Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Original Liturgical Calendar of the Alexandrian Church and the Mystical Tradition of the Followers of Mark in Egypt

Let me tell you why I am so interested in the foundations of earliest Christianity. I don't believe anyone has figured out how the religion developed from the very beginning. Yes, there is the story which the Catholic Church Fathers give us. I just don't happen to believe any of it. It doesn't seem to me to be real or historical in any way.

So what are we left with? Little bits and pieces that the same Church Fathers tell us about other Christian traditions they condemned as 'heretical.' I am particularly interested in sects that are associated with the name 'Mark' - i.e. the Marcionites, the Marcosians etc. I think we are ultimately getting bits and pieces in fact of the same Alexandrian tradition of St. Mark filtered through different sources (hence the slightly different names).

The truth is that ever since I was a young boy I had an amazing memory. Having a great memory is actually quite useful. It often helps make me seem more intelligent than I really I am.  I think having such a great memory helps me see things that other scholars haven't noticed before. Every time I come across something new in the writings of the Church Fathers, I can almost instantly recall something else that I read in some other writer in some seemingly unrelated passage.

It just happened to me today. I don't even remember what I was originally searching for at Google anymore. As it turns out, I am reading some obscure letter by Ambrose of Milan (337 - 397 CE) translated into English where he is attacking the contemporary Alexandrian Church's calculation of Easter. Yet as I mentioned earlier, I walk around on this earth with about a hundred or so unanswered questions floating around in my head no matter what I am doing.

The bottom line is that as I was reading this passage in Ambrose of Milan, I had answers to two of the most puzzling questions in earliest Christianity. Those questions are:
  1. why doesn't it seem coincidental that St. Mark's Day is celebrated exactly one month after Easter Sunday?
  2. why on earth did the Marcosians think that the Passion occurred in the twelfth month?
I think we should start with the second question first because it literally drove me to distraction ever since I first read the claim in Irenaeus.

Irenaeus makes clear that the Christianity of those followers of Mark was rooted in a traditional Pythagorean interest in numbers.  The Marcosians claimed that the gospel narrative was secretly developed through numerology and the number twelve was especially important.  'The twelve' who followed Jesus is only the most obvious example for the heretics.  Irenaeus makes clear they developed a seemingly very complex 'secret narrative' where:

they further maintain that the passion which took place in the case of the twelfth AEon is pointed at by the apostasy of Judas, who was the twelfth apostle, and also by the fact that Christ suffered in the twelfth month. [Irenaeus AH 1.3.3]

Almost everything else about the beliefs of the heretics is understandable except the claim that the Passion took place in the twelfth month.  The gospel makes clear that Jesus was crucified during the Jewish Passover and as we will see in the letter from Ambrose, it is impossible to get around the fact that the ancient Israelites were commanded to celebrate that festival 'in the first month.' 

Irenaeus's explanation as always is that this only proves that the heretics were deranged lunatics for only crazy people could have been so ignorant to develop a mystical system that doesn't work in the unshakable fundamental truths of the Jewish religion.  If you prefer Irenaeus's words:

they improperly and illogically apply both the parables and the actions of the Lord to their falsely-devised system, I prove as follows: They endeavour, for instance, to demonstrate that passion which, they say, happened in the case of the twelfth AEon, from this fact, that the passion of the Saviour was brought about by the twelfth apostle, and happened in the twelfth month [AH 2.20.1]
and again:

Moreover, they affirm that He suffered in the twelfth month, so that He continued to preach for one year after His baptism; and they endeavour to establish this point out of the prophet (for it is written, "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retribution" [ibid 2.22.1]

and finally in the same running argument, Irenaeus concludes:

And that the special month in which the passover was celebrated, and in which also the Lord suffered, was not the twelfth, but the first, those men who boast that they know all things, if they know not this, may learn it from Moses. Their explanation, therefore, both of the year and of the twelfth month has been proved false, and they ought to reject either their explanation or the Gospel; otherwise, how is it possible that the Lord preached for one year only? [AH 2.22.3]

I don't know if people can follow an argument from almost two thousand years ago where only one side is doing the talking.  Yet I have been reading and re-reading this passage for almost five years now and I think I can begin to make out certain nuances that might not be visible to the first time reader.

