The Scattered Brethren hosted a conference on Biblical calendars at the Dallas, Texas Hilltop Inn, January 3-5, 1997. The conference was very pleasant and the home-cooked Mediterranean dinner on the Sabbath was especially enjoyable. Lawrence Maayeh and his wife, Merrellene did most of the work and certainly deserve most of the credit. About 70 people attended, but not everyone attended every session. There were seven speakers (one of whom was a last-minute volunteer) and many questions and comments from those attending.
A set of 11 tapes of the conference is available from Lawrence Maayeh, PO Box 860471, Plano, Texas 75086. Please send $20 to cover duplicating and shipping costs. If you are unable to afford this, but would like to listen to the tapes, please write for the tapes anyway.
Space does not permit a detailed write-up of each presentation. Instead, we will summarize the method each speaker uses to begin their calendar's month and to begin the yeargiving our own evaluation of the proof they used. If you are not already familiar with the terminology and issues regarding Biblical calendars, please ask for our free 10-page paper, Biblical Calendar Basics. You may write to the address on the back page, or simply call 517-543-5544 anytime.
Evaluation of proof is very important in calendar issues. Information about calendars is "here a little, there a little" in the Bible. The first calendar paper or tape you study may seem like "it has the Biblical calendar figured out." When you study your second calendar system, things change. Some researchers draw opposite conclusions from the same verse. We have included a summary of the methods we used in our evaluation of the systems presented at the conference:
When using a Bible verse as proof, it is very important to think about how that verse proves or supports the point in question:
1) Accepted Bible meaninga point is prov ed by a meaning of a verse that most everyone agrees on.
2) Disputed Bible meaninga point is proved by a meaning of a verse that is disputedtranslators disagree. (This does not mean the conclusion is wrong, but be careful if an entire doctrine is based on one or more disputed interpretations.)
3) Inferenceconclusions logically drawn from Biblical statements, but the Bible itself does not contain the statement. (Example from Acts 7:22: "Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians"therefore, he was an expert in Egyptian astronomy and calendars. The conclusion is logical, but it is not in the Biblein some societies only the religious hierarchy are allowed to learn about astronomy.)
4) Compliant versea verse that does not refute a certain point, but does not prove it either. (Example from Deut 16:1:"Observe the month of Abib..."since Abib means "green ears" in Hebrew, does that mean that the month of Abib begins when there are green ears? If other scriptures prove this method of starting the year, this verse is compliant with themit does not oppose them. But, the verse itself does not prove that Abib begins when there are green ears.)
5) Imaginationconclusions derived from a verse that really do not relate to the verse.
While all of the presenters claimed that their calendar was found in the Bible, they all made some references to non-Biblical history: either to show that their calendar system was practiced by righteous people, or to show that other calendar systems were used by "the pagans." When dealing with religious history or 2000-year old history, we have to be very careful. There is a wide variety of sources and many do not agree with each other.
Evaluating historical proof is even more difficult than evaluating Biblical proof. We need to ask each one of these questions about any historical "fact":
1) How close to the original event is it? The best sources are original writings made at the time and place where the historical event occurred. However, we have only a few stone, pottery, or other type of documents that have lasted so long. Often we must settle for copies or opinions written much later. Many history books give no original source at all for their conclusions.
2) Do the authors have a reason to be biased? Most human writers portray themselves and their friends better than they were, and their enemies worse than they really were. If a historian is paid by a government of a church, he is not likely to write too much against them.
3) Is it possible that the history has been alteredthat it is not an accurate reflection of the people and time that it claims to be from?
4) Are there other opinions? We can find ancient stone writings that disagree with other equally ancient stone writings. The same problem applies to history books throughout the ages.
5) Is the history in agreement with the Bible?
6) Can the history be verified today? While this is impossible for much of history, it is possible for some calendar-issues. Eclipses and other recorded astronomical events can be verified by modern astronomy. Some ancient calendar statements can be mathematically shown to be in error and therefore dismissed.
7) Are the conclusions drawn from the history correct? Many calendar researchers find a certain practice in use by "pagans" and immediately conclude that it cannot be correct. They fail to consider that "pagans" can borrow some practices of the true religion (2Kngs 17:28-29) or that some practices might be coincidental.
Let the Conference Begin
The meetings were opened Friday afternoon by Lawrence Maayeh. Next, John Merritt, founder of Friends of the Sabbath, spoke for about 20 minutes and explained the benefits of these types of conferences.
