The Easter Computus and the Origins of the Christian Era

Hardcover | October 16, 2008

byAlden A. Mosshammer

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The system of numbering the years AD (Anni Domini, Years of the Lord) originated with Dionysius Exiguus. Dionysius drafted a 95-year table of dates for Easter beginning with the year 532 AD. Why Dionysius chose the year that he did to number as '1' has been a source of controversy andspeculation for almost 1500 years. According to the Gospel of Luke (3.1; 3.23), Jesus was baptized in the 15th year of the emperor Tiberius and was about 30 years old at the time. The 15th year of Tiberius was AD 29. If Jesus was 30 years old in AD 29, then he was born in the year that we call 2BC. Most ancient authorities dated the Nativity accordingly.Alden Mosshammer provides the first comprehensive study of early Christian methods for calculating the date of Easter to have appeared in English in more than one hundred years. He offers an entirely new history of those methods, both Latin and Greek, from the earliest such calculations in the latesecond century until the emergence of the Byzantine era in the seventh century. From this history, Mosshammer draws the fresh hypothesis that Dionysius did not calculate or otherwise invent a new date for the birth of Jesus, instead adopting a date that was already well established in the Greekchurch. Mosshammer offers compelling new conclusions on the origins of the Christian era drawing upon evidence found in the fragments of Julius Africanus, of Panodorus of Alexandria, and in the traditions of the Armenian church.

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The system of numbering the years AD (Anni Domini, Years of the Lord) originated with Dionysius Exiguus. Dionysius drafted a 95-year table of dates for Easter beginning with the year 532 AD. Why Dionysius chose the year that he did to number as '1' has been a source of controversy andspeculation for almost 1500 years. According to t...

Alden A. Mosshammer is a Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California in San Diego.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.3 inPublished:October 16, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199543127

ISBN - 13:9780199543120

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Table of Contents

I: Contexts1. Introduction2. Chronological Systems3. Easter and the Passover MoonII: The Easter Tables of Dionysius Exiguus4. The Letters to Boniface and Petronius5. The Structure of the 19-year Cycle6. The Computistical RulesIII: Paschal Calculations in Early Christianity7. The 8-year Cycle and the Invention of the Epacts8. The 19-year cycle of Anatolius9. Athanasius and the Council of Sardica10. The Classical Alexandrian Cycle11. Paschal Calculations at Rome12. Paschal Calculations in the Eastern Empire13. The Chronicon Paschale and the origins of the Byzantine eraIV: The Origins of the Christian era14. Evidence for the chronology of Jesus15. The Christian era of Dionysius Exiguus16. The Christian era of Panodorus17. The Christian era of Julius Africanus18. Anatolius and the Christian eraBibliographyIndex