Here's what I find so interesting about this long section in Book Two of Against Heresies.  Irenaeus tries to make it seem his heretical opponents are just developing nonsense from an overactive imagination, yet notice that it is Irenaeus who runs away from the Marcosians very literal interpretation of Isa 61.2.  The Marcosians like Clement of Alexandria think Isaiah's 'year of favor' (or as it is alternatively translated 'acceptable year') is a 'real year' - a literal year based on 365 days.  It is Irenaeus who is making up deliberately vague interpretation of what 'year' means here.  He tells his reader that by 'year' Isaiah means all the time from the crucifixion to the time the worldwide Church was firmly rooted in Rome in Irenaeus own time.

I don't want to ridicule Irenaeus's highly imaginative interpretations of scripture.  My purpose is to note that the Marcosians here have an intriguing mystical obsession within the context of actually accepting what appears on the written page.  Once we accept this, we can go back to their strange insistance that the Passion took place in the twelfth month and realize that it couldn't simply be attributable to a 'mistake' or some oversight on their part.  The 'twelfth month' must have been a real feature of the calendar from which their liturgy developed. 

So the question is - what sort of calendar would allow for the idea that the Passion took place in the last month of a twelve month calendar?  For years I searched for an ancient calendar that might reasonably have been used to support these claims and found nothing.  Yet at the same time it was unmistakable that there were certain clues in the same section of material that the calendar was Egyptian.

For Irenaeus not only says that these heretics identify their year to have been shaped by a pre-existing arrangement in heaven:

For they maintain that those things [above] were not made on account of creation, but creation on account of them; and that the former are not images of the latter, but the latter of the former. As, therefore, they render a reason for the images, by saying that the month has thirty days on account of the thirty AEons, and the day twelve hours, and the year twelve months, on account of the twelve AEons which are within the Pleroma, with other such nonsense of the same kind [AH 2.15.1]

Irenaeus plainly ridicules the heretics for developing their liturgy from a 360 day calendar like that found in ancient Egypt:

For who can concede to them that the year has three hundred and sixty-five days only, in order that there may be twelve months of thirty days each, after the type of the twelve Aeons, when the type is in fact altogether out of harmony [with the antitype]? For, in the one case, each of the Aeons is a thirtieth part of the entire Pleroma, while in the other they declare that a month is the twelfth part of a year. If, indeed, the year were divided into thirty parts, and the month into twelve (= 360 days), then a fitting type might be regarded as having been found for their fictitious system. But, on the contrary, as the case really stands, their Pleroma is divided into thirty parts, and a portion of it into twelve; while again the whole year is divided into twelve parts, and a certain portion of it into thirty. The Saviour therefore acted unwisely in constituting the month a type of the entire Pleroma, but the year a type only of that Duodecad which exists in the Pleroma; for it was more fitting to divide the year into thirty parts, even as the whole Pleroma is divided, but the month into twelve, just as the Aeons are in their Pleroma. Moreover, they divide the entire Pleroma into three portions,--namely, into an Ogdoad, a Decad, and a Duodecad. But our year is divided into four parts,--namely, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. [AH 2.24.5]

It is impossible not to notice that the Marcosian interest in a 360 day calendar (cf.  ) is developed from an Egyptian source given that the Egyptians also divide their year into three rather than four seasons. 

The difficulty however isn't in finding signs that the Marcosians developed from Egypt and used a native Egyptian calendar (after all   tells us that 'Mark' was originally from Memphis, Egypt). What has always been impossible to figure out is again why the Marcosians thought that the Passion occurred in the twelfth month. This because the standard Egyptian calendar is understood to make the beginning of the year in the month of Thouth (or 'Tout') which cannot be used to explain the Passion taking place in the twelfth month. 

