5500 AM:
"First he quotes Exod. xxv. 10f. and pointing out that the length, breadth and height of the ark of the covenant amount in all to 5½ cubits, says that these symbolize the 5,500 years from Adam at the end of which the Saviour was born. He then quotes from Jn. xix. 14 ' it was about the sixth hour ' and, understanding by that 5½ hours, takes each hour to correspond to a thousand years of the world's life..."
Around AD 202 Hippolytus held that Jesus was born in the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus[note 12] and that he was born in 5500AM. In his Commentary on Daniel he did not need to establish the precise year of Jesus's birth; he is not concerned about the day of the week, the month-date, or even the year; it was sufficient for his purpose to show that Christ was born in the days of Augustus in 5500 AM.
Accounts in Byzantine authors
From Justinian's decree in AD 537 that all dates must include the Indiction, the unification of the theological date of creation (as yet unfinalized) with the administrative system of Indiction cycles became commonly referred to amongst Byzantine authors, to whom the indiction was the standard measurement of time.
"... as of the fifteenth day of the month of January last past, in the last fourth Indiction, in the year six thousand one hundred and ninety"
We find the era also in the dating of the so-called Letter of three Patriarchs to the emperor Theophilos (April, indiction 14, 6344 = 836 AD).
By the 10th century the Byzantine Era is found in the Novellas of AD 947, 962, 964, and most surely of the year AD 988, all dated in this way, as well as the Act of Patriarch Nicholaos II Chrysobergos in AD 987.
John Skylitzes' (c. 1081–1118) major work is the Synopsis of Histories, which covers the reigns of the Byzantine emperors from the death of Nicephorus I in 811 to the deposition of Michael IV in 1057; it continues the chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor. Quoting from him as an example of the common Byzantine dating method, he refers to emperor Basil, writing that:
"In the year 6508 , in the thirteenth indiction, the emperor sent a great force against the Bulgarian fortified positions (kastra) on the far side of the Balkan (Haimos) mountains,..."
Niketas Choniates (c. 1155–1215), sometimes called Acominatus, was a Byzantine Greek historian. His chief work is his History, in twenty-one books, of the period from 1118 to 1207. Again, an example of the dating method can be seen as he refers to the fall of Constantinople to the fourth crusade as follows:
The historian Doukas, writing c. AD 1460, makes a detailed account for the Creation Era. Although unrefined in style, the history of Doukas is both judicious and trustworthy, and it is the most valuable source for the closing years of the Byzantine empire.
"From Adam, the first man created by God, to Noah, at whose time the flood took place, there were ten generations. The first, which was from God, was that of Adam. The second, after 230 years, was that of Seth begotten of Adam. The third, 205 years after Seth, was that of Enos begotten of Seth. The fourth, 190 years after Enos, was that of Kainan begotten of Enos. The fifth, 170 years after Kainan, was that of Mahaleel begotten of Kainan. The sixth, 165 years after Mahaleel, was that of Jared begotten of Mahaleel. The seventh, 162 years after Jared, was that of Enoch begotten of Jared. The eighth, 165 years after Enoch, was that of Methuselah begotten of Enoch. The ninth, 167 years after Methuselah, was that of Lamech begotten of Methuselah. The tenth, 188 years after Lamech, was that of Noah. Noah was 600 years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. Thus 2242 years may be counted from Adam to the flood.
There are also ten generations from the flood to Abraham numbering 1121 years. Abraham was seventy-five years old when he moved to the land of Canaan from Mesopotamia, and having resided there twenty-five years he begat Isaac. Isaac begat two sons, Esau and Jacob. When Jacob was 130 years old he went to Egypt with his twelve sons and grandchildren, seventy-five in number. And Abraham with his offspring dwelt in the land of Canaan 433 years, and having multiplied they numbered twelve tribes; a multitude of 600,000 were reckoned from the twelve sons of Jacob whose names are as follows: Ruben, Symeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Dan, Joseph, and Benjamin.
The descendants of Levi were Moses and Aaron; the latter was the first of the priesthood while Moses was appointed to govern. In the eightieth year of his life, he walked through the Red Sea and led his people out of Egypt. This Moses flourished in the time of Inachos [son of Oceanus and King of Argos] who was the first [Greek] king to reign. Thus the Jews are more ancient than the Greeks.
