Astronomy In The New Testament

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Example i. The terms and images used in mediaeval astronomical literature for the designation of planets and constellations can be compiled in a "dictionary" of sorts, which can later be used to decipher and to date similar terms and images in old chronicles.

E. Renan was apparently the first scientist to point out that the biblical book of the Apocalypse contains the verbal description of a horoscope ([725]). Not being an astronomer himself, Renan did not date the horoscope, in spite of the fact that the dating of the Apocalypse was of the greatest interest. ([765], page 135). But the precise astronomical solution for the Apocalypse horoscope does exist, and it is both unique and unequivocal. This horoscope dates from the 1 October 1486 a.d. (See details below.)

Example 2. The dating of the eclipse, which, according to the early Christian authors, accompanied the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Such authors as Sinkellos, Flegon, Africanus, and Eusebius wrote about this eclipse. However, the Evangelical descriptions aren't very explicit on whether the description refers to a solar eclipse, or a lunar one. The Scaligerian chronology presumes the eclipse to be lunar, although this is highly debatable. The ecclesial tradition has preserved evidence of the eclipse being solar. The Gospel according to Luke, for instance, states specifically: "For the sun stopped shining." (Luke 23:45)

The gospel of Nicodemius, declared apocryphal by historians, says: "And it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the land until the ninth hour, for the sun was darkened... And Pilate sent for the Jews and said unto them: Did ye see that which came to pass? But they said: There was an eclipse of the sun after the accustomed sort." (Nicodemius XI - [29], page 83).

The last phrase in this passage shows that in the epoch when the gospel of Nicodemius was written, the fact that the eclipses of the sun occur according to a specific astronomical law was well understood. There is a direct reference made to the fact that the eclipse happened "after the accustomed sort". This most probably reflects that such astronomical notions already existed in the mediaeval period.

The Scaligerian "astronomical solution" giving the lunar eclipse of the 3 April 33 a.d. as the moment of the crucifixion of Christ ([1154]) does not hold water whatsoever. This fact is well known, although de-emphasized, and this problem is deliberately presented as nonexistent. (See the discussion in [544], Volume 1.)

In spite of the totally questionable characteristics of the "evangelical eclipse" extracted from early Christian texts, and repeatedly discussed in chronological literature, an attempt can be made to date this eclipse precisely. To do so, both the solar and lunar versions of the eclipse should be examined. A suitable astronomical solution exists in the years ranging from 200 a.d. to 800 a.d. The lunar eclipse solution of 368 a.d. was found by Morozov ([544], Volume 1 ]). However, Morozov did not extend his calculations to later centuries for the reasons cited above — the primary one being his unswerving confidence in the Scaligerian chronology from the VI century a.d. and on. The calculations of the authors of the present book covered the entire historical period up to 1600 a.d. and revealed an additional precise astronomical solution, quite unexpectedly. This was the lunar eclipse of the 3 April 1075 a.d. Our solution differs from the Scaligerian by over 1.000 years, and by 700 from Moro-zov's. (See more details below.)

We recall that the Scaligerian astronomical dates and modern calculations only come to concurrence from the XI century a.d. and on, and are only fully reliable from as recently as the XIII century a.d.

But if we consider the eclipse described in the Gospels to be solar, we cannot fail to notice that a total solar eclipse whose shadow track traversed Italy and Byzantium occurred in the XI century, on 16 February 1086. This solution was found by G. V. Nosovskiy. A detailed description of this solar eclipse and its concurrence with the data provided by the ecclesial tradition in what concerns the crucifixion of Jesus Christ can be found in Chron6. In Chron2 we shall return to a detailed analysis of the "evangelical eclipse."

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