Byzantine Creation Era

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The Byzantine Creation Era, also "Imperial Creation Era of Constantinople," or "Era of the World" (Greek: Έτος Γενεσεως Κόσμου κατά 'Ρωμαίους ) was the Calendar officially used by the Eastern Orthodox Church from ca.AD 691 to 1728 in the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and from ca.AD 988 to 1700 in Holy Russia, and by the Byzantine Empire[1] from AD 988 to 1453. Its year one, the date of creation, was September 1, 5509 BC to August 31, 5508 BC.

Derived from the Septuagint, it placed the date of creation at 5,509 years before the Incarnation, and was characterized by a certain tendency which had already been a tradition amongst Hebrews and Jews to number the years from the beginning of the world - Etos Kosmou / Apo Kataboles Kosmou (Greek: Έτος Κόσμου, Από Κτίσεως Κόσμου), or Annus Mundi / Ab Origine Mundi AM (Latin).

We do not know who invented this era and when, however it appears for the first time in the treatise of a certain “monk and priest”, Georgios (AD 638-39), who mentions all the main variants of the "World Era" (Ére Mondiale) in his work.[2][3]. Georgios makes it clear that the main advantage of the Byzantine 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 sixth century. He also already regards 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 of Christ or the Crucifixion.[4]

This date underwent minor revisions before being finalized in the seventh century A.D., although its precursors were developed circa AD 412 (see Alexandrian Era). By the second half of the 7th century the Creation Era was known in the far West of Europe, in Britain.[5] By the late tenth century around AD 988[6] a unified system was widely recognized across the Eastern Roman world.

The era was ultimately calculated as starting on September 1st, and Jesus was thought to have been born in the year 5509 Annus Mundi (AM) - the year since the creation of the world.[7]. Thus historical time was calculated from the creation, and not from Christ's birth, as in the west. The Eastern Church avoided the use of the Christian Era since the date of Christ's birth was debated in Constantinople as late as the fourteenth century. Otherwise the Creation Era was identical to the Julian Calendar except that:

  • the names of the months were transcribed from Latin into Greek,
  • the first day of the year was September 1,[8] so that both the Ecclesiatical and Civil calendar years ran from 1 September to 31 August, (see Indiction), which to the present day is the Church year, and,
  • the date of creation, its year one, was September 1, 5509 BC to August 31, 5508 BC.

It is referred to indirectly in Canon III of the Quinisext Council, which the Orthodox Churches consider as ecumenical, its canons being added to the decrees of the Fifth and Sixth Councils, as follows:

"... 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 [6190], ..."[9]

The Creation 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.[10] Meanwhile as Russia received Orthodox Christianity from Byzantium, she inherited the Orthodox Calendar based on the Creation Era (translated into Slavonic). After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the Creation Era continued to be used by Russia, which witnessed millennialist movements in Moscow in AD 1492 (7000 AM) due to the end of the church calendar. It was only in 1700 that the Creation Era in Russia was changed to the Julian Calendar by Peter the Great.[11]. It still forms the basis of traditional Orthodox calendars up to today. September AD 2000 began the year 7509 AM.


Contents

Important Early Calendars

During the period of Late Antiquity in the Mediterranean world there were three highly accredited calendars, namely:

* the Babylonian, descendant of the Sumerian calendar, and basic contributor to the Hebrew Biblical calendar;
* the Egyptian, in use since at least 2550 BC, which institutionalized a year that was 365 days long, being divided into 12 months of 30 days each; and
* the Greek (Era of the Olympiads).

Pliny the Elder, the Great Roman erudite scholar, attempted[12] to promote the Roman calendar as modified by Julius Caesar (i.e. the Julian Calendar) at the same level, as a ‘fourth calendar’.[13].


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,[14] and by Julius Africanus (AD 200-245) in his Five Books of Chronology [15]. 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.[16].

