The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 5)

The next chunk of the 10th century Arabic Christian Annals of Sa`id ibn Bitriq / Eutychius begins with words that indicate that the text as we have it has been re-edited at a later time.  We’re still wading through dull twaddle about the Council of Nicaea.

12. Sa`id Ibn Batriq, the doctor, said: “I wanted to know on what day of the week Our Lord Jesus Christ was born, on what day was crucified, and in which months of the year these days took place (35). After careful research and having compared the years, I discovered that he was born on the twelfth of the solar cycle, in [9] of the number of the lunar cycle. The epact of the sun was one, and that of the moon [28]. Now December 1 was a Saturday, and the first of Kīhak was a Tuesday.  Thus our Lord Jesus Christ was born on December twenty-fifth, that is the twenty-ninth of Kīhak and the day of the glorious birth of Christ our Lord was a Tuesday.  The day he was baptized is then found in fourteen of the number of the cycle of the sun and in nineteen of the number of the cycle of the moon.  And the epact of the sun was three and a half and a quarter, while that of the moon was [11]. The first of January was then a Thursday, and the first of the month of Tūbah was a Saturday.  His glorious baptism took place on Tuesday, January 6th, therefore, i.e. on the eleventh of Tūbah.  The day of his saving crucifixion fell on nineteen of the number of the cycle of the sun and in fourteen of the number of the cycle of the moon. The epact of the sun was seven and a half, as the moon was [14]. The first of March was then a Thursday and the first of the month of Baramhāt a Sunday. The Passover of the Jews then happened on Thursday March 22nd, i.e. twenty-sixth of Baramhāt. This means that our Lord Jesus Christ ate the Passover with his disciples on Thursday, was crucified on Friday March 23rd, i.e. 27 Baramhāt, and rose again on Sunday March 25, i.e. the twenty-ninth of Baramhāt (36).  The Christians, however, as we have said, celebrated the feast of the Baptism, and began to fast from the end [of that feast-day] for the forty-day period after which they broke their fast, and celebrated their Passover when the Jews did, the day on which they stopped fasting.  After the three hundred and eighteen Fathers forbade them to do this, and arranged that Easter for Christians should be celebrated on the Sunday following that of the Jews, thus forbidding them to celebrate it together with them or before them, and taking care to celebrate it always after the Passover of the Jews.

They forbade bishops to have a wife. This is because from the time of the apostles to the council of three hundred and eighteen of them, they had wives, and if anyone of them was made bishop and was married, the wife was left with him and was not sent away, except for the patriarchs: as, in fact, those without a wife never elected as patriarch one that was married.”

13. As for Alexander, he deprived of the patriarchal dignity Ashīllā his companion, who had been patriarch of Alexandria before him, for he welcomed Arius and contravened what his master, the martyr Peter, patriarch of Alexandria, had told him to do.

As for the three hundred and eighteen, they each returned to their homes with great honour. King Constantine issued three edicts (37): in the first he required the tearing down of idols and putting to death all those who worshiped them; in the second he provided that rhetoric was limited to children of Christians and that only they might be designated as prefects and generals, and he ordered that the third Friday in Easter and after people should refrain from work and war. King Constantine commissioned Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, to search for the site of the tomb and the Cross and to build churches there (38).

14. Helena, mother of Constantine, said: “I made a vow to go to Jerusalem, to find the holy places and rebuild them”.  Constantine then gave her a lot of money and Helena, together with Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, went to Jerusalem with the intent to seek the Cross.  Finding the place, Helena collected a hundred men from among the Jews who lived in Jerusalem and Galilee, and she selected ten.  Of these she chose three, one of whom was called Judas. She asked them to indicate the [holy] places but they refused saying: “We do not know anything of this place.”  [Helena] had them thrown in a dry water well and left them there for seven days, without food or water.  The one of them who was called Judas told his companions that his father had shown him one day the places that the woman wanted to know from them, and which his father had learned from his grandfather. Then the two cried out from the well, were pulled out and told Helena that Judas had told them. Helena gave orders to whip him until he decided to confess his knowledge of the places.  They went out together and he led them to the place where they found the Sepulchre and the Cranion, now reduced to a great garbage dump. Then [Judas] prayed saying: “Lord God, if this is the place where is located the Sepulchre and the ground shakes violently, and fire comes out because of this, I shall believe.”  The ground shuddered, there came out a fragrant smoke and the man believed.  Helena then ordered area of earth that covered it to be removed, and there came to light the Sepulchre and Cranion and three crosses were found.  Helena said: “How will we know which of these three crosses was that of Christ the Lord?” There was, near there, a man suffering from a serious illness, of which he despaired that he could be healed. On him were laid the first and second crosses, but he was not cured and only when the third cross was laid on did the patient get up, completely healed (39). Helena realized then that this was the cross of Christ, our Lord, to be exposed to the veneration [of the faithful].  She enclosed it in a case of gold, and took it with her, along with everything that had been buried, and that had belonged to Christ our Lord, to bring everything to Constantine, her son.  She had built the Church of the Resurrection, built Golgotha, and the church of Constantine, and leaving, ordered Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, to build other churches. This happened in the twenty-second year of the reign of Constantine. From the birth of Christ, our Lord, to the finding of the Cross had passed three hundred years.

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