The Ordo Annorum Mundi


[This version, last edited 2012.04.07, was online mid-April 2012 and is referred to in a forthcoming publication by Jose Carlos Mart�n. It has been replaced by an updated version.]

In the company of many versions of the Great Stemma, we find another Latin work: a short computation of the timespan from Adam's birth to the start of the Christian era. This has been collated by its author using data in the historical books of the Old Testament, setting out markers that include the birth of Abraham, the Exodus and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.

This brief document, which usually begins with the words "Ordo annorum mundi", is only found in manuscripts with Spanish roots.

In translation, its core text reads:

A calculation of the years of the world in brief. From Adam to the Flood: 2,242 years; from the Flood to Abraham: 942 years; from Abraham to Moses: 505 years; from the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt until their entry into the Promised Land: 40 years; from the entry into the Promised Land until Saul, the first king of Israel, there were 355 years; Saul ruled for 40 years; from David until the start of construction of the Temple: 43 years; from the start of construction of the Temple until the deportation to Babylon, kings ruled for 443 years; the captivity of the people and the desolation of the Temple lasted 70 years; the restoration by Zerubabbel took 4 years; after the restoration, until the incarnation of Christ: 515 years; added together, the entire time from Adam until Christ totals 5,199 years.

Several variants of the Latin, with some distortions of the numbers, are presented below. Many versions also contain a short biography of Christ.

Before comparing some of the texts, it may be useful to note that the Ordo Annorum Mundi (hereafter OAM) has been transmitted in a much wider variety of manuscript types than just the Great Stemma.

Given that one manuscript of the OAM is headed "by lord Julian, bishop of Toledo", and that most versions explicitly include dates to Visigothic King Wamba (Bambani principis or Vvambani principis), many scholars have accepted that the author was indeed by Julian, Spain's leading writer under Wamba, and that it was composed in or shortly after 672 CE. This position was argued with especial force by Juan Gil Fernández.[*]Gil, Juan "Judíos y cristianos en la Hispania del siglo VII," Hispania Sacra 30 (1977). 82-5 (with critical edition of the text at 82-4).

The most recent analysis, by Jose Carlos Mart�n (university) and Jacques Elfassi, demolishes this assumption, noting that the OAM is found in a variety of contexts and is completed up to a variety of dates. It was common practice in the antique and medieval world to supplement pre-existing biblical chronologies with additional text, bringing them up to date with whatever was the contemporary point in time.[*]Mart�n, Jose Carlos and Jacques Elfassi. "Iulianus Toletanus ep." in La trasmissione dei testi latini del Medioevo. Mediaeval Latin Texts and their Transmission. Florence. Sismel-Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2008. Te.Tra 3. p. 378.

Il semble qu'un copiste en 672 ait poursuivi jusqu'à la première année de Wamba un comput des années du monde qui commençait avec Adam et finissait avec la naissance du Christ, selon un procédé habituel des copistes lorsqu'ils travaillaient sur des chronologies.

Principal contexts which transmit the OAM include:

1. In eight bibles, sometimes with the calculation terminating at 1 CE. Those codices are listed by Teófilo Ayuso Marazuela as follows:[*]This section from Ayuso, Extrabíblicos 173-4 and Isidóro de León (vol 20, 14-5). I have only checked the San Millán bible so far. VLH refers to Ayuso's La Vetus Latina Hispana.

2. In the Roda Codex, where the text is headed by the words "by Julian of Toledo". This OAM terminates at 1 CE and appears on its own at 208r, four pages after the end of Great Stemma Ro. It is preceded by a very similar text with sharply different values for the periods Flood-Abraham and Restoration-Incarnation on 207v. This OAM is followed by the seven-line brief biography of Christ (transcript below) which is also found in the San Millán Bible, then a continuation of the chronology, to 672.

