Should We Use BC/AD or BCE/CE for Dating Years?

BC/AD and BCE/CE are well recognized as abbreviation used with the number of a year to designate if the year was before or after the birth of Jesus Christ. Before answering the question about which labeling system should be used, let's first define each term and understand the origin and history of both. BC means "Before Christ." AD means "Anno Domini," which is a Latin phrase translated "In the Year of the Lord."

BCE/CE makes no reference to Jesus. BCE means "Before the Common Era" and CE means "Common Era."

Both BC/AD and BCE/CE use the birth of Jesus as the division point in time when the counting system transitions from "Before" (Before Christ or Before Common Era) to that which comes after (In the Year of the Lord or Common Era).

It's clear that BC/AD has its origin in Christianity. The use of AD dates back to the sixth century when the Christian monk, Dionysius Exiguus, introduced the phrase "Anno Domini." It was the intention of Dionysius to mark time since the incarnation of Jesus using the life of Jesus. Therefore, every year since Jesus' birth would be designated as "in the year of the Lord." This not only acknowledges Jesus' earthly life, but also His heavenly reign. Using BC/AD signifies that all of time belongs to God and it clearly call to mind the time when God came to dwell with man and usher in His grand plan of redemption.

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