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  Another exchange from the classics discussion list: we are discussing which is preferable, BC/AD or BCE/AD:

But just changing the label doesn't change the fact that it refers to the
same event! It's ridiculous that "highly offended" people would be mollified
by such a superficial change and just shows how little thought they put into
this. The fact that we date events from that time, regardless of whether we
non-Christians like it or not, simply acknowledges that the coming of Christ
(whether historical or spiritual) changed the course of cultural/historical
development in the western world. And that it did.

I tell my students that if they can imagine an event of similar proportions
and repercussions -- such as the arrival of an intelligent alien race on our
planet -- we might very well adopt that date as the Beginning and all actions
(before and after) would be considered in relation to that event. As in, I
bought my car in 2 BC (Before Contact). This is a stock conceit of science

Since the terrorist attacks in 2001, an event which has changed our world,
people have been using Sept 11 as a temporal gauge (not with the initials,
but still).

Cheers, Janice

----- Original Message -----
From: "Elizabeth Vandiver" <
To: <
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2004 8:31 AM
Subject: Re: BCE/CE vs. BC/AD

Timothy Renner wrote:

>Obviously this excludes a lot of people.  Perhaps
>"common" would basically be equivalent in this case
>to "commonly used for dating in the contemporary
>Western world."

Fwiw, this is how I've always understood the "common" in BCE/CE--as
indicating "the dating system that the  Western world now uses."  There's
little doubt that old Dionysius E. got the beginning date wrong; but we are
more or less stuck with that system now, and I've always assumed--perhaps
naively--that "common" simply refers to that fact. It had never occurred to
me (until this thread!) that the word "common" could be taken as implying
*Christian* dominance or hegemony, rather than as saying "However weird and
inaccurate it is, this is the system we--the Western world--commonly use."

Also fwiw, 11 years ago I had some Jewish students who were *deeply*
offended by the use of BC/AD. That was when I began schooling myself to use
BCE/CE instead. And no, I'm not a "guilt-ridden Christian"--as it happens,
I'm an agnostic. But I saw their point, when they told me how the terms
"Before Christ" and "In the year of The Lord" could annoy those who don't
share the assumption that Jesus was in fact "The Christ" and "The Lord."


Elizabeth Vandiver
Distinguished Visiting Lecturer
Department of Greek and Roman Studies
Rhodes College
Memphis, Tennessee 38112

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copyright 2001 Janice Siegel, All Rights Reserved
send comments to: Janice Siegel (jfsiege@ilstu.edu)

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