3. On the final page (45v) of the Epsilon recension of the Great Stemma (preserved in only one manuscript, Plutei 20.54 in Florence, Medicea Laurenziana); this OAM to 1 CE is followed by the biography of Christ, abridged to just two sentences, then an extension to 672.

4. As one of the items in the 12th-century Liber chronicorum of Pelagius, bishop of Oviedo (often found in the same manuscripts as no. 6 below). This usually attributes the work to Julian of Toledo. A Wikipedia article says there are 24 manuscripts of the Liber chronicorum. They include:

5. In the Commentary on the Apocalypse of Beatus of Liébana (book 4) where the OAM is augmented with Augustine's Six Ages theory and is continued to the year 786. There are up to 40 medieval manuscripts of the Commentary extant.[*]I have quoted Sanders' text below, as printed in J. González Echegaray, A. del Campo, L. G. Freeman, Beato de Liébana. Obras completas y complementarias, vol. I, Madrid, 2004, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos. Maior, 76, pp. 32-640: p. 368 lines 73-86; Mart�n and Elfassi also cite E. Romero-Pose, Sancti Beati a Liébana Commentarius in Apocalypsin, 2 vols., Rome, 1985 (Scriptores Graeci et Latini): vol. I, p. 607 line 17 to p. 609 line 2.

6. in the Chronicle of Albelda, of which about eight manuscripts are extant, with the stated timespan ending in the year 883. The four main manuscripts are: [*]See the online edition of Lomax, D. W.: "Una crónica inédita de Silos", Homenaje a Pérez de Úrbel, Silos, 1976, I, 323-337. Also in Bonnaz, Chroniques Asturiennes. Paris: �d. du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1987. Also in J. Gil, J. L. Moralejo, J. I. Ruiz de la Pena, Crónicas Asturianas. Publicaciones del Departamento de Historia Medieval de la Universidad de Oviedo, II. Universidad de Oviedo, 1985. pp. 155-6.

Lomax lists what appear to be four more manuscripts.

7. On the Great Stemma in fragmentary form in at least six manuscripts. [*]To the list below may be added the same legend recorded by José Maria Eguren from a further, now lost León bible, which is in turn quoted by Williams (1965): Contiene este códice, como el anterior [Bible of 960], la genealogia de Jesucristo desde Adam, y en dos espacios circulares de noticia de la época en que empezaron a profetizar los profetas mayores y menores; concluye la genealogia de Jesucristo, y al fin de la misma hay una miniatura que representa Anunciación, y dentro de un círculo se lee: colligitur omne tempus ab Adam usque ad Christum VCXCVIIII (5199)... This summary form appears on the final page (the nativity scene). These manuscripts either contain the chronology abbreviated to the formula Colligitur omne tempus ab Adam usque ad Christum anni V.CXC.VIIII (the wording in León 1) or a version of the brief biography of Christ which begins Maria de qua Iesus Christus dei filius and which was seemingly reworded to become a gloss to the Mary roundel. A complete list of the extant Incarnation pages, with links to digital versions:

α Roda (Ro) Coll. x
α Gerona (G) x dei filius
α Carde�a (Pc) x dei filius
α Rylands (R) x dei filius
α Las Huelgas (H) Coll dei filius
α Turin (Tu) Coll? dei filius?
β León (Le) Coll. dei filius
β León (Le2) Coll? dei filius?
β Facundus (J) Coll. dei filius
σ Saint-Sever (S) x dei filius
δ Calahorra (Ca) unknown unknown
γ Urgell (U) x x

In the above, x means the item is not present, and ? means I am 90 per cent certain but have not checked yet. León 2 is considered a direct copy from León 1, and since Las Huelgas is thought to be a copy of Turin, it is likely that the Turin stemma also contains the elements of the OAM. The table excludes the epsilon OAM (number 3 above) and the San Mill�n (Ac) OAM (1 above).

