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

V. ANNEXES



CHART 3

JULIAN DATES FOR THE 1ST DAY OF THE "ANTIQUE" CALENDAR MONTHS


Tableau 1 (annexes)

LITERARY SOURCES
The Evangelists

Matthew, 26, 5  => The crucifixion happened before the feast
Luke, 1, 3   => Luke was a well informed eyewiteness
Luke, 3, 1   => In the 15th year of Tiberius Cæsar's reign [...] Caiaphas
was a high priest.
Luke, 4, 16-17  => The new year fell on a saturday
Luke, 4, 18-21  => Beginning of a jubilee year
John, 1, 19   => The Sanhedrin inquiry
John, 2, 12-13  => Christ was baptized shortly before the 1st Pessah
John, 5, 1 & 9  => Sukkot fell on a saturday
John, 6, 4   => 2nd Pessah of Jesus' public life
John, 12, 1 .  => 3rd Pessah of Jesus' public life
John, 19, 31   => Pessah fell on a saturday, the day after Jesus was crucified
The Acts, 2, 20  => Joel's prophecy fulfilled
The Acts, 4, 6   => Caiaphas is no longer high priest
Daniel, 19, 24-27  => "70 weeks prophecy"

Flavius Josephus

J.W. VI,5,3, 289-290  => Date of Pessah 65
J.W. V, 3, 1, 99  => Date of Pessah 70
J.W. insert after II, 9, 168  => John the Baptist survived Herod Philip. (Slavonic version)
J.A. XVIII, 106-107  => Herod Philip dies on the 20th year of Tiberius Cæsar' reign
J.A. XVIII, 116-119  => Lots of people come to hear John the Baptist preaching
J.A. XVIII, 55-59  => Pilate plunders the Korban
J.A. XVIII, 90 & seq.  => Vitellius, in Jerusalem with Pilate, relieves Caiaphas of his duties
J.A. XVIII, 89  => Vitellius sends Pilate to explain himself to Tiberius
J.A. XVIII, 120-125  => Vitellius hears of Tiberius' death during Pessah in Jerusalem


BIBLIOGRAPHY

-  Parisot, J.P. & Suagher, F., Calendriers et Chronologie, Paris, Masson, 1996.
-  Lefort, J., La Saga des calendriers, Paris, Pour la Science, 1998.
-  Richards, E.G., Mapping Time, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998.
-  Stioui, R., Le Calendrier hébraïque, Paris, Colbo, 1988.
-  Hawkins, G.S. Stonehenge Decoded, New-York, Dorset Press, 1987.
-  Journes, H. & Georgelin, Y., Pytheas, explorateur et astronome, Ollioules, ed. de la Nerthe, 2000.
-  Edde, AM & Micheau, F., L'Orient au temps des croisades, Paris, Garnier Flammarion n°1121, 2002.
-  Favier, J., Les Grandes Découvertes, Paris, Fayard, 1991.
-  Chevallier, R., Les Voies romaines, Paris, Armand Colin, 1972.
-  Thackeray, H., Flavius Josèphe : l'homme et l'historien, Paris, ed. du Cerf, 2000.
-  Genot Bismuth, J., Un Homme nommé Salut, Paris, ed. O.E.I.L, 1986.
-  Chabert d'Hyeres, S., Des Jours de lumière, Québec, Anne Sigier, 1998.
-  Perrier, P., Karozoutha, Méolan Revel, ed. Desiris 04, 2000.
-  Goldberg, A.S., La Clepsydre, Paris, Albin Michel, 2000.
-  Flavius Josèphe, La Guerre des Juifs, Paris, ed. de Minuit, 1977.
-  Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, Harvard, Loeb Classical Library, 1963.
-  Wise, M., Abbeg Jr M., Cook, E., Les Manuscrits de la Mer morte, Paris, Perrin, 2003.
-  Dictionnaire Encyclopédique du Judaïsme, Paris, Robert Laffont, 1996.

