From: Stephen C Carlson (scarlso1@osf1.gmu.edu)
Date: Tue Feb 20 1996 - 10:56:39 EST

Will Wagers wrote:
>Jim Beale writes:
>>This is just a trivial question, and completely unrelated to B-GREEK,
>>and so I beg your indulgence in this. What is the driving force
>>behind the transition from A.D. to C.E.?
>Some other reason - the BC/AD system leaves out the year 0 making
>calculations difficult, especially for astronomers.
>Under the astronomical convention, there is a year zero. Dates run from
>12/31/-1 thru 1/1/0 thru 12/31/0 to 1/1/+1. CE dates correspond to AD
>dates, but BC and BCE dates differ by one year.

I frankly doubt this explanation. I've gone through the sci.astro FAQ and
I've found no reference to BC/BCE differing by a year. Astronomers instead
use a "Julian date," that is, the number of days since January 1, 4713 BC.
In the non-astronomical publications (i.e., history) I've read, the BC and
BCE dates are always identical. It would be far too confusing otherwise.

>Originally, neither ignorance nor secularism had anything to do with it,
>but since the new system exists, it has become a minor way to secularize.

I've always understood BCE and CE as a way to de-Christianize the dating
system. (The starting point will always be Christian, though, referring
to the birth of Christ as miscalculated by Dionysius Exiguus in 525 AD/CE.)
It is best to think of it as a matter of etiquette to your non-Christian
audience especially when discussing Jewish history.

Stephen Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson, George Mason University School of Law, Patent Track, 4LE
scarlso1@osf1.gmu.edu              : Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs
http://osf1.gmu.edu/~scarlso1/     : chant the words.  -- Shujing 2.35

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