Chronology© 2005 Dr. Barbara Thiering (May, 2005)
In any history, the first information needed is the dating of events. The gospels and Acts are in the form of history, yet are remarkably vague about dates. Luke is the most helpful, saying that the ministry of Jesus began in 29 AD, the 15th year of Tiberius (accession 14 AD), but he does not give the most needed date of all, that of the crucifixion. He appears to follow the Synoptics in presenting only a year's ministry for Jesus, whereas John's gospel presents at least three Passovers, indicating three years.
It appears to be inconsistent that the gospels give exact hours - the 10th hour (John 1:39), the 7th hour (John 4:52), the 3rd, 6th and 9th hours for the crucifixion (Mark 15:25, Mark 15:33; John 19:14) yet give no indication of years. Moreover, John's gospel disagrees with the Synoptics about the hours of the crucifixion.
The major contribution of the pesher is to show that there is a complete chronology, given through the use of terms with special meanings. When information from the Dead Sea Scrolls and related literature is drawn on, it is found that an exact set of significant times is being given, in terms of years, seasons, months and hours.
The necessary information on the following topics in that section will be found directly by following the links:
Through information that has now become available, it has become possible to know what was previously only suspected, that the evangelists were working with a scheme of history, a theoretical chronology directed at their expectation of the end of the present age. A new messianic age would come at a date predetermined by the heavenly calendar, and in the 1st century AD there was intense expectation of its appearance.
In the sixth century BC, at the return from the Babylonian exile, the Zadokite priests and the kings of the line of David at first attempted to regain the power they had held in the Jerusalem temple, but were soon expelled by the new Persian overlords, who did not allow local kings. The men who had been aristocrats, at the top of Israelite society, found themselves reduced to a separated little sect, living in isolation. The new authorities in the Jerusalem temple did not even observe the same calendar of feasts as theirs, so that they had to worship separately.
The Zadokite priests had always held a solar calendar, following the sun, not the moon. During their exile in Babylon they refined it, enhancing its perfect symmetry. It observed a year of 364 days. Its lack of accord with the true length of the solar year was adjusted by a method of intercalation, as will be seen.
The fact that 364 is exactly divisible by 7 meant that its dates always fell on the same day of the week. The number 7 was seen as its basis, giving the sabbaths, the sacred day.
As time went on and their hopes of regaining power in the Jerusalem temple faded, the Zadokites and Davids began to believe that Heaven, which observed their solar calendar as the true one, governed all history in terms of the numbers treated as significant by Pythagoreans. Philo of Alexandria wrote two treatises showing how numbers used in the Old Testament had Pythagorean values. The chief one was 7, as well as 10. Heaven was said to have divided all history into sets of 490 years, and the present era would last 4900 years. Within that period, Heaven would send the longed-for Restoration to power of the true priest and king. They produced prophets who began to make calculations about when the Restoration would come. The Essenes, as they came to be called, gained the reputation of being prophets of the future (Ant.13, 311; Ant 17, 346). One such prophecy, which still governed expectation in the period of Christian origins, is set out in the book of 1 Enoch 93:3-10, 1 Enoch 91:12-13), which has always been known in the Church. Fragments of the book were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The great eras of history, the sets of 490 years, beginning from the Creation and Adam, were each said to be marked by the appearance of a significant biblical event. In the first "week" - set of 490 years (era) - Enoch appeared, in the second "week" Noah with the Flood, then Abraham, then Moses and the Exodus, then the building of the first temple, then its destruction by the Babylonians. At the time of writing this prophecy, they were at the 7th, the year 3430 from creation. The Enoch school was therefore particularly favoured, being at the great 7th era. They had now formed themselves into an organisation called the Plant of Righteousness (93:10).
Their methodological problem was that they did not know the date of creation. Because of their belief in heavenly governance according to the system, they were able to argue backwards from events that they believed to be fulfilments. Since their Plant of Righteousness had been formed at the end of the 7th, this meant that creation had occurred 3430 years previously. But such a belief is always challenged when new events offer better fulfilments, or when prophecies based on the system failed. This was the obstacle that beset them from the time the prophecy was formed. It produced crisis after crisis, re-adjustment after re-adjustment, through the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and the first two centuries AD, until the whole theory with its solar calendar was finally abandoned .