REMARKS ABOUT THE ESSENIAN CALENDAR

This calendar has been known from The Lesser Genesis (Leptogenesis), the Book of Henoch (an apocryphal book) and above all from the Temple roll of parchment, the longer of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
This text has been studied by the man who found it, Yagel Yadin, who considers it as the Essenes Torah.
It mentions a "solar" calendar, different from the lunar one used in the Jerusalem Temple and which officially regulated the official Judaic time.
This calendar comprised a 364 days year, divided into 4 three months sections. We do not know how they adjusted this year which was too short of one day and ¼ with the seasons, or even if there was any readjustment.
Nevertheless, feasts always fell on the same day of the week10.
We cannot but remark that 364 days = 52 weeks.
Time was thus based upon the week, instead of upon the lunation which regulates the Chaldean calendar that was in use troughout all Eastern countries.
The week is a "theological" concept, since the 7th day of rest agreed better with this rigoristic Jewish branch.

We shall try and reconstruct - however hypothetically since there are no texts - how such a calendar functioned in harmony with the seasons. Each trimester comprising 13 weeks, i.e. 91 days, this calendar thence had 2 types of months : 30 or 31 days. The gap with the solar year being of 1,25 days, after 3 years it was of 3,75 days, that is about 4 days. The gap could be absorbed after 15 times since 15 x 0,25 = 3,75.
This calendar thus had two types of years : the regular one of 364 days and the full one of 368 days, which trimesters are made of two 31 days months and one 30 days month.
The full years take place every 3rd year, 14 times on 15. The cycle comprises 45 years or 16 436 days, with 31 regular years and 14 full ones, which on the whole equal to 2348 weeks. The gap with the tropical year - 365,2422 x 45 = 16 435, 899 days - thus reaches one day after 450 years, which is more precise than the Metonic cycle (1 supplementary day after 304 years) and even more so than the 30 years cycle used during the second Temple period.

It seems that the Qumran10 text 4Q319 mentions a sacerdotal calendar which combines :
-  a 7 years sabbatical cycle,
-  a 49 years jubilee cycle,
-  a 24 weeks cycle of sacerdotal duty.
One comes back to the initial situation after 294 years of 52 weeks because :
-  15 288 weeks = 637 x 24 weeks of sacerdotal duty,
-  294 years = 6 x 49 years jubilees = 42 sabbatical cycles.

This calendar is neither lunar nor solar for, with 364 days instead of 365,2422, the new year strays away from the seasons - of roughly one month each 25 years. And the first lunar adjustment of 37 lunations in 3 years is but approximative since the average lunation lasts 29,5135 days instead of 29,5305, which then makes the lunar phases stray of 1 day every 5 years or so. Let us remark that the calendar adjusts itself with the solar year after a very long cycle, since 294 x 364 = 107 016 = 293 tropical years.
This calendar is vague.

N.B. : A year of 364 days opens up other possibilities :
-  13 months of 28 days,
-  trimesters comprising two 28 days months and one 35 days month, which seem less probable when compared to the texts of the Qumran Scrolls.

THE SABBATICAL YEARS

We have seen, in chapter III-2, that the year 35 AD was a jubilee year in the suggested second Temple calendar.
Thence 36 was the beginning of another 50 years period, with a sabbatical year each 7 years and the 50th year being both a jubilee and the 7th sabbatical. Therefore, 70 is the 5th sabattical of this jubilee period.
There exists a Palestinian text, the Seder Olam, which says that the Temple was destroyed during a fallow year (sabbatical)10.
It is yet another evidence that confirms our analysis.

Here is a list of the sabbatical years of the end of the second Temple era :
-  years 70, 63, 56, 49, 42, (35 was a jubilee)
-  years 34, 27, 20, 13, 6 and 2 BC.

Moreover, an interesting discovery took place in 1952 in some Judæan caves near Wadi Murabba'at10; it was the acknowledgement of a debt dated this way :
"During the 2nd year of Nero Cæsar [...] in this fallow year."
Nero acceeded to the throne on October, 14th, 54 so his second year must be 56, which is a sabbatical in the second Temple calendar. This confirms once again our analysis.

Another text found in those caves says :
"On Shevat, 20th of the 2nd year after Israël's redemption by Simon bar Kokhba [...] I rent this land from this day until the end of the fallow year, that is 5 full years."

Simon bar Kokhba's rebellion began in 132 (Julian years), so this second year leads us to 134 and the sabbatical 5 years after, i.e. in 139.

Thence we can note that we are no longer in the second Temple calendar - in which the sabbatical year would have been 142 - but already in Hillel's calendar.
This is a piece of evidence of its being used as soon as the beginning of the 2nd century.