Remaining in the wilderness forty years they were governed for twenty-five years by Joshua, son of Nun, and by the Judges for 454 years to the reign of Saul, the first king installed by them. During the first year of his reign, the great David was born. Thus from Abraham to David fourteen generations are numbered for a total of 1024 years. From David to the deportation to Babylon [586 BC] there are fourteen generations totaling 609 years. From the Babylonian Captivity to Christ there are fourteen generations totaling 504 years.
By the sequence of Numbers we calculate the number of 5,500 years from the time of the first Adam to Christ.".
Literal creation days
Even the most mystical Fathers such as St. Isaac the Syrian accepted without question the common understanding of the Church that the world was created "more or less" in 5,500 BC. As Fr. Seraphim Rose points out:
"The Holy Fathers (probably unanimously) certainly have no doubt that the chronology of the Old Testament, from Adam onwards, is to be accepted "literally." They did not have the fundamentalist's over-concern for chronological precision, but even the most mystical Fathers (St. Isaac the Syrian, St. Gregory Palamas, etc.) were quite certain that Adam lived literally some 900 years, that there were some 5,500 years ("more or less") between the creation and the Birth of Christ."
The Church Fathers also consistently affirm that each species of the animate creation came into existence instantaneously, at the command of God, with its seed within itself.Basil the Great for example takes this literal view in the Hexæmeron, a work consisting of nine homilies delivered by St. Basil on the cosmogony of the opening chapters of Genesis, providing one of the most detailed expositions of the six days of creation to come down to us from the early church. Basil writes in Homily I that:
"Thus then, if it is said, "In the beginning God created," it is to teach us that at the will of God the world arose in less than an instant,..."
"For all things, as the Prophet says, were made out of nothing; it was no transformation of existing things, but the creation of the non-being into a perfect form".
The prophet cited by St.Hilary was the mother of the Maccabean martyrs, who said to one of her tortured sons, "I beseech you, my child, to look at heaven and earth and see everything in them, and know that God made them out of nothing; so also He made the race of man in this way" (2 Maccabees 7:28). This text from 2 Maccabees was the standard biblical proof text for the Christian Church in respect to creation from nothingness. We find the thesis in late Judaism, from which it passed into the Christian faith as an essential teaching.
Hours of the liturgical day
In the Byzantine period, the day was divided into two 12-hour cycles fixed by the rising and setting of the sun.
"Following Roman custom, the Byzantines began their calendrical day (nychthemeron) at midnight with the first hour of day (hemera) coming at dawn. The third hour marked midmorning, the sixth hour noon, and the ninth hour midafternoon. Evening (hespera) began at the 11th hour, and with sunset came the first hour of night (apodeipnon). The interval between sunset and sunrise (nyx) was similarly divided into 12 hours as well as the traditional "watches" (vigiliae) of Roman times."
Days of the liturgical week
Marcus Rautman points out that the seven-day week was known throughout the ancient world. The Roman Calendar had assigned one of the planetary deities to each day of the week. The Byzantines naturally avoided using these Latin names with their pagan echoes. They began their week with the "Lord's Day" (Kyriake), followed by an orderly succession of numbered days: Deutera ("2nd"), Trite ("3rd"), Tetarte ("4th"), and Pempte ("5th"), a day of "preparation" (Paraskeve), and finally Sabatton.
Each day was devoted to remembering one event of the life of Christ or the Theotokos or several martyrs or saints, whose observed feast days gradually eclipsed traditional festivals. Kyriake was seen as the day of resurrection of Christ and as both the first and eighth day of the week, in the same way that Christ was the alpha and omega of the cosmos, existing both before and after time. The second day of the week recognized angels, "the secondary luminaries as the first reflections of the primal outpouring of light", just as the sun and the moon had been observed during the Roman week. John the Baptist, the forerunner (Prodromos) of Christ, was honored on the third day. Both the second and third days were viewed as occasions for penitence. The fourth and sixth days were dedicated to the Cross. The fourth day to the Theotokos and her mourning of the loss of her son and the sixth day (the Paraskeue) as the day of the Crucifixion of the Lord, with holy songs sung and fasting in remembrance of these events. St. Nicholas was honored on the fifth day of the week, while the Sabatton day was set aside for the saints and all the deceased faithful. This order is still in use in the Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches.