From a scholarly point of view Dr. 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 Hebrew text), in that through the Christian chronographers a window to the earlier Hellenistic biblical chronographers[17] 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 (flourishing 221-204 B.C.) 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, 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: Κοσμου ετη κατ’ Αλεξανδρεις ), also variously termed the "Antiochian Era", developed AD 412, was the precursor to the Byzantine Creation Era. After the initial attempts by Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria and others, the Alexandrian computation of the date of creation was worked out to be 25 March 5493 BC.[19].

The Alexandrine monk Panodoros reckoned 5904 years from Adam to the year AD 412. His years began with August 29, corresponding to the First of Thoth, or the Egyptian new year.[20] Bishop Annianos of Alexandria however, preferred the Annunciation style as New Year's Day, the 25th of March, and shifted the Panodoros 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[21] Alexandrian civil year in progress, 29 August, 5493 BC, with the ecclesiatical 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 the 25th of 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.[22]

Dionysius of Alexandria had earlier emphatically quoted mystical justifications for the choice of March 25th 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 Resurrection as determined by its Easter computus,[23] and its contradiction to the chronology of the Gospel of St John regarding the date of the Crucifixion on Friday after the Passover.[24]

By the late tenth century the Byzantine Creation Era, which had become fixed at September 1 5509 BC since at least the seventh century (differing by 16 years from the Alexandrian date), had become the widely accepted calendar of choice par excellence for Chalcedonian Orthodoxy.[25]

Orthodox Observation of Time

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."[26]

Days of the Liturgical Week

Dr. 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, Trite, Tetarte, and Pempte), a day of "preparation" (Paraskeve), and finally Sabatton.

"Each day was devoted to remembering one or more martyrs or saints, whose observed feast days gradually eclipsed traditional festivals. Kyriake was seen 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 with holy songs sung in remembrance of the Crucifixion. The Virgin Mary was honored on the fifth day of the week, while the seventh day was set aside for the martyrs of the church."[27]


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."[28]

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.[29] Basil the Great for example takes this literal view in the Hexæmeron, a work consisitng 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,..."[30]

Typical of the Christian conviction on this point, St. Hilary of Poitiers also affirms that the Creation was performed ex nihilo:

"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".[31]

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"[32] (2 Maccabees 7:28).[33] 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.[34]

In addition the traditional Jewish understanding of the creation "days" of Genesis is that they are literal as well, as virtually all the Rabbis have understood in commentaries from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic sources.[35][36].

Accounts in Church Fathers

St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom says clearly in his Homily "On the Cross and the Thief", that Christ:

"opened for us today Paradise, which had remained closed for some 5000 years."[37].

St. Isaac the Syrian

St. 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."[38].

St. Augustine

Blessed Augustine 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)[39].

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

St. Hippolytus of Rome (ca.170-235) maintained on Scriptural grounds that the Lord'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[40] (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."[41].

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 5 1/2 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 5 1/2 hours, takes each hour to correspond to a thousand years of the world's life..."[42]

Around AD 202 Hippolytus held that the Lord was born in the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus[43] and that he was born in 5500AM. In his Commentary on Daniel he did not need to establish the precise year of the Lord'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

As mentioned above, in the year AD 691 we find the Creation Era in the Acts of the Trullanum Council (so‐called Synodos Quinisexta).

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 tenth century the Byzantine Era is found in the Novellas of A.D. 947, 962, 964, and most surely of the year A.D. 988, all dated in this way, as well as the Act of patriarch Nicholaos II Chrysobergos in A.D. 987.[44]

John Skylitzes

John Skylitzes' (ca.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,..."[45]

Niketas Choniates

Niketas Choniates (ca. 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]."[46]

Doukas

The historian Doukas, writing circa 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 totalling 609 years. From the Babylonian Captivity to Christ there are fourteen generations totalling 504 years.
By the sequence of Numbers we calculate the number of 5,500 years from the time of the first Adam to Christ."[47].

Comparative List of Dates of Creation

Early Church Writers

  • 5537 BC[48][49] - Julius Africanus (AD 200-245), Church historian.
  • 5529 BC[50][51] - Theophilus (AD 115-181), Bishop of Antioch.
  • 5509 BC - Byzantine Creation Era or "Creation Era of Constantinople." (finalized in 7th c. AD).
  • 5500 BC - Hippolytus of Rome. (ca. AD 234), Presbyter, writer, martyr.
  • 5493 BC - Alexandrian Era (AD 412).
  • 5199 BC - Eusebius of Caesarea, Bishop of Caesarea and Church historian (AD 324).

