Literary text: T-S Ar.29.56

Literary text T-S Ar.29.56



Calendrical text. Dated: 1241 Sel. (929–30 CE). This copy: late 10th/11th c. Part of a longer calendrical work; the passage preserved on this fragment sets out to correct the Christian calendar dates of Lent and Easter for 1241–44 Sel. The 19-year Alexandrian Easter cycle, instituted in the 4th century, synchronizes the lunar months with the Coptic solar years; but the discrepancies from astronomical reality became progressively more pronounced over the centuries (hence the Gregorian reform in the 16th c). The use of the Coptic months in this text locates the author beyond a doubt in Egypt. It is one of the earliest Jewish texts that discusses the Easter computation. Such Jewish texts are attested in the Latin West from the twelfth century onward, and somewhat more common from the 14th-15th c on, but this is early even for the Islamicate Jewish material. It may also be the earliest known attestation of the Seleucid era that can be firmly traced to Egypt. There are earlier instances of the Seleucid calendar from the geniza, but they originated outside Egypt; see Halper 331, dated 1182 Sel. (870/71 CE). The next earliest attestation of the Seleucid era in the geniza is dated to the 1260s Sel. (950s CE). This is a paper bifolio, one of the outer pages of a quire; the texts on the other side are unrelated. (Information from Stern and Vidro, "Tenth-Century Jewish Correction") The date of this text may be significant for another reason: it's possible that Jews were more aware of the functioning of calendar cycles and/or discrepancies between calendars in the wake of the Great Calendar Controversy of 921/22. (MR)