While the Maccabean wars of the 2nd century BC were taking place, the Hasidim believed and hoped that they were about to see the Restoration, for they thought that Heaven would surely give them the temple after its cleansing from the Abomination.. They expressed this hope in their book of Daniel, where in Daniel 9:24-27 they set out the events of the past 490 years, leading up to what they now saw was an era, correcting the previous one of the Enoch school that had been assumed in the 3rd century BC. The original prophecy had predicted the Restoration at the 8th era, the year 3920 from creation. They now believed that the fulfilment of the Restoration was about to come in the 3 1/2 years from September 168 BC to March 164 BC. One of these dates would be the year 3920. But their political hopes were disappointed. The Maccabean brothers took over the high priesthood of the Jerusalem temple, preserving its lunar calendar.
While the Hasidim retained their hope, they produced the book of Jubilees, which is recommended in the Damascus Document for study by the members of the "camps", the village Essenes (CD 16:2-5). It made further subdivisions of the era into sets of 49 years, called jubilees (in distinction from the biblical jubilee of 50 years). One of its main purposes was to adjust the numbering of eras, following the change of the 8th. The era of Moses and the Exodus now becamethe 5th, the first temple the 6th, its destruction near the 7th. Their subsequent calculations show that they began the 7th era at the return from exile, 70 years after the destruction, according to Daniel 9:2.
Following their rejection by the Maccabean regime, they saw some hope in the fact that the number 3920 was 80 before 4000. It must be that Heaven would send the great event in the year 4000 from creation, a number conforming to their reverence for 4 as the first square, the number that governed much of their organisation. They turned their hopes to September 88 BC or March 84 BC.
Associated with the Essenes were the Therapeutae of Egypt, keeping a version of the solar calendar, with the addition of the pentecontads, meetings of their hermits held every 49 days (called 50 by counting the last as also the first). They observed a liturgy based on the Exodus imagery, expressing their feeling that they were now, in Egypt, in a wilderness away from their true home, but would come after 40 years to the Promised Land, the temple in Jerusalem. In their "wilderness" they were led by a "Moses" with his sister "Miriam" (Mary), the head of female hermits. Following the Exodus pattern, they would eventually come to a "Jordan", and be led over it by a "Joshua" (Jesus), who would fight a Holy War for another 40 years. Thus there would be two generations of 40 years, occupying the 80 years between 3920 and 4000.
In 88 and 84 BC they suffered another disappointment. But, as another treatise shows, - III. The Testament of Levi Concerning the Priesthood and Arrogance v.17 (Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VIII, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Anonymous , translated by Philip Schaff et al. ) - it proved to be an incentive for better research. In Daniel 9:25 they had been working with an incorrect date for the destruction of the first temple, confused with the fall of Samaria. They now found a more correct date, near to the true one, 581 BC (true date as now known, 587 BC). The 7th era after the 70 years' exile therefore began 511 BC, bringng them to 21 BC as the 8th era, the year for the Restoration, the year 3920.
Shortly before 21 BC their chronological expectation gave them confidence that Herod would accept their Temple Scroll plan, but, as has been seen, he turned it down and there was a permanent schism. But still they did not give up. They knew that in calculating a date from creation, there was always a problem about whether the first unit - a year, a generation, a jubilee - should be counted as a 0 or a 1. They had been calling the first jubilee of the world a 1, but now saw that if they called it a zero, their expectations could be postponed until 29 AD, 49 years later than 21 BC (subtract 1 from the BC year when counting from BC to AD).
It was in the year 29 AD, the 15th year of the emperor Tiberius, that Jesus in the synagogue read out a biblical passage concerning the Atonement (Isaiah 61:1-2) and followed it by saying, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:16-21). He was announcing that they had come to the end of the zero jubilee, and the long postponed Restoration should now come. It is of interest that 4Q521, the Qumran fragment from the Hasidim concerning a messianic expectation, quotes the same verse from Isa 61, linking it with an atonement and a resurrection.
When there was no fulfilment, they had another resource. Jesus' announcement had been made in September of 29 AD, at the season for the day of Atonement. In Daniel 9: 27, a period of 3 1/2 years or "half a week" for the Abomination, from September 168 BC, had been treated as an intercalation, when there was "no time", so the same date was declared again in March 3 1/2 years later. The double dating was preserved from then on. Diaspora ascetics, having less reverence for the temple, observed the earlier date, while those honouring the temple adopted the later one. The 3 1/2 years from September 29 AD lasted until March of 33 AD. That was the date of the crucifixion, as pesharists familiar with the chronological theory would discover. It was at the time of his arrest that Jesus said "The hour is come" (Mark 14:41). Later on the Friday night, the same day that was to see the fulfilment, the apparent resurrection of Jesus took place. His followers from then on interpreted it as a true Restoration.