Later Estimates

  • 5199 BC - Mentioned in the Roman Martyrology[52], published by the authority of Pope Gregory XIII in 1584, later confirmed in 1630 under Pope Urban VIII.
  • 4963 BC - According to the Benedictine Chronology[53], the Creation of Adam is given this date (AD 1750).
  • 4004 BC[54] - Anglican Archbishop James Ussher (AD 1650).
  • 3952 BC - Venerable Bede (ca. AD 725), English Benedictine monk.
  • 3761 BC[55][56] - Hebrew Calendar [Judaism] - (ca. AD 222-276); or, (ca. AD 358 - Hillel World Era).

Criticism

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).[57]
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).[58]
  • 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.[59]
  • 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 agricultual seasons and church festivals, and by the regularity of holidays, weather cycles, and years that revealed the Divine order (Taxis) underlying the world.[60]

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.[61]

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 Creation 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,[62] 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.[63]

To this day, traditional Orthodox Christians will use the Byzantine calculation of the Etos Kosmou 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 2008 marked the beginning of the year 7517 of this era.

See also

References

  1. 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".
  2. Fr. Diekamp, “Der Mönch und Presbyter Georgios, ein unbekannter Schriftsteller des 7. Jahrhunderts,” BZ 9 (1900) 14–51.
  3. Pavel Kuzenkov (Moscow). How old is the World? The Byzantine era κατα Ρωμαίους and its rivals. 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London 2006. p.3.
  4. Prof. Dr. Marcus Louis Rautman. "Time." In Daily Life in the Byzantine Empire. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. pp.7
  5. Pavel Kuzenkov (Moscow). How old is the World? The Byzantine era κατα Ρωμαίους and its rivals. 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London 2006. p.4. (PL XC, 598, 877 (Pseudo‐Beda)).
  6. i.e. From the reign of Emperor Basil II (Βασίλειος Β' ο Βουλγαροκτόνο), (976-1025), who officially used this calendar. It was during this time (ca. 988) that the Alexandrian System was officially superceded in Byzantium by the Byzantine Creation Era.
  7. Paul Stephenson. "Translations from Byzantine Sources: The Imperial Centuries, c.700-1204: John Skylitzes, "Synopsis Historion": The Year 6508, in the 13th Indiction: the Byzantine dating system". November 2006.
  8. 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. Although the successive 15-year indiction cycles are themselves never numbered, each year within the cycle is, and the indiction had become the usual way for the Byzantines to distinguish recent and forthcoming years.
  9. 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 A.D.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).
  10. "Οικουμενικόν Πατριαρχείον", ΘHE, τόμ. 09, εκδ. Μαρτίνος Αθ., Αθήνα 1966, στ. 778. (Religious and Ethical Encyclopedia).
  11. Prof. Charles Ellis (University of Bristol). Russian Calendar (988-1917). The Literary Encyclopedia. 25 September, 2008.
  12. Historia Naturalis, XVIII, 210.
  13. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis. Gueze – ‘Ethiopian’: the Counterfeit Millennium. Sept. 8, 2007.
  14. Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol.2, pp.118-21.
  15. Ante-Nicene Fathers. vol.6, pp.130-38.
  16. Fr. Seraphim Rose. GENESIS, CREATION and EARLY MAN: The Orthodox Christian Vision. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 2000. p.236.
  17. The Hellenistic Jewish writer Demetrius (flourishing 221-204 B.C.) wrote On the Kings of Judea dealing with biblical exegesis, mainly chronology, who computed the date of the flood and the birth of Abraham exactly as in the Septuagint, and who established the ANNUS ADAMI  ; Eratosthenes of Cyrene (275-194 B.C.) represented contemporary Alexandrian scholarship; Eupolemus, a Palestinian Jew and a friend of Judah Maccabee, writing in 158 B.C., 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 first century B.C., a world chronicle had synchronized Jewish and Greek history and had gained international circulation: Alexander Polyhistor (flourishing in 85-35 B.C.); Varro (116-27 B.C.); Ptolemy of Mendes (50 B.C.); Apion (first century A.D.); Thrasyllus (before A.D. 36); and Thallus (first century A.D.) - all cited chronicles which had incorporated the dates of the Noachite flood and the exodus.