Norman Edwards (PO Box 220, Charlotte, Mich 48813) spoke next on the overview of calendars, and the Hebrew Calendar specifically. He encouraged all the brethren to be tolerant of others who do not see the calendar in the same way. He asked for a show of hands of anyone who had kept the same calendar system (other than the Jewish one) since they were baptized. No hands went up. He asked if anyone was rebaptized after discovering their new calendar system. Again, no hands. The conclusion? We must believe that there are converted people using incorrect calendar systems.
Edwards also cautioned about mistaken claims that over-emphasize the importance of calendars: Some claim that they must keep the holy days (and the Sabbath) on the exact same days that the Father and Son in Heaven are keeping them. This is not sensible because holy days begin at sundown in each time zoneall people do not keep the holy days at the same time. Persons in New Zealand may completely finish celebrating a holy day before a person in Western Alaska begins celebrating it. These days were made for men to keep. The Eternal is involved in the doings of mankind, but no scripture says that He keeps these days.
Also, some calendar teachers unfairly compare the holy days to the Sabbath, saying that if we keep the wrong holy day, it is just the same as keeping Sunday instead of the Sabbath. These issues are not at all comparable as the Bible gives a clear formula that a 7-year old can understand for the Sabbath (work 6 days, rest 1 day), but leaves us with no clear instruction on how to handle the far more complex calculations of a solar-lunar calendar.
Edwards went on to explain that the Hebrew Calendarthe calendar used by nearly all Jewsis not a "perfect calendar that has been in use for thousands of years." It is mathematically imperfecteach thousand years, it gets about four days later than the natural seasons of the year. Also, the Mishna, Talmud, and other Jewish history all record changes made to it. They show that at one time, new months were begun by observing the first crescent of the moon. Now, they are mathematically calculated from the average conjunction of the Sun, Moon, and Earth. The present calendar rules require the start of the year to be adjusted ("postponed") so that certain holy days do not fall on preparation days or the Sabbath. These restrictions may have made sense when many Jews were slaves and preparing food two days in advance was impossible, but they make less sense now. Of interest though, it is these postponement rules that delay the start of the month from the mean conjunctionand cause the Hebrew months to start at the first crescent moon about 20%of the time! If you believe the year should start with the first crescent moon, the Hebrew calendar would nearly always be wrong without the "postponements."
Herb Solinsky (1911 Lansdown Ct, Carrollton, Texas 75010) took over three hours to present much information. He has studied the subject for 20 years and was knowledgeable on many calendar systems in addition to the one that he understands to be correct. He could have presented many more hours of relevant material if time was allotted.
He believes new months should be started with the first observable crescent moon in Jerusalem, and that the year should begin with the first new moon after the spring equinox. This means that he recognizes the beginning of the month usually 1 or 2 days later than the Hebrew calendar. In about 4 years out of 100, he believes that the Hebrew Calendar will be off by a month. About 20%of the time, Solinsky's dates agree with the Hebrew calendar.
Solinsky showed how the Hebrew word for new moon, chodesh, is from a root that means "to renew"hence the month starts with a renewed moon. He showed from Nehemiah where they were keeping the holy days correctly, yet the Babylonian month names are used.
His historical material was excellent. He had eclipse records and other primarily historical sources showing when the year began--using the same calendar that Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah were using. From 499 to 400 BC, the beginning month of the year was the first new moon after the equinox. He had the testimony of Philo, a first-century Jew, who clearly stated that the month began with the first observable crescent and encouraged people to go to Jerusalem to keep the feasts. This would have been the calendar by which our Savior kept the Feasts. We can be relatively sure that Philo's writings were not altered to conform to later Jewish calendar theory because they have been maintained by Christians, not Jews.
Solinsky had in-depth information showing how it was possible for people to know the precise day of the spring equinox without modern math or science. (Some people actually advocate calendar systems today that no one would have been able to calculate years ago). He believes that the Israelites kept the calendar based on actual sightings of the moon, but he uses a sophisticated computer program to predict when the first crescent would be observable from Jerusalem. He admits that his calculated methods may deviate from actual observation in a small percentage of cases where a small crescent moon is visible for only a short time. He would accept actual sightings from Jerusalem instead of his calculations in those instances. Solinsky further agreed that he would accept a calendar determined by a new Jewish Sanhedrin if it was based on the principles he understands to be true. (During the last year, there has been serious talk among large Jewish groups of reconvening a Sanhedrin to deal with calendar and other issues.)
