I plan to visit the exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the grandiose Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia before it leaves in mid-October. But a friend who has been already gave me a heads up: The dates are all in C.E. (Common Era) and B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) notation, rather than A.D. and B.C. I have observed this little switcheroo creeping in here and there over the years, as stealthily as the re-sizing of women’s dresses to make us feel better about our bodies.
I’m guessing the ones who feel better about the date re-labeling are the same people who feel good about removing God’s name from money and political platforms. The most visible uses of Common Era notation are in museums, like the Franklin Institute and the Smithsonian Institution. Usage is also increasing in textbooks, so do not be surprised if someday your child comes across an old (2012) high school biology book and asks you, “Dad, what does A.D. mean?”
Nevertheless, the fascinating thing to me is how long the B.C./A.D. method of dating has endured in civilization. Against all attempts to snuff out Christ, no one has been able so far to eliminate our daily brushes with the fact that Jesus’ birth is the fulcrum of all history. And even if they succeed with the B.C.E./C.E. nonsense, the numeral date itself is the same and still refers back to Jesus’ life. So there will always be an astute student in the class who will ask, “Teacher, what happened 2,025 years ago that made us date our calendars around it?”