Samuel F. (Samuel Farmar) Jarvis.

A chronological introduction to the history of the church, being a new inquiry into the true dates of the birth and death of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and containing an original harmony of the four Gospels, now first arranged in the order of time online

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Online LibrarySamuel F. (Samuel Farmar) JarvisA chronological introduction to the history of the church, being a new inquiry into the true dates of the birth and death of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and containing an original harmony of the four Gospels, now first arranged in the order of time → online text (page 1 of 64)
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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1844,

By Samuel Farmar Jarvis,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Connecticut.


The immediate occasion and motives of the following work
will be best sho^vn by the annexed extracts from the
Journals, for 1838 and 1841, of the General Convention
of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States
of America. The Introductory Chapter will also explain
all that needed to ])e said at the beginning concerning its
purpose and* plan. It remains now, after the task has
been accomplished, to give the reader a concise statement
of the results.

n the First Part, appertaining to ancient history in
general, the following have been obtained :

First. The ancient dates have been accurately adjusted
to the modern, from the year 776 before to the year 238
after the received Christian a^ra; a period of 1014 solar or
tropical years.

Secondly. The supposed discrepancy of one year, be-
tween the computations of Varro and the Fasti Capitolini,
and other public records of the Roman government, ha«
been shown not to exist.

Thirdly. The consular chronology of Rome has been
corrected. The computations of Bianchini, in opposition
to those of Petavius and other moderns, have been proved
to be the most correct ; while the untenable hypothesis ot


Bianclimi, of a suppressed consulship at the close of the
reign of Caligula, has been disproved ; and the consulship
suppressed, not hy the ancients^ nor hy any act of autho-
rity^ hut hy the moderns^ in consequence of an error of
computation., is shown to have been taken from the last
year of the reign of Antoninus Pius.

Fourthly. By a careful induction from the Greek and
Latin historians of the Roman empire, aided by astrono-
mical calculations, the true dates of the deaths of Juhus
Caesar, Augustus, and Tiberius, are shown to have been
each one year earlier than the dates assigned to those
events by modern, in opposition to ancient, writers.

Fifthly. The interesting subject of the three times in
which the temple of Janus was shut by Augustus, is illus-
trated by a careful comparison and examination of ancient
historians j and the truth of the facts recorded by Orosius
and other Christian writers, established as distinct from
the dates of Orosius, which are proved to be incorrect.

Sixthly. The exact date of the associate or proconsular
fifovernment of Tiberius is shown to have been so much
earlier than his sole reign, as to make the nineteenth year
of the one coincide partly with the fifteenth year of the

Seventhly. The chronology of the Roman emperors has
been accurately adjusted by consulships, from the destruc-
tion of the republic to the death of the Maximini, and the
accession of the younger Gordian. That being the year
in which Censorinus wrote, the correctness of his dates,
and the exact series of the consulships herein given, are
thereby confirmed and demonstrated.

In the Second Part, appertaining to our Lord's personal
history, the following results have been obtained :

I. That the ministration of John the Baptist began
about the great day of Atonement, at the beginning of


Pilate's administration, the fifteenth year of the associate
STovernment of Tiberius, and the twelfth of his sole reiim.

II. That our Lord's ministry began with his baptism, in
the fifteenth year of the associate government, and the
twelfth year of the sole reign of Tiberius ; and was ended
by his crucifixion, in the nineteenth year of that associate
government, and in the fifteenth year of his sole reign.

III. That our Lord was exactly thirty-three years and
three months old at the time of his passion.

IV. That the annunciation of his birth by the angel
Gabriel probably took place in the very same month in
which Augustus shut the temple of Janus the third time,
in token of universal peace.

V. That our Lord's birth most probably took place on
the day in which it is now celebrated ; and that the con-
fusion and apparent uncertainty with regard to this subject
arises principally from the neglect of direct testimony, and
from uncertain and even contradictor}' computations.