The solution to the problem came to me - as I already noted - when I stumbled upon a letter of Ambrose of Milan.  I will cite a larger than necessary section of the letter so serious readers can get some context for the important statement which appears at the end of the narrative (and which I have emboldened in my citation).   Letter 23 from Ambrose of Milan was an answer to the request of the bishops under his juridiction for his decision as to the proper day for observing Easter in the following year, 387 CE, in which the first day of the week fell on the fourteenth day of the moon, or, as it is called here, the ' fourteenth moon.'  His response is quite interesting for it lays bare some obvious criticisms of the manner in which the Alexandrian Church historically calculated the date of Easter:

Accordingly, since, even after the calculations of the Egyptians, and the definitions of the chui'ch of Alexandria, and also of the Bishop of the church of Rome, several persons are still waiting my judgement by letter, it is needful that I should write what my opinion is about the day of the Passover. For though the question which has arisen is about the approaching Paschal day, yet we state what we think should be maintained for all subsequent time, in case any question of the kind should come up.

But there are two things to be observed in the solemnity of the passover, the fourteenth moon, and the first month, which is called the month of the new fruits (Exod 13.4). Therefore that we may not appear to be departing from the Old Testament, let us recite the words of the section concerning the day of celebrating the Passover. Moses warns the people, saying that they must keep the month of the new fruits, proclaiming that it is the first month, for he says. This month shall be unto you the beginning of months (Exodus 12.2) it shall be the first month of the year to you, and thou shalt offer the Passover of the Lord thy God on the fourteenth day of the first month. (Lev. 23.5)

The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth cajne by Jesus Christ. (John 1.17)  He therefore, Who spake the law, afterwards coming by the Virgin in the last times, accomplished the fulness of the Law, for He came not to destroy the Law but to fulfil it, (Matt 5.17) and He celebrated the Passover in the week in which the fourteenth moon was the fifth day of the week, and then on that very day, as what is said before teaches us. He ate the Passover with his disciples: but on the following day, on the sixth day of the week, He was crucified on the fifteenth moon. But the sixteenth moon was the Sabbath which was an high day, and so on the seventeenth moon He rose again from the dead.

We must then keep this law of Easter, not to keep the fourteenth day as the day of the Resurrection, but rather as the day of the Passion, or at least one of the next preceding days, because the feast of the Resurrection is kept on the Lord's day ; and on the Lord's day we cannot fast; for we rightly condemn the Manichaeans for their fast upon this day. For it is unbelief in Christ's Resurrection, to appoint a rule of fasting for the day of the Resurrection, since the Law says that the Passion is to be eaten with bitterness (Exod. 12.8), that is, with grief, because the Author of Salvation was slain by so great a sacrilege on the part of men; but on the Lord's day the Prophet teaches us that we should rejoice, saying. This is the day ivhich the Lord hath made : let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Therefore it is fit that not only the day of the Passion, but also that of the Resurrection be observed by us, that we may have a day both of bitterness and of joy; fast on the one, on the other be refreshed. Consequently, if the fourteenth moon of the first month fall, as will be the case next time, on the Lord's day, inasmuch as we ought neither to fast on the Lord's day, nor on the thirteenth moon which falls on the Sabbath-day to break the fast, which must especially be observed on the day of the Passion, the celebration of Easter must be postponed to the next week. For the fifteenth day of the month follows, on which Christ suffered, and it will be the second day of the week. The third day of the week will be the sixteenth moon, on which our Lord's Flesh rested in the tomb; and the fourth day of the week will be the seventeenth moon on which our Lord rose again.

