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Anno Domini

Anno Domini

Overview
and Before Christ (abbreviated as BC or B.C.) are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 and Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

s.
This calendar era
Calendar era
A calendar era is the year numbering system used by a calendar. For example, the Gregorian calendar numbers its years in the Western Christian era . The instant, date, or year from which time is marked is called the epoch of the era...

 is based on the traditionally reckoned year of the conception
Annunciation
The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary, that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her...

 or birth
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

 of Jesus of Nazareth, with AD counting years after the start of this epoch
Epoch (reference date)
In the fields of chronology and periodization, an epoch is an instance in time chosen as the origin of a particular era. The "epoch" then serves as a reference point from which time is measured...

, and BC denoting years before the start of the epoch.
Alternatively, the secular abbreviations CE and BCE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

 are used, respectively.
There is no year zero
Year zero
"Year zero" does not exist in the widely used Gregorian calendar or in its predecessor, the Julian calendar. Under those systems, the year 1 BC is followed by AD 1...

 in this scheme, so the year AD 1 immediately follows the year 1 BC.
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Encyclopedia
and Before Christ (abbreviated as BC or B.C.) are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 and Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

s.
This calendar era
Calendar era
A calendar era is the year numbering system used by a calendar. For example, the Gregorian calendar numbers its years in the Western Christian era . The instant, date, or year from which time is marked is called the epoch of the era...

 is based on the traditionally reckoned year of the conception
Annunciation
The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary, that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her...

 or birth
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

 of Jesus of Nazareth, with AD counting years after the start of this epoch
Epoch (reference date)
In the fields of chronology and periodization, an epoch is an instance in time chosen as the origin of a particular era. The "epoch" then serves as a reference point from which time is measured...

, and BC denoting years before the start of the epoch.
Alternatively, the secular abbreviations CE and BCE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

 are used, respectively.
There is no year zero
Year zero
"Year zero" does not exist in the widely used Gregorian calendar or in its predecessor, the Julian calendar. Under those systems, the year 1 BC is followed by AD 1...

 in this scheme, so the year AD 1 immediately follows the year 1 BC. This dating system was devised in 525, but was not widely used until after 800.

The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world today. For decades, it has been the unofficial global standard, adopted for pragmatic interests of international communication, transportation and commercial integration and recognized by international institutions such as the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and the Universal Postal Union
Universal Postal Union
The Universal Postal Union is an international organization that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system. The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration , the Postal Operations Council and the...

.

The term Anno Domini is Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. Despite the clerical origin of many of its authors,...

, translated as In the year of the Lord,
and as in the year of our Lord.
It is sometimes specified more fully as Anno Domini Nostri Iesu (Jesu) Christi ("In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ").

Traditionally, English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

  has copied Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 usage by placing the abbreviation before the year number for AD.
Since BC is not derived from Latin it is placed after the year number (for example: AD , but 68 BC). However, placing the AD after the year number (as in " AD") is also becoming common usage. The abbreviation is also widely used after the number of a century
Century
A century is one hundred consecutive years. Centuries are numbered ordinally in English and many other languages .-Start and end in the Gregorian Calendar:...

 or millennium
Millennium
A millennium is a period of time equal to one thousand years —from the Latin phrase , thousand, and , year—often but not necessarily related numerically to a particular dating system....

, as in "fourth century AD" or "second millennium AD" (although conservative usage formerly rejected such expressions). Because BC is the English abbreviation for Before Christ, it is sometimes incorrectly concluded that AD means After Death, i.e., after the death of Jesus. If that were true, the thirty-three or so years of his life would not be in any era.

History


The Anno Domini dating system was devised in 525 by Dionysius Exiguus
Dionysius Exiguus
Dionysius Exiguus was a 6th-century monk born in Scythia Minor, modern Dobruja shared by Romania and Bulgaria. He was a member of the Scythian monks community concentrated in Tomis, the major city of Scythia Minor...

  to enumerate the years in his Easter table
Dionysius Exiguus' Easter table
Dionysius Exiguus's Easter table was constructed in the year 525 by Dionysius Exiguus for the years 532–626. He obtained it from an Easter table attributed to Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria for the years 437–531. The latter was constructed around the year 440 by means of extrapolation from an...