VI. That the year of his birtli preceded the common
Christian ajra six years, having taken place in the 747th
year of Rome, the year silently adopted by the French
Benedictines in their learned work on the Art of Verifying

When it is recollected that the present work is strictly
and truly written from original evidence, unbiassed by
theory, and untrammeled by any previous investigation of
modern writers, the fact that its results should be in such
perfect harmony in various points with some of the most
learned and laborious of modern computations, affords
internal evidence of its truth, and is in itself a sufficient
recommendation to public favour.

In saying that it has been written from original evidence,
the author must except the calendar of Julius Cajsar, and
that of the ancient Church, in the third chapter of the


First Part, which he took from Blondel's " Calendrier
Romain." On communicating this calendar, after it was in
print, to a learned English friend, various objections were
raised to the sixth column, in which the rising and setting
of constellations and single stars are mentioned as occurring
on certain days. It was further objected, that " Sirius"
is never used for the constellation, but only for the brightest
star in it ; and that Sirius and the Pleiades rise and set every
day, but heliacally only at one particular time. On the
whole, the calendar has been pronounced to be a patch-
work from Greek, Egyptian, and Chaldean fragments;
showing plainly, if it be Caesar's calendar, that the Romans
had no science of their own. And it has been earnestly
recommended that the author should add a note upon the
subject, if it be only to shelter himself from the imputation
of ignorance. But to this he has been averse, for many
reasons. That the sixth column is of Roman origin, is
evident from the notices it contains of the festivals of the
Roman religion, and the dates of political events, many ot
which relate to the reign of Augustus Caesar, and do not
come down later. They were added, therefore, after the
formation of the calendar, and before the reign of Tiberius.
This affords strong internal e\4dence that the calendar is
genuine; and the question whether the Romans were or
were not correct, has no special bearing upon the author's
purpose. His argument does not depend upon the accu-
racy or inaccuracy of astronomical terms. For the benefit
of the English reader, a literal translation is given, first,
from the French of Blondel, who was no mean astronomer,
and, secondly, from the Latin of Petavius, who has given
the same calendar in substance as gathered from Ovid,
Columella, and other Latin writers. Of what consequence
is it whether oritur and occidit are translated "rises" and
"sets," or "ascends" and "descends"? The latter may
be more consistent with astronomical accuracy, in relation


to those stars which never sink below the horizon, but the
purpose for which the calendar is inserted in the following
work is not thereby affected. As far as the astronomical
notices in the sixth column are concerned, that purpose
was merely to show that the ancients were too observant
of the movements of the heavenly bodies, to depart very
materially from the true length of the tropical year. But
the great use of the calendar, for which it was principally
inserted in this work, is of a much higher and more useful
nature. It exhibits, first, the origin of the Sunday from
the nundinal series of letters; and, secondly, the pains
taken by the ancients in arranging the golden numbers, so
as to calculate the lunations of any given year. By the
calendar of the ancient Church, the reader will be able to
find the approximate new and full moons at any epoch of
the Julian period. On account of the pra?cession of the
equinoxes, it will be only an approximation ; but even this
-will greatly assist his labours, if he wishes to arrive at
astronomical accuracy. Any year of the Julian period
divided by 19, will give him the golden number, and
opposite to that number the new moon of each month,
and the number of lunations in the given year. The same
may be done by Caesar's calendar, if it be examined by
Ctesar's cycle. His reformation of the calendar having
taken place 45 solid years before the common Christian
aera, that number being added to any year of Christ, until
the change of the Gregorian calendar, and divided by 19,
will give the golden number according to Caesar's arrange-
ment. Opposite to that number is the day of the new
moon. A difference of from one to two days will invari-
ably be found between that and the Nicene computation ;
but this, it is believed, only shows the progress which
astronomical science had made between Caesar's time and
the fourth century after Christ.