The three Passovers of John's gospel fell in 31 AD (John 2:13), 32 AD (John 6:4) and 33 AD (John 19:14). With many other details, they are indications that John's gospel was written first, very early, and is giving the correct account of events. The Synoptics are making adjustments following the schism of 44 AD.
Concurrently with the jubilee calculations, the Therapeutae retained their two sets of 40 year generations for an Exodus and a Holy War. Whenever they made a new start in mission or doctrine, they treated it as a New Exodus. Between the years 11 and 7 BC the schismatics from Herod had reoccupied Qumran, establishing it as the base for their "fourth philosophy". They began another Exodus, dating its first occurrence from September 11 BC. Its 40 years would end in September 30 AD, and its 40 years' Holy War in September 70 AD. It was in August of 70 AD that Jerusalem fell. A chronological expectation was one of the motives for fighting held by the zealots. For a pro-temple version of the scheme, counting from September 8 BC, the end of this Exodus would come in September 33 AD. According to Deuteronomy 2:14 , the first stage of the end of the 40 year Exodus came in its year 38, when Moses reached the east side of Jordan. In September 31 AD, according to John 5:5, a certain man was waiting at a healing pool in year 38 - the pesharist's reading of "38 years" . He was James the brother of Jesus, observing the chronology of the "fourth philosophy", two years before the end of its 40 year Exodus.
In recognition that the original 3920 (following the correction) had been in 21 BC, another school of thought added the 80 years to that date, bringing the year 4000 to 60 AD. That year, 60 AD, was held by many, including the first Christians, to be the true date of the Eschaton, the Last Things. They now calculated from the solstices rather than the equinoxes following their concurrent use of the Julian calendar. In December 60 AD they arrived in Roman territory, on the island of Malta. (Acts 27:27) The "shipwreck" on Malta stood for the shipwreck of their eschatological hopes, when there was again no fulfilment. But some persevered for 3 1/2 years until June of 64 AD. It was at that summer season that they held demonstrations in the hope of a heavenly intervention, were arrested and imprisoned, thus becoming victims for Nero's need of scapegoats for the great fire.
It was within this forest of false prophecies that the Christian millennium was established. The Essene advisers of Herod the Great, holding 21 BC to be the year 3920, saw that 41 BC twenty years before it was the year 3900. Since the duration of the present order was to be 4900 years, the year 3900 marked the beginning of the final millennium.of world history. In 41 BC Herod was on his way up to the kingship, and ready to listen to the Essene advice that he and his dynasty would preside over the final millennium. They would head a Thousand Year Empire of the Jews - a truly ironic historical coincidence.
On the principle of beginning a new Exodus whenever a new form of mission began, Herod the Great established a new Exodus from 41 to 1 BC, to be followed by a Holy War until 40 AD. That system was followed by the militants associated with the ethnarch Archelaus, producing the War Scroll with its 40 year plan. It was in 40 AD, at the non-fulfilment of the plan for victory, that Saul-Paul underwent his conversion to a different political method. But for non-militants who were opponents of Herod the Great, a change of chronology could express their attitudes. Employing zero units, they declared a zero generation of 40 years, from 41 to 1BC. The year 1 BC would now be the year 0 of their new millennium 3900. The year 1 AD would be its year 1. The attitudes of this party were preserved by many Christians, who held this dating within their own circles. When they finally triumphed as the religion of the Roman empire their millennium was imposed for all the world to follow.
Since 1 AD was to be year 1 of the millennium, there was still another final date to come, the year 4900 a thousand years later. In the book of Revelation, ch. 20, the end of the 1000 years is expected, calculated in terms of one of the schemes still being debated. By the time 1000 AD was reached, forms of the theory were still held, but they were finally abandoned. False as the science behind them is, their usefulness to the historical account is that, when understood and related to external histories of the period, they enable precise year dates for the foundations of Christianity to be known.
When it comes to the dates of seasons and days, the detail from all sources gives us reason to see that a whole new science has to be mastered for understanding of Christian origins, the science of calendar. The association of religion with calendar disputes is not unfamiliar, being known from Christian disagreements about the dates of Easter and Christmas that are still maintained. In the period of origins the calendar and the disputes were much more complicated, and gave rise to those that are still preserved.
If it could be known by the Qumran prophets, on the basis of the heavenly calendar, when the Restoration and the Eschaton would come, it could be known also at what season, day and hour they would appear, for these were as symmetrically controlled as the years. In Mark 13:32 it is shown that they believed in a divine plan right down to the day and hour.