A special arrangement of the way in which the hymns were sung was set for each day of the eight-week cycle, the "Octoechos (liturgy)". This cycle begins on the first Sunday after Easter ("Thomas-Sunday") and contains the texts whose content represents the meaning of the days of the week. The hymns sung on these eight weeks were performed with the use of eight different modes also called Octoechoi.
Regarding questions about the scientific accuracy of the Genesis account of creation, and about various viewpoints concerning evolution, the Orthodox Church has not dogmatized any particular view. What is dogmatically proclaimed is that the One Triune God created everything that exists, and that man was created in a unique way and is alone made in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:26,27).
The opening words of the Nicene Creed, the central doctrinal statement of Christianity, affirms that the One True God is the source of everything that exists, both physical and spiritual, both animate and inanimate: "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible." In addition, our regeneration in Christ and the resurrection of the dead are both often called the "New Creation" (2 Cor 5:17; Rev 21:1).
According to Fr. Stanley Harakas, the Bible's description of creation is not a "scientific account". It is not read for scientific knowledge but for spiritual truth and divine revelation. The physical-scientific side of the origins of mankind, though important, is really quite secondary in significance to the Church's message. The central image of Adam as God's image and likeness, who also represents fallen and sinful humanity, and the new Adam, Jesus Christ, who is the "beginning", the first-born of the dead (Colossians 1:18) and the "first-fruits" of those who were dead, and are now alive (1 Corinthians 15:20–23), is what is really important.
Professor Fr. Arsenius John Baptist Vuibert (S.S.), a 19th-century historian, observed that Biblical Chronologies are uncertain due to discrepancies in the figures in Genesis and other methodological factors, accounting for hundreds of different chronologies being assigned by historians. In the case of the Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, who assigned 5509 BC. as the date of the creation of man, he writes that it was in response to the emperor's wishes to fix an era or convenient starting point for historical computation. Therefore, it was a decision of mere historical convenience, not respecting either faith or morals, which are what is truly of intrinsic value in the Scriptures. Having made this disclaimer, he settles on the Benedictine Chronology of 4963 BC for the purposes of his history.
According to the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, regarding the so-called Era of the Creation of the World, Alphonse Des Vignoles[fr] asserted in the preface to his Chronologie de l’Histoire Sainte (Chronology of Sacred History, Berlin 1738), that he collected upwards of two-hundred different calculations, the shortest of which reckons only 3483 years between the creation of the world and the commencement of the vulgar era and the longest 6984. The so-called era of the creation of the world is therefore a purely conventional and arbitrary epoch, for which the very nature of the case discussion is hopeless labour.
It may also be noted historically that while Byzantine officials and chroniclers were disconcerted by the ambiguities among the different dating and recording systems in the earlier centuries, these mattered little to most people who marked time by the orderly progression of agricultural seasons and church festivals, and by the regularity of holidays, weather cycles, and years that revealed the Divine order (Taxis) underlying the world.
As the Greek and Roman methods of computing time were connected with certain pagan rites and observances, Christians began at an early period to adopt the Hebrew practice of reckoning their years from the supposed period of the creation of the world.
Currently the two dominant dates for creation that exist using the Biblical model, are about 5500 BC and about 4000 BC. These are calculated from the genealogies in two versions of the Bible, with most of the difference arising from two versions of Genesis. The older dates of the Church Fathers in the Byzantine Era and in its precursor, the Alexandrian Era, are based on the Greek Septuagint. The later dates of Archbishop James Ussher and the Hebrew Calendar are based on the Hebrew Masoretic text.
The Fathers were well aware of the discrepancy of some hundreds of years between the Greek and Hebrew Old Testament chronology,[note 16] and it did not bother them; they did not quibble over years or worry that the standard calendar was precise "to the very year"; it is sufficient that what is involved is beyond any doubt a matter of some few thousands of years, involving the lifetimes of specific men, and it can in no way be interpreted as millions of years or whole ages and races of men.