Other suggestions have been made by Enghsh friends,
principally with a view of meeting objections which may
arise from the celebrity of modern writers, whose compu-
tations or conjectures differ from the results obtained in
the following pages. But to meet objections is always an
odious as well as an endless task ; and the author can only
repeat here in less quaint language, what he has elsewhere
said, that if truth be established, error will fall of itself.*
He venerates, for example, the labours and the name of
Niebuhr; but that great historian, in his remarks on the
Roman computation of time, has committed mistakes ;
principally from relying too implicitly upon the confident
assertions of Scaliger, and neglecting in some cases his
own canon, of always examining the original sources of
evidence. This canon the author of the present work has
endeavoured always to follow ; grateful for the aid of pro-
found thinkers and clear writers, but never willing " jurare
in verba magistri."

Owing to his retired situation, he had not had the
advantage of consulting Mr. Chnton's admirable "Fasti Hel-
lenici," till he arrived in London ; and, during his residence
there, the most learned " Ordo Sa?clorum" of Mr. Browne
was published. Both, however, have adopted the faulty
arrangement of the Consular Chronology, probably from
considering it as definitively settled ; and so far they differ
from the present work. With this exception, the author
has been happy to find a great deal of harmony between
their inductions and his owii: and it is very satisfying to
perceive so many points of agreement among writers in

* Allusion is here made t6 a note relating to Pagi, the learned commen-
tator on Baronius. The concluding paragraph of that note is in bad
taste, and the author intended to have cancelled it ; but in the haste with
which a part of the work has been sent to press, he found to his mortifi-
cation that it was printed before his correction was received.


distant countries who are simultaneously pursuing like
objects of inquiry. Mr. Greswell's learned and laborious
work the author has had no opportunity to examine ; but
if Mr. BroAvne's judgment of it be correct, the method
pursued is the very reverse of that which has here been

It may here be proper to remark, that the author's
anxiety to give his quotations accurately, has led to some
apparent unsteadiness, and even contradiction in spelling,
especially proper names. In his own writing he has en-
deavoured to preserve correctness and uniformity ; some-
times, however, variations have occurred from inadver-
tence; and sometimes where common usage is unsteady,
one or the other practice has beert indifferently followed.

In order to render the present work more useful, the
plan of a new harmony of the Gospels, the result of pre-
ceding proofs and calculations, and a synoptical table of
the hundred years from the birth of Augustus to the death
of Tiberius, have been added as the concluding chapters of
the Second Part. According to the arrangements recom-
mended in the first, the reader may easily arrange for him-
self the Evangelical history ; and the last he will find of
great use, if he keeps it before him, and at every step of
his progress refers to it as he reads, whenever dates are
mentioned, and the course of history is pursued.

The author cannot close his preface without acknow-
ledging, as he does most gratefully, the uniform kindness
and encouragement which he has received, both in England
and America, in the prosecution of his laborious work.
His thanks are more especially due to the Rev. H. H. Norris
of Hackney, his earliest English friend ; the Rev. T.
Rowdier; the Rev. T. H. Home; the Rev. W. Palmer, the
well known author of the Origenes Liturgicse, and other
learned works; the Rev. W. Scott, of Christ Church, Hox-


ton ; and the Rev. Lancelot Sharpe. The two last-named
have kindly aided in revising the press, and the author is
greatly indebted to their critical acumen and accuracy.
Among the laity of the Enghsh Church, Sir R. H. Inglis
aided him much by his influence. To his beloved friend
Mr. Faulkner of Phillippines, whose acquaintance he first
formed in Italy, who then relieved him by his sympathy
in hours of deepest anguish, and who has, ever since, been
more like a brother than a friend, he wishes to pay this
pubhc tribute of regard, not only for his aid in the present
work, but for all that he has done heretofore.

The labour of superintending the press confined the
author in London, and prevented his enjoying the dehght
of visiting the venerable Catholic remainder of the Scottish
Church ; but her bishops have cheered him by their cor-
respondence and kind encouragement.

