Dionysius Exiguus

Dionysius Exiguus

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Dionysius Exiguus'
Start a new discussion about 'Dionysius Exiguus'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Dionysius Exiguus ( – ) was a 6th-century monk born in Scythia Minor
Scythia Minor
Scythia Minor, "Lesser Scythia" was in ancient times the region surrounded by the Danube at the north and west and the Black Sea at the east, corresponding to today's Dobruja, with a part in Romania and a part in Bulgaria....

, modern Dobruja
Dobruja
Dobruja is a historical region shared by Bulgaria and Romania, located between the lower Danube river and the Black Sea, including the Danube Delta, Romanian coast and the northernmost part of the Bulgarian coast...

 shared by Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 and Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

. He was a member of the Scythian monks
Scythian monks
The Scythian monks were a community of monks from the region around the mouths of the Danube, who played an influential role in Christian theological disputes between the 4th and 6th centuries. The name Scythian comes from Scythia Minor, the classical name of the modern Dobruja region in Romania...

 community concentrated in Tomis, the major city of Scythia Minor. Dionysius is best known as the inventor of the Anno Domini
Anno Domini
and Before Christ are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars....

 era, which is used to number the years of both the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 and the (Christianized) Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

.

From about 500 he lived in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, where, as a learned member of the Roman Curia
Roman Curia
The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the Pope...

, he translated from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 into Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 401 ecclesiastical canons, including the apostolical canons and the decrees of the councils of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

, Constantinople
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

, Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 and Sardis, and also a collection of the decretal
Decretal
Decretals is the name that is given in Canon law to those letters of the pope which formulate decisions in ecclesiastical law.They are generally given in answer to consultations, but are sometimes due to the initiative of the popes...

s of the popes from Siricius
Pope Siricius
Pope Saint Siricius, Bishop of Rome from December 384 until his death on 26 November 399, was successor to Damasus I and was himself succeeded by Anastasius I....

 to Anastasius II
Pope Anastasius II
Pope Anastasius II was pope from November 24, 496 to November 16, 498.Anastasius II was Pontiff in the time of the schism of Acacius. He showed some tendency towards conciliation, and thus brought upon himself the lively reproaches of the author of the Liber Pontificalis. On the strength of this...

. These collections had great authority in the West and still guide church administrations. Dionysius also wrote a treatise on elementary mathematics.

The author of a continuation of Dionysius's Computus, writing in 616, described Dionysius as a "most learned abbot of the city of Rome", and the Venerable Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

 accorded him the honorific abbas, which could be applied to any monk, especially a senior and respected monk, and does not necessarily imply that Dionysius ever headed a monastery; indeed, Dionysius's friend Cassiodorus
Cassiodorus
Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator , commonly known as Cassiodorus, was a Roman statesman and writer, serving in the administration of Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Senator was part of his surname, not his rank.- Life :Cassiodorus was born at Scylletium, near Catanzaro in...

 stated in Institutiones that he was still only a monk late in life.

Works and translations


According to his friend and fellow-student, Cassiodorus
Cassiodorus
Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator , commonly known as Cassiodorus, was a Roman statesman and writer, serving in the administration of Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Senator was part of his surname, not his rank.- Life :Cassiodorus was born at Scylletium, near Catanzaro in...

 (De divinis Lectionibus, c. xxiii), though by birth a Scythian, he was in character a true Roman and thorough Catholic, most learned in both tongues (by which he meant Greek and Latin) and an accomplished Scripturist. He translated standard works from Greek into Latin, principally the "Life of St. Pachomius", the "Instruction of St. Proclus of Constantinople" for the Armenians, the "De opificio hominis" of St. Gregory of Nyssa, and the history of the discovery of the head of St. John the Baptist. The translation of St. Cyril of Alexandria's synodical letter against Nestorius, and some other works long attributed to Dionysius are now acknowledged to be earlier and are assigned to Marius Mercator.

Of great importance were the contributions of Dionysius to the science of canon law, the first beginnings of which in Western Christendom were due to him. His Collectio Dionysiana embraces (1) a collection of synodal decrees, of which he has left two editions: (a) Codex canonum Ecclesiæ Universæ. This contains canons of Oriental synods and councils only in Greek and Latin, including those of the four œcumenical councils from Nicæa (325) to Chalcedon (451). (b) Codex canonum ecclesiasticarum. This is in Latin only; its contents agree generally with the other, but the Council of Ephesus (431) is omitted, while the so-called "Canons of the Apostles" and those of Sardica are included, as well as 138 canons of the African Council of Carthage (419). (c) Of another bilingual version of Greek canons, undertaken at the instance of Pope Hormisdas, only the preface has been preserved. (2) A collection of papal Constitutions (Collectio decretorum Pontificum Romanorum) from Siricius to Anastasius II (384-498).