.
His system was to replace the Diocletian era
Era of Martyrs
The Era of the Martyrs , also known as the Diocletian era , is a method of numbering years used by the Church of Alexandria beginning in the 4th century anno Domini and by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the 5th century to the present. Western Christians were aware of it but did not...

 that had been used in an old Easter table because he did not wish to continue the memory of a tyrant who persecuted Christians. The last year of the old table, Diocletian 247, was immediately followed by the first year of his table, AD 532. When he devised his table, Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 years were identified by naming the consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

s who held office that year—he himself stated that the "present year" was "the consulship of Probus Junior
Flavius Anicius Probus Iunior
Flavius Anicius Probus Iunior was a Roman Consul in 525. He was the son of Flavius Anicius Olybrius , c.p. 476/83, PPo It. 503, paternal grandson of Flavius Anicius Probus and great-grandson of Flavius Anicius Probus , Praetor in 424 and v. ill. in 459, and wife Adelphia Flavius Anicius...

", which was 525 years "since the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ". Thus Dionysius implied that Jesus' Incarnation occurred 525 years earlier, without stating the specific year during which his birth or conception occurred.
"However, nowhere in his exposition of his table does Dionysius relate his epoch to any other dating system, whether consulate, Olympiad, year of the world, or regnal year of Augustus; much less does he explain or justify the underlying date."


Blackburn & Holford-Strevens briefly present arguments for 2 BC, 1 BC, or AD 1 as the year Dionysius intended for the Nativity
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

 or Incarnation
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

. Among the sources of confusion are:
  • In modern times Incarnation is synonymous with the conception, but some ancient writers, such as Bede
    Bede
    Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

    , considered Incarnation to be synonymous with the Nativity
  • The civil, or consular year began on 1 January but the Diocletian year began on 29 August
  • There were inaccuracies in the list of consuls
  • There were confused summations of emperors' regnal years

Popularization


The Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 historian the Venerable Bede, who was familiar with the work of Dionysius Exiguus, used Anno Domini dating in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, finished in 731. In this same history he also used another Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 term, "ante vero incarnationis dominicae tempus" ("the time before the Lord's true incarnation"), equivalent to the English "before Christ", to identify years before the first year of this era,
thus establishing the standard of not using a year zero
Year zero
"Year zero" does not exist in the widely used Gregorian calendar or in its predecessor, the Julian calendar. Under those systems, the year 1 BC is followed by AD 1...

, even though he used zero in his computus
Computus
Computus is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was one of the most important computations of the age....

. Both Dionysius and Bede regarded Anno Domini as beginning at the incarnation of Jesus, but "the distinction between Incarnation and Nativity was not drawn until the late 9th century, when in some places the Incarnation epoch was identified with Christ's conception, i.e., the Annunciation on March 25" (Annunciation style).

On the continent of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Anno Domini was introduced as the era of choice of the Carolingian Renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

 by Alcuin
Alcuin
Alcuin of York or Ealhwine, nicknamed Albinus or Flaccus was an English scholar, ecclesiastic, poet and teacher from York, Northumbria. He was born around 735 and became the student of Archbishop Ecgbert at York...

. Its endorsement by Emperor Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 and his successors popularizing the usage of the epoch and spreading it throughout the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

 ultimately lies at the core of the system's prevalence. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

, pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

s continued to date documents according to regnal years for some time, but usage of AD gradually became more common in Roman Catholic countries from the 11th to the 14th centuries. In 1422, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 became the last Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

an country to switch to
Spanish era
The Spanish era, Hispanic era or Caesar era refers to the dating system used in Hispania until the 14th century, when the Anno Domini system was adopted. It began with year one in what is 38 BC, probably the date of a new tax imposed by the Roman Republic on the subdued population of Iberia....

 the system begun by Dionysius.
Eastern Orthodox countries only began to adopt AD instead of the Byzantine calendar
Byzantine calendar
The Byzantine calendar, also "Creation Era of Constantinople," or "Era of the World" was the calendar used by the Eastern Orthodox Church from c. 691 to 1728 in the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It was also the official calendar of the Byzantine Empire from 988 to 1453, and in Russia from c...

 in 1700 when Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 did so, with others adopting it in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Even though Anno Domini was in widespread use by the 9th century, Before Christ (or its equivalent) did not become common until much later. Bede used the expression "anno igitur ante incarnationem Dominicam" (before the Incarnation of the Lord) twice. "Anno an xpi nativitate" (before the birth of Christ) is found in 1474 in a work by a German monk. In 1627, the French Jesuit theologian Denis Pétau
Denis Pétau
Denis Pétau , also known as Dionysius Petavius, was a French Jesuit theologian.-Life:Pétau was born at Orléans where he had his initial education; he then attended the University of Paris, where he successfully defended his theses for the degree of Master of Arts, not in Latin, but in Greek...