James Russell (PO Box 2109, Corona, Calif. 91718) explained the calendar system he uses. Russell believes the year should begin with the month closest to the spring equinox. He believes the months begin at the calculated true astronomical conjunction (when the Earth, Moon, and Sun are completely in line). This system will usually start the month one or two days before the Hebrew Calendar and fairly frequently starts the year a whole month before the Hebrew calendar.
The true astronomical conjunction is different from the mean (average) conjunction used by the Hebrew calendar. In reality, the moon's orbit is not round and is not in exactly the same plane as the Earth's orbit around the sun. The true conjunction calculations include all of these motionsthey are much more complex but possible with modern computers. The Hebrew calendar mean conjunction assumes that the the Moon circles the Earth every 29.530594 days.
Russell admitted that the true conjunction calculations are probably beyond the capabilities of the ancients. If the calendar as he understands it has been historically kept, it had to be done by observation or approximation. Since there are one, two or three days between the time when the last crescent is visible and the first crescent is visible, there is no reliable way for ancients to know which day was the "true conjunction" until the first crescent appearedafter the conjunction was already past! It is inconceivable that the Israelites regularly celebrated "New Moons" if they could not determine them until afterward. Russell mentioned the phenomenon of "Earth shine"the possibility of seeing the dark moon from light reflected upon it by the Earth. Whether or not this is possible was debated, but no one claimed that this was a reliable way to sight the moon every monththe slightest amount of clouds or dust in the air would certainly obscure any chance of seeing the moon by Earthshine.
Russell's scriptural basis for using a dark moon to begin the month was based on accidentally reading the wrong definition of a word in confusing footnotes of the Brown, Driver & Briggs Lexiconan error Solinsky later pointed out to him. Also, he used many analogies showing how seeds begin their life in the ground in darkness, a chicken begins its life in darkness in a shell, and a baby begins its life in the womb in darkness. This sounds good, but if you think about it, these things are not considered "born" and the length of their life is not counted until they emerge and see their first light. These analogies seem like they could also be used to prove that we should use a first crescent moon to begin the month. Nevertheless, these are only analogiesnot Biblical evidence.
Much of Russell's presentation was about the "evils" of the Jewish calendar, postponements and keeping the "wrong days." He made statements like: "if we can postpone the holy days, can we postpone the Sabbath?" We would like to raise this question: Is postponing holy days any more wrong than holding them early? If the Eternal really intended for us to start the month with a crescent moon, then Russell's system will always be keeping the "wrong days" because the true conjunction is always at least one day before the first visible crescent.
James Russell presented many other scriptural points, but most were inferences or disputed interpretations. He linked crescent moons to paganism, but had little historical evidence that ancient Israel or the New Testament church ever kept (or could possibly keep) the calendar as he keeps it today.
Rick Eckert (PO Box 305, Orange Beach, Ala 36561) presented a calendar system in which the new year was based on the progress of the barley harvest. In addition, he believes that the month should begin when the moon is full, but he did not have time to present detailed information on this subject. Using the full moon means that all holy days will be kept about two weeks differently from most other calendar systems. Whether the holy days are kept two weeks earlier or two weeks later depends on the barley harvest each year. Eckert and others who use a similar system have actually planted barley to determine when to start their year.
Eckert spent a lot of time emphasizing the "paganism" associated with other calendar systems. He went as far as quoting an author who claimed three different calendar systems were used in the Bible (two of which were wrong). However, this is an extremely disputed viewpoint and all the scriptures used for proving it all fall into the categories of "inference, compliant statements, or imagination." Eckert believed that the mention of six Babylonian month names in Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah was not a proof that the Babylonian calendar was equivalent to the Biblical calendar at that time. He also cited references to the "wood offering" (Neh 10:34, 13:31) as proof that the Jews were following unbiblical Babylonian religious practices. (Actually, Leviticus 6:12 commands the Levites to use wood for the offering and other translations show that is the meaning of the Hebrew in Nehemiah: "wood for the offerings"Moffatt, "supply of wood"NAS.)
