Tag Archives: Bede

The Adamic Calendar and the Life of Christ

A brief portrayal of the Adamic calendar especially as it relates to the birth and resurrection of Christ.

The Adamic calendar system was created from data found in the Old and New Testaments. These contain detailed genealogies that include lifespans. From these lifespans, religious institutions have calculated not only the origin of human history, but theoretically can pinpoint the creation of the earth.

Sometimes this system is known by its Latin name, Anno Mundi or AM in shortened form.

The most well known genealogical lists are found in the Books of Genesis, Matthew, and Luke. This is where the majority of calculations are made from.

A number of articles on this website have been dedicated to tracing the development of the western calendar system. The Adamic is one of the many ancient calendars used, but it wasn’t one of the best systems that existed. Neither can it be accurately relied upon, but since it was historically used, it must be investigated further.

This calendar method has enjoyed cyclical popularity. It never became a universal standard. It has been found in fourth, seventh, twelfth, and 16th century pieces of literature, especially among religious institutions or writers. The 16th century introduced a renaissance of the concept. This can be traced to James Ussher and his book, Annalium pars postierior.

The modern religious Jewish community still uses a form of the Adamic calendar albeit without the Christian symbols.

Roger Pearse has covered the Adamic calendar with his article: Does Eusebius Give a Date for the Creation in his Chronicle. Here he accurately reveals misinformation on the subject, including the coverage found at Wikipedia, and proceeds to correct the ancient Church record. Eusebius, and many early Church authorities, as Pearse substantiates, saw the genealogies as the beginnings of human history, not the history of the earth itself.

Pearse goes into great detail to win his case, but here are some additional thoughts. These ideas are from a slightly different angle. The Adamic calendar does not count so much to me in when the earth was created, but in aiding to identify when Christ was born or crucified.

The third century Christian chronographer, Julius Africanus, understood almost all the calendars in use during his time and explained how to convert them into Attican expressions. He believed the Attican Greek Olympiad calendar to be the most universal of all of them. But he, along with others also used the Adamic calendar too. He wrote:

“The period, then, to the advent of the Lord from Adam and the creation is 5531 years.”(1)Julius Africanus, Book III: The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus, XVIII:4; Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VI as found at http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-06/anf06-50.htm#P2349_661950

Now this date has no meaning unless it is relevant to some specific period of measurable time. Africanus gave the Battle of Actium as his reference point:

“The date of which event is the 11th year of the monarchy and empire of the Romans, and the 4th year of the 187th Olympiad. Altogether, from Adam 5472 years are reckoned.”(2) Julius Africanus, Book III: The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus, XVIII:4; Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VI as found at http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-06/anf06-50.htm#P2349_661950

Now to reconcile the Olympiad with the Adamic calendar takes some basic math. The Battle of Actium occurred on the 4th year of the 187th Olympiad according to Africanus. This falls on 29 BC. This is two years off the normal 31 BC date given for what was considered the actual date of battle but still we can use this for measurement. Now if basic math is applied, the outcome is 30 AD that Christ was crucified on.(3)5472-5531=59 years. 29 BC + 59 years = 30 AD but it could be 29 depending on when the year began. Either January 1st or the spring equinox. . The term used here advent is confusing, and I am assuming from his dating that it does not refer to His birth, but resurrection. This calculation becomes more important in understanding a Christian Arabic parchment below.

The Christian Arabic community in the 12th century carried on a similar tradition to that of Africanus. One manuscript reads:

“And from Alexander, son of Philip the Greek until the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ–let there be adoration of the recollection of Him–three hundred and fifty years. And from our Lord the Christ–Let there be adoration at the recollection of Him–to this year, which is the intended era, a thousand one hundred and fifty-five years. And what is past of the years of the world to the end of this year are six thousand six hundred and eighty-three years. And from Adam until our Lord the Christ five thousand five hundred years.”(4)Studia Sinaitica, Vol. 12. London: Cambridge University Press. 1894-1907?. Pg. 21

The dates were set at the death of Alexander the Great and the passion of Christ, not at the beginning of the reign as the Romans did. The era of Alexander began at 323 BC. Add 350 to this and this results in 27 AD. This was the Arabic Christian’s supposed death and resurrection of Christ. But the Adamic calculation was perplexing “And from Adam until our Lord the Christ five thousand five hundred years”. It doesn’t use the terms ‘advent’ or ‘incarnation’ here, and it is 31 years shorter than Africanus’ account. The neglect of these terms and the significance of 31, which likely reflects the age of Christ, suggests a number of outcomes.

  • The author utilized the same Adamic calendar as Africanus, then the birth date of Christ would be 2 BC.

