Christian year counting

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Beda Venerabilis (673–735) is considered to be an authoritative systematist of the Christian calendar
The Æthelbald of Mercia charter from 736 is one of the first documents dated after years of incarnation.

The Christian counting of the year begins with the (assumed) year of the birth of Jesus Christ (* between 7 and 4 BC). An actual Christian time calculation does not exist, since the other elements of a time calculation system, in particular the cyclical structures with solar years , months, weeks and days of the week, are taken over from older cultures and also occur today in the time calculations of other cultures.

One starts from the (assumed) year of birth of Jesus Christ and counts on from there. The year of the birth of Christ and the following years are often provided with the addition "after Christ", abbreviated to AD , previously mostly in Latin with " Anno Domini ".

When determining differences that extend over this base year, it should be noted that the year 1 n. Chr. , Without a 0 years (the Nativity lasted finally less than a year, but marks a point in time) immediately to the v Year 1. . Chr followed. So ruled Augustus 27 v. Chr. To 14 n. Chr. Not 41 but 40 years as princeps . Astronomers and other scientists who expect longer periods of time, avoid this problem by the v year first Chr. As the year 0, the year 2 v. Chr. As years -1, the year 3 v. Chr. , Etc. as year -2. Rename.

Year count "after Christ"


Various local systems of year counting existed around the early Church . The Jews knew not have a system, it was with the Jewish calendar only in rabbinic time developed. In Hellenistic early Judaism, the years were probably counted after the Seleucid era. In the calendar of the Roman Empire , the years were usually designated after the incumbent consuls - a count that lasted until the 6th century AD. Once absolute numbers were necessary, in the east of the empire one calculated according to one of the Greek times, in the west of the empire with the year counting since the "foundation of Rome" ( ab urbe condita ). In 537, Emperor Justinian finally made the census based on years of reign legally binding.

The birth of Jesus Christ as a reference point for counting the year

From late antiquity , two points of reference for a separate annual account were particularly interesting in Christianity, the creation of the world and the birth of Christ . The monk Dionysius Exiguus set the date of the birth of Jesus Christ for the year 754 from urbe condita ("since the founding of Rome") from specifications of the Old and New Testaments in 525 . He marked the first year of Christ's life with a one. The Anglo-Saxon Benedictine Beda Venerabilis (673-735) wrote the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum ("Church history of the English people") around 731 . He took up the year count used by Dionysius since the birth of Christ. It spread from England in the course of the 8th century through the Frankish Empire in the West. In his Chronicon Hermann von Reichenau († 1054) for the first time placed all historical events exclusively in relation to the year of the birth of Christ. Around the year 1060 this annual account was taken into use by the Roman Catholic Church .

Dating the birth of Jesus Christ

It is assumed that the birthday and year of Jesus Christ were already unknown to the early Christians. The Gospels (probably written between 60 and 100) give only a few and unclear information. According to Mt 2.1  EU , Jesus was born during the lifetime of Herod the Great , who, according to Flavius ​​Josephus, was 4 BC. BC died. This information is also credible because of Lk 1.5  EU , according to which John the Baptist should also be born during Herod's lifetime. It is generally assumed today that Jesus was born between 7 and 4 BC. Was born in BC.

Specifying Lk 2,2  EU , Jesus is at a first Roman census under Publius Sulpicius Quirinius in Bethlehem born, however, applies mostly as ahistorical, for the term of office of Quirinius in the province of Judea began to reliable sources Roman only 6 n. Chr. There is no evidence for an earlier census there.

The year one

If the assumed year of birth of Jesus Christ is designated with 1, then a year after the birth of Christ was the year 2 AD. Since there is no “ year zero ” in the chronology used by historians, it is not possible to use years before the turn of the century expect the usual negative numbers. For example, the difference between the year 1 BC is A year, but not 2, as between the numbers -1 and 1.

In Germany, Austria and Switzerland , the entry v. BC or AD common. In the GDR one also used “v. u. Z. "and" u. Z. "/" n. u. "Z. (" our era before "or" [to] "), which is found also in Jewish writers, there partly" v./n. d. Z. ”(“ before / after the turning point ”). The employed in the natural sciences, in engineering applications, software development, documentation and for international correspondence ISO 8601 provides for full scale with a zero year and year with a negative sign in front, and also for the period before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar apply retroactively the switching process can.