He did bring out some heart-warming lessons that could be learned when families observe the moon and barley together. However, he did not have a good explanation for what people should do who live in cities or in climates where barley does not grow. He said they could call someone else who was growing barley, but that leaves us with the very real situation that a person could be keeping the holy days a month differently depending on whether they decided to call a friend 100 miles north or a friend 100 miles south.
The primary scripture Eckert uses to begin the month with a full moon is Psalm 81:3 which literally says "Blow the trumpet in the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day." Since there is no "and" in the Hebrew, Eckert and others conclude that it means the new and full moons are the same. However, this same syntax is found in Psalm 13:2, and other verses where it clearly does not imply equivalent items. Also, he pointed to Ezekiel 46:1-2 which shows that the East gate of Jerusalem will be opened on the Sabbath and the New Moon. He was correct in stating that the full moon can be observed just after sunset in the East but first crescents are observed in the West. However, he appears to be using a bit of imagination to use this scripture as proof that the full moon starts the month. We are specifically commanded not to worship the sun, moon and stars (Deut 4:19), and there is no command whatever to observe heavenly bodies as a part of a worship service. People would have had to know it was a new moon before they came to the service, otherwise they would not be at the service. The next few verses show the purpose of the gate being open on both the new moon and Sabbath was to let certain people into the service, not to observe the moon.
We would like to point out that Rick Eckert was a kind and pleasant man, easy to listen to, and several times during his talk he acknowledged that there might be other valid calendar ideas and that he had learned many new things at the conference.
Michael Turner (PO Box 860471, Plano, Texas 75086) explained a system that used the first observable crescent to start the month. This part of his system is very similar to the one explained by Solinsky. However, he determines the start of the year in a completely different manner. He begins the year when the moon can be sited in the constellation Taurus. This approach often begins the year a month later than the Hebrew Calendar. Due to the phenomenon known as the "precession of the equinoxes", this method causes the calendar to become unsynchronized with the Earth's seasons a little more than one day every thousand years.
We felt the biggest benefit of Turner's presentation was the wealth of information he provided about Bible references to the stars and astronomy. Many people assume that any mention of stars or signs of the zodiac are part of astrology and false religion. They are unaware of scriptures like Job 9:9: "He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, And the chambers of the south." Turner did a convincing job of showing that the Eternal created the constellations, and then later false religions exploited them for their own use.
People who use the equinox to start their year usually determine the day of the equinox by putting a fixed stick in the ground and marking the end of its shadow each day at noon. Turner found links between these "sun sticks" and "Pagan" obelisks and sun-worship. He prefers starting the year by looking up at the sun, rather than down at a "sun stick." While the links to pagan worship may exist in some cases, the Eternal's people should not be prevented from calculating the equinoxes just because others have made that process into a false religious event. The same argument is used by many to dismiss any kind of star observanceit is linked to astrology. Genesis 1:14 tells us that the sun would be used to determine seasons, days and years, so we should not be afraid to use it for that purpose.
We do have to credit Turner with developing a calendar system that would be observable in essentially the same manner all over the Earth. He even pointed out some interesting prophetic implications: "Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars" (Rev 12:1). Some people believe that this refers to a time when both the sun and moon are visible in the constellation Virgo (the virgin). With Turner's calendar system, this event will occur on a holy day. The problem with his system is that there are no clear scriptures or history that tell us to use it. Josephus makes a reference to the Israelites leaving Egypt when the "Sun was in Aries" (a constellation), but he does not say that was how they determined the start of the yearnor does he mention the "moon in Taurus".
Michael Turner was very open to other calendar ideas and intended to keep on studying them.
Vendyl Jones (PO Box 120366, Arlington, TX 76012) spent some time talking about a solar calendar based on 52 weeks of 7 days (364 days) with a leap-day at the Spring Feast and an extra day every fourth year at the Fall feast (leap year). He claims there are exactly twelve months in each year with no correlation between the month and the cycle of the moon. He was met by such a barrage of questions from the audience that he was not really able to finish explaining the calendar.
Nevertheless, he seemed quite happy to take the time to talk about some of the books he had available, his Torah study classes, and current projects.
