BC vs BCE
Between the two dating systems, BC and BCE, there is a subtle difference. However, the difference is good enough to know them as distinct and separate. As a matter of fact, BC is written after the year number. It is also grounded on the Julian or the Gregorian calendars. However, what everyone should remember is that practically, if one says 7 BC or 7 BCE, they both refer to the same time period. As you can see BCE is also placed after the year number. Nevertheless, there is some difference between the two terms BC and BCE which will be discussed in this article.
What does BC mean?
BC is a way of marking time. It is important to note that BC was actually coined by Dionysius Exiguus in the year 525 AD. In fact, the dating system BC should be expanded as ‘Before Christ.’ It is interesting to note that the notation BC was followed for a long time until recently when the notation was challenged.
Since Christ is believed to have been born around 7 BC, the very usage of AD gets purposeless. This is the reason why the notation BC was challenged some time ago. If both BC and AD start with the year 1, then there can be no year ‘zero’ in any of the dating systems. Hence, a new dating system called the BCE was formed.
What does BCE mean?
BCE is also a way of marking time that is equivalent to BC. It is important to know that BCE can be expanded as ‘Before Common Era.’ The BCE notation has not removed the year ‘zero’ from it. The same is true in the case of CE, as well. The years after Christ’s birth were simply referred by the notation CE.
CE referred to the ‘Common Era.’ It is believed that both BCE and CE developed not for the use of the Christians, but for the advantage of the non-Christians. Thus, BCE is the notation used for the sake of the non-Christians, or for people who do not know who Christ is. Thus, 100 BC is nothing but 100 BCE for the non-Christian. Mostly academic writers as well as authors and writers who wish not to have a religious affiliation to their writing use BCE. They say that by doing so they are respecting non-Christians. That is an admirable fact.
However, there are those who do not agree with creating a new form as BCE without using BC. Their argument is that if people are using BCE to be sensitive about non-Christians, then how are they planning to be sensitive about other facts regarding the western calendar? This is based on the fact that western calendar is influenced by a lot of religious beliefs. For example, if you take the month of January, the name January was inspired by the name Janus. Janus is a Roman god. So, again here is a reference to another religion.
What is the difference between BC and BCE?
• Expanded Forms of BC and BCE:
• BC can be expanded as Before Christ.
• BCE can be expanded as Before Common Era.
This is the main difference between the two dating systems, namely, BC and BCE.
• For Whom:
• Since BC is a reference made with the birth of Christ, BC is for Christians.
• Since BCE does not have any religious references, it is for non-Christians.
• Different Arguments:
• Some say using BCE instead of BC is good because that shows the authors are respecting non-Christians.
• Some say it is not useful because most of the western calendar is influenced by a number of different religions. So, changing just one does not make much of a difference.
These are the differences between BC and BCE. Using both BC and BCE is not wrong. However, just like people using differently-abled as the politically correct term for disabled people and saying homemaker instead of housewife, using BCE is accepted as the politically correct method. There are those who support the use of BCE as a good step and there are those who do not. Finally, it actually boils down to how you would like to approach your readers. So, think about that before using either of the terms, BC or BCE.
- Eastern Hemisphere at the beginning of the 1st century BC by Thomas Lessman (CC BY-SA 3.0)
- Maurya Empire at the age of Ashoka by Vastu (CC BY-SA 3.0)