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Branislav Skrobonja

On calculating of Time
and Orthodox Christian calendar

Summary of the book "O računanju vremena i pravoslavnom kalendaru" by Branislav Skrobonja,
Prizren-Gračanica, Raška-Prizren Orthodox Diocese, 2000

In the Introduction the definition of time and of the sense of the religious is given. As time is a continuum without spatial dimension it can be said that the sense of the religious is also the sense of the religious continuum. Its emergence overlaps with the appearance of Man. These two continuums have common points - "the periodic plunging into this sacred and indestructible time. For /Man/ it is the sacred time that makes possible the other, ordinary time, the profane duration in which every human life takes its course."

The continuum of the religious has brought Man to the stage where "time is no more connected with death and a new sense of time begins, Christianity begins". Therefore, taking into account both the continuum of the religious and differences in the sense of time, it can be said that human history is divided into pre-Christian and Christian.

After that the definition of science is examined.

Term science implies the ordered knowledge of natural phenomena and rational study of relations between terms in which these phenomena express themselves. Such a science, it is proudly asserted, has developed, in its ripe form, only in the West. But it should not be forgotten that science originated in twinkle of the religious and in observation of the twinkle of celestial lights so that its beginning and history are tied to that misty and indivisible mixture of religion and observation of the starry infinity which did not emerge in the West. Its place of origin is the East Mediterranean where religions, cultures and people came into being and vanished, where even today still burn flames of the faith that encompassed space from Persia to Britain. This miracle is often overlooked, due to the importance given to rational in the definition quoted above.

Chapter I deals with astronomy and astronomical terms connected with the calendar.

The definition of the calendar is given. It is a system of division of time during a longer period and of arranging such divisions into a certain sequential order. At the end of the chapter definitions of calendar terms are supplied.

Chapter II surveys ancient calendars: Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek and Roman.

Chapter III deals with calendar of ancient Hebrews and changes it underwent during history.

Chapter IV discusses calendar reforms in the Antiquity:

- Decree of Canopus

- the reform of Julius Caesar

- Constantine's introduction of seven day period as a week

- the reform of the Hebrew calendar begun by Hillel II

Chapter V surveys calendars in the age of appearance and spreading of Christianity. Various eras, beginnings of new year then in use. Counting of time in Byzantium and among the Balkan peoples inhabiting the area of the Byzantine Empire.

Chapter VI speaks of calendars and the celebration of Easter, and of problems of unification in determination of the date of Easter during the first centuries of Christianity.

Chapter VII presents rules for determination of Easter date, by calculations and with the aid of tables. Gauss calculation rule is quoted. Method of Dr Mihajlo Petrovic as an aid in dating of frescoes when only cycles of Sun and Moon are known is also mentioned.

Chapter VIII treats Papal calendar reform of 1582. In order to present a picture of attitudes prior to the reform, proposals for the calendar reform both in the Byzantine Empire and in the West are discussed.

Chapter IX speaks about reactions to the Papal reform: acceptance in Catholic countries; refusal by Protestant and Orthodox ones. John Dee's proposal of the reform is subject of special comments.

Chapter X presents contemporary views of the Gregorian calendar and its greater exactness in relation to other proposed calendars.

Chapter XI is devoted to the attempted calendar changes during armed revolutions (French, Russian) and within scientific revolutions: positivist calendar, various proposal in this century.

Finally, Chapter XII surveys calendar reform proposals in the Orthodox countries during the nineteenth century, primarily in Russia and Serbia; and, at the beginning of this century, at Panorthodox Congress, Constantinople 1923, and ensuing peripetia. At the end of the chapter are described various attempts to reform Paschalia - determination of dates of Easter and other feast days connected to it - since World War II.

Appendices contain more detailed glossary of astronomical terms; translations of documents related to the determination of Easter date from the time of Ecumenical Councils; first Serbian translation of the Papal bull INTER GRAVISSIMAS; the Act concerning changeover to the new calendar in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, 1919; the Encyclical of Ecumenical Patriarchate, 1920; documents of Panorthodox Congress concerning the calendar reform, and, finally, the proposal of the World Council of Churches.

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