Bible and calendars
Bible and calendars
PREFACE BIBLE AND CALENDAR
I. PRELIMINARY NOTIONS
1. METHODOLOGY BIBLE AND CALENDAR
2. A QUITE ANCIENT NEW CALENDAR
3. ABOUT CALENDARS
4. A LUSTRUM
5. SWIFT AS THE WIND
II. REDATING JESUS' DEATH
1. DID JESUS' CRUCIFIXION ACTUALLY HAPPEN ON APRIL, 7th, 30 ?
2. RECONSTRUCTING OLD LUNAR OBSERVATIONS
3. EASTER FELL ON A SATURDAY
4. NEW YEAR WAS A SATURDAY TOO
5. THE ONLY LUNAR EXPLANATION
6. THE LONG MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
7. A NEW READING OF DANIEL'S PROPHECY
8. "THEY HAD BEEN REBUILDING THE TEMPLE FOR 46 YEARS..."
9. THE ROMAN POINT OF VIEW
10. EXIT PILATE - ARMY MANOEUVRES IN THE EAST
11. PAUL'S TRAVELS
12. "AND JESUS HIMSELF BEGAN TO BE ABOUT 30 YEARS OF AGE"
13. CONCLUSION
III. THE SECOND TEMPLE CALENDAR
1. WHAT CALENDAR WAS IN USE AT THE TIME
2. ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF JUBILEE YEARS
3. RECONSTRUCTING THE ANTIQUE CALENDAR
4. THE CORRECT WAY TO USE FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS
5. THE CREATION OF THE WORLD ERA
IV. CONCLUSION
V. ANNEXE
FINAL REMARKS

II. REDATING JESUS' DEATH



   

2. RECONSTRUCTING OLD LUNAR OBSERVATIONS




THE MODERN PRECISENESS OF ASTRONOMY
The development of satellites manufacturing and of planetary astronomy has demanded an extreme preciseness in the calculations of the celestial bodies positions according to time. Considerable progress has been happening in this field over the last 30 years.

For example the calculation of Oceanic tides, which depend on the positions of the solar system celestial bodies, takes into account more than 9000 coefficients to reckon the moon trajectory. This is done by the Hydrography and Oceanography Department of the French Navy.

The Institute of Celestial Mechanics and Ephemeris Calculation of the Paris Observatory, also known as the Longitudes Office, provides on its website (www.imcce.fr) all the information regarding eclipses as well as lunar and solar ephemeris on any date and location on earth.

We have thus the means of simulating old astronomical observations with great preciseness9.

We know thanks to Babylonian documents, among others, that during Antiquity the beginning of a month was annouced through the observation of the crescent new moon, as it is still done by Muslims nowadays.

The 1st day of the month, called neomenie, is consequently one day subsequent to the astronomical new moon (ANM) - itself defined by the lunisolar conjuction, which is invisible.

These facts set the problem of the crescent moon visibility.

An article of "La Recherche" (n░ 316, January 1999, p. 66) answers this question this way :

-  "A crescent has never been observed before it was 15 hours old at least.9"
-  "No crescent has ever been observed when sunset and moonset were less than 22 minutes apart." (in "Visibility of the crescent moon and Ramadan" by Karim Meziane et alii)


Another article from "Ciel et Espace" (n 305, September 1995, p 72) is even more precise about the most favourable conditions to observe thin crescent moons :

-  a very dry atmosphere,
-  an experienced observer,
-  spring for a young moon, because the ecliptic forms a maximal angle with the horizon,
-  the moon height above the horizon after sunset.


We cannot but remark that both the time and place of Easter are highly favorable to an early observation of the neomenie.

Indeed, according to Mr P. Rocher from IMCCE : "concerning a similar solar elongation, in spring the difference of azimuth is quite important in the North hemisphere since it increases while the latitude decreases, which itself makes the young crescent moon more visible" at the Jerusalem latitude, 3147'.