 (Dionysius Petavius in Latin), with his work De doctrina temporum, popularized the usage ante Christum (Latin for "Before Christ") to mark years prior to AD.

Change of year


When the reckoning from Jesus' incarnation started replacing the previous dating systems in western Europe, different people chose different Christian feast days to begin the year: Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

, Annunciation
Annunciation
The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary, that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her...

, or Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

. Thus, depending on the time and place, year number changed on different days, which created slightly different styles in chronology:
  • from 25 March 753 AUC
    Ab urbe condita
    Ab urbe condita is Latin for "from the founding of the City ", traditionally set in 753 BC. AUC is a year-numbering system used by some ancient Roman historians to identify particular Roman years...

     (today in 1 BC
    1 BC
    Year 1 BC was a common year starting on Friday or Saturday of the Julian calendar and a leap year starting on Thursday of the Proleptic Julian calendar...

    ), i.e. from the incarnation of Jesus. That first "Annunciation style" appeared in Arles
    Arles
    Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

     at the end of the 9th century then spread to Burgundy and northern Italy. It was not commonly used and was called "calculus pisanus" since it was adopted in Pisa
    Pisa
    Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...

     and survived there till 1750.
  • from 25 December 753 AUC (today in 1 BC), i.e. from the birth of Jesus. It was called "Nativity style" and had been spread by the Venerable Bede
    Bede
    Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

     together with the Anno Domini in the early Middle Ages. That reckoning of the year of Grace from Christmas was used in France, England and most of western Europe (except Spain) till the 12th century (when it was replaced by Annunciation style), and in Germany till the second quarter of the 13th century.
  • from 25 March 754 AUC (today in AD 1). That second "Annunciation style" may have originated in Fleury Abbey
    Fleury Abbey
    Fleury Abbey in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, Loiret, France, founded about 640, is one of the most celebrated Benedictine monasteries of Western Europe, which posseses the relics of St. Benedict of Nursia. Its site on the banks of the Loire has always made it easily accessible from Orléans, a center of...

     in the early 11th century but it was spread by the Cistercians. Florence
    Florence
    Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

     adopted that style in opposition to the one of Pisa, so it got the name of "calculus florentinus". It soon spread in France and also in England where it became common in the late 12th century and lasted until 1751.
  • from Easter, starting in 754 AUC (AD 1). That "mos gallicanus" bound to a movable feast was introduced in France by king Philip Augustus
    Philip II of France
    Philip II Augustus was the King of France from 1180 until his death. A member of the House of Capet, Philip Augustus was born at Gonesse in the Val-d'Oise, the son of Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne...

     (1165–1180–1223), maybe to establish a new style in the provinces reconquered over England. However, it never spread beyond the ruling élite.

With these various styles, the same day could, in some cases, be dated in 1099, 1100 or 1101. The Annunciation style also caused a major problem: in some years, there was no Easter, and in other years, that feast was celebrated twice; for example, Easter occurred on 23 March 1504 (i.e. in 1505 for us) and on 12 April 1506, but not in 1505.

Historical birth date of Jesus

See also: Nativity of Jesus and Chronology of Jesus


According to Doggett, "Although scholars generally believe that Christ was born some years before AD 1, the historical evidence is too sketchy to allow a definitive dating". According to Matthew 2:1
Matthew 2:1
Matthew 2:1 is the first verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The previous verse ended with Jesus being named by his father, this verse marks the clear start of a new narrative. This verse deals with the arrival of the Magi at the court of Herod the Great in...

 King Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 was alive when Jesus was born
Chronology of Jesus
The chronology of Jesus aims to establish a historical order for some of the events of the life of Jesus in the four canonical gospels. The Christian gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than historical chronicles and their authors showed little interest in an absolute...

, and Matthew 2:16
Matthew 2:16
Matthew 2:16 is the sixteenth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament.Joseph and Mary had been visited by an angel and told that Herod would attempt to kill Jesus, their son. Doing as told, they took their infant son and fled by night into Egypt, where they stayed...