When therefore these three sacred days run as they do next time into the further week, within which three days He both suffered and rested and rose again, of which three days He says. Destroy this temple, and in three days I ivill raise it up, (John 2.19) what can bring us trouble or doubt? For if it raises a scruple that we do not on the fourteenth moon celebrate the particular day either of His Passion or Resurrection, we must remember that our Lord Himself did to rnr.not suiffer on the fourteenth moon, but on the fifteenth, and on the seventeenth He rose again. But if any are troubled at our passing over the fourteenth moon, which falls upon the Lord's day, that is tlie 18th of April, and recommending its celebration on the following Lord's days (i.e. April 25th) there is this authority for doing so.

In times lately past, when the fourteenth moon of the first month fell on the Lord's day, the solemnity was celebrated on the Lord's day next ensuing. But in the eighty-ninth year of the Era of Diocletian ", when the fourteenth moon was on the 24th of March, Easter was kept by us on the last day of March. The Alexandrians and Egyptians also, as they wrote themselves, when the fourteenth day of the moon fell on the 28th day of the month Phamenoth, kept Easter on the fifth day of the month Pharmuthi, which is the last day of March, and so agreed with us. Again in the ninety-third year of the Era of Diocletian, when the fourteenth moon fell on the fourteenth day of the month Pharmuthi, which is the 9th of April, and was the Lord's day, Easter was kept on the Lord's day, the 21st day of Pharmuthi, or according to us on the I6th of April. Wherefore since we have both reason and precedent, nothing should disturb us upon this head.

There is yet this further point that seems to require explanation, that several persons think that we shall be keeping Easter in the second month, whereas it is written, Keep the first month, the month of new fruits.(Deut 16.1) The case however cannot occur that any should keep Easter out of the month of the new fruits, except those who keep the fourteenth moon so strictly to the letter, that they will not celebrate their Easter on any day but that. Moreover the Jews are going to celebrate the approaching Passover in the twelfth and not in the first month, viz. on the 20th of March according to us, but according to the Egyptians on the twenty-fourth day of the month Phamenoth, which is not the first month but the twelfth, for the first month of the Egyptians is called Pharmuthi and begins on the 27th of March and ends on the 25th of April. Therefore according to the Egyptians we shall keep Easter Sunday in the first month, that is, on the 25th of April, which is the thirtieth day of the month. [Ambrose Letter 23. 5 - 13]
It was utterly astonishing to see Ambrose shed light on a curious passage in Irenaeus for which I could not find any answers.  There has to have been a group of Christians who understood the Egyptian month of Pharmuthi as the first month of their year and Phamenoth, the month that immediately preceded it became the twelfth month.

Why is this significant?  Because it is plainly evident from early documents that Christians continued to also calculate dates based on a traditional Jewish lunar calendar.   This becomes plainly evident in the Martyrium Marci where St. Mark's Day is identified as being in the fiirst month of both the lunar calendar of the Jews and the first month of the solar calendar of the Egyptians.  While the date of 'St. Mark's Day' is now fixed the maximum distance possible from Easter (28 days) the original date must have been fixed much closer to Easter.  One might even conclude that in its original form St. Mark's day might well have been identified as Easter among heretics associated with him but that is another story.

The important thing for us to keep in mind for this present discussion is that the Egyptian Church tended to think in terms of two calendars - a Jewish lunar calendar and an Egyptian solar calendar. Not surprisingly this situation led to a number of conflicts. So it is we see at the beginning of the fourth century Pope Peter of Alexandria (d 311 CE) reference the 'trouble' that the Jewish was causing in the Egyptian Church. Sometimes the Jews seemed to be celebration the Passover in Phamenoth (i.e. the 'twelfth month)' as we read:

Whether therefore the Jews erroneously sometimes celebrate their Passover according to the course of the moon in the month Phamenoth, or according to the intercalary month, every third year in the month Pharmuthi matters not to us. For we have no other object than to keep the remembrance of His Passion, and that at this very time; as those who were eye-witnesses of it have from the beginning handed down, before the Egyptians believed. For neither by observing the course of the moon do they necessarily celebrate it on the sixteenth day of Phamenoth, but once every three years in the month Pharmuthi; for from the beginning, and before the advent of Christ, they seem to have so done. Hence, when the Lord reproves them by the prophet, He says, “They do always err in their heart; and I have sworn in My wrath that they shall not enter into My rest.”[Psalm 95.10,11]  Wherefore, as thou seest, even in this thou appearest to be lying greatly, not only against men, but also against God. First, indeed, since in this matter the Jews never erred, as consorting with those who were eye-witnesses and ministers, much less from the beginning before the advent of Christ. [Peter of Alexandria That Up to the Time of the Destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews Rightly Appointed the Fourteenth Day of the First Lunar Month 3]

So now we have at last solved at least part of the mystery that has troubled me for so long.  Irenaeus is clearly witnessing that the same 'overlap' between the Jewish and Egyptian calendars necessarily led those in Alexandria to identify the Passover which occured in the first month of the lunar calendar (Nisan) as actually taking place in the twelfth month of the solar calendar of the Alexandrians (Phamenoth).  The original year of the Passion must necessarily have been one of those 'twelfth month' years.

All of this necessarily confirms once again that the Marcosians were Alexandrians.  Yet it should already be obvious that this is a most chaotic situation.  Clement gives the Basilidean date for the crucifixion as 25 Pharmuthi and thus the Resurrection was 27 Pharmuthi.   The modern Copts celebrate 29 Pharmuthi as both the date of the Resurrection and the Creation of the World.  This means 27 Pharmuthi was taken to be the date of the crucifixion.

Yet things are much more complicated than this.  While the Alexandrian Church of the fourth century certainly made it seem as if it had faithfully preserved the original tradition handed down from St. Mark himself, there is very good reason to suppose that this was not true.  The date for the Resurrection on the Roman calendar - March 25th - seems to have been clearly determined by the Emperor Aurelian's determination to fix December 25th (i.e. a date nine months later) as the day of the birth of the Sun.

The writings of Hippolytus witness December 25th as the date of the birth of Jesus (Commentary on Daniel 4.23.3).  Nevertheless it is easy to see that there is plenty of interpolation in the existing manuscripts.  For instance the surviving manuscripts don't even agree what year the crucifixion occrred or how old Jesus was when it happened.  The most important thing that comes from Hippolytus's writings is the fact that instead of adopting the dates used by Lactatius at the time of Aurelian (i.e. March 23rd crucifixion/March 25th Resurrection) Hippoltyus witnesses a tradition where the dates have been 'moved up' two days - i.e. March 25th crucifixion/March 27th Resurrection). 

My assumption has always been that the Alexandrian tradition at the time of Nicaea was a faithful preservation of the original understanding from the very beginning.  Of course that necessarily assumes that Alexander and Athansius were somehow faithful to tradition which - given the fact that they were utter lapdogs for Constantine - isn't necessarily true.  I think there are a number of reasons to now suppose Hippolytus had the correct calculation, not the least of which is the fact that he is our earliest surviving witness. 

We should notice that Hippolytus in no uncertain terms sets the crucifixion on March 25th:

For the first advent of our Lord in the flesh, when he was born in Bethlehem, was December 25th, a Wednesday, while Augustus was in his forty-second year, but from Adam, five thousand and five hundred years.  He suffered in the thirty-third year, March 25th, Friday, the eighteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, while Rufus and Roubellion were Consuls. [Commentary on Daniel 4.23.3]

The same date is confirmed in his Canon (a table of 112 rotating dates for the Passover) and Hippolytus and many, many after him assigned March 27th as the date of the Resurrection as noted earlier.  Yet it is even more interesting to see that Hippolytus also associates the Creation of the World with the March 25th date as we see in Alexandria. 

The problem of course with all of this is that it makes absolutely no sense to associate the 'birthday of the world' with March 25th and the Resurrection with a date two days later.  The earliest Fathers could have chosen any date for the 'birth of the world.'  The world wasn't going to complain that its birthday was being celebrated on the wrong day.  March 25th or 17 Nisan has no significance in Judaism.  The Jews identified the creation of the world occurring on the first of the first month, the beginning of the year. 