The solar calendar was built around the seasons, at the equinoxes and solstices. At the same time, symmetry was the most significant factor, and the fact that dates always fell on the same day of the week overrode the actual seasonal days. In their periods of 91 days between seasons, the 91st day was a special one, treated as their seasonal day. Being an extra day at the end of the third month of 30 days, it was called the 31st of that month. In the normative position of their calendar (see below for the explanation of "normative"), this day always fell on a Tuesday. It could approximate only to the true equinox or solstice day, which occurred, by our naming, on the natural 20th, 21st, or 22nd of the month, March, June, September, December.
It is stated in 1QSa 1:25-26 that communal councils were held, and prepared for over three days. These are found in the pesher to be the days including the 31st, the gatherings for councils being seasonal. The 31sts were the days on which the great events of world history were believed to take place, the fulfilments, and they were expected to appear in the course of the councils. Their timing would favour the calendar practice of one or other of the parties.
The theory of the 31sts as great days was applied to all political events, including events in the lives of the leaders. As with many other precise times, these days are referred to by terms that appear to outsiders to be indefinite, but their exact meaning is known to the pesharist. The 31sts were called "the days", and the season at which they occurred is indicated by the use of the terms "Those Days" and "These Days". In the usage of Luke-Acts the word order indicates which of the pair of seasons is meant En tais hēmerais ekeinais, "in the Days Those" means the 31st in March. En ekeinais tais hēmerais "in Those Days" means September, En tais hēmerais tautais "in the Days These" means June, and en tautais tais hēmerais "in These Days" means December.
Since the 31st was the great day, that of a fulfilment of prophecy, it was called Today (sēmeron). Consequently the day before it, the 30th of the month, was called Yesterday (echthes). The day after it, the 1st of the next month, was called Tomorrow (aurion). These three days, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, referred to the three days for the councils, days of heightened expectation.
When priests were distinguished from laymen in the Qumran hierarchy, the promotions of laymen were held on the 31st, an intermediate day, while the promotions of priests were held on the 1st. In the Lord's Prayer in Matthew's version, the literal Greek of Matthew 6:11 is "our bread of Tomorrow give us Today " (ton arton hēmōn ton epiousion dos hēmin sēmeron). It refers to the change in Christian doctrine, whereby the sacred meal and promotion day for priests on the 1st was observed on the 31st. In other words, Christian laymen could at the same time be priests.
The solar calendar of the Essenes made symmetry a priority. A year of 364 days gave exactly 52 weeks of 7 days each, causing the date to always fall on the same day of the week. The length of the year according to divine order must therefore be 364 days. But this length gave them an even greater discrepancy with the sun. Every year they came to their final day 1 1/4 days, 30 hours before the sun. Each year their 31st fell further back in the month, further from the true equinox or solstice. After 14 years, they were behind by 420 hours, that is 17 1/2 days. Their 31st for the spring equinox now fell near the beginning of March.
After 14 years, therefore, it was necessary to intercalate 17 1/2 days. This seems an unwieldy amount, until it is recognised that half a week, 3 1/2 days, was for them a unit. In Dan 9: 27 the term is used for a period of 3 1/2 years. A period of 17 1/2 days is 2 1/2 weeks, a manageable unit for them. The detail of the pesher confirms that once every 14 years, when they came to Tuesday 31st, they intercalated 2 1/2 weeks. As always for an intercalation, it was treated as a non-time, so that the date at the end of it was the same as the date before it. From the Tuesday at 6 am they counted 2 1/2 weeks to a following Friday at 6 pm. This Friday, near the equinox, was now called the 31st, and all dates were counted from it for another 14 years. By then the same falling back had occurred, and from the Friday 31st early in March they inserted 2 1/2 weeks until a Tuesday near to the equinox.
Thus, when this method was used, the 31st was not always a Tuesday at 6 am, but in alternate quartodecimal periods was a Friday at 6 pm. The Tuesday position may be called the Day, and the Friday position the Night. The Day position was treated as the normative one. The years for the quartodecimal change may be known, from other indications of years. In 29 AD the calendar changed to the Night position, so that the great 31st was on a Friday, at the March equinox. That day became Good Friday. It was the perfect conjunction of days and years for a great fulfilment, and the belief in Jesus' resurrection was strengthened by that fact.
The value of different seasons was a matter of dispute between different priestly parties, because the great traditional feasts also occurred at these times. For some, the March equinox was the superior one because of its connection with Passover. For others, the superior one was the September equinox, because it was then that the great feast, Atonement-Tabernacles, was held. Each party began its intercalation at its preferred season. When the Julian calendar was adopted, with its year beginning in January, those who followed it including Christians placed their intercalation at the solstice, eithet June or December.