To this day, traditional Orthodox Christians will use the Byzantine calculation of the World Era in conjunction with the Anno Domini (AD) year. Both dates appear on Orthodox cornerstones, ecclesiastical calendars and formal documents. The ecclesiastical new year is still observed on September 1 (or on the Gregorian Calendar's September 14 for those churches which follow the Julian Calendar). September 2018 marked the beginning of the year 7527 of this era.
5984 AM (AD 476) – Final collapse of the West Roman Empire
6045 AM (AD 537) – Justinian I decrees that the indiction must be included when designating a Byzantine year.
6118 AM (AD 610) – After Greek became dominant also in the government at around AD 600, as it had been for many common subjects, the Eastern Roman Empire changed its official language from Latin to Greek. More than 100 years after the Fall of Constantinople (AD 1453), a German historian introduced the name "Byzantine empire" and "Byzantium" for the Greek period of the Eastern Roman Empire; this name finally became dominant among historians and cartographers. One conventional date for the start of the Byzantine period is this date of 600 AD.
6961 AM (AD 1453) – Fall of Constantinople leading to the final collapse of the Byzantine Empire. The civilization of Rome in its most inclusive sense, including both Ancient Rome and New Rome (Constantinople), lasted a total of 2,206 years.
7000 AM (AD 1492) – Millennialist movements in Moscow due to the 7000th year of the church calendar.
Coptic calendar (Note that the "Alexandrian Era" (March 25, 5493 BC), is totally distinct from the Coptic "Alexandrian Calendar", which is derived from the ancient Egyptian calendar and based on another era, the Era of the Martyrs (August 29, 284))
↑ i.e. Eastern Roman Empire. The term Byzantine was invented by the German historian Hieronymus Wolf in 1557 but was popularized by French scholars during the 18th century to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire. The citizens of the empire considered themselves Romaioi ("Romans"), their emperor was the "Roman Emperor", and their empire the Basileia ton Romaion ("Empire of the Romans"). The Latin West designated the empire as "Romania", and the Muslims as "Rum".
↑ Significantly, this same phrase – "from the foundation of the world", or "since the dawn of time", (Greek: από καταβολής κόσμου, Apo Kataboles Kosmou) – occurs repeatedly in the New Testament, in Matthew 25:34, Luke 11:50, Hebrews 4:3, 9:26, and Revelation 13:8, 17:8. Anno Mundi eras many reflect a desire to use a convenient starting point for historical computation based on the Scriptures.
↑ About the year 462 the Byzantine Indiction was moved from September 23 to September 1, where it remained throughout the rest of the Byzantine Empire, representing the present day beginning of the Church year. In 537 Justinian decreed that all dates must include the indiction, so it was officially adopted as one way to identify a Byzantine year, becoming compulsory.
↑ This differed from the status of the Greeks who lived in the Western Empire, who generally employed Roman-style dating even in their mother tongue.
↑ On the occasions when the Byzantines did employ the Roman method of dating, they were in fact liable to misunderstand it and consider the "3rd of the kalends" to refer to the third day of the month rather than the day before the end of the prior month.
↑ To convert our era to the Byzantine era, add 5509 years from September to December, and 5508 years from January to August.
↑ Eratosthenes of Cyrene (275-194 BC) represented contemporary Alexandrian scholarship; Eupolemus, a Palestinian Jew and a friend of Judah Maccabee, writing in 158 BC, is said to have been the first historian who synchronized Greek history in accordance with the theory of the Mosaic origin of culture. By the time of the 1st century BC, a world chronicle had synchronized Jewish and Greek history and had gained international circulation: Alexander Polyhistor (flourishing in 85-35 BC); Varro (116-27 BC); Ptolemy priest of Mendes (50 BC), who is cited by Tatian (Oratio ad Graecos, 38); Apion (1st century AD); Thrasyllus (before AD 36); and Thallus (1st century AD) – all cited chronicles which had incorporated the dates of the Noachite flood and the exodus. (Ben Zion Wacholder. "Biblical Chronology in the Hellenistic World Chronicles". in The Harvard Theological Review, Vol.61, No.3 (July 1968), pp.451–452.)