  • Or, the author intended to subtract 31 from the 27 AD calculation from the era of Alexander, then it would be 4 BC.

  • It also could be argued that the author had drawn from different traditions

The Adamic system had its detractors such as the Venerable Bede. He had a new computational system for the age of the earth and was accused of heresy.(5) Wikipedia on Bede; “For calendric purposes, Bede made a new calculation of the age of the world since the Creation. Due to his innovations in computing the age of the world, he was accused of heresy at the table of Bishop Wilfred, his chronology being contrary to accepted calculations. Once informed of the accusations of these “lewd rustics,” Bede refuted them in his Letter to Plegwin.” When he first wrote De Temporibus Liber, in AD 703 he was well aware of the sensitivities and sneaks in his position, “. . .Christ was born, having completed from Adam 3,952 years. Now there is another date of 5199”(6) De Temporibus Liber MPL vol. 90 Col. 290-292; my own translation ; the 3,952 being his position and 5199 the traditional one.

It also should be noted that the 8th century accepted date of Christ’s birth being 5199 years after the creation of the earth, is not consistent with Africanus’ 5531 reckoning. The 5199 was based on Eusebius’ calculations which became the entrenched position of the Church. Bede was well aware of this fact.

Bede’s AM 3,952 calculation was 1247 years different that Eusebius’. He followed the Hebrew Masoretic rather than the Greek Septuagint Bible on the ages of the Patriarchs for his hypothesis.(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_Creation, There are many who would argue that the Septuagint is based on a much earlier and more credible Hebrew version than the Masoretic text. This argument has many merits but is outside the realm of the research here. The difference between the Hebrew and the Greek adds up to 1376 years according to William Whitaker,(8) William Whitaker. A Disputation on the Holy Scriptures: Against the Papists. Trans. By William Fitzgerald. Cambridge: The University Press. 1853 (Original printing 1610). Pg. 121 which makes this a reasonable, but not exact certainty.

22 years later, Bede was more liberal in the use of his own dating. He still recognized the historic value in the Adamic system, but its importance is devalued going forward after the time of Christ.

In reference to time before Christ, the Adamic is still recognized. This can be found in De Temporum Ratione where he paralleled both systems in this writing. In it he wrote headers such as “A.M. Hebr. 3352. Sept. 4700”(9) MPL De Temporum Ratione. Vol. 90. pg. 533. , to describe a date in antiquity. The first date referring to the Hebrew tradition and the second one, abbreviated “Sept.” for the Greek Septuagint dates.

His calendar utilized the birth-year of Christ as being the dividing point. Any time recorded after the birth of Christ he still used the Hebrew system but abandoned the Septuagint dating one altogether. In the place of the Septuagint he used Chr. instead. For example, the year of Christ’s birth is marked as, “A.M. 3952. Chr. 1.””(10) Ibid MPL, pg. 545.

It is interesting that Bede begins the birth of Christ with the Chr. symbol. He does not use the AD one. It demonstrates that Dionysius Exiguus reckoning of Easter system, which eventually evolved into the AD calendar, had not not evolved or taken hold internationally yet. Chr. as Bede called it, may have been one of the precursors of the AD system becoming entrenched some 100 years later.

Also important to many calendar specialists, is the fact that he did not start with a zero date, but with the number one.

This is a general introduction to the Adamic Calendar system. There is much more to this topic than documented here. The research so far gives some clues to the precise birth year of Christ, but nothing substantial.

References   [ + ]

The Venerable Bede on the Doctrine of Tongues: Conclusion

Thoughts on the works of the Venerable Bede regarding the doctrine of tongues.

The two works written by the Venerable Bede, The Initial Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles and the text written later on his life, A Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles demonstrate a number of conclusions regarding the doctrine of tongues.

Bede’s writings are a primary source material on the christian doctrine of tongues but for whatever reason has been left of the popular narrative. This absence once again identifies the problem of modern day scholars, ministers, and Bible students not knowing their ecclesiastical writings. If modern readers were acquainted with the amount of works covering the doctrine of tongues by the many Church Fathers, including the Venerable Bede, it would dramatically change the contemporary interpretation.

Bede’s initial commentary on the Book of Acts is dependent on his understanding of Gregory Nazianzus’ teaching on the subject. Although Gregory was clear in his Greek text that it was a miracle of speech, the earliest Latin text does not give such clarity. This forced Bede to originally think it was a miracle of hearing.