  18. Dr. Ben Zion Wacholder. Biblical Chronology in the Hellenistic World Chronicles. in The Harvard Theological Review, Vol.61, No.3 (Jul., 1968), pp.451-452.
  19. Elias J. Bickerman. Chronology of the Ancient World. 2nd edition. Cornell University Press. 1980. p.73.
  20. Rev. Philip Schaff (1819-1893), Ed. Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. New Edition, 13 Vols., 1908-14. Vol. 4, pp.163.
  21. A calendar obtained by extension earlier in time than its invention or implementation is called the "proleptic" version of the calendar
  22. Pavel Kuzenkov (Moscow). How old is the World? The Byzantine era κατα Ρωμαίους and its rivals. 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London 2006. p.2.
  23. 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.
  24. Pavel Kuzenkov (Moscow). How old is the World? The Byzantine era κατα Ρωμαίους and its rivals. 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London 2006. p.2.
  25. In Oriental Orthodoxy by contrast, the Coptic (Alexandrian) Calendar, used to the present day by the Coptic Orthodox Church and rooted in the older Egyptian calendar, is based on a totally different era, called the Era of the Martyrs (Anno Martyrum, unrelated to the Annus Mundi), beginning on August 29, 284, its year one. The Ethiopian Calendar, itself based on the Alexandrian or Coptic calendar, varies from it in that it uses yet another era, the Incarnation Era, which dates from the Annunciation or Incarnation of Jesus on 25 March AD 9, as calculated by Annianos of Alexandria, with its first civil year beginning seven months earlier on 29 August AD 8. (The calculations made by Dionysius Exiguus in AD 525 placed the Annunciation exactly eight years earlier than had Annianos, causing the Ethiopian year number to be eight years less than the Gregorian year number).
  26. Prof. Dr. Marcus Louis Rautman. "Time." In Daily Life in the Byzantine Empire. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. pp.3
  27. Prof. Dr. Marcus Louis Rautman. "Time." In Daily Life in the Byzantine Empire. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. pp.5
  28. Fr. Seraphim Rose. GENESIS, CREATION and EARLY MAN: The Orthodox Christian Vision. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 2000. pp.539-540.
  29. The Orthodox Study Bible. St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Elk Grove, California, 2008. p.2.
  30. 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.
  31. St. Hilary of Poitiers. On the Trinity. Book IV, 16.
  32. The Orthodox Study Bible (Septuagint). St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Elk Grove, California, 2008. (2 Maccabees 7:28), p.653.
  33. Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon. Creation and the Patriarchal Histories: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Genesis. Conciliar Press, 2008. p.34
  34. Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon. Creation and the Patriarchal Histories: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Genesis. Conciliar Press, 2008. pp.34-35.
  35. Paul James-Griffiths. Creation days and Orthodox Jewish Tradition. AnswersinGenesis.org. March 2004.
  36. 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. ISBN 9780932232076
  37. St. John Chrysostom. Homily "On the Cross and the Thief" 1:2.
  38. St. Isaac the Syrian. Homily 19, Russian edition, pp. 85 [Homily 29, English edition, p.143].
  39. Fr. Seraphim Rose. GENESIS, CREATION and EARLY MAN: The Orthodox Christian Vision. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 2000. pp.236.
  40. George Ogg. Hippolytus and the Introduction of the Christian Era. in Vigiliae Christianae, Vol.16, No.1 (Mar., 1962), p.6.
  41. George Ogg. Hippolytus and the Introduction of the Christian Era. in Vigiliae Christianae, Vol.16, No.1 (Mar., 1962), p.5.
  42. George Ogg. Hippolytus and the Introduction of the Christian Era. in Vigiliae Christianae, Vol.16, No.1 (Mar., 1962), p.4.
  43. It is likely that his reckoning is from B.C. 43, 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 the Lord's birth in the 42nd year of Augustus when Octavius Augustus xiii and SIlanus were consuls; and they were consuls in 2 B.C.
  44. Pavel Kuzenkov (Moscow). How old is the World? The Byzantine era κατα Ρωμαίους and its rivals. 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London 2006. p.4.