A further variation arose from the fact that the normative position was at Day, with Tuesday as the 31st. For some, this was so much in accord with respect for the sun that they always wanted to keep to the same set of days, at the Day position. It may be that thiswas the party called Hemerobaptists, Day- baptists, in related literature such as the Clementines (See "The Clementine Books" in Section 4 on this site). They could achieve it by intercalating every 28 years, inserting 35 days. But to fall back by 35 days was too much. From details of the pesher it is seen that at the equinox 31st they went ahead by 17 1/2 days, then over the next 28 years fell back to 17 1/2 days before the equinox 31st. This gave another position for the 31st, that may be called the post-position, in April or the corresponding month. The close timing of Acts draws on it for certain events. It was this position, some days after the equinox or solstice, that gave the principle of the varying feasts of eastern and western Christians, subsequently revised by reference to the moon..
One of the apparently indefinite terms indicating precisely the quartodecimal intercalation is the Greek epaurion, normally meaning simply "the next day". Its special meaning, however, is "the 31st at the beginning of the 2 1/2 weeks' intercalation". This term is invaluable for giving years in both the gospels and Acts.
The calendar system was controlled by a priestly class who themselves were fully involved in political changes. Whereas the non-temple solarists, who may be called North Solar, held their intercalations every 14 years following on from 168 BC, the pro-temple party that had inserted 3 1/2 years at this time, who may be called South Solar, followed on from 164 BC. Thus there were two sets of years with the same name, and two declarations of an intercalation by different sets of solar priests. Moreover, the form of the calendar that was adopted by the Herods allowed a zero year from creation, so that their intercalations were held a year later than the Essene solarists. This applied to both a non-temple and a pro-temple party of Herodians. Thus there were four sets of dates in the same period. In the gospel period, 29 AD was the North Solar intercalation year, 30 AD the north Herodian, 33 AD the South Solar, and 34 AD the South Herodian. It was also the case that the intermediate years 31 and 32 AD were observed by a party intermediate between north and south. During these years the party differences dating back to earlier history were most obvious, all intercalating at different times.
Other terms indicating an intercalation year are kairos, "season", and "famine" (limos), the latter from the fact that in 168 BC a period of "no feasts" (religious festivals) in the defiled temple had begun, ending 3 1/2 years later.
The 31st itself, when occurring on a Friday, was a sabbaton in the usual sense of the word, the beginning of Saturday. The same word is used for the Tuesday 31st. The great 31st was a religious day, like the sabbath.
The 14 year periods were multiples of the 7 year periods for sabbatical years. Each different set of intercalation years gave different sabbatical years. While the word sabbaton in the singular means a day, in the plural it means a sabbatical year.
The dates we now use come from the Julian calendar, established by Julius Caesar in 45 BC. Its lack of perfect accord with the solar year was corrected by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, but its system of months of varying length and their dates continued and are in worldwide use. The Julian dates of all days in the first century AD are able to be calculated by means of the Dominical Letters, or Sunday Letters, as explained in J. Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Princeton University Press).
The Julian calendar was adopted by the Diaspora ascetics in 44 BC, the year after it was introduced, and used concurrently with their own solar one. It swept aside the thicket of complications arising from the need to reconcile a solar calendar of 364 days, beautifully symmetrical, with an actual year of 365 1/4 days. In the period of the rise of Christianity, one of the major political questions came from the tension between those holding the solar calendar as expressing the will of heaven, and those holding the much more rational Julian calendar. The discrediting of the prophecies built on the solar calendar was the final reason why its use was finally abandoned, and with its abandonment much of the history that had been bound up with it was forgotten or suppressed.
The years in our numbering, corresponding to the solar years numbered from "creation", may be calculated, as has been shown. (See Years.) The series of years for intercalation had to be maintained, no matter what the conflict of views on the numbering from creation, because they were the method of keeping regularly in agreement with the sun, a matter that could be checked by observation.
Every 14 years the day of the week for the 31st changed. The 31st was the extra day near the equinoxes or solstices on which much expectation was focussed as a day of fulfilment. In the normative position it fell on a Tuesday morning, the Day position. But in alternate quartodecimal years it fell on a Friday evening, the Night position. In 33 AD the Friday near the equinox, the 31st in the Night position, was March 20. That was Good Friday.
