Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CALENDAR (10/20/16)
TITLE: It Happened
By Terry Bovinet
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“Lunar, solar, Julian, Gregorian? Let’s discuss calendars,” Dr. Bates started. Rob fired up his laptop to review the material and his extensive notes. Somehow he knew either Dr. Bates or Susie would question him over some of the problems raised in the reading.
Dr. Bates showed slides presenting several calendars that displayed the difficulties of a precise rendering of dates given the differences in cultures and the starting points for calendars.
“So glad we cut out that BC and AD garbage. What a crock!” Susie fired this salvo with venom in her voice when a slide with these initials appeared. “Before Christ and After Death - like the whole world changed with the birth of Jesus. If we can even believe he existed.”
“Actually AD means ‘in the year of our Lord,’” Rob offered.
“I know, I know. That makes it even worse,” Susie groaned. “Your Lord. Certainly not mine!”
“While some cultures used those letter for years, most intelligent people now use BCE for Before the Common Era and CE for Common Era. Some backward folks still insist on the old initials. Of course, I would not accept those in any assignments.” Dr. Bates’ tone gave explicit support to Susie’s views.
“I can’t believe the we use a calendar named after a pope,” Susie exclaimed.
“Although not perfect, the Gregorian calendar does manage the difficulties of the earth’s rotation around the sun that doesn’t fit exactly into a 24-hour day and a 365-day year,” Rob stated.
The Gregorian calendar, instituted in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, replaced the Julian calendar of Julius Caesar whose calendar gained time over hundreds of year when compared to the solar year. The Gregorian calendar partially corrected this problem with the Julian calendar that had “added” 10 days since its inception in 45 BC.
“While I hate to admit it, Rob makes a good point. And, the Western world does accept Gregory’s efforts so we remain stuck with it until someone offers a more exact solution,” Dr. Bates noted.
“So, Rob, wouldn’t a perfect God have created a perfect earth with a perfect calendar so we wouldn’t need to deal with leap years and other stuff like that?” Susie inquired. “Makes it hard for me to believe in God.”
“A perfect calendar would make you believe in God? You sure about that?” Rob had faced his nemesis. “That’s all it would take?”
“Well, no, but . . . turn around! Anyway, you Christians can’t even get the birthdate of your Jesus right. After all, you stole it from pagans who used that day as a festival to celebrate the sun,” she declared with a hearty laugh.
“In reality, some of the early Church leaders listed the date as December 25 with little if any connection to the pagan world,” came Rob’s firm rejoinder. “And the date actually precedes some of the pagan festivities.”
Susie’s silence surprised Rob, but he didn’t believe it meant her assent to this information she had missed in her reading.
The class waited as Dr. Bates shuffled through some of his notes and then spoke definitively. “We will not settle this today. Suffice to say controversy does surround this issue. One would think the followers of this Jesus would have taken more care about recording the date of his birth since it meant so much to them.”
Not only does December 25 raise questions, but various estimates from 6 BC to 2 BC on the year of Jesus’ birth confound believers and critics. To this day, scholars cannot precisely state the day and year of His birth.
“I recognize the difficulties with the time,” Rob agreed. “While we cannot know with certainty WHEN it happened, we do know THAT it happened.”
Rob rested his case until the next round he knew would inevitably arise.
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