“…that while the hearers were of the diverse nations, each one according to their language coming from this one speech itself, which had been uttered by the Apostle, that it entered upon the hearer and seized the intellect. Except perhaps according to this, it seemed those who are hearing to be a greater miracle than those who speaking.”(1)My translation. from MPL. Vol. 92 Bedæ Venerabilis: Super Acta Apostolorum Expositio. Col. 945-948. See https://charlesasullivan.com/3409/bedes-initial-commentary-on-acts-21-19/ for more info

The miracle of hearing was established from Rufinus’ Latin translation of the Nazianzus’ text. Nazianzus posited two theories on the miracle of Pentecost. One was the miracle of spontaneously speaking in foreign languages unknown by the speaker beforehand, and the other was one sound emitted and the audience hearing the sound in their own language. Rufinus’ text took some liberties and failed to communicate that Gregory preferred the miracle of speaking as the acceptable interpretation. He misunderstood the Greek and made two critical errors. Rufinus instead gave equal value to both positions and let the reader decide which one was right, which over time leaned towards the miracle of hearing. Bede, upon reading of the Latin text, originally decided it was a miracle of hearing.

Bede did not have strong skills in Greek and he, along with the majority of the Latin Church ecclesiasts, depended on Rufinus’ translation as a key text.

See the article: Nazianzus’ Tongues of Pentecost Paradox: Gregory’s two interpretations of Pentecost and the traditions that followed after this.

He changed his interpretation of Nazianzus in his later work, A Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles and switched it to a miracle of speaking.

“I know to hold myself back from this matter because I have said this thought can be understood in two ways; or rather that I was obligated to find-out how it ought to be understood. I am going to respond briefly to this matter that everything whatsoever of the same sentiment I have written in my previous book. I did not mention this by reason of personal experience, but from the words of the holy and faultless teacher in every respect, that is, I take up Gregory Nazianzus. It is certainly agreed that the apostles filled with the holy Spirit were speaking in all languages, neither is it permitted to be questioned by anyone about this. But in the manner how they were speaking it is to be asked without reservation. It could be the speech of the Apostles had so much power, that they became familiar with the diverse languages by all those, the hearer then is equally able to understand. Or can it be whichever one was being spoken, one was necessary in regards to being appropriate of so great a multitude, with the others left silent, at the moment producing a word of instruction, the person who was speaking at first to the Hebrews, that it produced the speech in Hebrew, while the others do not know what was being said. Then to the Greeks, while those who are ignorant in the Greek language and with the others left waiting. Next to the Parthians, after this the Medes, and so Elamite, and whichever ones are being listed through an order by the nations, its own particular language was to have been spoken, each one at a time awaiting, and being silent, until its order arrives, something was being spoken, they were understood, and so they were to render the approval of the faithful by the words of these teaching, Moreover Luke reports Peter speaking to the crowds and he did not report that he [Peter] spoke repeating the same things the second or third [time], but that these [crowds] in whom have received the plan of salvation are hardly consecrated in the mysteries of the Christian faith.

On the other hand I do not think this to be an error. If either of the two can be trusted to have taken place, and that the apostles in the holy Spirit clearly understood the languages of the nations and had the ability to speak, and the words too were in whatever language expressed by a great miracle, to all who were hearing, that they equally had the ability to learn.”(2)Translated by me. MPL. Vol. 92. Bedæ Venerabilis: Liber Retractationis In Actus Apostolorum. Col. 998-1000

See the article: Bede’s Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles for the actual complete translation.

Bede now corrected his understanding of Nazianzus. The miracle of Pentecost consisted in the miracle of speaking in foreign languages. He then goes on to explaining the mechanics as to how it occurred. Bede draws the conclusion that the miracle can be understood as a miracle of hearing or speaking. The style which Bede approached the subject demonstrated that he had no personal attachment to either side. It was an intellectual journey whose results didn’t matter.

There is no reference by Bede of any historic or contemporary group practicing an alternative experience in his works. He did not see the influences of Montanism, or Donatism as important sources of theological controversy within his time. ■

References   [ + ]

Bede’s Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles 2:1-18

The Venerable Bede on the doctrine of tongues. An English translation of his Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles chapters 2:1-18.

Translated by Charles A. Sullivan from MPL. Vol. 92. Bedæ Venerabilis: Liber Retractationis In Actus Apostolorum. Col. 998-1000


A Book of Reflection on the Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 2

“And when the days of Pentecost were completed, they were all together in the same place,” Some of the other Codices(1)Bede had an extensive Library of Old Latin and the Septuagint texts to choose from and was well aware of textual errors see Calvin B. Kendall’s coverage on this topic. wrongly have Pentecost in the accusative case. For Pentecost in the nominative case is called the fiftieth — in the genitive, is called of the fiftieth, in the accusative [it is simply] the fiftieth day(2)Bede is making an important distinction in the Latin use of cases, which do not exist in English. He is arguing that Pentecost, a word directly derived from the Greek, and the Latin equivalent, Quinquagesima, which both mean fifty, are synonyms. It can be called by either name. In the old Latin Pentecost was called Quinquagesima. It was the official name of the holy day, not just a number or adjective. If it is used in the accusative, it is just a number or adjective. Moreover not one account permits this to be spoken this way, so that when we say Pentecost in the accusative case, when really it ought to be said, “when the day of Pentecost was completed.” certainly it is said without doubt to be with the singular number in the Greek.

