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Topic: BCE, Meaning & Usage

Viviane Prager wrote:

Dear Rabbi:

I would like to know why we say "before the Common Era" and "Common Era" (BCE and CE). I mean, why do we call it "common?" Some Jews object to it on grounds that the "C" in CE could be misconstrued as standing for "Christ." I would very much appreciate if you could help me answer their objections. Thanks for your wonderful work.

Dear Viviane Prager,

When I was a school boy I thought that CE stood for "The Common Error."

Now, 25 years and a number of common errors later, I assume that Common Era simply means "the date commonly accepted and used." But the truth is that I don't know, so I asked your question to a professor of European history. He didn't know either.

Is there a reader out there with more insight into this? Write to [email protected]

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