In Biblical eschatology a Prophetic Year or Prophetical Year is sometimes regarded as being different to an ordinary year, namely
- A 360-day period of "time"
- A 360-year period of "time", or
- A 360-year period of "time" composed of 360-day "years".
The names Apocalyptic Year and Apocalyptical Year have also been used in some literature, in obvious reference to Revelation, also known as "The Apocalypse of St. John".
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. Daniel 7:25
And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. Daniel 12:7
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. Revelation 12:14
Examples in literature
Examples of use of the first definition:
Now this seventieth week is admittedly a period of seven years, and half of this period is three times described as "a time, times, and half a time," or "the dividing of times'"* twice as forty-two months;† and twice as 1,260 days.‡ But 1,260 days are exactly equal to forty-two months of thirty days, or three and a half years of 360 days, whereas three and a half Julian years contain 1,278 days. It follows therefore that the prophetic year is not the Julian year, but the ancient year of 360 days.§
(*) Dan. vii. 25; xii. 7; Rev. xii. 14.
† Rev. xi. 2' xiii. 5.
‡ Rev. xi. 3' xii. 6.
§ It is noteworthy that the prophecy was given at Babylon, and the Babylonian year consisted of twelve months of thirty days. That the prophetic year is not the ordinary year is no new discovery. It was noticed sixteen centuries ago by Julias Africanus in his Chronography, wherein he explains the seventy weeks to be weeks of Jewish (lunar) years, beginning with the twentieth of Artaxerxes, the fourth year of the 83rd Olympiad, and ending in the second year of the 202nd Olympiad; 475 Julian years being equal to 490 lunar years.
The second and third definition can be said to follow from application of the day for a year principle.
Examples of the third definition:
...we will find that the twelve hundred and sixty days in the Revelation, being reduced to years, are eighteen years short of Julian years in the prophetical reckoning, by reason of the additional days turned into years in the ordinary accounts now, above the Apocalyptical reckoning.
To demonstrate which, I present you with the following scheme:---
The Prophetical Year.
One 360 + One 360 = Two 720
Three 1080 + Half 180 = Three Years and a half - 1260
The Julian Year.
One 365 + One 365 = Two 730
Three 1095 + Half 183 = Three Years and a half - 1278
Now if, according to this computation, we subtract twelve hundred and sixty Apocalyptical years from twelve hundred and seventy-eight Julian or Gregorian ones ( I call them so ore rotundo, overlooking the smaller measures of time), there remain eighteen years to be cut off.
In scripture, Prophetic Years of 360 days or years has been interpreted as being equal to prophetic months of 30 days or years which has been interpreted as being equal to one "time". When "times, time, and half a time" have been mentioned in one verse and subsequently 42 months and 1260 days have been mentioned in other verses as found in Daniel and Revelation, these periods have been taken by many as talking about equal periods of time.
Prophetic Months Other interpretations, (reference 4) have taken instead, prophetic months as equal to an average of 30.44 years based on 365.2422 divided by 12.