↑ The "Era of Antioch" (5492 BC) and "Era of Alexandria" (5502 BC) were originally two different formations, differing by 10 years. They were both much in use by the early Christian writers attached to the Churches of Alexandria and Antioch. However after the year AD 284 the two eras coincided, settling on 5492 BC. There are, consequently, two distinct eras of Alexandria, the one being used before and the other after the accession of Diocletian. ("Epoch: Era of Antioch and Era of Alexandra." In: The Popular Encyclopedia: being a general dictionary of arts, sciences, literature, biography, history, and political economy. (Vol. 3, Part 1). Glasgow: Blackie and Son, 1841. p.73.)
↑ A calendar obtained by extension earlier in time than its invention or implementation is called the proleptic version of the calendar.
↑ In the commonly used 19‐year Easter moon cycle, there was no year when the Passover (the first spring full moon, Nisan 14) would coincide with Friday and the traditional date of the Passion, March 25; according to Alexandrian system the date would have to have been Anno Mundi 5533 = 42(!)AD.
↑ It is likely that his reckoning is from 43 BC, the year in which Octavian was declared consul by senate and people and recognized as the adopted son and heir of Caesar. Epiphanius, (Haeres) also puts Jesus's birth in the 42nd year of Augustus when Octavius Augustus xiii and Silanus were consuls; and they were consuls in 2 BC. (George Ogg. "Hippolytus and the Introduction of the Christian Era". in Vigiliae Christianae, Vol.16, No.1 (Mar., 1962).)
↑ Roman Martyrology: Some Traditionalist Catholics use the year 5199 BC, which is taken from Catholic martyrologies, and referred to as the true date of Creation in the "Mystical City of God", a 17th-century mystical work written by María de Ágreda concerning creation and the life of the Virgin Mary. This year was also used earlier by the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea in 324. (V. Grumel. La Chronologie. 1958. pp.24–25).
↑ In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, the Jewish calendar was reformed. F. Rühl has shown that the adoption of this era must have taken place between the year 222, when Julius Africanus reports that the Jews still retained the eight-year lunar cycle (which is referred to in the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch (74:13–16); see Enoch calendar), and 276, when Anatolius makes use of the nineteen-year Metonic cycle to determine Easter after the manner of the Jews. ("The Era of the Creation." JewishEncyclopedia.com.) The epoch that Hebrew calendar currently uses, the Hillel World Era, beginning October 7, 3761 BC, is traditionally regarded as having been calculated by Hillel II in the 4th century (c. 358 AD), but did not become universal practice until the end of the Middle Ages. (Karl Hagen. "The Jewish Calendar". Polysyllabic.com.)
↑ Note that according to Wacholder, Josephus' chronology for the antediluvian period (pre-flood) conforms with the LXX, but for the Noachites (post-flood) he used the Hebrew text. He chose this method to resolve the problem of the two chronological systems. (Ben Zion Wacholder. "Biblical Chronology in the Hellenistic World Chronicles". in The Harvard Theological Review, Vol.61, No.3 (Jul., 1968).)
Related Research Articles
Common Era or Current Era (CE) is one of the notation systems for the world's most widely used calendar era. BCE is the era before CE. BCE and CE are alternatives to the Dionysian BC and AD system respectively. The Dionysian era distinguishes eras using AD and BC. Since the two notation systems are numerically equivalent, "2019 CE" corresponds to "AD 2019" and "400 BCE" corresponds to "400 BC". Both notations refer to the Gregorian calendar. The year-numbering system utilized by the Gregorian calendar is used throughout the world today, and is an international standard for civil calendars.
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is an Oriental Orthodox Christian church based in Egypt, Africa and the Middle East. The head of the Church and the See of Alexandria is the Patriarch of Alexandria on the Holy See of Saint Mark, who also carries the title of Coptic Pope. The See of Alexandria is titular, and today the Coptic Pope presides from Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the Abbassia District in Cairo. The church follows the Alexandrian Rite for its liturgy, prayer and devotional patrimony. With 20–25 million members worldwide, whereof about 18 to 22 million are in Egypt, it is the country's largest Christian church.
New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count increments by one.
An epoch, for the purposes of chronology and periodization, is an instant in time chosen as the origin of a particular calendar era. The "epoch" serves as a reference point from which time is measured.
