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Correspondence: Calendars

June 18, 2012

Dear Dr. Aardsma,

One of the questions I have been pondering is how the years were dated before BC/BCE? The scholars and scribes must have dated their correspondence long before BC was thought about. At what point in time did the years start? After the Flood? When did the dates BC and AD start? I appreciate any input you can give on this.

Thank you,
Jo

Dear Jo,

Time is always measured relative to a chosen marker event. Our present way of reckoning time uses the birth of Jesus Christ as the marker event. B.C. (Before Christ) means years before Christ's birth. A.D. (from the latin anno Domini meaning "in the year of the Lord") means years after Christ's birth. In his narrative of the Flood, Noah reckons time by his own birth (e.g., Genesis 7:11). Elsewhere in the Old Testament you will find kings reckoning time by their ascension to the throne (e.g., 1 Kings 6:1).

You can learn more about this by reading about the general topic of calendar systems on-line or in an encyclopedia.

Trust this helps.

Sincerely,
Dr. Aardsma

 
 
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