OT dating was based on the reign of kings and other important events (e.g., Exodus, 1 K 6:1; erection of Solomon's temple, 1 K 9:10; Babylonian Captivity, Eze 33:21; earthquake, Am 1:1). The Seleucid era (31264 BC; named after founder Seleucus I [Nicator; ca. 358280; king of Babylon 312280] and 5 other of its kings called Seleucus; at height of power controlled Bactria, Persia, Babylonia, Syria, and part of Asia Minor) was widely used by Jews and continued at Alexandria till the 16th c. and later in S Arabia. Jews under for. rule often figured their eras acc. to the system of the conquerors. Shortly after the time of Christ, Jews began to figure from the time of creation, which they regarded as being ca. 4,000 yrs. before the destruction of the temple.
The Christian era is reckoned from the birth of Christ on basis of calculation by Dionysius* Exiguus.
By calculations of cause and effect a theory of a much longer time span has been developed: There was a vast period of astronomical time before the earth existed as such. Then a vast period of earth, or geological, time passed before living structures appeared. The period of living structures has been divided into eras: Archeozoic, Proterozoic, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic (era of animals and man). The Cenozoic era is divided into 2 periods or systems: Tertiary (of mammals) and Quaternary (of man). The period or system of man is divided into epochs or series, (which are in turn divided into ages: Old Stone Stone Age (Pakolithic) and New Stone Age or Neolithic (prehistoric; characterized by use of stone tools), Bronze Age (beginning in Eur. ca. 3500 BC, in W Asia and Egypt somewhat earlier; characterized by use of bronze tools), Iron Age (beginning ca. 1000 BC in S Eur., somewhat earlier in W Asia and Egypt; characterized by the smelting of iron), and later ages to the present. See also Evolution.
Definition of time is elusive. Time marches on suggests that, whatever it is, it moves inexorably toward or into the future; as it does, future events become part of the past.
Philosophers disagree on the nature of time. Parmenides* regarded change and becoming as illusions. Heraclitus* held that change characterizes all. I. Newton* regarded time as indep. of, and prior to, events. G. W. v. Leibniz* held time to be formed by relationship bet. events and dependent on events.
A. Einstein* regarded time as relative to the point of observation. Augustine* of Hippo regarded time as essentially psychological (the future is the anticipated as such, the past is the remembered as such). H. Bergson,* A. N. Whitehead,* et al. regarded time as modal, or the way in which the determined (past) is related to the potential (future). See also Royce, Josiah. EL
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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