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The Origins of the 247-year Calendar Cycle

Vidro, N; (2017) The Origins of the 247-year Calendar Cycle. ALEPH: Historical Studies in Science and Judaism , 17 (1) Green open access

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Abstract

Many medieval and early modern Jewish calendars were based on the assumption that the calendar repeats itself exactly after 247 years. Although this cycle—known as the ʿIggul of R. Naḥshon Gaon—is discussed in many sources, both medieval and modern, its origins remain a mystery. The present article sheds light on the early history of the reiterative Jewish calendar by looking at the oldest 247-year cycles identified to date. Textsf rom the Cairo Genizah demonstrate that the 247-year cycle originated in Babylonia in the middle of the tenth century and was produced by Josiah b. Mevorakh (ibn) al-ʿĀqūlī, previously known from Judeo-Persian calendar treatises. In contrast, a large body of manuscript evidence shows that the attribution of the cycle to R. Naḥshon Gaon (874–882 CE) is not attested before the twelfth century and may be unhistorical. The 247-year cycle may have been proposed as an alternative Jewish calendar that would eliminate the need for calculation and prevent calendar divergence. But at least from the early twelfth century the cycle was seen as a means of setting the standard calendar, even though it is not fully compatible with the latter.

Type: Article
Title: The Origins of the 247-year Calendar Cycle
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/652312
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2017 Aleph, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Hebrew and Jewish Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1527526
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