Anno Domini


Dionysius is best known as the inventor of the Anno Domini
Anno Domini
and Before Christ are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars....

 era, which is used to number the years of both the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 and the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

. He used it to identify the several Easters in his Easter table
Dionysius Exiguus' Easter table
Dionysius Exiguus's Easter table was constructed in the year 525 by Dionysius Exiguus for the years 532–626. He obtained it from an Easter table attributed to Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria for the years 437–531. The latter was constructed around the year 440 by means of extrapolation from an...

, but did not use it to date any historical event. When he devised his table, Julian calendar years were identified by naming the consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

s who held office that year — he himself stated that the "present year" was "the consulship of Probus Junior", which he also stated was 525 years "since the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ". How he arrived at that number is unknown. He invented a new system of numbering years to replace the Diocletian years
Era of Martyrs
The Era of the Martyrs , also known as the Diocletian era , is a method of numbering years used by the Church of Alexandria beginning in the 4th century anno Domini and by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the 5th century to the present. Western Christians were aware of it but did not...

 that had been used in an old Easter table because he did not wish to continue the memory of a tyrant who persecuted Christians. The Anno Domini era became dominant in Western Europe only after it was used by the Venerable Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

 to date the events in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, completed in 731.

Easter tables



In 525, Dionysius prepared a table of the future dates of Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 and a set of "arguments" explaining their calculation (computus
Computus
Computus is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was one of the most important computations of the age....

) on his own initiative, at the request of Pope John I
Pope John I
Pope Saint John I was Pope from 523 to 526. He was a native of Siena or the Castello di Serena, near Chiusdino. He is the first pope known to have visited Constantinople while in office....

. Note well that only the first nine arguments are by Dionysius — arguments 10 to 16 as well as the second paragraphs of 3 and 4 and the third paragraph of 9 are later interpolations. Arguments 11 and 12 imply that these were interpolated in the year 675, shortly before Bede. He introduced his tables and arguments via a letter to a bishop Petronius (also written in 525) and added another explanatory letter (written in 526). These works in volume 67 of the 217 volume Patrologia Latina
Patrologia Latina
The Patrologia Latina is an enormous collection of the writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers published by Jacques-Paul Migne between 1844 and 1855, with indices published between 1862 and 1865....

also include a letter from Bishop Proterius of Alexandria
Proterius of Alexandria
Hieromartyr Proterius of Alexandria , Patriarch of Alexandria , was elected by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 to replace Dioscorus of Alexandria, who had been deposed by the same council...

 to Pope Leo
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

 (written before 457). Though not named by Dionysius, this collection was recently called his Liber de Paschate (Book on Easter) by Audette.

He ignored the existing tables used by the Church of Rome, which were prepared in 457 by Victorius of Aquitaine
Victorius of Aquitaine
Victorius of Aquitaine, a countryman of Prosper of Aquitaine and also working in Rome, produced in 457 an Easter Cycle, which was based on the consular list provided by Prosper's Chronicle. This dependency caused scholars to think that Prosper had been working on his own Easter Annals for quite...

, complaining that they did not obey Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

n principles, without actually acknowledging their existence. To be sure that his own tables were correct, he simply extended a set of tables prepared in Alexandria that had circulated in the West in Latin, but were never used in the West to determine the date of Easter (however, they were used in the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, in Greek). The Latin tables were prepared by a subordinate of Bishop Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to power when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the later 4th and 5th centuries...

 shortly before Cyril's death in 444. They covered a period of 95 years or five decennovenal (19-year) cycles with years dated in the Diocletian Era
Era of Martyrs
The Era of the Martyrs , also known as the Diocletian era , is a method of numbering years used by the Church of Alexandria beginning in the 4th century anno Domini and by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the 5th century to the present. Western Christians were aware of it but did not...

, whose first year was 285 (the modern historical year in progress at Easter). Diocletian years were advantageous because their division by 19 yielded a remainder equal to the year of the decennovenal cycle (1–19).