All of which makes it seem far more likely that the Alexandrians originally celebrated the birth of the world on the date of the Resurrection which was originally established on March 27th (as Hippolytus witnesses) and was subsequently moved back two days.  Why would the date have been changed?  Irenaeus already identifies that the idea that the Passion occurred in the 'twelfth month' was one of the foundations of the mystical system of the Alexandrian followers of Mark.  He mentions this fact more than any other detail of the sect.  If we assume that the original date was 'moved back' two days to established March 25th as a 'birthday' of the world (and ultimately March 25th as the date of conception for a Jesus with the day of the sun as his 'birthday') an amazing thing happens when we restore the original date - all the mysteries of the Alexandrian liturgy suddenly make sense.

For if the Alexandrians established the crucifixion on 29 Phamenoth (as opposed to the date confirmed at the time of Nicaea - 27 Phamenoth) the Resurrection now falls on 1 Pharmuthi - i.e. the first day of the first month of the Alexandrian calendar known to Ambrose and Pope Peter.  In other words, the Resurrection not only falls on the Alexandrian 'New Years Day' it would clearly have been identified as the date of the creation of the world given the fact that it was 'the first of the first.'  Notice again that Irenaeus only says that the followers of Mark dated the Passion to the twelfth month.  The Resurrection it seems is the beginning of the renewal of all things.

Of course this isn't the most amazing that emerges from our discovery.  Let's look once again at the date of 'St Mark's Day.'  The Roman date is clearly just a transposition of thirty days - March 25th to April 25th.  Yet it is the remembrance of the dating of St Mark's Day according to a Jewish lunar calendar which is likely to have been established in earliest antiquity. 

I can't tell you how long I have struggled with this date of 24 Nisan.  At once it is a lot closer to Easter than you'd think given the current dating of 'St Mark's Day' to April 25th.  24 Nisan would be exactly seven days after the celebration of Easter in the age in which the first Christians still employed a lunar calendar.  Now that we have established that 17 Nissan must have been understood to fall on 1 Pharmuthi in the year of the Passion it would be natural for us to assume that 'St Mark's Day' just happened a week later. 

Yet hold on a second.  We have forgotten one important detail.  While the Egyptian calendar was certainly 360 days long, the period between 30 Phamenoth and 1 Pharmuthi added five epagomenae or 'extra days' in a standard year and six epagomenae every four years to match the actual journey of the earth around the sun.  Let's start with the standard understanding of the synoptic gospels for the Passion chronology:

15 Nisan crucifixion
16 Nisan
17 Nisan Resurrection

These dates then correspond to the following dates in the 360 day calendar of the Egyptians as:

29 Phamenoth (15 Nisan) crucifixion
30 Phamenoth (16 Nisan)
1 Pharmouthi (17 Nisan) Resurrection

Yet look at what happens when add the six epagomenae to the assumptions of the dates of the Passion according to the same chronology:

29 Phamenoth (15 Nisan) crucifixion
30 Phamenoth (16 Nisan)
1st extra day (17 Nisan)
2nd (18 Nisan)
3rd (19 Nisan)
4th (20 Nisan)
5th (21 Nisan)
6th (22 Nisan)
1 Pharmuthi (23 Nisan) Resurrection
2 Pharmuthi (24 Nisan) St Mark's Day

Now people may rightly be wondering why chose the addition of the six epagomenae (which only occurs one in four years)  as opposed to the standard model which was used for most of Egyptian history and in three of four years after the reforms of   - i.e. the addition of five epagomenae?  It is because Irenaeus provides us with an absolutely certain description of the Marcosian 'cosmic mystery' being centered on the addition of 'the sixth.'