We included a brief article about Vendyl Jones on page 17 of the June 1996 Servants' News. Jones is a man of great controversysome people consider him the world's greatest archeologist, others a fraud. We have not been able to personally evaluate his work, but do find that we learn something from everyone. He pointed out that the fourth Hebrew word in the Bible is not translateddoes not even have a Strong's numberyet is in every manuscript. I easily confirmed this in my inter-linear. It says: "in-the-beginning created God et". The Hebrew word et is composed of aleph and tav, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This word is more like an acronym, saying that "in the beginning God created everything from A to Z."
Alva Nelms was not a scheduled speaker, but during an extended panel discussion session she asked if she could present her understanding of the calendar and was given time to do so. Most everyone wanted to hear it and Lawrence Maayeh permitted her to do so. She presented her opinions very well, though we had to take great exception to some of them. She started with a list of requirements that she thought the Eternal's calendar should satisfy. Two points were "Must be simple enough for a shepherd to understand" and "Must not have fragmented time periods." We took exception to that because it is not in the Bible nor is it verified by history. The Eternal could have set the Earth and Moon in perfectly circular and flat orbits, made their periods of revolution and rotation exact multiples of each other, and done many other things to simplify calendar calculations. But He did notHe left it rather complicated.
Nelms advocated using the last visible crescent for starting a month. It is seen just before sunset, rather than just before sunrise. This gives people an extra twelve hours to prepare for the next day which will be the new moon. The main problem with this is that you cannot really be sure that you are seeing the last visible crescentit can look very small, but you may see a very tiny part of it the next day. So with this method, sometimes you will not know when the "new moon" is until twelve hours after it has occurred. Nelms used a few other problem-arguments such as "the reason the Bible does not contain a description of what a 'new moon' looks like is because it is a dark moon and there is nothing to see." The Hebrew language has words that mean "nothing" and "dark," but the Eternal chose not to give any description at all.
What Calendar Do We Use Now?
In the many disputes about the exact timing of months and years, one important calendar consideration is sometimes overlooked: Was the calendar to be centrally proclaimed, or are nations, congregations, or individuals to determine it for themselves? We can guess all day about what the Eternal might have wanted after the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, but we can know how it was done when the temple stood. Leviticus 16:29-34 clearly states that the high priest was to perform the Day of Atonement ceremony once each year. If Israelites each observed the calendar individually, they would occasionally be a day or a month off. Some will claim that Israel was such a small country that there would be no significant variation in moon observation, but both science and actual practice confirm otherwise. To prove it, ask a friend who lives 50 to 100 miles away to write down each month, the days he sees the first crescent, the full moon, and the last crescent for a full year. Keep similar records yourself and see if your records disagree. Clouds, elevation, distance and even human forgetfulness can cause you to have different results.
The year began when the priests said it did, because they were the ones proclaiming the holy days and offering the required sacrifices. If a person in ancient Israel observed the calendar correctly when the priests were wrong, would he be able to have the holy day ceremonies performed for him according to his calendar observation? No, the law contained no such provision. The days were to be proclaimed, and the people were to assemble (Lev 23:2.4.37). This does not mean that the priests were dictators or some kind of hierarchical rulers. Their authority was limited to certain temple and judgmental functions, one of which was blowing the trumpets to proclaim the days:
The sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets; and these shall be to you as an ordinance forever throughout your generations.... Also in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be a memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God (Num10:8,10).
Nearly everyone who came to the conference seemed willing to keep whatever calendar system was necessary to please their Creator. That is a wonderful attitude! Is the Eternal testing us to see how many hundreds or thousands of hours we are willing to pour into calendar researchor is he interested in how we are going to cooperate with each other? Cannot all of those who attended this conference, listened to its tapes, or read related articles be confident in the day of judgment that we will be able to say that we did what we could to find the truth, but the truth was simply not yet clearly revealed.
The main purpose for the holy days that we see in scripture are the offering of sacrifices, the joyous assembling of the brethren, and the praise of our Father. Our Savior fulfilled the sacrifice part, but the latter two aspects continue. It is hard for the Body of Christ to come together on the holy days if they are using a dozen or more different calendars. The priests had the authority to blow the trumpets to proclaim the days when the temple was standing. Who has that authority today? We can find no Biblical evidence or history showing that calendar authority ever existed in the true church. Yet, we find millions of Jews spread around the world keeping an imperfect calendar, yet all assembling together on the same days.
