Circular vs. Linear Time

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    Professor Jewell,
    You mention several times in the first few lectures the idea that some of the early civilizations had this concept of “circular” time (as opposed to our view of time as a linear progression). Can you explain what is meant by this belief?


    I would like to second this. I had this question as well, but instead of rewritting, I’ll just add to Koop’s post.

    In the lecture regarding Hebrew Religion, the concept of linear time was brought up. How exactly was this assumed? Did the Hebrew people keep some form of calendar? Did they date things? Literally, where do historians get their concept of linear time?

    Jason Jewell

    Hey, guys. Sorry for the slow reply. I have been traveling a lot the last month with spotty internet access.

    From that repository of all human knowledge, Wikipedia:

    “Ancient cultures such as Incan, Mayan, Hopi, and other Native American Tribes, plus the Babylonians, Ancient Greeks, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and others have a concept of a wheel of time, that regards time as cyclical and quantic consisting of repeating ages that happen to every being of the Universe between birth and extinction.”

    So the belief is that what we are experiencing now has happened already and will happen again. These cycles can be very long; I believe the Hindu belief is that each revolution of the wheel of time takes more than 100,000 years.

    The Hebrew belief in linear time is theological in origin. It stems from the belief that God created the universe in a one-time event and that He then works in history to bring His plans to fruition. In reference to Matt’s question, the Old Testament is full of genealogies and references to events that occurred in the Xth year of King Y’s reign or in the Xth year since the Exodus.

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