As to his own country, beside the sanction given to his
work by the proceedings of the bishops, which will be found
in the following extracts from the Journals of the General
Convention, he is happy to say, not only that the mem-
bers of the Protestant Episcopal Church generally, but
many other intelligent and pious persons, who are not of
his own communion, have evinced an interest in the under-
taking highly honourable to their charity. But he is
bound more especially to return his thanks to the friends
who first suggested and counselled his voyage to England.
To that suggestion and counsel he is ultimately indebted
for one of the brightest periods of his clouded life. But
there is one, to whose open hand and generous heart an
especial tribute is due. Others can bear like testimony for
most efficient and vigorous assistance ; and indeed there is
no one, and especially no American, whose labours tend to
promote the cause of learning and science, and Avho has
come within the reach of his influence, who will not join


with the author In this tribute of heartfelt gratitude to
Mr. R. K. Haight, of New York.

And now having discharged what he deemed a duty
towards his fellow-Christians, the author cannot conclude
without humbly imploring the Divine blessing on the
work now submitted to the public eye. Though a distinct
work in itself, it is only the commencement of those labours
which the office of an historiographer of the Church re-
quires. But all depends on His will, " without whom
nothing is strong, nothing is Holy." Vigour of body, and
healthiness of mind — a discernment of truth amid conflict-
ing opinions — a charity ever warm though dispassionate
among angry assailants — an enduring patience under the
fatigues of research, — all these are as much the gifts of the
Holy Spirit now, as were those more expanded gifts which
on the day of Pentecost were shed abroad on the infant
Church. May the same Holy Spirit dwell in the author's
heart, and in the hearts of all who shall read these pages.

Extracts from the Journals^ o/*1838 and ISil, of the
General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

House of Bishops, Saturday, '[Qth September 1838.

" On motion of the Right Rev. Bishop Hopkins, the two following
resolutions were passed, and sent to the House of Clerical and Lay Depu-
ties for concurrence.

" Resolved, (the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies concurring).
That the Rev. Samuel F. Jarvis, D.D., LL.D., be appointed Histo-
riographer of the Church, with a view to his preparing, from the most
original sources now extant, a faithful Ecclesiastical History, reaching
from the Apostles' times, to the formation of the Protestant Episcopal
Church in the United States."


The second resolution had reference to the History of
the Protestant Episcopal Church, by the Rev. Dr. Hawks.

House of Deputies, Journal, p. 79.

** A message was received from the House of Bishops, transmitting
certain resolutions, appointing the Rev. Drs. Jarvis and Hawks to pre-
pare an Ecclesiastical History.

" Whereupon, on motion, the House concurred with the House of
Bishops in passing the said resolutions."

House of Bishops, JVednesday, October \Zth, 1841.
" A letter from the Rev. Dr. Jarvis, Historiographer of the Church,
accompanied by certain manuscripts, was read as follows :

Right Reverend Fathers in Christ : — Having been honoured by
the General Convention of 1838, with the appointment of "Histo-
riographer of the Church," I think it my duty to report to the House of
Bishops, with whom the resolution originated, the progress which has
been made.

It seemed to me that in order to effect the object proposed, it would be
necessary, if possible, to settle several contested points, in such a manner
as to satisfy both learned and unlearned readers. This could be done in
no other way than by laying before them in English, that evidence which
is now locked up in foreign languages, and scattered through a great
number of volumes, and which, from the paucity of public libraries in
our country, is inaccessible even to persons who by their education are
fitted to examine the original authors. It is obvious, indeed, that this
cannot be done in the whole course of ecclesiastical history, without
swelling the work to an enormous extent. It must be confined, there-
fore, to points of great importance ; and with respect to the rest, much
must be left to the fidelity and accuracy of the historian. But if he be
found faithful, and accurate in the discussion of these important points,
he will establish a character, both as a reporter and a judge, which will
make his readers more ready to trust him when called upon to credit his

The exact time of the birth and death of our Saviour, the key-stone
by which prophecy as well as history must be sustained, seemed to be one
of those important points. This I have attempted to ascertain : and the
attempt has succeeded beyond my most sanguine expectations. With no
theory to sustain, and fearing to be misled by the theories of others, I
have made use of modern writers, only so far as to be led by them to their
authorities. In all cases where it was possible, I have gone back directly


to ancient heathen as well as Christian authors, as being, in the langua<^e
of your resolution, " the most original sources now extant." Not only
has every question been settled on their testimony, but the testimony
itself has also been exhibited. With regard to Latin writers, the original
text has been generally subjoined. The fear of swelling the work too
much and increasing the expense of publication, has prevented the addi-
tion of Greek quotations ; an omission which I regret, but which I have
endeavoured as much as possible to remedy by exact references.