“And when the days of Pentecost were completed.” Of course in the very same day of prayer it should be mentioned as well, “These ones celebrate the most sacred Pentecost day,”(3)diem sacratissimum Pentecosten celebrantes — this quotation by Bede is a sacred part of the Catholic tradition of celebrating Pentecost. An alternative English translation could be “celebrating the most sacred Pentecost day. that is, the fiftieth. The solemnity of this day is being reckoned by the tradition of such a word, by which some who do not know the Greek language, even now ought to call Pentecost in the nominative case.

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming: and it filled the whole house where they were sitting,” etc.(4)Douay-Rheims And the actual distinction is most apparent in the giving of the law and in grace with the Old and New testaments. Where it says the group(5)plebs was resting far away, fear, not love was present. They continually dreaded thus far, as they were saying to Moses, “Speak to us, and let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die.” [Exodus 20:19] Then God descended, as it was written, on Sinai as fire, but the frightened group stands still far away, the law by a finger in the stone, nor was it written by the spirit itself in the heart. However, when the holy Spirit came here, the faithful were joined together as one — not even scared on the mountain but entered into the house. Indeed, a sound suddenly came from heaven, so that [the group] was affected also as if a violent wind made a noise, but was not terrified. You have heard the sound. Consider the fire, because each was also on the mountain. And the fire and sound, and yet also smoke, this fire, as if the fire of divided languages. Can it be that it continues to frighten those far away? Let it be far from the hearts of the faithful. For it rested on each one of them and they began to speak in languages, even as the Spirit gave them utterance. Hear the language being spoken, and understand the Spirit writing not in stone, but in the heart.

“And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire: and it sat upon every one of them.”(6)Douay-Rheims It is of this fire, [which is in the genitive case], not this fire [which is in the nominative case]. For in the Greek it has πυρὸς(7)Greek for the word “fire” in the genitive case not πῦρ.(8)Greek for the word “fire” in the nominative case So that this kind of distinction was easy to figure out. As if it was to be said with an added word “And there appeared parted tongues, as it were of a glowing fire,”(9)Apparuerunt dispartitæ linguæ tanquam ignis ardentis or as it were of a brilliant fire, so that it may be understood regarding the definition of fire to be distributed languages.

“And they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”(10)Douay-Rheims It does not have in the Greek in this place, divers tongues but other tongues. For Isaiah expressed that “In other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people: and neither so will they hear me, saith the Lord.”(11)Douay-Rheims. Bede is lifting this quote directly from I Corinthians 14:21, not from Isaiah 28:11 So that the blessed Luke no doubt was inferring this prophecy which was to be fulfilled by gift of the Spirit, likewise the same word was what he saw in the prophecy, he took care to set down in this sacred history.

“Because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these that speak Galilean? etc.”(12)Douay-Rheims. I know to hold myself back from this matter because I have said this thought can be understood in two ways; or rather that I was obligated to find-out how it ought to be understood. I am going to respond briefly to this matter that everything whatsoever of the same sentiment I have written in my previous book. I did not mention this by reason of personal experience, but from the words of the holy and faultless teacher in every respect, that is, I take up Gregory Nazianzus. It is certainly agreed that the apostles filled with the holy Spirit were speaking in all languages,(13)linguis omnibus loquebantur — it is purposely left vague by Bede on purpose. neither is it permitted to be questioned by anyone(14)ulli: from ullus — any, anyone. strange that this is the only occurrence used by Bede in any document I have translated. A later interpolation? about this. But in the manner how they were speaking it is to be asked without reservation. It could be the speech of the Apostles had so much power, that they became familiar with the diverse languages by all those, the hearer then is equally able to understand. Or can it be whichever one was being spoken, one was necessary in regards to being appropriate of so great a multitude, with the others left silent, at the moment producing a word of instruction,(15)interim sermonem proferre doctrinæ the person who was speaking at first to the Hebrews, that it produced the speech in Hebrew, while the others do not know what was being said. Then to the Greeks, while those who are ignorant in the Greek language and with the others left waiting. Next to the Parthians, after this the Medes, and so Elamite, and whichever ones are being listed through an order by the nations, its own particular language was to have been spoken, each one at a time awaiting, and being silent, until its order arrives, something was being spoken, they were understood, and so they were to render the approval of the faithful by the words of these teaching,(16)et sic verbis docentium fidei assensum præberent Moreover Luke reports Peter speaking to the crowds and he did not report that he [Peter] spoke repeating the same things the second or third [time], but that these [crowds] in whom have received the plan of salvation are hardly consecrated in the mysteries of the Christian faith.(17)sed tantum eas accepto salutis consilio Christianæ fidei consecratas esse mysteriis — a nice way of saying the crowd didn’t know very much about what was happening. They were spectators, not theologians, and they only thing they could have explained was that they saw and experienced this event.