The Coptic calendar, also called the Alexandrian calendar, is a liturgical calendar used by the Coptic Orthodox Church and also used by the farming populace in Egypt. This calendar is based on the ancient Egyptian calendar. To avoid the calendar creep of the latter, a reform of the ancient Egyptian calendar was introduced at the time of Ptolemy III which consisted of the intercalation of a sixth epagomenal day every fourth year. However, this reform was opposed by the Egyptian priests, and the reform was not adopted until 25 BC, when the Roman Emperor Augustus imposed the Decree upon Egypt as its official calendar. To distinguish it from the Ancient Egyptian calendar, which remained in use by some astronomers until medieval times, this reformed calendar is known as the Coptic calendar. Its years and months coincide with those of the Ethiopian calendar but have different numbers and names.
Dating creation is the attempt to provide an estimate of the age of Earth or the age of the universe as understood through the origin myths of various religious traditions. Various traditional beliefs held that Planet Earth, or the entire Universe, was brought into being in a grand creation event by one or more gods. Once these cultures developed calendars, many began to ponder the question of precisely how long ago this event happened.
The Ussher chronology is a 17th-century chronology of the history of the world formulated from a literal reading of the Old Testament by James Ussher, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. The chronology is sometimes associated with young Earth creationism, which holds that the Universe was created only a few millennia ago by God as described in the first two chapters of the biblical book of Genesis. Ussher fell into disrepute in the 19th century.
A calendar era is the year numbering system used by a calendar. For example, the Gregorian calendar numbers its years in the Western Christian era. The instant, date, or year from which time is marked is called the epoch of the era. There are many different calendar eras such as Saka Era.
Annianus of Alexandria was a monk who flourished in Alexandria during the bishopric of Theophilus of Alexandria around the beginning of the fifth century. He criticized the world history of his contemporary monk Panodorus of Alexandria for relying too much on secular sources rather than biblical sources for his dates.
The Ethiopian calendar or Eritrean calendar is the principal calendar used in Ethiopia and also serves as the liturgical year for Christians in Eritrea and Ethiopia belonging to the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and Ethiopian-Eritrean Evangelicalism. It is a solar calendar which in turn derives from the Egyptian calendar, but like the Julian calendar, it adds a leap day every four years without exception, and begins the year on August 29 or August 30 in the Julian calendar. A gap of 7–8 years between the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars results from an alternative calculation in determining the date of the Annunciation.
The Era of the Martyrs, also known as the Diocletian era, is a method of numbering years used by the Church of Alexandria beginning in the 4th centuryAD and by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the 5th century to the present. Western Christians were aware of it but did not use it. It was named for the Roman Emperor Diocletian who instigated the last major persecution against Christians in the Empire. Diocletian began his reign 20 November 284 during the Alexandrian year that began on 1 Thoth, the Egyptian New Year, or 29 August 284, so that date was used as the epoch: year one of the Diocletian era began on that date. This era was used to number the year in Easter tables produced by the Church of Alexandria.
Chronicon Paschale, also called Chronicum Alexandrinum, Constantinopolitanum or Fasti Siculi, is the conventional name of a 7th-century Greek Christian chronicle of the world. Its name comes from its system of chronology based on the Christian paschal cycle; its Greek author named it Epitome of the ages from Adam the first man to the 20th year of the reign of the most August Heraclius.
December 24 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - December 26
Panodorus of Alexandria was an Egyptian Byzantine monk, historian and writer who lived around 400.
Coptic history is part of history of Egypt that begins with the introduction of Christianity in Egypt in the 1st century AD during the Roman period, and covers the history of the Copts to the present day. Many of the historic items related to Coptic Christianity are on display in many museums around the world and a large number is in the Coptic Museum in Coptic Cairo.
↑ George Synkellos. The Chronography of George Synkellos: a Byzantine Chronicle of Universal History from the Creation. Transl. Prof. Dr. William Adler & Paul Tuffin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
↑ Van der Essen, L. "Chronicon Paschale". In The Catholic Encyclopedia (New Advent). New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908.
↑ St. John Chrysostom. Homily "On the Cross and the Thief" 1:2.
