Bede's The Reckoning of Time is about computus, the science of measuring time and constructing a Christian calendar. The Reckoning of Time is the earliest comprehensive treatment of computus that has survived. All earlier calendar literature was both fragmented and partisan in character. The Reckoning of Time begins with the representation of numbers for the purpose of calculation. This is achieved through finger signs, computus digitorum. Bede claimed that the hand was used to represent numbers up to 9999 while other parts of the body were used to represent numbers beyond 10 000. Exactly how these calculations were executed with these hand and body signs is not explained in the book. However, ancient and medieval authors gave hints as to the form of these calculations. This paper first discusses the problem of dating Easter. Second, it examines Bede's representation of numbers through hand and body gestures. Third, it considers some of the hints to the method of calculation using these gestures for the purposes of calculating the dates for Easter, and finally the paper explains how Bede formulated the calculations that were needed to date Easter.
Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association Vol. 1, p. 85-98