I will explain all of this in my next post but the basic idea should already be clear to anyone who has ever read Irenaeus's description of the sect in Against Heresies 1.13 - 21.  While we understand the gospel narrative in terms of 'Jesus's ministry' the Marcosians saw it as the descent of 'the power with the six-lettered name' (ἰησοῦς) to restore the divine creation to a state of equilibrium.  Thus they said for instance that the transfiguration-story was symbolic (ἐν ὁμοιώματι εἰκόνος) of the divine economy as manifested in the man seeking perfection; in other words, of a certain stage of initiation. This undoubtedly also why 'Secret Mark' adds the story of the six day initiation of the youth before baptism.

Mead the theosophist does a very good job making sense of all the 'mystical mumbo jumbo' reported in Irenaeus about the sect.  He notes that after "six days," that is to say, in the seventh stage since the disciple first set his feet on the path, he of the six letter name ascended into the "mountain"--a graphic symbol for the higher states of consciousness.  He ascended the fourth and became the sixth. That is to say, he ascended with three and was joined by two, the Peter, James and John, and Moses and Elias of the familiar Gospel-narrative.  It was this "six," said the Marcosians, which had descended and been detained in the Hebdomad, or region of the seven spheres of difference. 

Again, it was on the "sixth day," the "preparation," that the divine economy, or order of things, manifested the "last man," the "man from heaven," for the new birth or regeneration of the "first man" or "man of the earth"; and further the passion began in the sixth hour and ended in the sixth hour, when the initiate was nailed to the cross. All of which was designed to indicate the power of creation (inception) and regeneration or rebirth (consummation), typified in the number 6, to those who were admitted to the mysteries of initiation, called by the Marcosian writer the "Sons of the Light," or "Sons of the Man," for the Greek will carry both meanings.  For creation or descent is represented by the number 2, that is to say by dyads, and regeneration or ascent by the number 3, that is to say by triads, and 2 × 3 = 6.

Yet the thing no one has realized yet is the fact that the ultimate context of this 'Alexandrian mystery' has to be rooted in bit of historical information that Ambrose and Pope Peter provide for us.  The mysteries themselves were tied to something quite tangible.  The Roman Emperors from the time of Augustus tried to get the superstitious Egyptians to add that extra epagomenal day every four years to fix the imperfect calendar of the Pharaoahs with little success.  The Marcosian mystical interpretation of the gospel clearly provides a mystical context for the adoption of the additional day and indeed it would seem that the seemingly silly myth of a 'six' coming down from heaven to restore the world really is only a poetic way of 'fixing' the 360 day calendar.  In other words, Jesus 'restoration' of Creation is really a 'correction' of the ancient calendar. 
I would like to note that our new understanding also reconciles the eighth day resurrection of the Gospel of Peter with the 'third day' resurrection of the canonical gospels.  However I should stop here and recap what we just said about what we know about the liturgical calendar of the Egyptian Church in order avoid confusing my readers any further:
  1. Ambrose indicates they used an Egyptian calendar which started on the first day of the first month of Pharmuthi (1 Pharmuthi) and thus presumably ended on the last day of the twelfth month of Phamenoth (30 Phamenoth)
  2. The existing Alexandrian calculation established from the Nicene compromise of Constantine established the crucifixion as originally occuring on 27 Phamenoth and the Resurrection on 29 Phamenoth which is one day before the last day of the 360 calendar of ancient Egypt.
  3. However if the 'two day subtraction' which occurred from the time of Hippolytus is accepted as having also occurred i n Alexandria 27 Phamenoth and 29 Phamenoth suddenly becomes 29 Phamenoth crucifixion and 1 Pharmuthi Resurrection.  In other words, the Resurrection/Birth of the World date for the Alexandrian tradition now falls on the first day of the Egyptian calendar as identified by Ambrose (1 Pharmuthi)
Clearly then the date of the Resurrection now takes on a much more 'mythical' appearance seemingly artificially adapted to the tradition 'cycle of the year' in pre-Christian Alexandria.

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