A.D. and B.C. What is the time called when Jesus Lived?

How does this time thing work? So the Romans knew that there was a Jesus Christ back in 500 B.C.? Was there a year 0 at one point in time?

B.efore the birth ofC.hrist

I think a better question would be what year did the romans think it was in 500 B.C.? When did their calendar start?

BTW, there was is year 0… you go from 1 BC to 1 AD. That’s why the new millenium starts this coming Jan 1 and not last Jan 1.

Of course not. It’s completely arbitrary. Here’s how it works. First, pick an event to start with (it could be the year your god was born, or the year your emperor came to power, or the year your city was built, or the year the revelution happened). Make that year “Year 1”. Every date afterwords becomes “Year x after the event”, and every date before becomes year X before the event"

Also, Dolphinboy, the Roman calender started with 1 A.U.C. (after the city was built) 1 CE was 753 AUC

The Roman calendar began in our 753 B.C. with the legendary founding of Rome by its legendary first king, Romulus. To them, it was 1 A.U.C. (anno urbae condita, “in the year of the city” more or less).
The B.C./A.D. concept didn’t show up until A.D. 531, when Dionysius Exiguus, a monk, was creating a timeline for the Pope. He guessed at when Jesus was born, and got it wrong. (Jesus was probably born in 4 B.C., although there are conflicting theories as to the exact year.) The zero was unknown to Europe at the time, although it had been discovered in India, so Dionysius’s calendar went from 1 B.C. to A.D. 1 without a year 0. This year numbering system would not be used for several centuries, however, as the pope died and his replacement didn’t really care about calendar reform.


B.C. does indeed mean “Before Christ”. Many people think that A.D. means “After Death”, which I suspect is why you ask “what is the time called when Jesus lived”.

However, A.D. actually means “Anno Domini”, or “In the Year of our Lord”. So there are no “missing years” from when Jesus lived, except for the one year Protesilaus mentioned above.


The terms C.E. and B.C.E. are slowly replacing A.D. and B.C., due primarily to the religious-neutral language they employ.
C.E.= Common Era
B.C.E.= Before Common Era

Source: Religioustolerance.org

You of course meant to say “That’s why the new millenium started Jan 1, 2001 and not Jan 1, 2000.”

[nitpick]A.U.C. actually stands for *ab urbe condita, or, “from the founding of the city”. [/nitpick]

So, the short answer to the OP is: A.D. :smiley:

My question: Why did they pick one Latin phrase and one English phrase? Why not “Antequam Christo” [before Christ], or even “Antequam Anno Domini”?
[sub]I apologize if any of this sounds snobby; it’s not intended that way.[/sub]

No, I think the short answer is that it was called “B.C.” for the first four years or so of Jesus’s life, and “A.D.” for the rest of his life. :slight_smile:

Of course, I would think that Jesus himself would have been much more familiar with the Jewish calendar.

I’ve always found this silly. They both refer to the same event–the birth of Christ. Giving it a different name doesn’t change anything at all if you’re still using the exact same point of reference.

I agree. “AD/BC” is religiously arrogant. “CE/BCE” is religiously arrogant and insults my intelligence.

Anno Domini (AD) means, IIRC, “in the year of our Lord”. I don’t accept Jesus as my Lord, but I do find it convenient to use the same system of dates as the rest of the Western world. The BCE/CE thing is a compromise method that lets me avoid making any sort of religious statement while still calling this year 2001.

The “invention of zero” has bugger all to do with it. It would still be year 1. Is your first-born child your “zeroeth child”? The first year of the epoch is still going to be Year One, regardless of what epoch you are talking about. You are counting years, not measuring them.

Regarding the A.D./B.C. vs C.E./B.C.E. discussion:


I guess the question really was "what was the time called when jesus lived.
I figured Chubbs wasn’t stupid so if I told him the simple BC explanation he could figure the answer himself.

And, since Dionysus Exiguus or whatever his name was got it wrong, it helps us to avoid the sticky semantic problem of saying Jesus was born four to six years before himself… :smiley:

The Time When Christ Physically Lived On Earth was
Commonly referred to as either:

D.D - During Domini
A.D - Ano Domini = year of our Lord

This is true. For example, when the French revolutionaries began the revolutionary calendar, they started it with “l’an I,” “l’an II”, etc., not “l’an zéro”.