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Document Details :
Title: 'Christmannus aliquidne de temporibus post scaligerum?'
Subtitle: Christmann's Lesson in Chronology as an Answer to Lipsius's Remark
Author(s): DE LANDTSHEER, Jeanine , VERBIST, Peter
Volume: 37 Issue: 2 Date: 2010
A major breakthrough in combining a number of chronological systems was realized by the French humanist Josephus Justus Scaliger in his De emendatione temporum (1583; 1598). Not every one agreed with his theories. One of the trouble shooters was the Heidelberg orientalist Jacobus Christmann, who kept needling his learned colleague with his criticism. Vexed by a casual remark in a letter from Justus Lipsius, he set out to what he considered clearing his scholarly reputation in an epistolary essay in which he explained at length the connexion between the Jewish and the Christian calendar: his Epistola chronologica ad Clarissimum virum Iustum Lipsium (1591). After a brief introduction about the interplay of solar and lunar calendars, Christmann’s letter is discussed and elucidated. The very bone of contention between both scholars is not the Jewish chronological system as such, but a difference in the interpretation of a particular point of the Seleucid era, asserting either 3450 (Christmann) or 3449 (Scaliger) as the commencing year of the new Jewish lunar reckoning, and its consequences for the conjunction of the Jewish era within the framework of a Christian (solar) calendar. In the appendix we have added the first modern, annotated edition of the letter. Christmann’s letter highlights the centrality of the subject chronology in the Republic of Letters, the importance of which remains unacknowledged by most early modern historians of scholarship and science.