Calendar and Chronology, Jewish and Christian: Biblical, Intertestamental and Patristic Studies

Calendar and Chronology, Jewish and Christian: Biblical, Intertestamental and Patristic Studies

Calendar and Chronology, Jewish and Christian: Biblical, Intertestamental and Patristic Studies

Calendar and Chronology, Jewish and Christian: Biblical, Intertestamental and Patristic Studies

Synopsis

This book deals with various challenging problems in Jewish and early Christian thought and practice, within the general areas of the calendar and chronology. New problems are tackled, and old problems are reconsidered. The new problems are intertestamental, and include the Qumran calendar, the stages in the development of Judaism between the Testaments, and the various chronologies used in early Judaism to measure past and future time. These chapters are mainly of Jewish interest, though the last-mentioned has a Christian bearing also, centring as it does on messianic expectation. The old problems all have a Christian bearing, and are biblical or patristic, though illustrated here by intertestamental evidence. They include the relationship between the Sabbath and Sunday, the date of the crucifixion, the origin of Easter and Whitsun, and the date of Christmas. This publication has also been published in hardback (no longer available).

Excerpt

Calendars and chronologies are both concerned with time. Calendars relate time to recurring events, particularly in the realm of worship. Chronologies relate time to once-for-all events, in the realm of history. Calendars are concerned with days, weeks and months, and often do not extend beyond a year (though the ancient Jewish calendar extended further, to year-weeks and jubilees). Chronologies extend to long periods of years, and seldom concentrate on short periods except when the sequence of events is significant and open to doubt. Chronologies and calendars inevitably overlap, and sometimes the calendrical dates of historical events are important (as with the calendrical date of the Last Supper, discussed here in chapter 9). Occasionally, chronologies and calendars are deliberately combined (as by the Essenes, who structured their chronology on years, year-weeks and jubilees, in the way explained here in chapter 8). All in all, the two have sufficient in common to justify considering them together, as is done in this book, where chapters 1-6 are on calendrical questions, chapters 7 and 10 on chronological questions, and chapters 8 and 9 on both.

Since Christianity began as a school of thought within Judaism, and since both alike had their setting at that stage within a Hellenistic world, there is no need to apologise for including here both ancient Jewish and ancient Christian topics. They have much in common. Again, the fact that some of the topics are biblical (chapters 1-2, 9-10), some intertestamental (chapters 5-8), one patristic (chapter 3) and one a mixture of intertestamental and patristic (chapter 4), hardly needs defending, since these bodies of literature are all ancient and are interconnected. Indeed, the author hopes that he will have made the interconnection still more clear by the way he has been able to apply intertestamental data to the illumination of the Bible (as in chapters 2, 8 and 9) and to the illumination of patristic practice (as in chapters 3 and 4).

What may not be so self-evident is why this particular selection of topics has been made. Obviously, no attempt has been made to cover the whole field of ancient Jewish and Christian calendars and chronologies, and there are many other topics which could have been chosen. The reason for selecting these is their difficulty. Each chapter addresses a perplexing issue which is commonly left unsolved or (the author ventures to think) is solved in a facile or mistaken way; and though the solutions offered here can seldom claim to be more than probable, it is hoped that they will often be found more probable than rival solutions. If, in some cases, they turn out to . . .

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