Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VI/Julius Africanus/Extant Fragments of the Chronography/Part 18

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On the Circumstances Connected with Our Saviour’s Passion and His Life-Giving Resurrection.

1. As to His works severally, and His cures effected upon body and soul, and the mysteries of His doctrine, and the resurrection from the dead, these have been most authoritatively set forth by His disciples and apostles before us. On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Saviour falls on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let that opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye.[2] Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Cæsar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth—manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. But it was a darkness induced by God, because the Lord happened then to suffer. And calculation makes out that the period of 70 weeks, as noted in Daniel, is completed at this time.

2. From Artaxerxes, moreover, 70 weeks are reckoned up to the time of Christ, according to the numeration of the Jews. For from Nehemiah, who was sent by Artaxerxes to people Jerusalem, about the 120th year of the Persian empire, and in the 20th year of Artaxerxes himself, and the 4th year of the 83d Olympiad, up to this time, which was the 2d year of the 102d Olympiad, and the 16th year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, there are given 475 years, which make 490 Hebrew years, since they measure the years by the lunar month of 29½ days, as may easily be explained, the annual period according to the sun consisting of 365¼ days, while the lunar period of 12 months has 11¼ days less. For which reason the Greeks and the Jews insert three intercalary months every eight years. For 8 times 11¼ days make 3 months. The 475 years, therefore, contain 59 periods of 8 years and three months over: thus, the three intercalary months for every 8 years being added, we get 15 years, and these together with the 475 years make 70 weeks. Let no one now think us unskilled in the calculations of astronomy, when we fix without further ado the number of days at 365¼. For it is not in ignorance of the truth, but rather by reason of exact study,[3] that we have stated our opinion so shortly. But let what follows also be presented as in outline[4] to those who endeavour to inquire minutely into all things.

3. Each year in the general consists of 365 days; and the space of a day and night being divided into nineteen parts, we have also five of these. And in saying that the year consists of 365¼ days, and there being the five nineteenth parts…to the 475 there are 6¼ days. Furthermore, we find, according to exact computation, that the lunar month has 29½ days.…[5] And these come to[6] a little time. Now it happens that from the 20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes (as it is given in Ezra among the Hebrews), which, according to the Greeks, was the 4th year of the 80th Olympiad, to the 16th year of Tiberius Cæsar, which was the second year of the 102d Olympiad, there are in all the 475 years already noted, which in the Hebrew system make 490 years, as has been previously stated, that is, 70 weeks, by which period the time of Christ’s advent was measured in the announcement made to Daniel by Gabriel. And if any one thinks that the 15 Hebrew years added to the others involve us in an error of 10, nothing at least which cannot be accounted for has been introduced. And the 1½ week which we suppose must be added to make the whole number, meets the question about the 15 years, and removes the difficulty about the time; and that the prophecies are usually put forth in a somewhat symbolic form, is quite evident.

4. As far, then, as is in our power, we have taken the Scripture, I think, correctly; especially seeing that the preceding section about the vision seems to state the whole matter shortly, its first words being, “In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar,”[7] where he prophesies of the subversion of the Persian power by the Greeks, which empires are symbolized in the prophecy under the figures of the ram and the goat respectively.[8] “The sacrifice,” he says, “shall be abolished, and the holy places shall be made desolate, so as to be trodden under foot; which things shall be determined within 2300 days.”[9] For if we take the day as a month, just as elsewhere in prophecy days are taken as years, and in different places are used in different ways, reducing the period in the same way as has been done above to Hebrew months, we shall find the period fully made out to the 20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes, from the capture of Jerusalem. For there are given thus 185 years, and one year falls to be added to these—the year in which Nehemiah built the wall of the city. In 186 years, therefore, we find 2300 Hebrew months, as 8 years have in addition 3 intercalary months. From Artaxerxes, again, in whose time the command went forth that Jerusalem should be built, there are 70 weeks. These matters, however, we have discussed by themselves, and with greater exactness, in our book On the Weeks and this Prophecy. But I am amazed that the Jews deny that the Lord has yet come, and that the followers of Marcion refuse to admit that His coming was predicted in the prophecies when the Scriptures display the matter so openly to our view. And after something else: The period, then, to the advent of the Lord from Adam and the creation is 5531 years, from which epoch to the 250th Olympiad there are 192 years, as has been shown above.


  1. In Georgius Syncellus, Chron., p. 322 or 256.
  2. ἕν τι κατὰ τὴν ὄψιν. [Vol. iii. p. 58, Elucid. V., this series.]
  3. διὰ τὴν λεπτολογίαν.
  4. Or, on a table; ὡς ἐν γραφῇ.
  5. The text in the beginning of this section is hopelessly corrupt. Scaliger declares that neither could he follow these things, nor did the man that dreamt them understand them. We may subjoin the Greek text as it stands in Migne: Μεταξυ δὲ τοῦ λέγειν τὸν ἐνιαυτὸν ἡμερῶν τξε, καὶ τετραμορίου, καὶ τῶν ἀπὸ ιθ᾽ τῆς νυχθημέρου, μερῶν έ…εἰς τὰ υοέ, ἡμέραι τὸ παράλληλον εἰσὶ *, καὶ τετραμόριον.  ῎Ετι γε μὴν τὸν τῆς σελήνης μῆνα κατὰ τὴν ἀκριβῆ λεπτολογίαν εὑρισκομεν κθ᾽, καὶ ἡμισείας ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς διαιρεθείσης εἰς μέρη σέ, τούτων τὰ ο᾽, καὶ ἥμισυ…ἃ γίνεται ἐννενηκοστοτέταρτα τρία.
  6. καταγίνεται.
  7. Dan. viii. 1.
  8. Dan. viii. 13, 14.
  9. Dan. viii. 13, 14.