The moon visibility is also increased by a low temperature. In March it is still winter ; for instance in 1950 Jerusalem was covered in snow in that period, according to a letter from Louis de Massignon, coming back from a pilgrimage.

Besides, it is said in the Gospels that during the night preceding the Passion, Peter was warming himself near a fire in the Great Priest's courtyard (John, 28, 18).

Finally, one can safely assume that in the Temple, those in charge of each month new moon observation were trained enough to see very thin crescent moons.

The conditions were so favourable that we shall heighten by 50 % the visibility criteria from those scientifically established above, that is :

Visibility
criteria

Age of the crescent moon > ou = 22 hours
Triangle solar/lunar settings > ou = 33 minutes


Flavius Josephus enables us to test this criterion when dating the day before the Pessah celebration of the year 659 (J.W. VI, 5-3, v 290) : it was on Xanthicus, 8th.

Let us note that Flavius Josephus does not refer to the Jewish calendar because in the latter the day before Pessah is a 14th. Then he must refer to the Julian calendar, in which Xanthicus corresponds to April.

In the same work (J.W. V, 3-1, v 99), he sets the date of the Pessah feast of 70 on Xanthicus, 14th.

The corresponding neomenies (i.e. the first day of the month of Nisan) are then respectively March, 26th, 65 and March 31st, 70.

The IMCCE website of the Longitude Office provides the data below concerning these two dates :



Let us note that the visibility criterion setting that the moon age must be above or equal to 22 hours remains relevant despite our arbitrary 50 % heightening.
The second criterion is ascertained as well.



And all the more so since it happened at the Jerusalem latitude during spring.

It was exactly the same on January, 7th, 2000 evening and on April, 28th, 2006.

Knowing this and knowing that the change of date takes place at sunset in the Jewish religion, i.e. around 6 pm at equinoctial times16, and knowing the local date and time of the astronomical conjunction ANM provided by the Longitudes Office (www.imcce.fr), i.e. Universal Time + 2 hours in Jerusalem, we can draw up the following chart :



Proceeding in the same way for the neomenies of the equinoctial months of April and September-October - which correspond to Nisan, 1st (Pessah month) and Tishri 1st (New year) in the Jewish calendar - we obtain the Chart of the New moons observed in Jerusalem during the Julian years 28 to 37 of the current era.

CHART 1 : NEOMENIES




RECONSTRUCTING NEOMENIES OBSERVED IN JERUSALEM
A question may well arise at this stage of our reasoning : how can we suppose that the meteorogical conditions, supposed to be perfect for a good observation, were so at the beginning of each month ?

Actually, it has been known for over a millenium in Babylonia (and the Hebrews came back from their exile in that very same place) that the average lunation lasted 29,53 days ; that is alternatively 29 or 30 days months, with the adding of an intercalary day to a 29 days month every 32 months.

The Islamic calendar is drawn up this way.

So if a neomenie is not observable, one knows the day number of the month to come, according to the previous ones, and one can wait until a day of better visibility to set the date right in comparison with following neomenies.
Furthermore it is highly improbable, in this region, that thirty neomenies in a row were not visible.

On the other side, the unremitting observation of the decrescent moon when it is last visible before a new moon gives precious indications concerning the time of its reapperance.

If the last visible crescent of moon has been very low on the horizon (h<6)9, the first crescent of the next moon will appear about 36 hours later.

On the contrary if it has been quite high, one will have to wait about 59 hours and the observation will have to wait until the day after.

Even if the visibility is temporarily low, the neomenie forecast can all the same be quite precise in a vast majority of cases.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to give my most profound thanks to Mr Patrick Rocher, an astronomer in the Paris Observatory, who was kind enough to confirm with the visibilty criterie in use at the I.M.C.C.E (INPOP 06) and with others and more classic criteria (Yallop, Schaefer, Odeh) the accuracy of the sensitive dates in 30, 33 and 36.

To contact Mr LOUBRIAT click here