, says Herod ordered the Massacre of the Innocents
Massacre of the Innocents
The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great. According to the Gospel of Matthew Herod orders the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth...

 in response to Jesus' birth. Blackburn and Holford-Strevens fix King Herod's death shortly before Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 in 4 BC, and say that those who accept the story of the Massacre of the Innocents sometimes associate the star that led the Biblical Magi
Biblical Magi
The Magi Greek: μάγοι, magoi), also referred to as the Wise Men, Kings, Astrologers, or Kings from the East, were a group of distinguished foreigners who were said to have visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh...

 with the planetary conjunction
Conjunction (astronomy)
Conjunction is a term used in positional astronomy and astrology. It means that, as seen from some place , two celestial bodies appear near one another in the sky...

 of 15 September 7 BC or Halley's comet
Comet Halley
Halley's Comet or Comet Halley is the best-known of the short-period comets, and is visible from Earth every 75 to 76 years. Halley is the only short-period comet that is clearly visible to the naked eye from Earth, and thus the only naked-eye comet that might appear twice in a human lifetime...

 of 12 BC (less likely since comets were usually considered bad omens); even historians who do not accept the Massacre accept the birth under Herod as a tradition older than the written gospels.

The Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

 states that Jesus was conceived during the reign of Herod the Great (i.e., before 4 BC) while also stating that Jesus was born when Cyrenius
Quirinius
Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was a Roman aristocrat. After the banishment of the ethnarch Herod Archelaus from the tetrarchy of Judea in AD 6, Quirinius was appointed legate governor of Syria, to which the province of Iudaea had been added for the purpose of a census.-Life:Born in the neighborhood...

 (or Quirinius) was the governor of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and carried out the census
Census of Quirinius
The Census of Quirinius refers to the enrollment of the Roman Provinces of Syria and Iudaea for tax purposes taken in the year 6/7 during the reign of Emperor Augustus , when Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria, after the banishment of Herod Archelaus from the Tetrarchy of...

 of the Roman provinces of Syria and Iudaea. The Jewish historian Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

, in his Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

(ca. AD 93), indicates that Cyrenius/Quirinius' governorship of Syria began in AD 6, and that the census occurred sometime between AD 6—7,
which is incompatible with a conception prior to 4 BC. On this point, Blackburn and Holford-Strevens state that "St. Luke raises greater difficulty ... Most critics therefore discard Luke".

The Gospel of Luke also states that Jesus was "about thirty years old" during the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar . Tiberius began to reign with his father, Augustus, in AD 12. The 15th year of his reign would then be 26 or 27 AD, placing Jesus' birth about 5 or 4 BC (because there is no year 0). Some scholars rely on John 8:57: "thou are not yet fifty years old", making the earliest possible year for Jesus's birth c. 18 BC.

Other eras



During the first six centuries of what would come to be known as the Christian era, European countries used various systems to count years. Systems in use included consular dating, imperial regnal year
Regnal year
A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign, from the Latin regnum meaning kingdom, rule.The oldest dating systems were in regnal years, and considered the date as an ordinal, not a cardinal number. For example, a monarch could have a first year of rule, a second year of rule, a third, and...

 dating, and Creation dating
Anno Mundi
' , abbreviated as AM or A.M., refers to a Calendar era based on the Biblical creation of the world. Numerous efforts have been made to determine the Biblical date of Creation, yielding varying results. Besides differences in interpretation, which version of the Bible is being referenced also...

.

Although the last non-imperial consul, Basilius
Anicius Faustus Albinus Basilius
Anicius Faustus Albinus Basilius was a high official of the Eastern Roman Empire and the last consul of Roman history, holding the office in 541.- Biography :...

, was appointed in 541 by Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

, later emperors through Constans II
Constans II
Constans II , also called Constantine the Bearded , was Byzantine emperor from 641 to 668. He also was the last emperor to become consul in 642, becoming the last Roman consul in history....

 (641–668) were appointed consuls on the first 1 January after their accession. All of these emperors, except Justinian, used imperial post-consular years for all of the years of their reign alongside their regnal years. Long unused, this practice was not formally abolished until Novell XCIV of the law code of Leo VI
Leo VI the Wise
Leo VI, surnamed the Wise or the Philosopher , was Byzantine emperor from 886 to 912. The second ruler of the Macedonian dynasty , he was very well-read, leading to his surname...

 did so in 888.