On the other hand I do not think this to be an error. If either of the two can be trusted to have taken place, and that the apostles in the holy Spirit clearly understood the languages of the nations and had the ability to speak, and the words too were in whatever language expressed by a great miracle, to all who were hearing, that they equally had the ability to learn.(18)qui audiebant æque potuissent cognosci — this is the first time cognosco is used by Bede in relation to the tongues doctrine. Why such a sudden change? The last few sentences have changed in structure from the rest of the chapter, and is not typical of Bede in a number of other translations I have done. I wonder if this is a later emendation.

“And those who inhabit Mesopotamia, Cappodocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia.”(19)Bede is quoting from a different text than the one used for the initial commentary on Acts. The initial has “Et qui habitabant Mesopotamiam, et Judæam, et Cappadociam” and Reflections has “Et qui habitant Mesopotamiam, et Cappodociam, Pontum et Asiam, Phrygiam et Pamphyliam.” These provinces which are named [in the text] after Judea, are uttered in the Greek language, but if nothing diverse were sounding out in the native usage, so by no means were they to record the fine distinction of languages. From whence the Spirit was to actively be seen in the wonderful grace among the apostles, which not only taught them the diversity of all the languages, and certainly also the distinction of qualities in every language equal the total of provinces which they make use of in this way, he did to be knowledgeable in their utterances.(20)in eorum fecit loquelis agnosci. Lidell and Scott make a distinction between the use of agnosco and cognosco. “As if to know a person or thing well, as having known it before, to recognize: agnoscere always denotes a subjective knowledge or recognition; while cognoscere designates an objective perception; another distinction v. in II.)”

“And strangers of Rome.” The more proper way was contained in the Greek, “Roman foreigners,” that is Jews who were leading the foreign life of Rome, just like others elsewhere, of which had been written above. For this reason the strangers were in this place, who in the Greek were called proselytes, that is, those who from the gentiles to Judaism, leaving the religion of the gentiles(21)relicto gentilitatis ritu — the same construct as found in Judith 14:6 had come together. It is made clear from the following verse when it says, “Jews also, and proselytes.”.(22)Douay-Rheims.(23)Bede makes the same assertion in his initial commentary on Acts that the Jews mentioned in Acts 2:10 were converts from other nations. Why he emphasized this interpretation is not clear to me.


Need information on Bede and the subject matter? The following link may help: The Venerable Bede on the Doctrine of Tongues.

References   [ + ]

Bede’s Initial Commentary on Acts 2:1-18

The Venerable Bede on the doctrine of tongues. An English translation of his initial commentary on the Acts of the Apostles chapters 2:1-18.

Translated by Charles A. Sullivan from MPL. Vol. 92 Bedæ Venerabilis: Super Acta Apostolorum Expositio. Col. 945-948


