Archive for History of Exact Sciences

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 285–320 | Cite as

The lunar and Paschal tables of De ratione paschali attributed to Anatolius of Laodicea

  • Daniel McCarthy

Summary of conclusions

The seven MS lunar and Paschal tables of De ratione paschali fall into two distinct groups which we have classified as Sirmond-type and Padua-type respectively, and from these we have restored the tables of their archetype. The Sirmond-type tables preserve a unique lunar year, which we term the Anatolian lunar year, and they first emerge in the context of a larger computus which was assembled in southern Ireland c. 658, a copy of which Wilfrid had evidently obtained by the time of the Synod of Whitby. The weight of circumstantial evidence supports the hypothesis that it was he who then instigated the corruption of both the tables and the patristic authorities of De ratione paschali, a copy of which subsequently passed to Bede and thence to the Sirmond group of MSS. The Padua-type tables on the other hand are represented only by the Padua MS, and they appear to have originated from within Insular circles on the Continent. These too were crudely corrupted, first by changing their lunar year from Anatolian to Roman and moving their ferial data from January to December and changing some Paschal data, and then secondly by collation with Sirmond-type tables. In the case of both types the objective was clearly to weaken the relationship between the lunar and Paschal tables and to try and obscure the Paschal principles that they preserve and thereby undermine the position of those followers of the Insular latercus who relied on the authority of De ratione paschali for their Pasch. These conclusions naturally give a rather different colour to the events of Whitby from that given by Bede, who places them completely in a theological context. However in material terms what was really at stake at Whitby was the transfer of the patronage of the entire kingdom of Northumbria from the Celtic to the Roman church. Here then was sufficient motivation to justify the most ruthless of expedients.


Colour Stake Circumstantial Evidence Distinct Group Large Computus 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel McCarthy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science, School of EngineeringTrinity CollegeDublin 2Ireland

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