Radical calendars: the almanac in biblical terms

In the course of an energetic publishing career that included tracts on prodigies and prophecies which aligned divine portents with contemporary political events from the vantage of an avowed anti-monarchist, as well as advocacy for the readmission of Jews into England, the Baptist Henry Jessey published the Scripture Calendar annually from 1645 until his death in 1663. It translates the secular terms of almanacs into biblical ones, for example offering weights and measures according to ancient Hebrew standards, explaining how to relate methods of timekeeping mentioned in the Hebrew Bible to modern ones, and substituting for the usual astrological figure of the human body a diagram representing the Fifth Monarchy prophesied by Daniel—converting a familiar ideogram into an apocalyptic sign, which would prove a particularly potent one in the year of the execution of Charles I. It encourages the reader to think of herself as operating in the time of ‘the prophets and apostles’, suggesting that true ‘Reformation’ will come when the measures of daily life are restored to those of the time of scripture. BW

1649. The Scripture Calendar, used by the prophets and apostles, and by our Lord Jesus Christ, paralleld with the new stile, and our vulgar almanack: explaining the accounts, measures, weights, coyns, customes, and languages, of Gods ancient people, and of primitive Christians (London: M.B. for the Company of Stationers, 1649).

CUL: Syn.8.64.124

Further Reading

David S. Katz, God’s Last Words: Reading the English Bible from the Reformation to Fundamentalism (New Haven, 2004), esp. pp. 53-6.

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