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    BC & AD or BCE & CE? – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. A new Australian history curriculum will replace the terms BC (before Christ) and AD (anno domini) with BCE (before the common era), BP (before present) and CE (common era). Are you for or against this?

    A. I am all in favour of dropping the abbreviations BC and AD. They are offensive to non-Christians, and in any case they are inaccurate since Jesus was born a few years “Before Christ” (nor was he born on 25 December!) and so the whole date system geared to Christ is out of kilter.

    The Jewish method of using the terms BCE and CE is less offensive than BC and AD, but since it dates the “Common Era” from the supposed birth of Jesus it suffers from the same lack of precision.

    There are other date systems in historic cultures – ask the Chinese, for example, what their preference is.

    Freemasonry has its own date system: when I joined a lodge in Britain many years ago I got an elaborate certificate issued by “United Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of England: His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, Grand Master”, bearing the date “28th day of April, AL 5966” (“AL = The Year of Light”).

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