December 28, 2006

In the new A.D. (ANNO DOMINI, "In the Year of the Lord")

Even though we don't know the exact historical date of the birth of the Lord Jesus, we count the years as if we did.

So in a few days we are going to begin the Year of Our Lord 2007.

The correct use of "A.D." is to place it BEFORE the number of the year, as in: A.D. 2007.

The CORRECT placement thus gives: "in the year of the Lord 2007".

If you do it incorrectly and backwards, as in "2007 A.D." the effect is literally "2007 in the year of the Lord"-- which is nonsense.

By contrast, the use of "B.C." ("Before Christ") requires that you place the "B.C." AFTER the number of the year, as in: 1000 B.C.-- meaning "1000 (years) before Christ."

Since we are theoretically counting the years since the birth of Christ, then why doesn't the year begin with December 25, the day we celebrate his birthday?

After all, the calendar as we've used it for centuries was promulgated by one of the popes.

Here's how I see it.

We designate December 25 as the birthay of Christ.

However, we liturgically celebrate his birthday as an octave-- an observance of eight days.

So, liturgically speaking, the final "moment" of the birthday of Christ is January 1-- and that's when we begin counting the new "Year of the Lord."


Anonymous Phillip said...

Just wondering: why is AD in Latin and BC in English (as opposed to Ante Christum, or whatever the proper Latin would be)?

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Panda Rosa said...

You, if we're going to be picky, this is almost a case for use of "CE" or Common Era as much as A.D. If we, as Christians, want to be correct in counting the years since the birth of Christ, is it a sin (okay a little one) to be off? My son loves telling people that this will "really" be the year A.D. 2011, since He was actually born in "4 BC". Only now I hear it might have "6" or even "9" BC. Will we ever get this straight?
"Common Era" is a cowardly way to cover this.

8:36 PM  
Blogger DimBulb said...


Just a hunch but I suspect BC was the first lame attempt at political correctness.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Actually, I believe that Easter was originally celebrated on March 25th, and there was some kind of belief about Jesus having been conceived on the same day he was resurrected. Thus, he would have been born on December 25th. As for the new year, they were already using the Julian calendar and maybe it was to much of a hassle to redo it. Also, Roman Emperors, not always on our side, may not have liked messing with the calendar.

(I can't remember where I read this, but it had to do with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and why the ring was destroyed on March 25th.)

10:46 AM  

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