The Julian dates for all 31sts are known, and the dates and days of other dates of the year may be calculated from these. It is of help in studying the history to know what the date was in our terms. The following table gives the basis of calculation:
The three hours' darkness on Good Friday is an ingenious method of showing the exactitude of the solar calendrists. In the Qumran vestry, as has been shown, a raised platform was used by priests for offering prayers towards heaven. The great hour for the sun was noon. At that hour, a section of the roof over the vestry in front of the platform was normally removed, allowing the sun to shine down on the floor below, for lesser members to look up towards the priests praying on the platform. If they looked too closely, they could be temporarily blinded by looking also at the sun in the sky. This was what happened to Saul-Paul in the Damascus monastery, when he saw Jesus offering prayers on the platform at noon (Acts 9:3-9). However, the calendrists over many years had observed that they had to allow for a discrepancy of about 11 minutes with the sun's year. At intercalation they put in 30 hours per year, 24 hours plus a full 6 hours, not 5 hours and about 49 minutes, as the sun's year would require. They put in about 11 minutes too much. Over 17 years they had inserted about 187 minutes too much, just over 3 hours or 180 minutes. Their measuring instruments (oil lamps with gradations measuring the time it took for the oil to burn down) were fast, reading noon when it was really only 9 am, as they saw by the position of the sun in the sky. So in order to adjust, at the time when their instruments read noon but it was really 9 am, they left the vestry cover over for three hours until the true noon, causing a "three hours' darkness".
This gives the explanation of the fact that in the Synoptics Jesus was crucified at 9 am (Mark 15:25) , and in John's Gospel at noon (John 19:14). It was the true 9 am, and Jesus was on the cross for 6 hours until the true 3 pm. The party of John's gospel did not make the adjustment of hours until the following day, because of another of their calendar disagreements. So they read noon, the fast time, for what was actually 9 am.
In Acts 1:3 the apparent meaning is that Jesus appeared after the crucifixion for 40 days, and this was a miraculous event because he had died on the cross and been resurrected. But as with all terms, and especially chronological terms, the pesharist is intended to discover something very exact, giving a natural event with no supernatural content. The pesher meaning of di' hēmeron tesserakonta is "half-way through a fixed period of 40 days". It means Tuesday March 24, AD 33, the day Jesus returned to Qumran to resume his normal duties.
The 40 days of Mark 1:13 occurred in the north solar version of the year in 29 AD (north solar 3969), and the 40 days of Acts 1:3 occurred in the south solar version of the year in 33 AD (south solar 3969).
The quartodecimal intercalation method inserted 17 1/2 days at the 31st that had fallen back by 2 1/2 weeks due to counting the year as having only 364 days. The intercalation brought the 31st to a date close to the actual equinox or solstice, around the 20th or 21st of the Julian month. The 17 1/2 days were observed by fasting. In addition to this fasting period, there was another one, its details given in Daniel 10:2-4. The seer, Daniel, says that he was "mourning for 3 weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full 3 weeks. On the 24th day of the 1st month..." ( he saw a vision of a scribe clothed in linen).
The book of Daniel is using the Essene solar calendar, as shown by its reliance on sets of 490 years divided into sets of 49 years and 7 years (9:24-27) and other periods of days that are explained by the solar calendar (12:11-12). Its 1st month when the seer fasted began about the March equinox in a year when the calendar was intercalated. He had begun fasting on the 3rd of the month and continued until the 24th of the month. In the normative Day position, 3/I was a Friday (Tuesday 31st at I, Wednesday 1/I).
When, additionally, it was an intercalation year, there had been a fasting period of 19 days before he started fasting, giving a total of 40 days (19 + 21). The day when the 17 1/2 day insertion began, early in March, was made a long day of 36 hours, 1 1/2 days, the sabbaton. The 1 1/2 days were counted with the previous month, leaving 16 days from the 1/I early in March to the adjusted 31st on a Tuesday near the equinox. From the Tuesday to the Friday was 3 days. Thus the total period counted was 16 + 3 + 21, 40 days.
The same facts applied to the Night position of the solar calendar, which was in that position in the gospel period. Its intercalated 31st fell on a Friday evening . That was day 16 of the intercalation fasting that had started early in March. Three days after that, on Monday evening, came its 3/I, day 19. From then, the seer's 21 days went on until its 24/I in late April. These sets of 40 days were observed in both 29 AD, the north solar quartodecimal year 3969, and in 33 AD, the south solar repeated quartodecimal year 3969.