Further fragments which are probably adaptations from the OAM appear on earlier pages of the diagram. I initially supposed these to be Isidorian interpolations, since the Isidore-inspired annotations Prima etas seculi and Secunda etas seculi were attached, but I have shifted away from this judgement, since the timespans are mostly not Isidorian:

There is no trace in any manuscript of a text reckoning the final OAM span, 515 years from the Restoration to the Incarnation.

We now proceed to present versions of the text from the five main sources.

The first five columns of figures at the right of this tabulation represent the timespans in Arabic numerals. It will readily be plain that the numbers do not add up, except in the Beatus column, where the editor, Henry A. Sanders, was at pains to harmonize the content, but arrived at a total that was probably not intended by Beatus.

Delta Roda 208r Epsilon Beatus Albelda           AM
to 0 to 672 to 672 to 784 to 883            
Incipit ordo annorum mundi breviter collectus Hordo annorum mundi brebiter collectum a domno Iuliano Toletano sedis episcopus Item ...mundi brevi collectum   Incipit: ordo annorum mundi breviter collectim            
ab Adam usque ad diluvium anni duo milia CC XL II ab Adam usque ad dilubium anni duo II.CC XL II ab A... vium ann. II CC XL II Prima aetas: ab Adam usque ad Noe, et fiunt anni II CC XL II ab Adam usque ad diluuiurn anni II CC XL II 2242 2242 2242 2242 2242 2242
a diluvio usque ad Abraham anni DCCCC XL II a dilubium usque ad Abraam anni DCCCC XL II a diluvi ... m anni DCCCC XL II Secunda: a Noe usque ad Abraham, et fiunt anni DCCCC XL II diluuio usque ad Abraham anni DCCCC XX II 942 942 942 942 942 942
ab Abraham usque Moysen anni D V ab Abraam usque ad Moisen anni D V ab Abraham u....anni D V Tertia: ab Abraham usque ad Moysen, fiunt anni D V ab Abraham usque ad Moysen anni D II 505 505 505 505 502 505
ab aexitu filiorum Israel ex Egipto usque ad introitum in terra repromissionis anni XLa ab exitu filiorum Israhel ex Egipto usque ad introitum eorum terra repromissionis anni XL ab exitu filiorum Israel... ..que ad introitum eorum usque in terram repro.... anni XL Quarta: ab exitu filiorum Israel ex Aegypto usque ad introitum eorum in terram repromissionis, per annos XL ab exitu filiorum Israel ex Aegypto usque ad introitum in terram repromissionis anni XL 40 40 40 40 40 40
ab introitu terre repromissionis usque ad Saul primum regem Israel fuere iudices per annos CCC L V ab introitu eorum terra repromissionis usque ad Saul primum regem Israhel fuerunt iudices per annos CCC L V ab introitum terre repromis ... usque ad Saul primum re..em fuere iudicis per annos CCC L V et ab introitu terre repromissionis usque ad Saul primum regem Israelis, fuere iudices per annos CCC L V ab introitu idem usque ad Saul primum regem Israelis fuere iudices per annos CCC L VI 355 355 355 355 356 355
Saul regnavit annos quadraginta Saul regnavit anni XL Saul regn... ann... X(L) Saul regnavit annos XL Saul regnauit annis XL. 40 40 40 40 40 40
a David usque ad inicium hedificationis templi anni quadraginta et tres a David usque ad edificationis templi anni XL III a David usque ad initium aedificationis templ... anni XL III a David usque ad initium aedificationis templi anni XL III a Dauid usque ad initium aedificationis templi an X III 43 43 43 43 13 43
a prima hedificatione templi usque ad transmigrationem in Babilone fuere reges per annos quadringentos XL III a prima edificatione templi usque ad transmigrationem Babilonis fuerunt reges per anni CCCC XL III a prima aedificatione templi usque in transmigrationem templi in Babillonem, fuere reges per annos CCC XL() Quinta aetas: a prima aedificatione templi usque ad transmigrationem in Babilonem, fuere reges per annos CCCC XL VI a prima aedificatione templi usque ad transmigrationem in Babyloniam fuere reges per annos CCCC XL III 443 443 340 446 443 443
fuit autem captivitas populi ac desolatio templi annos LXX fuit autem captivitas populi hac desolatione templi per anni LXX fuit autem captivitas populi ac desolatio templi anni LXX fuit autem captivitas populi a desolatione templi annis LXX fuit autem captiuitas populi ac desolatio templi an. LXX 70 70 70 70 70 70
et restauratur a Zorobabel annos IIII et restauratur a Zorobabel per annos IIIIor et restauratur a Zorobabel annis IIII et restauratur a Zorobabel annis IIII et restauratur a Zorobabel 4 4 4 4 0 4
post restaurationem vero templi usque ad incarnationem Christi anni D XLa post restaurationem templi usque ad incarnationem domini fuisse anni D XL post restaurationem templi usque ad incarnationem Christi anni D XL post restaurationem vero templi usque ad incarnationem Christi anni D XL post restaurationem uero templi usque ad incarnationem Christi an. D X 540 540 540 540 510 515
colligitur omne tempus ab Adam usque ad Christum anni quinque milia Cm LXXXXta novem colleguntur omne tempus ab Adam usque ad Christum anni V C LXL VIIII colliguntur omne tempus ab Adam usque ad Christum anni V XC VIIII colligitur omne tempus ab Adam usque ad Christum anni V CC XX VII colligitur omne tempus ab Adam usque ad Christum an. V milia C LX VIIII 5199 5169 5099 5227 5169 5199
ab incarnatione autem domini nostri Iesu Christi usque ad primum Bambani principis annum fuere annis sexcenti septuaginta duo ab incarnatione domini nostri Ihesu Christi usque in prefectum presentem et primum glorioso Bambani principis annum quod est Era anni DCLXXII ab incarnationem autem domini nostri Iesu Christi usque in presentem primum gloriosi Vvambani principis annum que est Era DCC X ann. DC LXX II   ab incarnatione domini nostri Ihesu Christi usque primum Wambani principis regni annum fuere an. DC LXX II         672  
  ab exordio autem mundi usque in presentem et primum Bambani principis annum quod est Era annos DCCX colleguntur anni V DCCCC LXX V

