Byzantine calendar

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Byzantine mosaic of the Creation of Adam, (Monreale Cathedral). Monreale creation Adam.jpg
Byzantine mosaic of the Creation of Adam, (Monreale Cathedral).

The Byzantine calendar, also called "Creation Era of Constantinople" or "Era of the World" (Ancient Greek : Ἔτη Γενέσεως Κόσμου κατὰ Ῥωμαίους, [1] also Ἔτος Κτίσεως Κόσμου or Ἔτος Κόσμου, abbreviated as ε.Κ.; literal translation of ancient Greek "Roman year since the creation of the universe"), was the calendar used by the Eastern Orthodox Church from c. 691 to 1728 in the Ecumenical Patriarchate. [2] [note 1] It was also the official calendar of the Byzantine Empire from 988 to 1453 and of Kievan Rus' and Russia from c. 988 to 1700, [note 2] as well as being used in other areas of the Byzantine commonwealth such as in Serbia. Since Byzantine is a historiographical term, the original name uses the adjective "Roman" as it was what the Eastern Roman Empire continued calling itself. [note 3]

Contents

The calendar was based on the Julian calendar, except that the year started on 1 September and the year number used an Anno Mundi epoch 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 4] Its Year One, marking the supposed date of creation, was September 1, 5509 BC, to August 31, 5508 BC. This would make the current year (AD 2020) 7528 (before September).

History

Creation of Adam and Eve. (Russian icon, 18th c.) Creation of world icon (Russia, 18 c.).jpeg
Creation of Adam and Eve. (Russian icon, 18th c.)

The first appearance of the term is in the treatise of a monk and priest, Georgios (AD 638–39), who mentions all the main variants of the "World Era" in his work. [4] [5] 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 regarded it as the most convenient for the Easter computus. 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. [6]

This date underwent minor revisions before being finalized in the mid-7th century, although its precursors were developed c. AD 412. By the second half of the 7th century, the Creation Era was known in Western Europe, at least in Great Britain. [5] [note 5] 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.

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. [7] [note 6] Historical time was thus calculated from the creation, and not from Christ's birth as it was in the west after the Anno Domini system adopted between the 6th and 9th centuries. The eastern 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.

The Byzantine calendar was identical to the Julian calendar except that:

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 (Anno Domini), 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. [2] [note 1] 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). [note 10] It was only in AD 1700 that the Byzantine calendar in Russia was changed to the Julian calendar by Peter the Great. [14] It still forms the basis of traditional Orthodox calendars up to today. September AD 2000 began the year 7509 AM. [note 11]

The age of the world

God as architect of the world. (Frontispiece of Bible moralisee, c. 1220-1230). God the Geometer.jpg
God as architect of the world. (Frontispiece of Bible moralisée, c. 1220–1230).

The earliest extant Christian writings on the age of the world according to the biblical chronology are by Theophilus (AD 115–181) in his apologetic work To Autolycus, [15] and by Julius Africanus (AD 200–245) in his Five Books of Chronology. [16] 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. [17]

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 12] is preserved:

An immense intellectual effort was expended during the Hellenistic period by both Jews and pagans to date creation, the flood, exodus, building of the Temple... In the course of their studies, men such as Tatian of Antioch (flourished in 180), Clement of Alexandria (died before 215), Hippolytus of Rome (died in 235), Julius Africanus of Jerusalem (died after 240), Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine (260–340), and Pseudo-Justin frequently quoted their predecessors, the Graeco-Jewish biblical chronographers of the Hellenistic period, thereby allowing discernment of more distant scholarship. [18]

The Hellenistic Jewish writer Demetrius the Chronographer (flourishing 221–204 BC) wrote On the Kings of Judea which dealt with biblical exegesis, mainly chronology; he computed the date of the flood and the birth of Abraham exactly as in the Septuagint, [note 13] and first established the Annus Adami (Era of Adam), the antecedent of the Hebrew World Era, and of the Alexandrian and Byzantine Creation Eras.

Alexandrian Era

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 14] the Alexandrian computation of the date of creation was worked out to be 25 March 5493 BC. [20]

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. [21] Annianos of Alexandria however, preferred the Annunciation style[ clarification needed ] 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 15] 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 Jesus 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. [5]

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.

The Alexandrian Era of March 25, 5493 BC was adopted by church fathers such as Maximus the Confessor and Theophanes the Confessor, as well as chroniclers such as George Syncellus. Its striking mysticism made it popular in Byzantium, especially in monastic circles. However this masterpiece of Christian symbolism had two serious weak points: historical inaccuracy surrounding the date of the resurrection of Jesus as determined by its Easter computus, [note 16] and its contradiction to the chronology of the Gospel of St John regarding the date of the crucifixion of Jesus on Friday after the Passover. [5]

Chronicon Paschale. Venetian edition of 1729. Chronicon Paschale.png
Chronicon Paschale. Venetian edition of 1729.

Chronicon Paschale

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. [5] 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 [22] which was so important in the Middle Ages; but in respect of form it is inferior to these works. [23]

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.

Accounts in Church Fathers

John Chrysostom says in his Homily "On the Cross and the Thief", that Christ "opened for us today Paradise, which had remained closed for some 5000 years." [24]

Isaac the Syrian writes in a Homily that before Christ "for five thousand years five hundred and some years God left Adam (i.e. man) to labor on the earth." [25]

Augustine of Hippo writes in the City of God (written AD 413–426):

"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)." [26]

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."

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 [27] (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." [27]

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..." [27]

Around AD 202 Hippolytus held that Jesus was born in the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus and that he was born in 5500AM. [note 17] 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.

