Tab Notes
Answers To Tough Questions
By Pastor Roosevelt Wright, Jr.

What is the meaning of A.D. and B.C.

    The abbreviation "B.C." really is short for "Before Christ"; the secular term often used in its place, "Before the Common Era," is
abbreviated "B.C.E."  (The term "Common Era," abbreviated "C.E.," is the secular term often used in place of A.D.")
    A.D. stands for the Latin "Anno Domini," meaning in the Year of our Lord. It is now used to number the years since the year Christ was thought to have been born (AD 1). Some incorrectly refer to A.D. as "After the Death."
     Christ was born 4 or 5 BC, thus his years on earth would be about 4 or 5 BC to AD 30.

What does B.C. stand for in Latin?  Such as A.D. stands for "anno domini."

   B.C. is short for "Before Christ" or "Before The Common Era." (B.C.E.)
   Since there is no agreement on when time began, Europeans adopted the convention of recording dates in terms of whether they occurred before or after the birth of Jesus Christ, by assigning the YEAR ONE to the year of Jesus' birth. (Muslims do the same thing, only they use a different year for their YEAR ONE, the year of
Mohammed's return to Mecca.) Nowadays, historians believe that Europeans of the Middle Age got the date of Jesus' birth wrong, but nevertheless, we continue to
use the system they devised.

  Assuming that our starting point is the YEAR ONE (there is no YEAR ZERO), then BC , meaning "before Christ" is the abbreviation used for years that occured
before the YEAR ONE. AD means "anno Domini" (Latin for "year of our Lord") and is used on all dates that come after YEAR ONE.

What about "Circa" What does it mean?

   About "circa," the Webster's American Dictionary, College Edition (1997) lists it as both a preposition and an adverb and says "about:"  used esp. in approximate dates. It lists the abbreviations:

     c, c., ca, ca., cir., circ.
    It is generally combined with dates or numerals to express approximation and lack of absolute certainty; as, circa 800 A.D.

     Scholarly sources seemed to agree that the "A.D." goes _before_ the year number (while "B.C." goes after it).  However, when describing a century, the "A.D."
comes after,  e.g., "the fourth century A.D."
 


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