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to the Ancient Paths of scripture.

Walking in the Ten Words (Commandments) and the Power of the Holy Spirit

(Rev.12:17, Luk.10:19, Mat.28:19-20)

The Repairer of the Breach

I find it very interesting that we here and now know very little about calendar history.  First off -----which calendar is it that matters to us?   Which calendar tells us the story of the past?  Which calendar do we ‘hang our hat on’ for true reference of events?

I guess a good time in history to begin is right after the Messiah.  This time is what matters to us as to how we should keep His Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Day of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles and His Sabbath.

Most everyone has never carefully examined exactly when these feasts are to be done. 
As I started digging for information on the calendar, I found some very interesting things.  First I started with the Gregorian calendar.  This calendar did not come into existence until the 16th century.  So, I went back to the Julian calendar which was the predecessor of the Gregorian.  This calendar did quite a metamorphosis in its lifetime.  To start with; the Roman calendar was a lunar calendar believed to have been started by Romulus in 735 BC.  This calendar had an 8-day week called the Nundina.  The 8th day was the market day.  Each year the letter indicating that day would change according to where it landed in the beginning of the new year.  In 46 BC, after visiting Cleopatra (Pharaoh of Egypt at that time), Julius Caesar reformed the calendar to a solar calendar which was fashioned after the one used in Egypt.  The Egyptian calendar however, broke the month up into 3 ‘weeks’ of 10 days.  The Julian calendar was at first mixed with the old lunar figuring, because the titles of Kalends (beginning of month), Nones (end of month), and Ides (middle of month) were still used and there were still 8 days a week.  The nundinal cycle was eventually replaced by the seven-day week which began with the day of Saturn.  This first came into use in Italy during the early imperial period in the second century.  The system of nundinal letters was also adapted for the week.  For a while, the week and the nundinal cycle coexisted, but by the time the week was officially adopted by Constantine in AD 321, the nundinal cycle had fallen out of use and the day of the Sun took the place of first day and Saturn was bumped to last.  

During the 2nd and 3rd centuries this Roman mess was being followed.  In that same area there were other calendars being used.  From reading several writings of different historical persons, I discovered at least the following calendars:  Egyptian, Macedonian, Jewish, and Roman were used.  These were all going on at the same time. To say the least, having all these calendars being observed in the same area at approximately the same time; it was not an easy thing to coordinate the feast date.  The one feast that steered the course of the Gentile Christian church away from the Jewish Christian church was the date of the Passover observance.  While the Bishops of the circumcision (Jewish Christians – many from the seventy sent out by Yeshua along with the original 12) were stationed in Jerusalem, the proper observances of YHWH’s feasts were being upheld.  However, in 135 AD Hadrian laid siege on Jerusalem and changed the lives of the Jews drastically.  He forbid the Torah and stopped the Hebrew calendar.  He then banished all Jews from the city and surrounding area even to the point of not being able to gaze at it.  With the Bishops of the circumcision removed, the gentile Christians stepped into the church leadership role.  Without Hebrew influence to stay on track according to the correct calendar (Hebrew luni\solar), followers of Yeshua began to drift away from observing the proper appointed feasts.  It was also at this time that much upheaval with the orthodox Jews and their calendar observances was taking place.   I have copied just a few writings displaying the controversy of the calendars at this time in history (2nd – 4th cen.).

Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus.    vol 8.08.10   2nd & 3rd centuries
[a.d. 130-196.] This author comes in as an appendix to the stories of Polycarp and Irenæus and good Anicetus, and his writings also bear upon the contrast presented by the less creditable history of Victor. If, as I suppose, the appearance of our Lord to St. John on “the Lord’s day” was on the Paschal Sunday, it may at first seem surprising that this Apostle can be claimed by Polycrates in behalf of the Eastern custom to keep Easter, with the Jews, on the fourteenth day of the moon. But to the Jews the Apostles became “as Jews” in all things tolerable, so long as the Temple stood, and while the bishops of Jerusalem were labouring to identify the Paschal Lamb with their Passover. The long survival of St. John among Jewish Christians led them to prolong this usage, no doubt, as sanctioned by his example.  He foreknew it would quietly pass away. The wise and truly Christian spirit of Irenæus prepared the way for the ultimate unanimity of the Church in a matter which lies at the base of “the Christian Sabbath,” and of our own observance of the first day of the week as a weekly Easter. Those who in our own times have revived the observance of the Jewish Sabbath, show us how much may be said on their side, and elucidate the tenacity of the Easterns in resisting the abolition of the Mosaic ordinance as to the Paschal, although they agreed to keep it “not with the old leaven.”