Tableau 3 (annexes)

It is a 60 years recuring calendar
The Julian day of the month lessens by 3. The week day increases by 2.
e.g. : Th, October, 31st, -517 - W, October, 16th, -456

Tableau 4 (annexes)

30 years cycle : 5 lustra of 1831 days + the 6th lustrum of 1801 days = 10 956 days

THE PROPHET HAGGAI'S PUZZLE

Commentators have been puzzled by the Bible double datation for quite a long time. In Haggai, 1, 15 and 2, 1 it is said that :
"15In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king. [...] 1In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying..."

During the IXth century, the Karaite scholar Benjamin al-Nahawandi is said to have declared :
" The prophecy took place on the day when two dates were given for Elul, 24th and Tishri, 21st", which supposes the new year to happen during Nisan39 (i.e. before the second Temple).
We know that Darius succeeded to Cambyses II in 522 BC, that is after the return from exile. So I assume that we are in the period when the Chaldean cycle (30 years) was in use.

The reader will find in Annexes, p 76, that according to this calendar Tishri, 1st, -515 fell on October, 19th, -516, i.e. : J.D. 1 532 881
one lustrum earlier, -1 831 days (1801 + 30 at Ve-Elul)
J.D. 1 531 050
which leads to October, 15th, - 521.
Elul, 24th, 6 days before Ve-Elul, 1st, fell therefore on October, 9th, - 521 ; J.D. 1 531 044

We have consulted the I.M.C.C.E website to know which date of the hebraic calendar (19 years cycle) this Julian date corresponds to and we found :
J.J 1 531 044 = October 9th, -521 = Tishri, 21st, 3240
The Haggai enigma is then solved.

The double datation corresponds :
-  On one hand, to the Chaldean calendar. This confirms that it was used by the Hebrews back from exile.
-  On the other hand, to its conversion into the current Hebraic calendar.  The second date in Haggai, 2, 1 must then be a late gloss by the Masoretes.
-  It gives the precise date of the prophecy : October, 9th, -521 (522 BC). The Persian year beginning on October, 1st, it really did happen during the 2nd year of Darius' reign.

Therefore, we have come to a complete circle. The hypothesis of the "antique" calendar suggested by the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel is corroborated by this text by the prophet Haggai, which is previous.

THE THREE WISE MEN STAR

This wandering star has already given rise to many hypotheses from researchers and artists. According to Kepler, it was the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn ; for Giotto it was a comet and for others it is a nova which had been observed in China around this time. But there is yet another explanation to the phenomenon recounted by Matthew the Evangelist.
This star is quite special.
-  It appears in the Orient and the Wise Men deduce that a king is born (Matthew, 2, 2). It must thence have shone with the brightness befitting a king.
-  The Wise Men see it again, preceding them on the road from Jerusalem to Bethleem, therefore Southward (Matthew, 2, 9).
-  Seeing the star again, "they rejoiced with exceeding great joy" (Matthew, 2, 10). They must have lost its sight for some time then.
-  Finally, the star stops in the sky (Matthew, 2, 9).
This last peculiarity reminds the astronomer of the retrogradation of the apparent course of an inferior planet (i.e. closer to the sun than the Earth). It can only be Venus, which is much more visible than Mercury in the sky.
Indeed Venus is sometimes seen in the morning (in the East), sometimes in the evening (in the West), and sometimes... not at all, when it is in conjunction with the Sun. Thence, the evening star would also be that of the Wise Men...

The reality sublying this story is as follows : in the Orient, the Wise Men see a star shine with great brightness and they set off towards Jerusalem, therefore they must have seen it in the West, i.e. in the evening, at sunset. This period lasts about 3 months.
It so happens that it takes 3 months by caravan to go from Babylonia to Jerusalem. The reappearance of Venus in the morning sky - in the East - takes place about one month after its disappearance.
About 15 days after it reappears, Venus seems to be stationary in the sky, until it seems to turn back... as do the three Wise Men39.

