Saturday, January 02, 2010

equation of time / 12 disciples

This material is just gathered from Wikipedia and elsewhere, but it's taken me ages to really understand it, and maybe I shouldn't spoil your fun too but here it is. Some simplifications and inaccuracies are inevitable...


As many people notice and are surprised by, the sunrise goes on getting later for some while after the winter solstice (Dec 21st or 22nd). Today (Jan 2nd) was just about the latest, the sun rose in London at 8:06. Slightly less noticeable is that the earliest sunset arrives a week or more before we get to the winter solstice - around Dec 13th - though I think a person very sensitive to light deficit begins to feel a mysterious lightening of the heart soon after then, and this is the only interesting meaning I can give to Eliot's "midwinter spring" (though I've since discovered that it's also used to refer to the marked increase in birdsong that begins right at the solstice). Even less noticeable is a similar but smaller effect around the summer solstice (c. June 21st), when daylight is so abundant that we're not so precious about it. The earliest sunrise is around June 17th, and the latest sunset is around June 25th.

All these phenomena are caused by something called "equation of time" (strictly, this refers to the variable correction of sundial time to civil time). There's a general consensus among clockmakers, civil governments and eventually all of us that it is handy if all days, hours, minutes and seconds are the same length as each other. Every day is 24 hours long, right? This is true, so far as civil time is concerned. But in fact the length of the "real" astronomical day (measured from the sun at meridian on one day to the sun at meridian on the next) varies slightly throughout the year.

This is mainly because the earth's orbit is an ellipse, not a circle. As the earth passes close to the sun (it's closest in January), the earth speeds up. Paradoxically, that makes the days longer. The astronomical day can be imagined as consisting of two parts. The main part, which of course does not alter, is the approximately 23 hours and 56 minutes that it takes for the earth to rotate once on its own axis. The other part - four minutes on average - is the extra bit of rotation that is needed to catch up with the change in the sun's position since the previous noon. The faster the earth is moving, the greater that change, hence the longer the day. Though any particular day's individual variation from 24 hours is not very great, the accumulation of longer-than-average days over December and January means that these astronomical days get progressively "later", compared with civil days; up to 14 minutes late in mid-February. Since daylight-length changes very slowly at the time of the winter solstice, it is dominated by these relatively rapid changes that are due to the equation of time.

I like to imagine that, in the northern parts of the northern hemisphere particularly, we are sensitive to the poignant perception that summer days, for all their glorious extent, are never quite long enough, while winter days are all too endlessly long; and sensitivity to the opposite effect in the southern hemisphere - where the longest days occur in the summer - influences southern psychologies, too. Perhaps, too, we northerners minutely benefit from having summer when the sun is furthest away, while in Australia summer coincides with the sun being closest.



i.e. What did they and Yeshua (Jesus) actually call each other?
(Question posed by my dad, to wile away the long winter night...)

According to Matthew 10:2-4, the disciples were:

Simon (who is called Peter) (1) Tiberian Hebrew Šim'ôn = OT Simeon. Petros is Greek, Hellenized Aramaic was Kephas or Cephas.

and his brother Andrew (2) The name is Greek, meaning "strong, manly", no Aramaic name is known - however, the name was common among Jews from the 3rd c. BC.

James son of Zebedee (3) (In church tradition distinguished as James the Greater.) Aramaic: Yaakov Ben-Zebdi/Bar-Zebdi (= OT Jacob)

and his brother John (4) Aramaic: Yokhanan, meaning God-is-gracious.

Philip (5) The name is a common Greek one. No Aramaic equivalent is known; coincidentally or not, his gospel links are with Greek-speaking communities.

and Bartholomew (6) (possibly = the Nathanael mentioned in John's gospel). Aramaic bar-Tôlmay, meaning son of Ptolemy or perhaps son of the furrows (i.e. a ploughman).

Thomas (7) (elsewhere called Didymus). Not really known as a name, however the Aramaic word Tau'ma means "twin", which is also the meaning of the Greek Didymus.

and Matthew the tax-collector (8) (elsewhere called Levi). Hebrew Mattay or Mattithyahu or Mattija, meaning Gift-of-God.

James, son of Alphaeus (9) (In church tradition distinguished as James the Less.) Aramaic: Yaakov

and Thaddeus (10) (elsewhere called Jude, Judas son of James, and Lebbaeus). Jude and Judas are variants on OT Judah.

Simon the Zealot (11) (elsewhere called Simon the Canaanite) Tiberian Hebrew Šim'ôn, = OT Simeon. Both titles derive from the Hebrew word Qana, meaning "zealous".

and Judas Iscariot (12), who betrayed Him. Judas is a variant on OT Judah.

When the disciples became the apostles after Jesus' death, Matthias was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot.


At 5:10 am, Blogger Lonnie Ray Fowler said...

About disciples of Yeshua :
I'm new to this too, but I'm glad you are studying too. I just wanted to share with you that, from my study:
Yeshua translates into English as JOSHUA .
Jesus is the greek for Yeshua.


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