Historical dating methods
BC is, of course, a modern English rendering of the original term.Virtually everyone in our culture knows that it stands for “Before Christ,” meaning before His birth or possibly His conception.Just as in an individual’s life, some birthdates may be so important that the whole culture chooses them as the reference point for its dating system. We are all quite familiar with the BC/AD dating system.
The French Revolution in the late 1700s began as a moderate movement to provide equal rights and eliminate the abuses continuing in France from the Middle Ages.
BCE indicates the same period as BC but stands for “Before the Common Era.” Proponents of this system have given a number of reasons why this new terminology is preferable to the original, usually having some connection with greater inclusiveness for non-Christian users.
Those reasons may have some validity, but they seem to obscure the underlying motive, which is simply that many people are unwilling to acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ, even in something as generic as an abbreviation that refers to Him as “Lord.”A third system of marking the years actually existed long before BC/AD and was replaced by the BC/AD system.
AD, however, has created some misunderstanding for modern English speakers because the initials there are for a Latin term, Anno Domini, translated as “In the Year of the Lord,” meaning since His birth (not “After Death” as a few have falsely supposed).
The second dating system, the use of BCE/CE, is actually more a renaming of the first than a completely different one.
Dating systems often reflect the people and entities most significant to a culture.