Another calculation had been developed by the Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

n monk Annianus
Annianus of Alexandria
Annianus of Alexandria or Annianos was a monk who flourished in Alexandria during the bishopric of Theophilus of Alexandria around the beginning of the fifth century...

 around the year AD 400, placing the Annunciation on 25 March AD 9 (Julian)—eight to ten years after the date that Dionysius was to imply. Although this Incarnation was popular during the early centuries of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, years numbered from it, an Era of Incarnation, were only used, and are still only used, in Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, accounting for the eight- or seven-year discrepancy between the Gregorian and the Ethiopian calendar
Ethiopian calendar
The Ethiopian calendar , also called the Ge'ez calendar, is the principal calendar used in Ethiopia and also serves as the liturgical calendar for Christians in Eritrea belonging to the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Church and Lutheran Evangelical Church of Eritrea...

s. Byzantine chroniclers like Maximus the Confessor
Maximus the Confessor
Maximus the Confessor was a Christian monk, theologian, and scholar. In his early life, he was a civil servant, and an aide to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius...

, George Syncellus
George Syncellus
George Syncellus was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine as a monk, before coming to Constantinople, where he was appointed syncellus to Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople...

, and Theophanes
Theophanes the Confessor
Saint Theophanes Confessor was a member of the Byzantine aristocracy, who became a monk and chronicler. He is venerated on March 12 in the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Church .-Biography:Theophanes was born in Constantinople of wealthy and noble iconodule parents: Isaac,...

 dated their years from Annianus' creation of the World. This era, called Anno Mundi
Anno Mundi
' , abbreviated as AM or A.M., refers to a Calendar era based on the Biblical creation of the world. Numerous efforts have been made to determine the Biblical date of Creation, yielding varying results. Besides differences in interpretation, which version of the Bible is being referenced also...

, "year of the world" (abbreviated AM), by modern scholars, began its first year on 25 March 5492 BC. Later Byzantine chroniclers used Anno Mundi years from 1 September 5509 BC, the Byzantine Era
Byzantine calendar
The Byzantine calendar, also "Creation Era of Constantinople," or "Era of the World" was the calendar used by the Eastern Orthodox Church from c. 691 to 1728 in the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It was also the official calendar of the Byzantine Empire from 988 to 1453, and in Russia from c...

. No single Anno Mundi epoch was dominant throughout the Christian world. Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 in his Chronicle
Chronicon (Eusebius)
The Chronicon or Chronicle was a work in two books by Eusebius of Caesarea. It seems to have been compiled in the early 4th century. It contained a world chronicle from Abraham until the vicennalia of Constantine I in 325 AD...

 used an era beginning with the birth of Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, dated in 2016 BC (AD 1 = 2017 Anno Abrahami).

Spain and Portugal continued to date by the Era of the Caesars or Spanish Era
Spanish era
The Spanish era, Hispanic era or Caesar era refers to the dating system used in Hispania until the 14th century, when the Anno Domini system was adopted. It began with year one in what is 38 BC, probably the date of a new tax imposed by the Roman Republic on the subdued population of Iberia....

, which began counting from 38 BC, well into the Middle Ages. In 1422, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 became the last Catholic country to adopt the Anno Domini system.

The Era of Martyrs
Era of Martyrs
The Era of the Martyrs , also known as the Diocletian era , is a method of numbering years used by the Church of Alexandria beginning in the 4th century anno Domini and by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the 5th century to the present. Western Christians were aware of it but did not...

, which numbered years from the accession of Diocletian
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

 in 284, who launched the last yet most severe persecution of Christians
Persecution of Christians
Persecution of Christians as a consequence of professing their faith can be traced both historically and in the current era. Early Christians were persecuted for their faith, at the hands of both Jews from whose religion Christianity arose, and the Roman Empire which controlled much of the land...

, was used by the Church of Alexandria, and is still used officially by the Coptic
Coptic Christianity
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name for the largest Christian church in Egypt and the Middle East. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different...

 church. It also used to be used by the Ethiopian
Tewahedo Church
Tewahedo Church may refer to any of the following:* The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church* The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church...

  church. Another system was to date from the crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

 of Jesus Christ, which as early as Hippolytus
Hippolytus (writer)
Hippolytus of Rome was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome, where he was probably born. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235) was the most important 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome,...

 and Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 was believed to have occurred in the consulate of the Gemini (AD 29), which appears in the occasional medieval manuscript.