Different dating of the birth of Jesus Christ

The Ethiopian calendar refers to the birth of Jesus, but according to the calculations of the Alexandrian world era by Panodorus of Alexandria . The deviation from the Beda Venerabilis count in the Gregorian calendar is about seven years and eight months.

Counting “not after Christ” in a Christian calendar

The calendar of the Coptic Church chooses Diocletian's accession to the throne on August 29, 284 (according to the Julian date) as the beginning ( Diocletian's era ).

The Armenian calendar begins in the year 552 AD, when the Armenian Apostolic Church separated from the Roman Imperial Church.

Year counting from the creation of the world

The first Christian theologian to make creation the reference point for the counting of the year was Gregory the Great . It came to 5184 years from the Annus creationis mundi ("year of the creation of the world") to the resurrection of Jesus Christ .

The Eastern Roman Empire counted in years from the creation of the world, which according to the information in the Septuagint to the year 5501 BC. BC or 5508 BC Was dated. This count lasted in Russia until 1699, when Tsar Peter I ordered in December that the year 1700 AD should be written from January 1st of the following year (according to the old calculation the year 7208 after the creation of the world). The Julian calendar was still used.

The Anglican theologian James Ussher (1581–1656) from Ireland dated the creation of the world in 1650 to the year 4004 BC. The Christian Ussher-Lightfoot calendar is based on this calculation .

The Jewish calendar also assumes an assumed creation date and begins on October 7, 3761 BC. The system was essentially established by Patriarch Hillel II in AD 359.

Pope Gregory XIII commissioned the Protestant humanist Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540–1609) with the creation of a coherent chronology of historical events. In 1583, Scaliger determined the creation date to be 3950 BC. BC and counted the days that have passed since then under the name Julian Date (JD), which is still used today for historical and scientific purposes.

The later Roman tradition determined the year 5196 BC. BC as the year of the creation of the world, for example in the Annuario Pontificio .

Calendar invoice

Julian calendar

The Christian calendar was initially based essentially on the Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar with 365.25 days. At the Council of Trent from 1545 to 1563, the reform of the Julian calendar was decided. It had become clear that inserting a leap day every four years was not enough because the spring time had shifted noticeably. The solution was to modify the rule for the leap day and skip ten days once.

Gregorian calendar

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII introduced the calendar reform . (1502-1585). The Gregorian calendar was created and is still used today. It was adopted immediately by some - especially Catholic - countries, but only later by some churches and states. The colonies followed the takeover.

  • Spain, Portugal, parts of Italy and Poland: 4./15. October 1582
  • Bavaria: 5./16. October 1583
  • Prussia August 22nd / 2. September 1612
  • Protestant parts of the German Empire and Denmark: February 18th / January 1st March 1700
  • Iceland: 16./28. November 1700
  • England, Ireland and later USA: 2./14. September 1752
  • Alaska: 4th / 18th October 1867
  • Japan: January 1, 1873
  • China: January 1, 1912
  • Russia: January 31 / April 14 February 1918
  • Greece: 9./23. March 1924
  • Romania: September 30th / September 14th October 1924
  • Turkey: January 1, 1927

The annual calendar

Beginning of the year

The beginning of the annual accounts, on which the year was started, varied depending on the location and office . Different types of dating, "styles", are distinguished. The following were chosen as the beginning of the year:

  • January 1st ( circumcision style ; after the feast of the circumcision of the Lord , stilus communis ); goes back to the Julian calendar, which is now standard worldwide
  • January 6th ( High New Year ); with the Alemanni and later in Swabia
  • March 1st (March style , ancient Roman beginning of the year or from the Jewish calendar); especially with the Franks , later in Venice ( More Veneto ) and in the Rus as well as in the Rumi calendar
  • March 25 ( Annunciation of the Lord , therefore Annunciation style , even incarnation style ); in England and Ireland from the 13th century to 1753, the year began on this date (there, for example, March 24, 1734 was followed by March 25, 1735). In the Archbishopric of Trier or archdiocese and its suffragan sees this beginning of the year until the second half of the 17th century under the name Trier Style ( Mos Trevirensis ) in use and can be detected even in 1680 there in visitation logs.
  • the Easter or Paschal style (since this beginning of the year depends on the changing date of Easter (between March 22nd and April 25th), there are different lengths of the year); z. B. in the Georgian calendar
  • September 1st (common in the Eastern Roman Empire and in the Greek Church and therefore referred to as the "Byzantine beginning of the year" ; the church year still begins today in the Eastern Churches )
  • 1st Advent, in the western church the beginning of the church year .
  • December 25th ( Christmas , Christmas Style , or Nativity Style ); was common in Germany and used by most chroniclers, including England and Ireland until the 13th century.

