Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What Year is it Anyway?

There are numerous calendars in use, or available for use, today. Among the most important are the Islamic Calendar, in which it is now the year 1428 A.H. (A.H. being the initials of the Latin anno Hegirae or "in the year of the Hijra"), the Hebrew Calendar in which it is 5767 A.M. (anno mundi or "in the year of the world"), the Chinese Calendar in which it is the year 4703, or the Hindu Calendar in which it is the 5107th Hindu year. The Copts in Ethiopia begin their era with the Christian persecutions and number the year 1723 E.D. (“Era since Diocletian). The Japanese number the years beginning with the installation of a new emperor; this is the nineteenth year of the Heisei Era. In more obscure calendars it is the year 5108 in the Kaliyuga Calendar, the year 2551 in the Buddha Nirvana Calendar, the year 2064 in the Bikram Samvat Calendar, the year 1929 in the Saka Calendar, the year 1183 in the Kolla Varsham Calendar, the year 1414 in the Bengali Calendar, and the 1928th five year cycle of the Vedanga Jyotisa Calendar.

Do any of these dates mean anything to you? Probably not.

How about the year 2760 A.U.C.?

A.U.C. stands for ab urbe condita, Latin for "from the founding of the City (Rome)," and it was the way that many ancient writers dated events using the Roman Calendar. The original calendar of Romulus, the first Roman king, appears to have been lunar, with ten months. It was replaced by the second king, Numa Pompilius, with one more like that of the Greeks, a solar calendar consisting of ten months. This was primarily a lunar (monthly) calendar that rectified itself to the movement of the sun by inserting a mensis intercalaris (“intercalary month”) every second or fourth year. The magistrate who was given legal control of the calendar by Numa was the Pontifex Maximus, the head of the Collegium Pontificum, the religious advisors to the king. After the fall of the kings and their replacement with a republic, this office was confirmed on the Twelve Tablets, the basic law of Rome

Somewhat later, the era of the later Roman Calendar was fixed by the historian Marcus Terentius Varro at the founding of the city some 2760 years ago and dates were noted as being ab urbe condita (A.U.C.). Varro made this calculation late in the seventh century A.U.C,.

Under the late Republic, holders of the office of Pontifex Maximus began to abuse their privileges, adding an intercalary month when their political allies held the annual office of Consul, and shortening the year when it served their purposes. Thus, by 707 A.U.C., when Gaius Julius Caesar became not only Consul but also Pontifex Maximus, the calendar was three months out of sync with the seasons and he resolved to correct it permanently. He introduced a calendar based on a more accurate Babylonian model, adding two months, changing them, from thirty days each to varying lengths, and adding an intercalary day every forth year, or "leap year", to bring the total number of days in the year to 365 and one-quarter, a very near approximation of the actual solar year. Every successive Emperor of Rome, from Augustus to Gratian, held the title of Pontifex Maximus and maintained Caesar’s system intact.

In 1135 A.U.C., at the request of Bishop Saint Ambrose of Milan, the now Christian emperor Gratian removed the pagan altars from the imperial capital and permanently relaxed the office of Pontifex Maximus to the Bishops of Rome. Ever since, the successors to Saint Peter as Pope of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, have been invested with the authority of this legal office.

In 1278 A.U.C., a new system of enumerating the era was developed by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus, as an outcome of his work on calculating the date of Easter. Starting from incarnatione Domini (the birth of Christ), Exiguus re-numbered the years and called them Anno Domini, or "in the year of our Lord." Thus, 1278 A.U.C. was re-numbered 525 A.D,. This system was immediately adopted by the legal authority, the Pope, and became universal throughout the Christian West.

Subsequently, the era preceding the birth of Jesus was designated "before Christ" (B.C.) by Saint Bede, a monk working in the eighth century of the Christian Era. Scholars began using this notation immediately, though legal adoption by the Pope came only some time later. (In this system of enumeration there is no "year zero," but rather two eras that butt up against each other.)

Though the Julian Calendar was a fine system, after the passage of some centuries it was found to be inaccurate by three days every four hundred years. In 1582 A.D., the reigning Pontifex Maximus, Pope Gregory XIII, made necessary corrections, dropping three leap years every four hundred years. Probably because this Gregorian Calendar is accurate to within two minutes every five-thousand years, it has been adopted by every government throughout the world as their primary callendar.

Eastern Prelates have never accepted it however, and Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches still use the Julian Calendar to this day. Dates after 1582 A.D. that are reckoned with the Julian Calendar are noted O.S. (“old style”). The most famous instance of this is date of the Russian Revolution, which took place on 7 November 1917 A.D., was dated by the Julian Calendar as 26 October 1917 O.S., hence it is called the “October Revolution.” Though Orthodox Churches still use the Julian Calendar, it is no longer in use by any government since Greece dropped its use in 1923.

The problem of calendrics remains, however. A number of anti-Christian fanatics wish to keep the dating system they are familiar with, yet they chafe at the legal possession of the calendar by the office of the Pontifex Maximus. They are trying to call the dates C.E., for "common era," and B.C.E., for "before common era."

But the fact remains.

From Numa to Benedict XVI regulation of the calendar has been the legal domain of the Pontifex Maximus.

To call the year 2007 C.E. is not only a shameful denial of our Christian heritage, it is the theft of intellectual property. And I, for one, think that the Quaestors should take action!

1 comment:

Robin said...

It is a violation of the First Commandment to worship a human being (even if the person worshipped happens to be a Jew).

It is of no concern who is the authority behind the calendar. To acknowledge their deity is Avodah Zarah, and must be avoided.