ab exordio autem mundi usque ad adventum domini anni quinque milia CXCV             5195  
  adventum domini usque in Era D CCC X VIIII sunt anni DCCC LXX VI
  et ab adventu domini nostri Iesu Christi usque in praesentem Eram, id est, DCCC XX II, sunt anni DCC LXXX IV           784  
  et a primo homine Adam usque ad Christum fuerunt anni V LXL VIIII conputa ergo de Adam usque in Era D CCCC X IIII et invenies annos V DCCCC LXX V. Supersunt anni sexto miliario XXV   computa ergo a primo homine Adam usque in praesentem Eram DCCC XX II et invenies annos sub uno V DCCCC LXXX VII           5987  
        a tempore Wambae, anno primo, usque nunc quae est era DCCCC XX I, fiunt anni CC X I         211  
        modo uero colligitur omne tempus ab exordio mundi usque praesentem era DCCCC XX I et octauo decimo anno regni Adefonsi principis filii gloriosi Ordonii regis omnes anni sub uno VI LXXX II         6082  

The last six rows are clearly supplemental matter added by later editors or copyists.

If we search through the patristic works, we readily find the source of the OAM data in the Chronological Canons of Eusebius of Caesarea, as later distributed in the West by the Latin translation of Jerome of Stridon.

The hallmarks of Eusebius are the calculation of 942 years from the Flood to Abraham, a total that excludes the Second Kenan, and of 515 years from the Temple Restoration to the Incarnation.