Dionysius' tables were quickly adopted at Rome, and from this time the arguments between Rome and Alexandria regarding the correct date for the celebration of Easter came to an end - both used identical tables and hence observed the feast on the same day.

The epact
Epact
The epact was originally defined as the age of the moon in days on January 1, and occurs primarily in connection with tabular methods for determining the date of Easter...

 (the age of the moon on 22 March) of all first decennovenal years was zero, making Dionysius the first known medieval Latin writer to use a precursor of the number zero
0 (number)
0 is both a numberand the numerical digit used to represent that number in numerals.It fulfills a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. As a digit, 0 is used as a placeholder in place value systems...

. The Latin word nulla meaning no/none was used because no Roman numeral for zero existed. To determine the decennovenal year, the Dionysian year plus one was divided by 19. If the result was zero (to be replaced by 19), it was represented by the Latin word nihil, also meaning nothing. Both "zeros" continued to be used by (among others) Bede, by whose extension of Dionysius Exiguus’ Easter table to a great Easter cycle
Beda Venerabilis' Easter cycle
In the year 616 an anonymous extended Dionysius Exiguus' Easter table to an Easter table covering the years 532 up to and including 721. Dionysius' table was published in 525 and shortly thereafter was accepted by the church of Rome, which from the third century up till then had given preference...

 all future Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 dates of Easter Sunday were fixed unambiguously at last. However, in medieval Europe one had to wait as late as the second millennium to see the number zero itself come into use, although it had come into being around the year 600 in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

Dionysius copied the last decennovenal cycle of the Cyrillian table ending with Diocletian 247, and then added a new 95-year table with numbered Anni Domini Nostri Jesu Christi (Years of our Lord Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 Christ
) because, as he explained to Petronius, he did not wish to continue the memory of a tyrant who persecuted Christians. The only reason he gave for beginning his new 95-year table with the year 532 was that six years were still left in the Cyrillian table after the year during which he wrote. For the latter year he only stated that it was 525 years after the Incarnation of Christ, without stating when the latter event occurred in any other calendar. He did not realize that the dates of the Alexandrian Easter repeated after 532 years, despite his apparent knowledge of the Victorian 532-year 'cycle', indicating only that Easter did not repeat after 95 years. He knew that Victorian Easters did not agree with Alexandrian Easters, thus he no doubt assumed that they had no bearing on any Alexandrian cycle. Furthermore, he obviously did not realize that simply multiplying 19 by 4 by 7 (decennovenal cycle x cycle of leap years x days in a week) fixed the Alexandrian cycle at 532 years, otherwise he would have stated such a simple fact.

Most of the British Church accepted the Dionysian tables after the Synod of Whitby
Synod of Whitby
The Synod of Whitby was a seventh century Northumbriansynod where King Oswiu of Northumbria ruled that his kingdom would calculate Easter and observe the monastic tonsure according to the customs of Rome, rather than the customs practised by Iona and its satellite institutions...

 in 664, which agreed that the old British method (the insular latercus) should be dropped in favour of the Roman one. Quite a few individual churches and monasteries refused to accept them, the last holdout finally accepting them during the early 10th century. The Church of the Franks (France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

) accepted them during the late 8th century under the tutelage of Alcuin
Alcuin
Alcuin of York or Ealhwine, nicknamed Albinus or Flaccus was an English scholar, ecclesiastic, poet and teacher from York, Northumbria. He was born around 735 and became the student of Archbishop Ecgbert at York...

, after he arrived from Britain.

Ever since the 2nd century, some bishoprics in the Eastern Roman Empire had counted years from the birth of Christ, but there was no agreement on the correct epoch — Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria
Titus Flavius Clemens , known as Clement of Alexandria , was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen...

  and Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

  wrote about these attempts. Because Dionysius did not place the Incarnation in an explicit year, competent scholars have deduced both AD 1 and 1 BC. Most have selected 1 BC (historians do not use a year zero
Year zero
"Year zero" does not exist in the widely used Gregorian calendar or in its predecessor, the Julian calendar. Under those systems, the year 1 BC is followed by AD 1...

