Different calendars have emerged throughout history ie. Julian, revised Julian, Gregorian. These calendars are generally solar or lunar or both (lunisolar). Jews used lunisolar in Tannaitic period which would include time of Jesus ministry but was fairly new way of accounting for leap years (must add month in on crescent moon every few year), but did Saint John also use this? Maybe did he reckon time differently?

So I am asking what time and calendar was predominantly used in this time period by Romans versus by Jews. What did author of gospel of John use?

  • 3
    Do you have any sources for some of these assertions? You seem to mention some calendars that weren't even invented at the time these texts were written but then switch to how ancient calendars were counted in the first place. It's still an interesting question, but clarifying some of the anachronisms and citing some sources would help. Also, you may consider asking the part about the Apocalypse in a separate question. This may get closed as too broad otherwise.
    – Dan
    Dec 26, 2013 at 6:00
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    The Question's title seems to verge upon a topic studied by many scholars, sometimes called the lectionary hypothesis, that the structure of the Gospel of John (and separately, the Synoptics) is informed by a one-year (or three-year in some views) cycle of Old Testament readings done at synagogues in the 1st century on the Sabbath. An extensive critique by John Morris (1964) was the subject of his book, The New Testament and the Jewish Lectionaries, and chapters III and V are especially related to the Gospel of John.
    – hardmath
    Dec 26, 2013 at 17:07
  • @hardmath please answer with this
    – user1985
    Dec 28, 2013 at 20:49
  • I have edited your question as per Dan's feedback. Can you insert a link/source/citation for your statement that "Jews used lunisolar in Tannaitic period"
    – user2027
    Feb 14, 2014 at 20:52
  • There were also multiple calendars in use in Jerusalem at the time. The mainstream Jews used the lunisolar calendar, but the Essenes had their own calendar (they claimed their calendar was the proper one). The two calendars are similar but vary by bits, especially regarding holidays. The Passovers, for example, would be close together on the calendars but rarely on the same day.
    – Frank Luke
    Apr 2, 2014 at 19:44

2 Answers 2


E. G. Richards says in his book, Mapping Time:The Calendar and its History that the Jews adopted the Babylonian calendar during the Captivity. This was lunisolar: each year had 12 lunar months and a 13th was intercalated as necessary. The year started in the autumn and the day at sunset and the months were deemed to begin when the new moon was first observed at Jerusalem. He says the Jews used a seven-day week of great antiquity possibly of Babylonian origin, but the days were not named, just numbered – except for the seventh day, the Sabbath. The Roman calendar was originally lunar; kalends represented the first day of a month and originally marked the appearance of the new moon. By the first century, Julius Caesar had reformed the year by creating the Julian calendar of 365 days and a leap day every fourth year, effectively making this a solar calendar.

I assume your reference to "the author of John's Gospel" is an acknowledgement that the author was not really the apostle John. This is the consensus of New Testament scholars, as noted for example in The Birth of Christianity, pp 20-21, by John Dominic Crossan. John's Gospel was written in Greek and almost certainly not in Palestine, but the author seems more aware of Jewish customs than were the authors of the synoptic gospels. When he altered the time of the crucifixion from the third hour on the day following the seder feast, to the sixth hour on the day before the feast (John 19:14), he was aware that this was when the lamb was sacrificed according to second-temple Jewish ritual.


John as all the other gospel writers, used a lunar calendar as did the Jewish leaders at that time. This was the biblical calendar. It had 12 months (Es.3:7) in a year, the first starting with the first new moon of spring (read in Exodus 9:31;12:2). How the calendar was adjusted is not known in the Bible but they certainly kept the holy feasts in their seasons and sometimes years were successive, at least up to four years (check out 2 Sa.21:1,9).


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