Anatolius (230-280 AD)   vol6.04.02
“There is, then, in the first year, the new moon of the first month, which is the beginning of every cycle of nineteen years, on the six and twentieth day of the month called by the Egyptians Phamenoth.  But, according to the months of the Macedonians, it is on the two-and-twentieth day of Dystrus. And, as the Romans would say, it is on the eleventh day before the Kalends of April. Now the sun is found on the said six-and-twentieth day of Phamenoth, not only as having mounted to the first segment, but as already passing the fourth day in it. And this segment they are accustomed to call the first dodecatemorion (twelfth part), and the equinox, and the beginning of months, and the head of the cycle, and the starting-point of the course of the planets. And the segment before this they call the last of the months, and the twelfth segment, and the last dodecatemorion, and the end of the circuit of the planets. And for this reason, also, we maintain that those who place the first month in it, and who determine the fourteenth day of the Paschal season by it, make no trivial or common blunder.”

“Nor is this an opinion confined to ourselves alone. For it was also known to the Jews of old and before Christ, and it was most carefully observed by them. And this may be learned from what Philo, and Josephus, and Musaeus have written;”

“But nothing was difficult to them with whom it was lawful to celebrate the Passover on any day when the fourteenth of the moon happened after the equinox. Following their example up to the present time all the bishops of Asia - as themselves also receiving the rule from an unimpeachable authority, to wit, the evangelist John, who leant on the Lord’s breast, and drank in instructions spiritual without doubt - were in the way of celebrating the Paschal feast, without question, every year, whenever the fourteenth day of the moon had come, and the lamb was sacrificed by the Jews after the equinox was past; not acquiescing, so far as regards this matter, with the authority of some, namely, the successors of Peter and Paul, who have taught all the churches in which they sowed the spiritual seeds of the Gospel, that the solemn festival of the resurrection of the Lord can be celebrated only on the Lord’s day. Whence, also, a certain contention broke out between the successors of these, namely, Victor, at that time bishop of the city of Rome, and Polycrates, who then appeared to hold the primacy among the bishops of Asia. And this contention was adjusted most rightfully by Irenaeus, at that time president of a part of Gaul, so that both parties kept by their own order, and did not decline from the original custom of antiquity. The one party, (Polycrates) indeed, kept the Paschal day on the fourteenth day of the first month, according to the Gospel, as they thought, adding nothing of an extraneous kind, but keeping through all things the rule of faith. And the other party, passing the day of the Lord’s Passion as one replete with sadness and grief, hold that it should not be lawful to celebrate the Lord’s mystery of the Passover at any other time but on the Lord’s day, on which the resurrection of the Lord from death took place, and on which rose also for us the cause of everlasting joy.”

Clement of Alexandria – vol2.05.03
“And the paschal feast began with the tenth day, being the transition from all trouble, and from all objects of sense.”

 Epiphanius (310-403AD) (Panarion – book II and book III)
“For they choose to celebrate the Passover with the Jews – that is, they contentiously celebrate the Passover at the same time that the Jews are holding their Festival of Unleavened Bread.  And indeed, <it is true> that this used to be the church’s custom -  
9,7 For long ago even from the earliest days, its various celebrations in the church differed –  (8) And in a word, as is not unknown to many scholarly persons, there was a lot of muddle and tiresomeness every time a controversy was aroused in the church’s teaching about this festival….and down to our own day.  This has been the situation ever since <the church> was thrown into disorder after the time of the circumcised bishops.
(4) And there were altogether fifteen bishops from the circumcision.  And at that time, when the circumcised bishops were consecrated at Jerusalem, it was essential that the whole world follow and celebrate with them.  <But> since <the festival> could not be celebrated <in this way> for such a long time, by God’s good pleasure <a correction> was made for harmony’s sake in the time of Constantine.
12,1 And much could be said about the good the fathers did – or rather, the good God did through them– by arriving at the absolutely  correct determination, for the church, of this all-venerable, all-holy Paschal Feast, its celebration after the equinox, which is the day on which the date of the fourteenth of the lunar month falls.  Not that we are to keep it on the fourteenth itself; the Jews require one day while we require not one day but six, a full week.  (2)The Law itself says, to extend the time,  “Ye shall take for yourselves a lamb of a year old, without blemish perfect, on the tenth of the month, and ye shall keep it until the fourteenth,  and ye shall slay it near evening on the fourteenth day of the month that is, the lunar. But the church observes the Paschal festival, that is, the week which is designated even by the apostles themselves  in the Ordinance, beginning with the second day of the week, the purchase of the lamb.  And the lamb is publicly slaughtered (i.e. by the Jews) if the fourteenth of the month falls on the second day of the week – or if it falls on the third, the fourth, the fifth, the eve of the Sabbath or the Sabbath, for the six days are designated for this purpose.”