Bede’s Initial Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 2

“And when the days of Pentecost were completed, they were all together in the same place,” that they are being narrated to have been up high. For whoever longs to be filled by the holy Spirit, it is necessary that they should climb above the residence of flesh to the contemplative mind. Just like also the forty days, by which the Lord after His resurrection had dwelled with the disciples, they note the Church rising together of those who live abroad, so on the fiftieth day that the holy Spirit is being received, a completion of blessed peace, that the work of the temporary Church will be repaid in an eternal 10,(1)Latin:denario. Lidell and Scott, Perseus Version, wrote it meant a coin, whether silver or gold, with a specific value, or simple 10, but later could generally mean money. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=denario&la=la#lexicon He will suitably pronounce. For the calculated number 40 adds 10 more itself from its equal parts, and it makes 50. Half of 40 is 20, the 4th by that of five,(2)Latin:”em” I don’t know what this word actually means in this context, perhaps it is a manuscript error, but can’t think it could be anything other than 5 5th x 8, 8th x 5, 10th x 4, 20th x 2, 40th x 1. For 20,10, 8, 5, 4, 2, and 1 make 50.(3) He is adding up these consecutive numbers to equal 50. Bede was well versed in math, though his audience did not have such an ability, so he used very basic math. Was Bede dabbling in numerology here, or was it showmanship? It could be a little of both. For it is easy to figure-out the form of this calculation, seeing the present strife is the joy of the 50th(4)jubilæi: the year of Jubilee according to the Jews. Bede is being symbolic here using 50 to mean liberation, which can only happen through trial and struggle. to us,(5)awkward Latin: quoniam praesens conflictus gaudium nobis jubilæi. It is missing the verb, which I assume is suppose to have est as if secretly generating the imperishable, from which the Apostle teaches: “For that which is at the present moment and the trivialness of our trouble, works greatness in us, the eternal weight of glory above measure” [I Corinthians 4:17](6)My translation. The Douay-Rheims is not always best in communicating the Latin translation in contemporary English, and I am trying to translate as Bede understood the text to mean.

But the reality is our supreme happiness of the body and soul, we are the ones who pride ourselves in immortality that is being nourished in the eternal vision by the substance and blessing of the Trinity.(7)nos immortalitate gloriantes summæ et beatæ Trinitatis æterna visione satiari. for we exist in four well known distinguished parts of the body. In the inner man, from every heart, soul and mind together, we desire to love God. And this is the perfect 10 of life, that we are to be joyful in the present vision of divine glory. The truth is about to be observed adjoining history that is in the writings of the early authorities, the day of Pentecost, that is, the 50th, which the Law was given, was reckoned after the slaughter of the lamb. This is also not from the passion of the Lord, but as the blessed Augustine explained, 50 days from His resurrection, which the holy Spirit had been sent, it is being reckoned, that, with the evidence taking place of the long standing proof.(8)”qui, redeunte signi veteris exemplo” I am not sure exactly what he means here and my translation remains rough. He [the Spirit] Himself most evidently consecrated the day of the Lord with His arrival. In that critical moment of time, the Passover day of the Lord demonstrated that it must be celebrated. For as it is here, and as well as God appeared in a vision of fire, as it says in Exodus, “And all Mount Sinai was on a smoke: because the Lord was come down upon it in fire.”(9)Douay-Rheims. Exodus 19:18

“And suddenly a sound was made from heaven as if of a mighty wind coming” etc. The Lord indeed appeared by means of fire as the blessed Pope Gregory explains, but made through inner(10)per semetipsum locutionem interius fecit. It is important to both Bede and Gregory the use of interius. This is important. speech itself. And neither the God of fire, nor the sound made a noise but by that which was externally produced, this was expressed in respect to what was conducted on the inside. That it rendered within the disciples as ones who had come on fire, with zeal and skill in the word, the outside showed the fiery tongues. Therefore, the elements had been brought up in accordance with an outward sign, that the persons(11)corpora were experiencing the fire and the sound by the true invisible fire and the hearts were being taught by the voice without sound.

“And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire:”(12)Douay-Rheims That is to say the holy Spirit appeared in fire and languages, because everyone whom he filled are on fire together and these ones are producing phrases. Certainly these ones are on fire from it, and are speaking from it. At the same time it also demonstrates that the holy Church has opened wide the boundaries throughout the world. [The Church] is going to speak in the voice of all the nations.

“And it(13)The Latin clearly means “it” and not “they” as some English translations have sat upon each one of them.” What does it mean that it sat? It is the proof of royal power. Or also that his past labour(14)Vel certe quia requies ejus indicatur in sanctis.– Bede is connecting to a previous paragraph where current suffering brings on holiness. is to be publicly displayed in holiness.

“And they began to speak in various languages.” How the arrogance of Babylon scattered the unity of languages, [and] the humbleness of the Church gathers it back. Moreover, the variety of languages spiritually signifies the gifts of different graces. The holy Spirit is certainly not being inconsistently understood, for that reason the gift of tongues had been given to men before anything else, by which in the form of human wisdom on the outside and becoming learned, and being taught, that it was to demonstrate how easy it can be to make wise men by means of the wisdom of God which is inside them.

“Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”(15)Douay-Rheims I think it is appropriate to seriously ask, who were at this place, and from where were the captive Jews? Seeing that those who had been in Egypt or Babylonia had already been freed. While the Jews had not yet come to the Romans in captivity, and clearly the revenge itself was to be imminent about the crime that was committed against the Saviour.(16) licet jam et ipsa immineret ultrix commissi de Salvatore piaculi – I have my doubts that this is actually the original part of Bede’s work. it appears to be a later insertion. Therefore it remains to be done, so that captivity is to be understood to have been done under Antiochus(17)Antiochus Epiphanes that he certainly destroyed not much time before.(18) Almost 200 years before.