In our estimation, the main problem among the Jews today is much the same as it is among Christians: they do not live by the little bit of scripture that they know, and they have little interest in learning more. Their main problem is not the keeping of holy days at the wrong time. The Bible tells us that the Eternal says "I hate your feast days", but in almost every case there is a description of what the people are doing that He hates. There is no scripture that specifically says the Eternal hates these Feasts because they are being kept on the wrong day. To the contrary, we find one of the greatest Passovers in the Bible kept by Hezekiah one month late and twice as long as the Eternal commanded (2Chr 30:2,23).
Should we reject everything the Jews teach because of their many sins? What do we do about teaching from Christian or even modern-day Sabbath-keeping leaders who have sinned? Do we reject it all or do we pick what is good? The Old Testament was maintained for thousands of years by sinning Jewish scribesnot by spirit-filled believers. Minor errors and imperfections have entered the manuscripts, but all that we need to be saved and to grow is there. Is it difficult to believe that the Eternal may have allowed His calendar be maintained by the same people in a similar fashion? The Hebrew calendar now has error, but it is sufficient for Jews and Christians alike to meet together for the holy days and learn the essential lessons from them.
If we do not know exactly how the Eternal intended for the calendar to be kept, is it better for us to keep our own probably-wrong calendar with only a few brethren, or to keep the Jewish probably-wrong calendar that the majority of other brethren keep?
Of all the research at the conference, Herb Solinsky's seemed by far the most thorough to us. We think it is possible that Herb Solinsky's research accurately reflects the Biblical calendarthat it is not in conflict with any scriptures or reliable history. We need to study it more before we can make up our own mind. Unfortunately, it is not available in an easy-to-read format. Solinsky has hundreds of pages of research and notes that he is compiling, but it will be some time before the book he plans to write is ready. We will notify Servants' News readers when it is available.
Obviously, each believer must live by what they are convicted of (Rom 14:23). However, we all should not let anyone scare us into believing that we will be cursed for keeping "the wrong holy days" when we do not have a clear, Biblical understanding of what are the "right days."
The Edwards do not plan to depart from the Jewish calendar until all of the following take place:
1) We are completely convinced that another system is the one that the Eternal has intended and it is His will that believers use that system.
2) An inexpensive book is written explaining the new calendar so the average person can understand it and also understand why all other calendar systems are not correct. Without such a writing, it will be difficult to teach the new system to a large number of people.
3) An effort is made to contact a majority of holy-day-keeping groups and ask them to consider the new calendar system.. It would be a mistake to try to force anyone to keep certain days, but if a new calendar is obviously right, at least some other spirit-led, open-minded, holy-day-keeping people should be able to understand it and agree with it.
When Israel was a single nation, any calendar system would workeven an observed oneas long as it was communicated to everyone in the country. Making an advance reservation at an inn for two days before Atonement was not a problemthe inn-keeper would know exactly when Atonement was. Since the Jews and other holy-day-keepers live mixed among other cultures, is it possible that the well-publicized fixed Hebrew calendar is an act of the Eternal's mercy? ("Well publicized" means that there have been Jews in nearly every country keeping it.) It gives us a unified way to keep the holy days without the need for continual contact with a central Jewish or Christian hierarchy. Throughout history, most people did not possess enough mathematical skills to calculate any fixed calendar system by themselves. But observed calendars make the precise scheduling of future dates impossible. With the fixed Hebrew calendar, a person can make an advance hotel reservation for two days before Atonement by asking for "October 9th". It is nearly impossible to organize a Feast in a large facility if you cannot tell its manager what day the Feast will begin.
We hope this article will encourage everyone to study calendar systems and to make a decision based on their understanding of the scriptures and available history. Servants' News will continue to list Feast sites for all calendar systems. We hope brethren will continue to regard each other as brethren no matter what calendar system they use.
Norman S. Edwards
Important Calendar Concepts
Month: In most Biblical calendar systems, the period of time that the moon revolves around the earth. Systems differ in deciding what phase of the moon should begin the month.
Year: There are about 12.38 lunar months in a year, so some years have 12 months and some 13. Systems differ in deciding when to start a new year.
Observed Calendar: One determined by physically sighting the heavenly bodies (e.g. the new month begins when the new moon is seen). Systems may specify sightings to be made by each individual, each congregation or a central authority. Heavy cloud layers can change the start of months or years.
Calculated or Fixed Calendar: One based on calculations of the positions of heavenly bodies. Most calendar calculations are too complex for the average person, but such calculations can be written down so others can use them.
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