127 – The Synod of Whitby

The major players for today will be Hild (who was the daughter of King Edwin’s nephew, Hereric), King Oswiu of Bernicia, Bishop Colman of Lindisfarne, Wilfred the abbot of Ripon, and Bishop Cedd. And they will be, ostensibly, arguing over the date of Easter.
See? Once again, we’ve got Easter causing trouble in Britain. Cadburys chocolate can’t come soon enough. This is getting out of hand.
But honestly, the computation of Easter is just too complex to get into on a podcast, and so I’m just going offer a quote or two.
The thing they were discussing according to Stephen of Ripon was “whether in accordance with the British and Scottish manner and that of the whole of the northern district, Easter should be kept on the Sunday between the fourteenth day of the moon and the twenty-second, or whether the plan of the apostolic see was better, namely to celebrate Easter Sunday between the fifteenth day of the moon and the twenty-first.”
Do you see the difference between the two? Not much, right? At least according to Stephen, the Celtic method was basically the Roman method, plus a couple days. I mean, sure, the Roman method is fixed to a 19 year cycle while the Celtic method was fixed to an 84 year cycle and there were some other factors that were included. But still not much. Now Bede’s account has the Celtic Church celebrating from the 14th to the 20th… so rather than an additional two days, Bede has them using the same length of time, just shifted by one day. But overall, that’s what was going on there, and getting into any more detail on these calendar issues would likely make you hit skip.
And if you’re like me, you’re probably thinking several things… first, that’s a stupidly complex way to arrange a celebration. Why not just say “ Put down your protractors and graphical calculators, people. We’re doing it on the 18th, every year.” It would save people a lot of headaches. Second, why is this even an issue? The two calculations are ridiculously similar, and are calendars seriously that important when it comes to spirituality? And third, how did the Celtic church end up with a different method? Well, funny story… their method was actually even used by continental Christians until about the mid 5th century… which, coincidentally, was roughly around the time that Britannia broke from Rome.
So that’s the core argument.

  4 comments for “127 – The Synod of Whitby

  1. Melody
    June 4, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I am glad I am not the only one who now stands corrected on the pronunciation of synod. Love your podcasts.

  2. June 16, 2014 at 5:52 am

    #127? Have 24 podcasts suddenly gone missing from the feed?

    • June 16, 2014 at 7:25 am

      The shows have been re-ordered and some of them have been regrouped into combination episodes so that the show is easier to follow. I’ll release a PSA about it today on the feed. :)

  3. fixer
    September 5, 2014 at 2:15 am

    small major point: the tonsure debate was also important because the celtic way mimiced the druid hairstyle. Source: in our time bbc4 w/ Bragg on Druids

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