It was not until the end of the Middle Ages that January 1st became increasingly popular. Pope Innocent XII. (1615–1700) recognized January 1st as the beginning of the year in 1691 through its use in papal bulls.

Easter date

In Christianity, calculating the date of Easter for moving Easter was an important aspect of chronology and an important part of mathematics . The First Council of Nicaea in 325 resolved the dispute as to how the date for Easter should be fixed: the first Sunday following the beginning of spring and the Jewish festival of Passover . Further rules followed in the Gregorian calendar reform.

Depending on the date of Easter, the date of Pentecost is the fiftieth day after Easter Sunday (including this). The tradition goes back to the Jewish festival Shavuot , which is celebrated 50 days after Passover .


The names of today's twelve months come from the Julian calendar and have a basis in the ten months of the ancient Roman calendar. Older month names from the time before Christianization have not survived in German-speaking countries. The Latin names also survived Charlemagne's attempt to replace them with German ones. The Coptic calendar still knows the thirteenth month Heriu-renpet ("small year").


The names of the days of the week are, among other things, Latin loan translations of the originally Babylonian names. The seven days of the Babylonian week were named after the most important celestial bodies and planets: the sun , moon , Mars , Mercury , Jupiter , Venus and Saturn . When the Germanic tribes got to know these names in the 4th century, they renamed them after the names of the corresponding Germanic gods ( Tyr or Tiu (Tuesday / Martian day) Donar , Freya etc.), which has been partially preserved to this day.

In the Orthodox calendar , on the other hand, the medieval weekday counting with numerical names such as “first day of the week” remained common. The Reformation brought the counting of days to the month in Europe.

In Great Britain , North America and many other parts of the world, Sunday is the first day of the week according to Jewish and Christian counts . Since 1976 in Germany of Monday , the first day of the week ( DIN 1355-1 , now ISO 8601 ). In 1978 the UN decided that Monday should be considered the first day of the week internationally.

Course of the day

The division of the day into two twelve, i.e. twenty-four equinox hours , was adopted by the ancient Romans. The start of the day is set to midnight. According to the ancient calendar, the day ended with sunset , so the eve of many church festivals is already liturgically part of the festival day.

Until the end of the 19th century, the church tower clocks indicated the local time with their bells . In Germany, the uniform time of day (the time zones were set at the Meridian Conference in 1884) was introduced for the entire territory of the Reich on April 1, 1893, in order to better coordinate train schedules and business processes .

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. This procedure was only possible from the late Middle Ages , when arithmetic with the inclusion of zero began in Christian culture .
  2. ^ Corpus iuris civilis , Nov. 41, [50], 52, 54; 47
  3. On Hermann's table work see Arno Borst: Computus. Time and number in the history of Europe . Wagenbach, Berlin, 3rd edition 2004, p. 74.
  4. a b Gerd Theißen , Annette Merz : The historical Jesus. A textbook . 4th edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht ,, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 3-525-52198-7 , pp.  149 .
  5. ^ Arno Borst: Computus. Time and number in the history of Europe . Wagenbach, Berlin, 3rd edition 2004, p. 35.
  6. See for example the Annuario Pontificio for the year 1870, p. 3, which gives 7066 years since the creation of the world for this year.
  7. ^ Annual dating of the Historical Institute of the University of Cologne
  8. Johann Josef Scotti (Ed.): Collection of the laws and ordinances that were passed in the former Electorate of Trier on matters of sovereignty, constitution, administration and administration of justice: from the year 1310 until the final dissolution of the Chur state of Trier at the end of 1802. Volume 1 , p. 88 .