I have laboured hard to finish the work before the session of the present
Convention ; but the cares of a parish, the necessary instruction of pupils,
and domestic afflictions, have rendered it impossible to get it ready for
the press. I am obliged, therefore, to lay it before you in an imperfect
state, but it is sufficiently advanced to show its plan, its object, and its

If it be honoured. Right Reverend Fathers, with your approbation, I
propose, after it is published, to add some other dissertations which are
nearly ready for the press, and then to go on with the Ecclesiastical His-
tory, down to the great schisms by wliich the Catholic Church was rent
in the fifth century. Whether I shall be able to accomplish this, or
more than this, depends upon the will of Ilim, " to whom alone belong
the issues of life and death."

Being unable myself to attend the General Convention, I have re
quested my assistant, the Rev. John Williams, to proceed to New York,
for the purpose of submitting my manuscript to your venerable body.
I have the honour to remain, Right Reverend Fathers,

Your faithful son, and servant in the Lord,

Rector of Christ Church, Middletotvn.

** Whereupon, on motion of Bishop Hopkins, seconded
by Bishop Doane, it was resolved^ that the letter and manu-
scripts be referred to a committee of the House.

" Bishops Hopkins, Doane, and Whittingham, were ap-
pointed the Committee.

" The Committee to whom were referred the letter and
manuscripts of the Rev. Dr. Jarvis, reported as follows : —

The Committee to whom were referred the letter and the manuscripts
of the Rev. Dr. Jarvis, Historiographer of the Church, beg leave to report
as follows : —

That they regard, with great satisfaction, the progress which the


learned author has made, in preparing for the press the first volume of the
series which his appointment as Historiographer was designed to bring
forth : and consider it a duty on the part of the Church, to give all the
encouragement in their power to its publication. It appears to them, as
well from the synopsis of its contents, as from the best examination which
their limited time would allow, to be a thorough and comprehensive
analysis of all the evidence extant, whether sacred or profane, upon the
most difficult and important points in ecclesiastical chronology, namely,
the precise years of the birth and death of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus
Christ. A.nd the Committee take pleasure in the acknowledgment, that
notwithstanding their familiarity with the author's long-established repu-
tation for deep and accurate learning, they were struck with the extra-
ordinary research and exact fidelity exhibited in the work submitted to
them, and hail its production as being calculated to reflect honour upon
himself, and the body to which he belongs. With these views, the Com-
mittee respectfully recommend the following resolution : —

Resolved, That the House of Bishops receive with great satisfaction,
the assurance that the first volume introductory to the Ecclesiastical His-
tory of the Rev. Dr. Jarvis, their Historiographer, is now ready for
publication. They have examined and approve the plan of the work,
and commend it to the patronage of the Church.

John H. Hopkins,


"W. E. Whittingham.

" Whereupon, on motion of Bishop de Lancey, seconded
by Bishop Onderdonk of New York.

'''■Resolved^ That the resolution appended to the Report
be adopted."


It is an old and familiar observation, that Chronology and Geo-
graphy arc the two eyes of History. Without a knowledge of
both, no historian can write accurately, and no lover of history can
read with complete satisfaction or profit. Yet it must be obvious
to every one who has at all attended to sacred or profane history,
that in both the above-named sciences many disputable points still
exist. Among those of chronology are the precise dates of the
birth and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not surely that any

Online LibrarySamuel F. (Samuel Farmar) JarvisA chronological introduction to the history of the church, being a new inquiry into the true dates of the birth and death of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and containing an original harmony of the four Gospels, now first arranged in the order of time → online text (page 1 of 64)