It is easy to see how the latter figure, D X V, has been corrupted by the scribes to D XL in the surviving versions of the OAM, which is an easy mistake to make through inattention or when copying from scrawl.[*]This appears to be the solution which Juan Gil (above) rejects as "psychological". He does not set it out, doubtless because it would undermine Gil's own alternative solution, namely that the period of 5,277 years is correct because it extends from the Creation to the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan. Gil's position seems to me abstruse and lacking in any convincing evidence. The OAM is clearly concerned with calculating the start of the Christian era.

If we correct this error and harmonize the other numbers, we arrive at the original Eusebian total, 5,199 years. The editor of the León bible appears to have investigated the issue and arrived at precisely the same conclusion, placing the total, 5,199, in his nativity scene of the Great Stemma. The Albelda Chronicle also brings the totals back into plumb, setting out the correct total of 6,082 years to the reign of King Alphonse in 883 CE.

This number is also consistent with the intention of Beatus to predict the end of the Sixth Age of the World and the parousia in 799 CE, when he believed the world would be 6,000 years old. The added notation by Beatus, dividing the biblical periods into ages, misleads the unwary scholar, since the Six Ages of the World theory is a later accretion, based on the work of Augustine and developed by Isidore. The Six Ages annotations are likely to have been added to the OAM at a much later date.

In some versions of the OAM, a short account of Christ's life, clearly drawn from Jerome's Latin text of the Chronological Canons and only lightly modified, is inserted between the sum of years up to Christ's Nativity and the continuation of the chronology to Wamba. This mini-biography, it seems to me, is also more likely to be an accretion than part of the original text, but we ought to keep an open mind on the matter.

In the three Stemma recensions which are the most authentic versions of the archetype— Epsilon, Delta and Alpha— this text does not appear as part of the Stemma per se. In the Beta recension of the Great Stemma (the most heavily interpolated recension), this text has been inserted as a panel on the final page of the Stemma itself, close to the Nativity picture. Its inclusion appears to be part of the comprehensive re-edit that makes Beta distinctive.

In the tabulation that follows I have matched each phrase with the source in Jerome's Latin, numbered according to Helm's edition. The English comes from Roger Pearse's very useful 2005 collaborative English version of Jerome:

Epsilon (Plutei) Delta (San Millán) Alpha (Roda) Beta (Facundus) English Jerome Chronicle
Iesus Christus dei filius in Bethlehem Iude ex Maria virgine natus Iesus Christus filius dei in Bethleem Iude ex Maria virgine natus [omitted] Maria de qua Ihesus Christus dei filius in Bethlem Iude secundum carnem natus est Jesus Christ, son of God, was born in Bethlehem in Judaea to Mary the virgin ... [Helm 251 c] Iesus Christus filius Dei in Betheleem Judae nascitur
[omitted] usque ad quintum decimum Tiberii Cesaris annum [damaged] ... Tiberii Cesari... [omitted] up to the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar [Helm 255 f] id est XV Tiberii Caesaris (Vulgate Luke 3:1: anno autem quintodecimo imperii Tiberii Caesaris)
[omitted] tricesimum etatis sue explens annum XXXmo etatis sue explens anno tericesimo et enim etatis sue anno expletio the 30th year of his life unfolding cf. Vulgate Luke 3:23: et ipse Iesus erat incipiens quasi annorum triginta
[omitted] a Iohanne Babtista in Iordane flumine baptizatur in Iordane flumine babtizatus a Iohannem Babtista filio Zaccarie sacerdotis de vice avia in Iordane flumine babtizatus est in diem apparitionis sue is baptized by John (son of the priest Zechariah) in the Jordan River (on the day of his debut) [Helm 255 d] Joannes filius Zachariae in deserto juxta Jordanem fluvium praedicans ...
[omitted] ac deinceps populo salutaris viam adnunciat signis atque virtutibus hostensis vera conprobans esset, que diceret hac deinceps populo salutaris viam adnuntians signis atque virtutibus ostensis vera conprobans esse, que diceret [omitted] announces the way of salvation to all people, proving by signs and wonders that the things that he said were true [Helm 255 d] ... hinc in populos salutarem viam annuntiat, signis atque virtutibus vera comprobans esse, quae diceret
[omitted] deinde sequenti anno, miracula que in evangelio scripta sunt, fecit [omitted] inde sequenti anno, mirabilia queque in evangelio scripta sunt, fecit then in the following year, performed the miracles that are recorded in the gospels [Helm 256 b] Iesus Christus filius Dei salutarem cunctis praedicans viam, miracula quae in Evangeliis scripta sunt, facit
[omitted] in alio vero anno discipulos suos divinis imbue(n)s sacramentis in alio vero anno discipulis suis implens sacramentis in anno vero XXXo IIo nativitatis sue discipulos suos divinis imbuens sacramentis imparting the divine sacraments to his own disciples [Helm 256 c] Jesus Christus filius Dei, discipulos suos divinis imbuens sacramentis
[omitted] ut universis gentibus conversionem ad deum predicent, imperat ut universis gentibus conversatione ad deum prediceret, imperat imperat ut universis gentibus predicent confessionem ad deum commands that they announce (the need for) conversion to God to all peoples [Helm 256 c] ut universis gentibus conversionem ad Deum nuntient, imperat.
tricesimo tertio autem aetatis sue anno secundum prophetias quae de eo fuerant prelocute ad passionem venit anno Tiberii Caesaris XVIII tricesimo tertio autem etatis sue anno secundum prophetias que de eo fuerant proloquute ad passionem venit anno supradicti Tiberii XVIIIo XXXo IIIo etatis sue anno secundum prophetas qui de eo fuerunt proloquute ad passione venit annos supradicto Tiberii XVIIIo tricesimo autem et tertio etatis sue anno secundum prophetias que de eo fuerunt prolocuet et ad passionem venit anno Tiberii XVIII in his 33rd year, according to the prophecies, which had been spoken about him beforehand, came to the Passion in the 18th year of the above Tiberius [Helm 256 d] secundum prophetias, quae de eo fuerant praelocutae, ad passionem venit anno Tiberii 18

There have been scholarly descriptions of the OAM, beginning with Mommsen (1894) who noticed it thus from Florence:

cod. 54 f.45 computatio sub titulo item (exsecta quaedam) orum mundi brevi collecto. ab Adam, finiunt: ab incarnationem (m deletum) domini nostri Iesu Christi usque in presentem primum gloriosi Wambani principis annum, qui est era DCCCX ann. DCLXXII, ab exordio autem mundi usque ad adventum domini ann. V CXCV.[*]Mommsen, MGH,AA IX, 159

At the present time we have no clue to the identity of the OAM's compiler (the term author seems too weighty to describe what are merely notes from Eusebius and Jerome).

Julian as the author seems to be ruled out. Jocelyn Hillgarth, a recent authority, never included the OAM in his list of Julian's work, nor does the current authority on Julian, Jose Carlos Mart�n.[*]Hillgarth, Jocelyn Nigel. “St Julian of Toledo in the Middle Ages.” In Visigothic Spain, Byzantium and the Irish. Variorum collected studies series: CS, ISSN 0961-7582. London: Variorum Reprints, 1985. Mart�n, Jose Carlos, and Jacques Elfassi. "Iulianus Toletanus ep." In La trasmissione dei testi latini del Medioevo. Mediaeval Latin Texts and their Transmission, edited by P Chiesa and L Castaldi, 373-431. Te.Tra 3. Florence: Sismel-Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2008.

In their survey of the transmission to modern times of all the works of Julian, Mart�n and Jacques Elfassi not only place no credence in the claim for Julian, and also point out that Julian offered a different computation in book III of his De comprobatione sextae aetatis (ch. 10, §§ 27-35), placing the start of the world in the year 5235 BC. They also reject a contention in 1977 by Juan Gil (above) that Julian personally attached the OAM to the end of his Historia Wambae:

aucun des exemplaires connus de cette dernière œuvre ne transmet ladite addition

Mart�n intends to bring out a new text-critical edition of the OAM, which has been announced as in preparation by the publisher Brepols.