In 33 AD, the Friday 31st at the equinox was Good Friday, on March 20. Day 19 after that, its 3/I, was Monday evening March 23. So its day 20 was Tuesday March 24. In the special meanings of prepositions, dia "through" when used with the genitive means "half", so di' hēmeron tesserakonta means "half of the 40 days", so day 20, Tuesday March 24. The pesharist, an expert in the solar calendar like all Essene monastics, was being given the information that Jesus returned to the Qumran monastery on Tuesday evening, March 24, only a few days after the crucifixion.
The solar calendar fixed a date for the Day of Pentecost, on the 15th of the 3rd month. That was 16 days before the 31st at the end of the month, when the special quarterly days for the season at the beginning of the 4th month were observed, at about the June solstice.
In a quartodecimal year when the 31st had fallen back to early in the month and an intercalation was needed, the sabbaton of 1 1/2 days extended from 31st to 1st. If the calendar was changing from Day to Night, as in the gospel period, its 31st was a Tuesday morning and its 1b a Wednesday evening, in early June. The true date 15a/III fell on that same Wednesday evening early in June, for it always fell 16 days before the 31st near the solstice. Thus an equation was established that in an intercalation year the true15a/III = early 1b.
When the intercalation had been made, the corrected 31st fell on Friday evening, the corrected 1st on Saturday evening, so 1b fell on Sunday morning. Since Pentecost was an increasingly important feast, used for promotions, some parties felt the need for it to be observed at the time of the council meeting days at the solstice. The opportunity was given when the Hemerobaptists established a post-position by going forward 17 1/2 days from the solstice, in the way that has been shown. (See method of intercalation.) Their 31's then moved to a Tuesday in July. Consequently their 15/III, always 16 days before the 31st, fell on the Sunday morning which was the same as the corrected 1b at the solstice. Those who endorsed the post-position, as Agrippa's party did, were able to observe their Pentecost on this Sunday, thus making it coincide with the council meetings.The same dating was used for Pentecost on further occasions in the history of Acts.
In AD 33, the south solar intercalation year, the 31st had fallen back to Tuesday June 2. On Wednesday evening, June 3, the first Pentecost was observed in Jerusalem by Simon Magus with the Twelve, as is recorded in Acts 1:12-14. This Wednesday evening was both the early 1b and the true 15a/III. Later in the month, on Sunday June 21, the second Pentecost was observed by Agrippa's party, as is recorded in Acts 2: 1-36. It was the 15a/III that preceded the post-position 31st in July.
In Acts 2:27 the history of Joseph the father of Jesus is being given by Brother James. Joseph had become the potential King David on the death of his father Jacob-Heli in 16 AD, and had adopted the title "David". He was allied with the Sadducee high priest Eleazar Annas (16 to 17 AD). In v.27, after a "neither" which gives a positive not a negative, the literal translation is "you (Eleazar Annas being addressed) will give the Pious One of you to see destruction."
When it is recognized on the information supplied by Philo (see Lexicon) that the Greek word hosios, "Pious One" has the special meaning "Essene" and that diaphthora "destruction" has the special meaning of "Rome", then the fact is being given that the Essene Joseph spent time in Rome.
In Acts 20:31 the term trietia, "a triennium", appears, and in Acts 28:30 the term dietia, a two- year period. These are not the same as " 3 years" and "2 years" but refer to fixed periods within a system. Paul in Acts 20:31 adds to trietia the expression "Night and Day", which refers to the intercalation of the north solar calendar to the Night position in September AD 57. The terms would mean that that year marked the beginning of a fixed triennium from 57 to 60.
The triennium 57 to 60 would be understood as one of a series going back to 6 AD, the year of the Roman occupation of Judea. Under the Sadducee pro-Roman high priesthood of Ananus the Elder, appointed by the Romans, the ascetic mission would have expanded to reach the far west as well as the east where it had been working for a century. A missionary sent to Rome would need a year for travel each way, as the ship journey took 6 months, and 2 years in the capital would give time for useful work.
In the triennum 18 to 21 AD, starting from 6 AD , a change of policy in Judea brought the Pharisee high priest Caiaphas into power, after the dismissal of the Sadducee Eleazar Annas and a short period under another high priest. Joseph as pro-Sadducee would not have been approved by Caiaphas. It would have solved several problems if he with his family was appointed to Rome during these 3 years. It would also solve a problem for his son Jesus, who was deemed illegitimate by Caiaphas. Jesus had reached the age of 23, that of initiation, in March 17 AD, and in 18 AD reached 24, the age for becoming a deacon. These observations would mean that Jesus spent formative years in his twenties in Rome.