). Because the anniversary of the Incarnation was 25 March, which was near Easter, a year that was 525 years "since the Incarnation" implied that 525 whole years were completed near that Easter. Consequently one year since the Incarnation would have meant 25 March 1, meaning that Dionysius placed the Incarnation on 25 March 1 BC. Because the birth of Jesus was nine calendar months later, Dionysius implied, but never stated, that Jesus was born 25 December 1 BC. Only one scholar, Georges Declerq (Declerq, 2002), thinks that Dionysius placed the Incarnation and Nativity
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

 in AD 1, basing his conclusion on the structure of Dionysius's Easter tables. In either case, Dionysius ignored his predecessors, who usually placed the Nativity in the year we now label 2 BC. In his 1605 thesis, the Polish historian Laurentius Suslyga
Laurentius Suslyga
Laurentius Suslyga or Laurence Suslyga , was a Polish Jesuit historian, chronologist, and an author of Baroque visual poetry. He was the first person to claim that Jesus Christ was in fact born around 4 BC, not in AD 1, as the Christian era would imply...

 was the first to suggest that Christ was actually born around 4 BC, deriving this from the chronology of Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

, his son Philip the Tetrarch
Philip the Tetrarch
Philip the Tetrarch was son of Herod the Great and his fifth wife Cleopatra of Jerusalem and half-brother of Herod Antipas and Herod Archelaus Philip inherited the northeast part of his father's kingdom, which includes Iturea and Trachonitis as...

, and the daughter of Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, Julia
Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder , known to her contemporaries as Julia Caesaris filia or Julia Augusti filia was the daughter and only biological child of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Augustus subsequently adopted several male members of his close family as sons...

. Having read Suslyga's work, Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

 noted that Christ was born during the reign of King Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 (2:1
Matthew 2:1
Matthew 2:1 is the first verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The previous verse ended with Jesus being named by his father, this verse marks the clear start of a new narrative. This verse deals with the arrival of the Magi at the court of Herod the Great in...

18
Matthew 2:18
Matthew 2:18 is the eighteenth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Herod has ordered the Massacre of the Innocents and this verse quotes from the Book of Jeremiah to show that this event was predicted by the prophets....

), whose death he placed in 4 BC. Kepler chose this year because Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 stated that a lunar eclipse
Lunar eclipse
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth so that the Earth blocks the Sun's rays from striking the Moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a...

 occurred shortly before Herod's death. John Pratt of the International Planetarium Society
International Planetarium Society
The International Planetarium Society is the largest organization of professional planetarians in the world. It includes members from almost every continent and over twenty affiliate organizations. The IPS publishes a quarterly journal, The Planetarian, and holds a convention in even numbered...

 proposed the 29 December 1 BC eclipse as another eclipse. According to Josephus, Herod died in the year 4 or 3 BC.

Although Dionysius stated that the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 in 325 sanctioned his method of dating Easter, the surviving documents are ambiguous. A canon of the council implied that the Roman and Alexandrian methods were the same even though they were not, whereas a delegate from Alexandria stated in a letter to his brethren that their method was supported by the council. In either case, Dionysius' method had actually been used by the Church of Alexandria (but not by the Church of Rome) at least as early as 311, and probably began during the first decade of the 4th century, its dates naturally being given in the Alexandrian calendar. Thus Dionysius did not develop a new method of dating Easter. The most that he may have done was convert its arguments from the Alexandrian calendar into the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

. The resulting Julian date for Easter was the Sunday following the first Luna XIV (the 14th day of the moon) that occurred on or after the XII Kalendas Aprilis (21 March) (12 days before the first of April, inclusive). The 14th day of the moon, Nisan 14, was the date that Paschal lambs
Korban Pesach
The Passover sacrifice , also known as the "sacrifice of Passover", the "Paschal Lamb" is the sacrifice that the Torah mandates to be brought on the eve of Passover, and eaten on the first night of the holiday with bitter herbs and matzo. According to the Torah, it was first offered on the night of...

 were slain (in late afternoon) until the destruction of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in 70 prevented their continuing sacrifice, as well as the day when all leavened bread crumbs had to be collected and burned, hence Nisan 14 was the day of preparation for Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 . Alexandria may have chosen it because it was the day that Christ was crucified according to the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 (18:28, 19:14), in direct contradiction to the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

 , who state that he was crucified after he ate the Seder
Passover Seder
The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is conducted on the evenings of the 14th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, and on the 15th by traditionally observant Jews living outside Israel. This corresponds to late March or April in...

, his Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

. Then and now, the Seder was eaten after sundown at the beginning of Nisan 15. Because Dionysius's method of computing Easter used dates in the Julian calendar, it is also called the Julian Easter. This Easter is still used by almost all Orthodox
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 churches. The Gregorian Easter still uses the same definition, but relative to its own solar and lunar dates.

External links