Matthew the Evangelist describes perfectly well, qualitatively, Venus apparent trajectory, which reproduces quite similarly every 584 days or so.
On the other hand, this event took place before Herod's death - before his son Archelaus succeeded him (Matthew, 2, 19). According to Flavius Josephus (J.A. XVII, 166-167), this death occured soon after a lunar eclipse, on a fast day which can be set on March, 13th, 4 BC.
From the date of the occidental (seen in the East) "stop" of Venus which happened in 2002, on November, 19th according to the Longitude Office yearbook (p. 133) and knowing the synodic period of this planet, that is 583,92 days, we can deduce within about a few days the "stop" which the Wise Men saw, between the years 3 and 7 BC :
  substracting 1254 periods => February, 16th, 3 BC
  substracting 1255 periods => July, 12th, 5 BC
  substracting 1256 periods => December, 6th, 7 BC
Luke the Evangelist becomes quite decisive here, since he specifies that the birth happened during summer. Indeed the shepherds were looking after their sheep - at night - in the fields (Luke, 2, 8) and in the stable, the trough was not being used since they used it as a cot (Luke, 2, 7).
So there is only but one possibility :

Nativity happened in 5 BC


that is 9 months before Herod's death, which is not in contradiction with Matthew telling us that Herod had all the Bethleem children under 2 years slain (Matthew, 2, 16).

This Three Wise Men story, quite oriental in the construction, has therefore a specific function : to date the time when Jesus was born, so as to root this character into History.

N.B. : The ancient historical data match up quite well with this "astronomical" dating of the Nativity year.
-  Luke says that Joseph was going back to his birth place for the census, following an edict by Cæsar Augustus, when Jesus' birth occured ( Luke, 2, 1-5).
In Rome the census was quinquennial and Cassius Dio, in his Roman History (LIV, 35), says that in 11 BC Augustus took a census "doing his declaration himself [...] as a mere citizen". This tallies with a Roman census in Judæa in 5 BC, if we take into account that it was such a remote province.
-  Around the year 200, Clement of Alexandria (in his work Stromateis, 1, 21, 145) as well as other authors, dates the nativity back to the 28th year of Augustus' reign. Octavius came into power at the end of the 3rd triumvirate, on January, 1st, 32 BC. The 28th year hence corresponds with the whole year 5 BC.
-  The above result corroborates the Greek astronomer Ptolemy's39 observation of Venus as a morning star, during her greatest elongation, on July, 30th, 140.
Indeed, this observation occured 144 years later than that recounted by Matthew the Evangelist, i.e. after 90 synodic periods of the planet, which leads to a day of July -4 (5 BC) for the "stop" witnessed by the Wise Men.

BABYLONIAN CHRONOLOGY

The reading of an astronomy book about ancient eclipses39 led me to a Babylonian chronology which the author thought was "highly reliable".

I extracted the chart below from this chronology39. It gives the years (of the Julian period) when an intercalary lunation was inserted in the calendar.
This chart ensues from the perusal and translation of cuneiform tablets - which are kept in the British Museum ans elsewhere - dealing with astronomical, dynastic and accounting data.

In this chart :
-  U = intercalary lunation inserted in the middle of the year (month VIth a)
- A = intercalary lunation inserted at the end of the year (month XIIth a)

Spreading out these data according to a 30 years cycle, i.e. according to the "antique" cycle hypothesis, is very instructive and in many ways.

-  During the VIIspan class="exposant">th century BC, the lustrum was in use (30 lunations interval between two intercalary years) from 624 to 610 BC.

-  Then new intervals of respectively 24 and 36 lunations appear, with gaps going from 18 to 54 lunations. In fact, all the VIth century BC seems chaotic, with no apparent rule. It has been suggested that the insertion must have been done according to astronomical criteria (heliacal rising of Sirius in a set month), but undoubtedly there must have been some trial and error with several criteria.
Nevertheless, what is most noticeable during that period is that - with only one exception - there are always two insertions per lustrum and, now and again, one only, so that the number of insertions always remains of 11 over a period of 30 years. The "antique" cycle therefore actually existed in Mesopotamia before Meton's one.

-  From the Vth century onward, a certain regularity appears in the insertions : 19 years periods. But from 383 BC the cycle between two intercalations is set in lunations, i.e. : 36 - 24 - 36 - 36 - 30 - 30 - 36.
Thus we can notice that the cycle known as Meton's was far previous to Alexander the Great's arrival in Mesopotamia.

-  We shall remark as well that the Hebrews which were deported in Babylonia between 587 and 538 BC did not know the 19 years calendar cycle, and this confirms the hypothesis we made in chapter III that the 30 years cycle was adopted for the second Temple calendar, on their coming back from exile.

Tableau 5 (annexes)

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