Common Era



Anno Domini is sometimes referred to as the Common Era, Christian Era, or Current Era (abbreviated as C.E. or CE). CE is often preferred by those who desire a term not explicitly related to Christian conceptions of time. For example, Cunningham and Starr (1998) write that "B.C.E./C.E. …do not presuppose faith in Christ and hence are more appropriate for interfaith dialog
Interfaith dialog
The term interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions and/or spiritual or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional levels...

 than the conventional B.C./A.D." Upon its foundation, the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 adopted the Minguo Era, but used the Western calendar for international purposes. The translated term was 西元 ("Western Era"). Later, in 1949, the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 abandoned the Chinese calendar
Chinese calendar
The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. It is not exclusive to China, but followed by many other Asian cultures as well...

 completely and adopted 公元 (gōngyuán, "Common Era") for all purposes domestic or foreign.

No year zero



In the AD year numbering system, whether applied to the Julian
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 or Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

s, AD 1 is preceded by 1 BC. There is no year "0" between them. Because of this, most experts agree that a new century begins in a year with the last digits being "01" (1801, 1901, 2001); new millennia likewise began in 1001 and 2001. A common misconception is that centuries and millennia begin when the trailing digits are zeroes (1800, 1900, 2000, etc.); moreover, this convention was widely used to celebrate the new millennium in the year 2000. For computational reasons astronomical year numbering
Astronomical year numbering
Astronomical year numbering is based on AD/CE year numbering, but follows normal decimal integer numbering more strictly. Thus, it has a year 0, the years before that are designated with negative numbers and the years after that are designated with positive numbers...

 and the ISO 8601
ISO 8601
ISO 8601 Data elements and interchange formats – Information interchange – Representation of dates and times is an international standard covering the exchange of date and time-related data. It was issued by the International Organization for Standardization and was first published in 1988...

 standard designate years so that AD 1 = year 1, 1 BC = year 0, 2 BC = year −1, etc. In common use, ancient dates are expressed in the Julian calendar, but ISO 8601 uses the Gregorian calendar and astronomers may use a variety of time scales depending on the application. Thus dates using the year 0 or negative years may require further investigation before being converted to BC or AD.

Proposed reforms


The following are proposed reforms
Calendar reform
A calendar reform is any significant revision of a calendar system. The term sometimes is used instead for a proposal to switch to a different calendar.Most calendars have several rules which could be altered by reform:...

 of the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

:
  • Human Era
  • International Fixed Calendar
    International Fixed Calendar
    The International Fixed calendar is a solar calendar proposal for calendar reform designed by Moses B...

     (also called the International Perpetual calendar)
  • World Calendar
    World calendar
    The World Calendar is a proposed reform of the Gregorian calendar created by Elisabeth Achelis of Brooklyn, New York in 1930.-Features:The World Calendar is a 12-month, perennial calendar with equal quarters. It is perennial, or perpetual, because it remains the same every year.Each quarter begins...

  • World Season Calendar
  • Leap week calendar
    Leap week calendar
    A leap week calendar is a calendar system with a whole number of weeks every year, and with every year starting on the same weekday. Most leap week calendars are proposed reforms to the civil calendar, but some - such as the ISO week number calendar - are simply conveniences for specific...

    s
    • Pax Calendar
      Pax Calendar
      The Pax calendar was invented by James A. Colligan in 1930 as a reform of the Gregorian calendar.Unlike other proposals such as the International Fixed Calendar and the World Calendar, it preserves the 7-day week by intercalating a week to a perpetual year of 52 weeks = 364 days.The year is divided...

    • Common-Civil-Calendar-and-Time
      Common-Civil-Calendar-and-Time
      The Common-Civil-Calendar-and-Time Calendar is a proposal for calendar reform. It is one of many examples of leap week calendars, calendars which maintain synchronization with the solar year by intercalating entire weeks rather than single days....

    • Symmetry454
      Symmetry454
      The Symmetry454 Calendar is a proposal for Gregorian calendar reform. It is a perpetual solar calendar that conserves the traditional 7-day week, has symmetrical equal quarters, and starts every month on Monday.-References:...


External links