Ayuso, following his idée fixe, proposed that the OAM's compiler must have been Peregrinus, but Ayuso offers no evidence for this other than the Spanish locale:

Creemos que este documento debe de ser de origen español, puesto que sólo le hallamos en la transmisión española

This claimed connection seems to be as untenable as Ayuso's belief that the OAM could never have belonged in the company of the Great Stemma and thus that it was somehow wrongly placed directly after the Stemma in the San Millán bible: "están desplazados de su propio lugar." On statistical grounds, he argued that the OAM had originally been a preface to the Gospels. At the time he wrote this, Ayuso had of course not seen Epsilon, where the OAM is transcribed onto the last sheet of the Great Stemma. He perhaps forgot his own earlier hypothesis that the Great Stemma's use in Iberia was flexible, having been first joined to Spanish gospel books before it evolved into front matter for complete bibles.[*]Ayuso, San Isidóro de León, vol 20, 16.

His claim that the OAM is an adaptation from the Liber Genealogus is also unfounded. They do not share text, and they disagree in detail. For example the Liber states Zerubabbel took six years to restore the temple, the OAM four.

As noted above, the OAM does seem indebted to the Chronological Canons of Eusebius perhaps in their original Greek but more likely in their Latin translation in the Chronicle of Jerome, which had certainly achieved wide circulation in the West by the mid 5th century.

The first known attempt to further extend the work was by Prosper of Aquitaine (living in Rome) in 433, to be followed by the anonymous author of the Gallic Chronica in 452 (perhaps based in Marseilles) and by Hydatius of Aquae Flaviae (probably Chaves in Portugal) in about 469. Hydatius had met Jerome as a child during a pilgrimage to Palestine and began, about 469, an extension (MGH version) of the Canons exactly modelled on Jerome's, so we can be certain that the work was also known in a 5th-century Iberian setting.[*]See also Hillgarth, Historiography, 263-6.

There is however another, interesting possibility. We have already seen that the Great Stemma has a strong chronological component, explicitly mentioning synchronisms between sacred and imperial history. I have put forth (here) the hypothesis that the Stemma was originally arranged as a timeline, more or less to scale, across a single wide canvas (visualization). But nowhere in the urtext of the Great Stemma do we find the timespans summed together, nor do we find any discussion of the relative length of the sequential periods.

This lack of any scalar information is puzzling, and leads us to consider the possibility that some kind of separate, explanatory text might have been provided to the Stemma's reader. At a minimum, this explanatory text would have had to suggest the lengths of time elapsing between key ancestors of Christ, and, where that information was lacking, such as during the servitude in Egypt and the Exodus, between events in salvation history.

On a separate page, I set out the hypothesis that the Great Stemma originally relied for its chronology on the Chronicle of Hippolytus of Rome, but that it was at some point imperfectly revised in reliance on Eusebius's Chronological Canons to attain its form as we see it today.

The OAM is precisely the epitome of Eusebian chronology that one would expect to find as key to such a Eusebian revision, and its loose association with the Great Stemma in several of our manuscripts would be consistent with its having once been a supplement to the Great Stemma before becoming detached and diffusing separately into other writings, from perhaps the 7th century onwards. The Epsilon recension, which could well date from the 7th century, may have been the sole version to retain the OAM and the Stemma on the same page, with the understanding that they came from the same author.

This line of thinking naturally raises certain other tantalizing questions, such as which of the OAM recensions was seen by Beatus of Liebana when he adapted the OAM for his own purposes. Was Beatus looking at one of the derivative works, without the Great Stemma attached? Or did Beatus read a still-combined version and himself resolve to include the OAM in the body of his text and to attach the infographic as a decorative frontispiece to his Apocalypse?

[to be continued]

Back to History Table of Contents

Back to Macro-Typography on the Web