“Because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue.”(19)Douay-Rheims. One should ask in this place why each one was hearing in their own language those speaking the great things of God?

Either [one of the two]: those that they were speaking such in the various words of every language generated what they spoke, that is, each of them here now, yet now again a different language being spoken, so that it was to proceed through every language.

Or rather(20)utrum… an — “Or rather” is from the Latin “an” which Whitaker’s Works says: “can it be that (introduces question expecting negative answer/further question)” which should then be interpreted as a hypothetical position that Bede did not agree. However, Lidell and Scott at Perseus “Sometimes the opinion of the speaker or the probability inclines to the second interrogative clause (cf. infra, II. E.). and this is made emphatic, as a corrective of the former, or rather, or on the contrary.” I think the context along with Lidell and Scott is the correct implementation here. was it more astonishing to this than their speech that whatever language was being spoken, these ones proclaimed in the hearing of each and every person, they were understanding according to their own language. That with the word of grace by whichever apostle in the Church teaches (In fact it was necessary to speak one [language] and one speech with leaving the rest silent in order to reach everyone who heard).(21)This parenthesis exists in the original Latin copy of MPL. I interpret this parenthetical text to be a later emendation by a copyist/editor The speech itself was to possess this in its own power, that while the hearers were of the diverse nations, each one according to their language coming from this one speech itself, which had been uttered by the Apostle, that it entered upon the hearer and seized the intellect. Except perhaps according to this, it seemed those who are hearing to be a greater miracle than those who speaking.

“And those who inhabited Mesopotamia, and Judaea and Cappodocia.” In this place it signifies Judaea not entirely gentile but part of those, this is the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, for one may see clearly the distinction Samaria, Galiliee, Decapolis, and of others in the same province concerning the regions. Although that everyone were speaking in the one language of Hebrew, nevertheless, the native style of each speaking had a distinctiveness. From where also Peter in the passion of the Lord with respect to a Galilean is being identified by that which is his speech.

“Jews also, and proselytes.”(22)Douay-Rheims. Proselytes, that is, they called them strangers, who, these ones derive origin from the gentiles, they were wishing rather to choose circumcision and Judaism, like Achior in the Book of Judith is described to have done. Then not only, do they say, are they Jews by birth that had visited from different regions, certainly too it is about those having been born with a foreskin, they adhere to the custom.(23)The uncircumcised. What exactly Bede means about the uncircumcised is not clear. It could mean the Jew who was born uncircumcised and continue to promote what Bede thinks is an unnecessary practice, which he frowns upon, or that those gentiles who have converted, ie: the uncircumcised, adhere to the custom too.

“But others mocking, said: These men are full of new wine.” Mocking although they were giving true witness to something belonging to the ancient mysteries. That not in old wine, while in the Church wedding, but they had been filled with the freshness of the spirit’s grace. Indeed, now it had come the new wine in new skins, while the Apostles not in the oldness of letter, but were to resound in the newness of the Spirit of God’s great work (Rom. 7).(24) Romans 7:6 “so that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Douay-Rheims

“For these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.”(25)Douay-Rheims The holy Spirit is about to proclaim glory in the indivisible way of the Trinity, He conveniently descended in the third hour. And because what was written above, “They were persevering in prayer,”(26) amplified from Acts 1:14 they correctly feel the holy Spirit in the hour of prayer that it was to be pointed out by the readers(27) legentibus: organized community prayer in Bede’s time was associated with a reader(s). Lector is a better known synonym. that the grace of the holy Spirit is not easily to be felt. Neither can the mind, which is based on worldly senses, rise up in the thought of heavenly things. For three times to which Daniel in the day did he bow his knees, and it was chosen(28) legitur to worship at the third, sixth, and ninth hours, it is understood by the Church. Whereby also the Lord is the one who sends the holy Spirit in the third hour, sixth — rises to the cross, and the ninth — lays his own soul down. It has been deemed most worthy to recount and sanctify these same hours for the rest of us.

“I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh:”(29) Douay-Rheims The word of offering shows the abundance of excess, because the holy Spirit exists through the agency of grace which brings about pardon, not as formerly the power with the prophets and priests only, but in everyone everywhere in either sex within relations and persons. For that is to be in all flesh, it was explained in accordance with the prophet.(30) Joel 2:28

“And they will prophecy,” (it says) “your sons and daughters,” etc. . . . “and I will show wonders in heaven above, and a sign on earth below.”(31) portions of Acts 2:17 and 19, my translation. Wonders in heaven, a new star appeared with the Lord being born, while going up to the cross, the sun was darkened, and heaven itself was covered in darkness. A sign on the earth, because the earth trembled by Lord sending the Spirit, it uncovered tombs, moved stones, and brought up the many revived bodies of the saints who had gone to sleep.■


Need information on Bede and the subject matter? The following link may help: The Venerable Bede on the Doctrine of Tongues.

