Bede, The Reckoning of Time

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Liverpool University Press, 1999 - History - 479 pages
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From the patristic age until the Gregorian calendar reform of 1582, computus -- the science of time reckoning and art of calendar construction -- was a matter of intense concern. Bede's The Reckoning of Time (De temporum ratione) was the first comprehensive treatise on this subject and the model and reference for all subsequent teaching discussion and criticism of the Christian calendar. It is a systematic exposition of the Julian solar calendar and the Paschal table of Dionysius Exiguus, with their related formulae for calculating dates. But it is more than a technical handbook. Bede sets calendar lore within a broad scientific framework and a coherent Christian concept of time, and incorporates themes as diverse as the theory of tides and the doctrine of the millennium.

This translation of the full text of The Reckoning of Time includes an extensive historical introduction and a chapter-by-chapter commentary. It will interest historians of medieval science, theology, and education, Bede scholars and Anglo-Saxonists, liturgists, and Church historians. It will also serve as an accessible introduction to computus itself. Generations of medieval computists nourished their expertise in Bede's orderly presentation; modern scholars in quest of safe passage through this complex terrain can hope for no better guide.

 

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Contents

ABBREVIATIONS
xi
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
xiii
INTRODUCTION
xv
Computus as problembased science and doctrinachristiana
xviii
A brief history of the Christian calendar before Bede
xxxiv
Structure and content of The Reckoningof Time
lxiii
Bedes sources
lxxii
Manuscripts glosses editions and principles of translation
lxxxv
The varying length of days and the dierent position of the shadows
89
Why the same days are unequal in length
91
In what places the shadows or days are equal
93
The ve circles of the universe and the passage of the stars under the Earth
96
The four seasons elements and humours
100
Natural years
104
The calculation of the leapyear day
105
Measuring the leapyear increment
107

THE RECKONING OF TIME
1
Preface
3
Table of Contents
5
IV The Paschal table chs 4465
6
Calculating or speaking with the ngers
9
Three ways of reckoning time
13
The smallest intervals of time
14
The reckoning of duodecimal fractions
16
II The Julian calendar chs 541
19
The worlds rst day
24
Night
28
The week
32
The seventy prophetic weeks
36
The week of the WorldAges
39
The months
41
The Roman months
46
Kalends nones and ides
50
The Greek months
51
The English months
53
The signs of the twelve months
54
The course of the Moon through the signs
58
for those who are ignorant of the signs
60
for those who do not know how to calculate
63
Whatthe age oftheMoon ison anygiven rst dayofthe month
64
What day of the week it is on the kalends
68
A formula for any Moon or weekday
69
For those who do not know how to calculate the age of the Moon
71
The number of hours of moonlight
73
When and why the Moon appears to be facing upwards facing downwards or standing upright
74
Why the Moon though situated beneath the Sun sometimes appears to be above it
77
On the size or eclipse of the Sun and Moon
78
What the power of the Moon can do
80
The harmony of the Moon and the sea
82
Equinoxes and solstices
86
Why it is intercalated on the sixth kalends of March
109
The Moon also has its quarterday
110
III Anomalies of lunar reckoning chs 4243
113
Whythe Moonsometimesappearsolderthan its computed age
115
The nineteenyear cycle
121
Embolismic and common years
122
The ogdoas and the hendecas
124
The years of the Lords Incarnation
126
Indictions
130
How certain people err concerning the beginning of the rst month
132
Formula for nding the number of the lunar epacts
135
Solar epacts
136
Formula for nding the number of the solar epacts and when leap year will fall
137
The lunar cycle
139
Formula based on the lunar cycle for nding the age of the Moon on 1 January
141
A formula to nd whatyear of the lunar cycle or of the nineteenyear cycle it is
142
A formula for nding it
144
Easter Sunday
145
The Moon of that day
147
The dierence between the Pasch and the Feast of Unleavened Bread
149
The allegorical interpretation of Easter
151
The Great Paschal Cycle
155
V The worldchronicle ch 66
157
VI Future time and the end of time chs 6771
239
Three opinions of the faithful as to when the Lord will come
240
The time of Antichrist
241
The Day of Judgement
243
The Seventh Age and the Eighth Age of the world to come
246
APPENDICES
377
Bibliography
430
Index of Sources
445
General Index
465
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

Faith Wallis is Associate Professor in the Department of History at McGill University, Montreal.

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