A later triennium in the series was 60 to 63. The ship party bringing the governor Felix to Rome for trial, including Jesus and his son and friends including Peter, Paul, and Luke, finally reached Rome in March of 61 AD. The 2-year period, dietia holē of Acts 28:30 would be the 2 years for active work within the triennium, from 61 to 63.
A variation of the solar calendar that incorporated the new moons and full moons, while retaining the solar dates for days, was also used at Qumran, as shown by fragments found among the scrolls. It is called the Mishmarot calendar, a lunisolar one, and may be seen to have been used by ascetic Herodians, Pharisees and Sadducees. From details in the gospels it is seen that while working with the quartodecimal years, it used more frequent intercalations, inserting 2 1/2 days every 2 years, achieving the same effect. Whereas the solar intercalation began on Tuesday 31st and ended on a Friday over a fortnight later, these ascetics, who "fast - intercalate - frequently" (Luke 5:33) began on the same Tuesday and ended only 2 1/2 days later, on the Thursday at 6 pm. Their method led to the adoption of another 31st, the +2 1/2, with other days consequently following. This variation became relevant on the days of the crucifixion. The Thursday of the Last Supper was not only the North Solar intercalated 30th, but the + 2 1/2 14/I following the South Solar unintercalated 14/I , their Passover. The Synoptics treat the Last Supper as a Passover meal because of the conjunction of dates. In John's Gospel, the Friday is treated as the Passover, because it was the + 2 1/2 15/I, and the party of John's Gospel followed Leviticus 23:6 rather than Exodus 12:18, setting the date of the unleavened bread at 15/I. The exact meaning of Greek: pascha, translated Passover, is "the day of unleavened bread". This is the explanation of the long-standing problem that the Synoptics make the Thursday the Passover and John's Gospel puts it on Friday.
Greater detail on the Mishmarot calendar can be found in "Learning about the Calendar" in this Section.
Since the main divisions of the year were in terms of seasons, and the months were uneven, individual months were numbered according to the Julian year. The word mēn "month" means the 1st of a Julian month. When used with a cardinal number, eg. mēnas treis, ("three months", but to be read "month 3"), it begins the month at midnight according to full Julian usage. When used with an ordinal number, eg. "sixth", it means the same day beginning at 6 am, the Jewish usage.
The special terms give a full set of dates in Luke's gospel for the conception and birth of John the Baptist and Jesus. In Luke 1:24 Elizabeth conceived meta tautas tas hēmeras. That is, the 1st following the 31st near the December solstice (in 9 BC, the year as otherwise known). The official date of her conception (if not the natural one) was Wednesday December 18, 9 BC. On May 1, 8 BC, mēnas pente, month 5, at midnight, she concealed herself, according to the ascetics' practice that her pregnancy should not be seen. In Luke 1:26, the "angel Gabriel" (Simon the Essene) visited Mary on Sunday June 1, 8 BC at 6 am, en tō mēni tō hektō, in the 6th month. In Luke 1:39 Mary came to visit Elizabeth on Tuesday June 17, 8 BC, en tais hēmerais tautais. Elizabeth experienced the movement of the child in the womb during mid-pregnancy. At some time in June, before the first wedding of Joseph and Mary due in September, Jesus was conceived. In September 8 BC John the Baptist was born. (His ceremony of naming at age 12 in September 5 AD is recorded in Luke 1:57-66.) In Luke 1:56 the actual birth of Jesus is obscurely recorded in Luke 1:56, which says that. Mary remained with Elizabeth mēnas treis, month 3, March 1, 7 BC, midnight. This was the official date of his birth, using the Julian months. He would have been born either on or near that date.
Hours are used with ordinal numbers when they begin from 6 am, in Jewish fashion. 9 am is the 3rd hour, noon the 6th, 3 pm the 9th, 4 pm the 10th. Cardinal numbers are used for Julian reckoning from midnight, making distinctions by word order. Mia hōra means 1 am, hōras dyo 2 pm, and so on. The promotions of the different grades took place at the successive hours, the highest at noon, the greatest time for the sun; villagers at 3 pm; unclean Gentiles at 4 pm, which was also the time for visiting the latrine. It is for this reason that it was significant to state that the first disciples of Jesus were called at the 10th hour, 4 pm in John 1:39. Luke-Cornelius' hour was 3 pm, the 9th hour, as he had been made a superior Gentile (Acts 10:3).
The foregoing details on Chronology give the main schemes, but more details are needed for the full pesher. These are explained in Jesus the Man (Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls) and the subsequent books. A full set of events with their dates is given in Jesus the Man.
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