  45. Paul Stephenson. "Translations from Byzantine Sources: The Imperial Centuries, c.700-1204: John Skylitzes, "Synopsis Historion": The Year 6508, in the 13th Indiction: the Byzantine dating system". November 2006.
  46. Niketas Choniates. O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates. Transl. by Harry J. Magoulias. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1984. p.338
  47. Doukas (ca.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.
  48. Barry Setterfield. Ancient Chronology in Scripture. September 1999.
  49. Fr. Seraphim Rose. GENESIS, CREATION and EARLY MAN: The Orthodox Christian Vision. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 2000. p.236.
  50. Barry Setterfield. Ancient Chronology in Scripture. September 1999.
  51. Fr. Seraphim Rose. GENESIS, CREATION and EARLY MAN: The Orthodox Christian Vision. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 2000. p.236.
  52. 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 Maria de Agreda 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).
  53. Don Maur François d'Antine. Art of Verifying Dates. 4to, 1750. Printed again in folio in 1770.
    (Don Maur François d'Antine was a Benedictine monk, born at Gourieux, in the diocese of Liege, in 1688. He died in 1746. In France the Benedictine Maurist Order presided over the publication of a remarkable series of source collections for both ecclesiastical and secular history, and sponsored the major studies of documentation and chronology of the period).
  54. Anglican and Protestant: In the English-speaking world, one of the most well known estimates in modern times is that of Archbishop James Ussher (1581–1656), who proposed a date of Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC, in the Julian calendar. He placed the beginning of this first day of creation, and hence the exact time of creation, at the previous nightfall. (See the Ussher chronology). When Queen Victoria came to the English throne in AD 1837, 4004 B.C. was still accepted, in all sobriety, as the date of the creation of the world. (Classic Encyclopedia. Chronology).
  55. 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. It may be further conjectured that it was introduced about the year 240-241, the first year of the fifth thousand, according to this calculation, and that the tradition which associated its determination with Mar Samuel (d. about 250) is justified. (F. Rühl. Der Ursprung der Jüdischen Weltära, in Deutsche Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft. 1898. pp. 185,202.)
  56. According to the popular tradition, 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 AD (ca. 358 AD), but did not become universal practice until the end of the Middle Ages. Scholars of this subject however believe that the evolution of the Hebrew calendar into its present form was actually a gradual process spanning several centuries from the first to about the eighth or ninth century AD.
  57. The Orthodox Study Bible. St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Elk Grove, California, 2008. p.2.
  58. The Orthodox Study Bible. St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Elk Grove, California, 2008. p.1778.
  59. Fr. Stanley S. Harakas. The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers. Light & Life Publishing, Minneapolis, 1988. pp.88,91.
  60. Prof. Dr. Marcus Louis Rautman. "Time." In Daily Life in the Byzantine Empire. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. pp.8
  61. Classic Encyclopedia. Chronology - Era of the Creation of the World.
  62. Note that according to Dr. 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.
  63. Fr. Seraphim Rose. GENESIS, CREATION and EARLY MAN: The Orthodox Christian Vision. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 2000. pp.602-603.

External Links

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Bibliography and Further Reading

Primary Sources

  • Doukas (ca.1460). Decline and Fall of Byzantium To The Ottoman Turks. An Annotated Translation by Harry J. Magoulias. Wayne State University Press, 1975. (ISBN 9780814315408)
  • George Synkellos (+ca.810). 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.
  • 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.
  • St. Hilary of Poitiers. On the Trinity. Book IV.
  • 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 A.D.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

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