In official documents

In the year AD 691, we find the Creation Era in the Acts of the Quinisext Council:

... 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" [29]

We find the era also in the dating of the so-called Letter of three Patriarchs to the emperor Theophilos (April, indiction 14, 6344 = AD 836).

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. [5]

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 [1000], 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,..." [7]

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 queen of cities fell to the Latins on the twelfth day of the month of April of the seventh indiction in the year 6712 [1204]." [30]

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. [31]

Byzantine mindset

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." [32]

For early Christians, the creation of the world was neither a matter of dogma nor a cosmological problem. As part of a history centered on Man, it was a divine act whose reality was beyond any doubt. [33] [note 6]

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." [34]

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. [35]

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. [36]

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. [37]

Historical perspective and cognitive framework

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). [38]
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). [39]

Summary

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. [46]

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 the Ussher chronology 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 18] 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. [48]

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 2019 marked the beginning of the year 7528 of this era.

See also

Other Judeo-Christian eras

Notes

  1. 1 2 (in Greek) "Εἰς ὅλα τὰ πατριαρχικὰ ἕγγραφα μέχρι Φεβρ. 1596 γίνεται χρῆσις τῆς Ἴνδικτιὤνος καὶ τῆς ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου χρονολογίας, ἐνῶ ἡ μετὰ Χριστὸν χρονολογίαν χρησιμοποιεῖται διἀ πρώτην φορἀν ὕπὸ τοῦ πατριάρχου Θεοφἀνους Ά κατἀ Φεβρ. 1597, κατὀπιν ὕπὸ Κυρίλλου τοῦ Λουκἀρεως τὀ 1626, καθιεροῦται δἐ ἐπισἡμως ὕπὸ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας τὀ 1728, ἐπικρατησἀσης τῆς ἀπὀ Χριστοῦ μετἀ τῆς Ἴνδικτιῶνος (Κ. Δελικἀνη, ἔνθ' ἄν., Β', κβ'. Φ. Βαφεἴδου, ἔνθ' ἄν., Γ', 94, Κωνσταντινοὐπολις 1912)." [2]
  2. "The Era of Byzantium...often cited in the form annus mundi, is usual in the East from the seventh century and all but unknown in the West. The reference point is Creation, 1 September 5509 B.C., which may be compared with the mundane dates computed by Eusebius-Jerome (5198 B.C.), the Era of Alexandria (5502 B.C.), the Hippolytan Era (5500 B.C.), the Jewish Era (3761 B.C.), and the Vulgate date of 3952 B.C. calculated by Bede. The Byzantine Era survived the capture of Constantinople, and was still in use in Russia to the end of the seventeenth century." [3]
  3. 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".
  4. 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 may reflect a desire to use a convenient starting point for historical computation based on the Scriptures.
  5. PL XC, 598,877 (Pseudo‐Beda).
  6. 1 2 "Although chronology is very ancient as a historical form, it developed greatly with the emergence of Christianity. It became an important vehicle of religious polemics, imposed and developed the chronological framework of the Bible with apologetic and polemic goals, and reached the very top of most cultivated historical forms. However, we are so permeated with the historiographical thought produced by nineteenth-century positivism that we have difficulties in recognising chronology as an important pre-modern form of historical writing using techniques, methods, and assumptions that can be seen as fundamental for the study of historiography." [8]
  7. 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.
  8. 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. [11]
  9. 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. [12]
  10. "According to Russian reckoning, 1492 marked the close of the seventh millennium of creation, and prophets and visionaries were getting enthusiastic or apprehensive, according to taste. Calendars stopped in 1492. There were skeptics, but they were officially disavowed, even persecuted. In 1490, the patriarch of Moscow conducted an inquisition against heretics, torturing his victims until they confessed to injudicious denunciations of the doctrine of the Trinity and the sanctity of the Sabbath. Among the proscribed thoughts of which the victims were accused was doubt about whether the world was really about to end." [13]
  11. To convert our era to the Byzantine era, add 5509 years from September to December, and 5508 years from January to August.
  12. 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. [18]
  13. From the orthography of proper names, and from various expressions used, it is evident that Demetrius used the Septuagint text of the Bible.
  14. 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. [19]
  15. A calendar obtained by extension earlier in time than its invention or implementation is called the proleptic version of the calendar.
  16. 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.
  17. 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. [28]
  18. 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. [47]

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New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count increments by one.

Roman calendar Calendar used by the Roman Kingdom and Roman Republic

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 1st century BC 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 tropical year.

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.

Coptic calendar Egyptian liturgical calendar

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.

Dionysius Exiguus Byzantine saint

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. Almost all churches adopted his computus (calculation) for the dates of Easter.

Dating creation

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.

Ussher chronology 17th-century chronology of the history of the world

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 period of time elapsed since one epoch of a calendar and, if it exists, before the next one. For example, the Gregorian calendar numbers its years in the Western Christian era.

Annianus of Alexandria was a monk who flourished in Alexandria during the bishopric of Theophilus of Alexandria around the beginning of the 5th 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 known by Eritreans 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 P'ent'ay Churches. The Ethiopian calendar 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 seven to eight 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 century AD 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.

Anno Mundi calendar era

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:

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 25 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics) day in the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar

December 24 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - December 26

The controversy over the correct date for Easter began in Early Christianity as early as the 2nd century AD. Discussion and disagreement over the best method of computing the date of Easter Sunday has been ongoing and unresolved for centuries. Different Christian denominations continue to celebrate Easter on different dates, with Eastern and Western Christian churches being a notable example.

Panodorus of Alexandria was an Egyptian Byzantine monk, historian and writer who lived around 400.

References

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Hebrew Calendar

Bibliography and further reading

Primary sources

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.

Secondary sources

21st century

20th century

19th century and earlier

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