Richard McCarty wrote:
> On the Lunar, Jewish Calendar, Passover was anchored to the astronomical
> equinox; on the Solar, Julian Calendar, Easter was anchored to March 21,
> which was gradually occurring later than the astronomical equinox.
> While this drift moved Easter and Passover farther apart, as desired, it
> nevertheless needed to be corrected.
The Jewish calendar was/is a lunar calendar which uses the nineteen year
Metonic cycle to keep the average year close to the vernal equinox year.
The embarassing thing for Christians was that their totally solar Julian
calendar did a worse job of following the vernal equinox than did the Jewish
calendar (which is/was primarily lunar).
> .....................................So Gregory adjusted the progression
> of the Christian calendar to move March 21 back, closer to the
> astronomical equinox. But he couldn't ensure that it would always
> coincide with the equinox. So he preferred to err on the late side
> rather than the early side, and skipped 10 days in October 1582,
> rather than 11.
This is the usual retroactive rationalisation for explaining
Vatican did not restore the average equinox to March 21st. (an explanation
only invoked when somebody notices that the vernal equinox actually occurs
around the 20th. March). Again it does not hold up under examination.
The key mistake in this reasoning is the blithe assumption that Gregory
and his calendar commissioners did the best that they could with their
new leap-year rule at fixing the equinox. This is not true and they knew
it at the time!
The leap-year rule actually adopted causes the equinox to jump around
within 53 calendar hours (centered around March 20th. 5pm GMT). This means
that the equinox occurs on the 19th., 20th. or 21st. March for Europe and
even on March 22nd. for the Far East.
With the 33-year leap-cycle proposed by Gregory's only Oriental
commissioner (the Syrian patriarch Na'amat allah) the equinox could have
been kept on March 21st. (for regions under the calendrical meridian) and
kept within 24 calendar hours for all regions of the planet (for 300 years
based on local apparent time as John Dee claims in his verse). Thus an 11
day correction (as proposed by John Dee in 1582) could have been made,
without the equinox falling any later than March 22nd. (for all regions
of the planet), as it does now.
The proposals of Gregory's Syrian commissioner have never been revealed
until recently (see A. Ziggelaar S.J. in Coyne. Hoskin and Pedersen's
"Gregorian Reform of the Calendar", 1983) and Dee's complete plan is
still unavailable (except here, and the Serendipity web-site, at URL
Dee's Y'rs, Simon Cassidy, 1053 47th.St. Emeryville Ca.94608. ph.510-547-0684.