Early Christians adopted a numeric week from Judaism, but wherever their communities spread they encountered the planetary week invented by Hellenistic astrologers. Greek Christians replaced that week with their own in the fourth century C.E., but Latin Christians were only partly successful in doing the same. A timeline for the Christianization of the planetary week between the third and seventh centuries is provided by a database of Greek and Latin documents dated by both an annual calendar and one of the two weeks. The documentary evidence is supplemented by analyses of literary and legal references to the two weeks from the same period. These show that Greek authors were accommodating toward the planetary week while Latin authors were often hostile. Latin hostility was engendered by the presence of non-Christian social practices tied to the planetary week that threatened Christian religious identity. These practices included worship of the planetary deities, rest on the Day of Jupiter rather than on the Lord's Day, and the reservation of activities like marriage, travel, and personal grooming to certain planetary weekdays. A brief survey of the spread of the two weeks throughout much of Afro-Eurasia contextualizes the changes occurring in the Mediterranean and shows that the Latin conflict was unique. That conflict was likely a product of the relatively slow pace of Christianization in some parts of Western Europe and the integration of the planetary week into the Roman calendar to produce a coherent cycle of pagan time which was difficult to replace.
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Research Article| June 01 2019
Christianizing the Planetary Week and Globalizing the Seven-Day Cycle
Studies in Late Antiquity (2019) 3 (2): 128–191.
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Mark Anderson; Christianizing the Planetary Week and Globalizing the Seven-Day Cycle. Studies in Late Antiquity 1 June 2019; 3 (2): 128–191. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sla.2019.3.2.128
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