↑ St. Isaac the Syrian. Homily 19, Russian edition, pp. 85 [Homily 29, English edition, p.143].
↑ Fr. Seraphim Rose. GENESIS, CREATION and EARLY MAN: The Orthodox Christian Vision. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California, 2000. pp.236.
1 2 3 , George Ogg. "Hippolytus and the Introduction of the Christian Era". in Vigiliae Christianae, Vol.16, No.1 (Mar. 1962), p.4-6.
↑ The Rudder (Pedalion): Of the metaphorical ship of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Orthodox Christians, or all the sacred and divine canons of the holy and renowned Apostles, of the holy Councils, ecumenical as well as regional, and of individual fathers, as embodied in the original Greek text, for the sake of authenticity, and explained in the vernacular by way of rendering them more intelligible to the less educated. Comp. Agapius a Hieromonk and Nicodemus a Monk. First printed and published AD 1800. Trans. D. Cummings, from the 5th edition published by John Nicolaides (Kesisoglou the Caesarian) in Athens, Greece in 1908, (Chicago: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1957; Repr., New York, N.Y.: Luna Printing Co., 1983).
↑ Niketas Choniates. O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates. Transl. by Harry J. Magoulias. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1984. p.338
↑ Doukas (c. 1460). Decline and Fall of Byzantium To The Ottoman Turks. An Annotated Translation by Harry J. Magoulias. Wayne State University Press, 1975. pp.57–58.
↑ Fr. Seraphim Rose. GENESIS, CREATION and EARLY MAN: The Orthodox Christian Vision. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California, 2000. pp.539–540.
↑ St. Basil the Great. Hexæmeron. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd Series (NPNF2). Transl. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. (1819–1893): VOLUME VIII – BASIL: LETTERS AND SELECT WORKS. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.
↑ Panteli, Maria; Purwins, Hendrik (2013). "A Quantitative Comparison of Chrysanthine Theory and Performance Practice of Scale Tuning, Steps, and Prominence of the Octoechos in Byzantine Chant". Journal of New Music Research. 42 (3): 205–221.
Doukas. Decline and Fall of Byzantium To The Ottoman Turks. An Annotated Translation by Harry J. Magoulias. Wayne State University Press, 1975.
George Synkellos. The Chronography of George Synkellos: a Byzantine Chronicle of Universal History from the Creation. Transl. Prof. Dr. William Adler & Paul Tuffin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Ibn Ezra, Abraham ben Meïr, (1092–1167). Ibn Ezra's Commentary on the Pentateuch: Genesis (Bereshit). (Vol.1 – Genesis). Transl. and annotated by H. Norman Strickman & Arthur M. Silver. Menorah Pub. Co., New York, N.Y., 1988.
Julius Africanus. Extant Writings III. The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus.
Niketas Choniates. O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates. Transl. by Harry J. Magoulias. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1984.
St. Basil the Great. Hexæmeron. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd Series (NPNF2). Transl. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. (1819–1893): Volume VIII – Basil: Letters and Select Works. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The Rudder (Pedalion): Of the metaphorical ship of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Orthodox Christians, or all the sacred and divine canons of the holy and renowned Apostles, of the holy Councils, ecumenical as well as regional, and of individual fathers, as embodied in the original Greek text, for the sake of authenticity, and explained in the vernacular by way of rendering them more intelligible to the less educated.
Comp. Agapius a Hieromonk and Nicodemus a Monk. First printed and published 1800. Trans. D. Cummings, [from the 5th edition published by John Nicolaides (Kesisoglou the Caesarian) in Athens, Greece in 1908], Chicago: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1957. Repr., New York, N.Y.: Luna Printing Co., 1983.
Theophanes. The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History, AD 284–813. Cyril Mango, Roger Scott, Geoffrey Greatrex (Eds.). Oxford University Press, 1997.
Theophilus of Antioch. Theophilus of Antioch to Autolycus. Book III. Chap XXIV (Chronology from Adam) – Chap. XXVIII (Leading Chronological Epochs).
Prof. Dr. William Adler. Time Immemorial: Archaic History and its Sources in Christian Chronography from Julius Africanus to George Syncellus. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1989.