Note:  Since the Bishops of circumcision were no longer in the lead of church instruction because of Hadrian’s decree to be banished from Jerusalem and the Hebrew calendar was no longer allowed;  The church was literally left in the hands of the Gentile converts who knew very little of Hebrew understanding.  From this time on the Gentiles and Jews became farther and farther apart to the point the Jews were despised by the church leaders and by some were labeled Christ killers.
If you look closely at the underlined quote in the last paragraph of Epiphanius, he makes a statement from the Ordinance of the apostles about beginning on the second day of the week – the purchase of the lamb.  He then goes into this confusing Passover explanation of how to fit the six required days they kept at that time by using the Julian calendar.  However, that statement by the apostles is based on a lunar week, for on a lunar calendar the 10th of the month IS the second day of the week.

Two Perpetual Calendars   by William Becker 1995
The inconsistencies of the present calendar came about by the forced amalgamation (by Constantine) of the Roman (Egyptian) solar calendar of 365 (or 366) days, with the 28-day lunar calendar divided into quarters of seven-day weeks. The calendar as we know it repeats the same date on the same day of the month and week only after several years, as I'm sure you are aware. Grasshopper Dates.
The problem is to make the solar year divisible into seven-day lunar weeks, which are now so ingrained into our way of life. Three hundred and sixty four days divided by seven equals 52 weeks.

Jewish Encyclopedia - WEEK (Hebr. "shabua'," plural "shabu'im," "shabu'ot";  

           Aramaic, "shabbeta," "shabba"; N. T. Greek, σάββατον, σάββαατα):
Connection with Lunar Phases.
A division of time comprising seven days, thus explaining the Hebrew name. There are indications of the use of another system of reckoning time, in which the month was divided into three parts of ten days each, the decade being designated in Hebrew by the term " 'asor" (Gen. xxiv. 55; comp. the commentaries of Dillmann and Holzinger ad loc.; Ex. xii. 3; Lev. xvi. 29, xxiii. 27, xxv. 9). This apparently represented one-third of the solar month, while the week of seven days was connected with the lunar month, of which it is, approximately, a fourth. The quadripartite division of the month was evidently in use among the Hebrews and other ancient peoples; but it is not clear whether it originated among the former. It is unnecessary to assume, however, that it was derived from the Babylonians, for it is equally possible that observations of the four phases of the moon led the Hebrew nomads spontaneously and independently to devise the system of dividing the interval between the successive new moons into four groups of seven days each.

HILLEL II.: Patriarch (330-365A.D.)

Tradition ascribes to him an enactment which proved of incalculable benefit to his coreligionists of his own and of subsequent generations. To equalize the lunar with the solar year, and thereby render possible the universal celebration of the festivals on the days designated in the Bible, occasional intercalations of a day in a month and of a month in a year were required.

During the persecutions under Hadrian and in the time of his successor, Antoninus Pius, the martyr Rabbi Akiba and his pupils attempted to lay down rules for the intercalation of a month.

Under the patriarchate of Simon III (140-163) a great quarrel arose concerning the feast-days and the leap-year, which threatened to cause a permanent schism between the Babylonian and the Palestinian communities—a result which was only averted by the exercise of much diplomacy.

In 325 the Council of Nice was held, and by that time the equinox had retrograded to March 21. This council made no practical change in the existing civil calendar, but addressed itself to the reform of the Church calendar, which was soli-lunar on the Jewish system. Great disputes had arisen as to the time of celebrating Easter. Moreover, the Church was not fully established, many Christians being still simply Jewish sectarians. A new rule was therefore made, which, while still keeping Easter dependent on the moon, prevented it from coinciding with Passover.

The persecutions under Constantius finally decided the patriarch, Hillel II (330-365), to publish rules for the computation of the calendar, which had hitherto been regarded as a secret science.

While digging for some kind of path that was carved at this time, I realized that this was such a time of turmoil for not just Jews and Christians, but for all who lived in the area.  As one writer said – This was a time when they were busier with speaking life than recording it (my paraphrase).  If however, you want to read for yourself all the writings, I looked through the following:    History of Hadrian, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Epiphanius, Eusebuis church history, Irenaeus, and Catholic Church history, Jewish Encyclopedia (Hillel II, Calendar, and Week).

When did the Calendar change?


by Diane Covher