References   [ + ]

The Olympiad Calendar and the Birth Year of Christ

An explanation of the ancient Greek Olympiad system especially as it relates to the birth year of Christ.

This is part of an unfinished series on the problems and evolution of the calendar system and how it effects dating the year of Christ’s birth.

The ancient Greeks used Olympiads as their yearly dating system. The first Olympiad was conducted in 776 BC. It was calculated in four-year intervals.

For example the first Olympiad happened in 776 and the second occurred in 772 BC.

776 BC = Olympiad 1, not 0. Zero as a mathematical number in the Greco-Roman world was a later invention. Using a calculator without this knowledge to validate later dates can throw off any Olympiad by four years.

The four year interval is not specific enough for most historic purposes. Most modern readers want to know the exact year, not that it happened somewhere unspecified in the four year interval. Later writers tended to use an alpha system to demonstrate which of the four years the Olympiad meant, such as the 184a Olympiad, which would be the first year of the 184th Olympiad.

The first century Roman-Jewish historian, Josephus, sometimes used the regnal dating system. This system was popular in ancient times throughout the Mediterranean basin which defined time according to the birth and death dates of a great leader. However, Josephus was conscious of the fact that this was not accurate and combined it with Olympiads and then went a step further and aligned it with historic battles.

The following is an important example of his use of the Olympiad dating system. He wrote that Herod was first given his title as king by Rome on the 184th Olympiad,(1)Antiquities of the Jews: XIV:XVI:4 which translates anywhere between 44/43 and 41/40 BC.

Josephus is the closest historian to the time of Christ and his dates are rarely challenged. There are few other texts outside the Bible and Christian history available with the level of detail that he provides with regards to the Middle East during this time. One must keep in mind though that there are potential manuscript errors. There are many copies of Josephus’ writings with variants in dates and times, though these transcription errors do not directly affect the Herodian calendars, it does raise some suspicions.(2) William Whiston trans, The Works of Josephus. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1982. “Dissertation V” p. 696

An alternative to Josephus is Julius Africanus. He was a second-century chronicler who gave a detailed account of histories related to the Olympiads. He may be the earliest Christian historian who tried to parallel Greek and Jewish histories according to some sort of timeframe. He critically attempted to establish the first Olympiad and use that as his basis. He believed that before the Olympiad system came into being, a timeline of any history from a Greek perspective could not accurately be deduced.(3) IBID, III.-The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus. XIII:1

In the Africanus account available today, one can find a problem with the Olympiad calculation which was likely related to a transcription error. He wrote, “the 16th year of Tiberius Caesar, which was the second year of the 102d Olympiad”(4) Extant works of Julius Africanus found at tthp://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0614.htm Fragment 18:2 This may be an error in the English translation or a typographic error. The Greek has not been checked. – this would make Tiberius’ reign, based on the 776 BC date, to be approximately 368 BC. Fortunately, the text mentions earlier in the same document regarding Tiberius 16th year as, “the 202d Olympiad”, which made it to be properly around 30 AD.(5) Extant works of Julius Africanus as found at tthp://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0614.htm Fragment 16:3 .

The eighth-century British-Christian writer and scholastic monk, the Venerable Bede, used Olympiads among many others to define historic time periods, though our present manuscripts attributed to him may contain errors. He recorded the first Olympiad to Julius Caesar to be the 183rd Olympiad–20 years off.(6) See Bede, De Temporum Rationem, MPL, Vol. 90, pg. 538, especially the footnote b which discusses how Bede missed those 20 years.

Olympiads were not the dating system of preference by most of the ancient Christian writers and it was not accepted as a universal calendar. Its was a legacy system after the fourth-century AD. However, because of Josephus’ usage, it is an important clue, though not the ultimate one, for the birth year of Christ.

Josephus’ account does not directly address Christ’s birth in his copy, but one can correlate from Josephus’ dated chronology of the Herod family and the Biblical description roughly what year the birth was. For more details on exactly how Josephus and other historians dated these leaders, see:
A Chronology of the Herods

To read more, see the introductory article, What Year was Christ Born? or go to the series Christian Calendar System homepage for a listing of all the articles on the subject.

References   [ + ]