What Is the Difference Between AD, BC, BCE, and CE in Identifying Historical Dates

When one looks up the historical dates in the various literary sources of the present times, the tendency to get confused between the terms BC/BCE and AD/CE is very high. This can lead to ambiguities in interpretation of historical events and cause problems in memorizing dates. It is to be understood that BC and BCE are two different notations used to refer to dates. Practically, the terms 100 BC and 100 BCE both refer to the same point on the timeline. While BC stands for Before Christ, BCE stands for Before Common Era. The historians of the olden times were of the Christian origin and they found it very convenient to make use of the birth of Jesus Christ as the significant point on the timeline that would help them categorize the various historical events into two parts, namely the ones that took place Before Christ and the ones that occurred after his period.


It is to be noted here that AD stands for Anno Domini. The false notion in the minds of people that AD stands for After Death needs to be gotten rid of. However, AD and CE systems too point to the same date.  CE stands for Common Era. The use of BC/AD system was widely in practice till the recent times and it is only off late that stress has been laid on the use of BCE/CE system. The reason for this can be given as the more secular nature that the historians wish to bring about the whole process of explaining the events that took place in the world. This change can be seen in the new literature that makes use of the terms BCE/CE more commonly.


There is opposition to the suspension of the old BC/AD system, as some experts are of the opinion that this kind of abrupt change to BCE/CE system could lead to confusion among students of history. On the other hand, some historians feel that avoiding the old method and using the new secular system, would play a major role in bridging the gaps between various world religions and cultures. The use of the new system is in its beginning stage and might take a considerable amount of time, before it is globally accepted. However, the students of history need to ensure that they avoid confusion of any kind as they study about the historical events, by making sure to use a single system throughout their research. Making use of both BC/AD and BCE/CE system can lead to a problem in memorizing dates, thereby, creating misinterpretation of historical events.