Answers to "Ask Mike" Questions
14. I have read that over the years the calendar has been changed and now we are really in the year 2004 not 2000. Is that true?
Dating is a human invention. In the distant past, empires dated in various ways. As in the Old Testament, you will often see dating related to the rise and fall of empires or monarchs. As Christianity grew and spread, more and more nations and leaders began dating by relating to the birth of Christ. Until recently, historians dated using the terms Anno Domini (AD, or "the year of our Lord) or "Before Christ" (BC). Now the popular terms are ACE (According to the Common Era, which still dates from Christ) or BCE (Before the Common Era).
For most of western history (Europe and the western hemisphere), dating during and following the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was based on the "Julian Calendar." The Julian Calendar dated back to Julius Caesar. Christians took that calendar and adjusted it to date from the birth of Christ. Pope Gregory, who subjected the calendar to close scrutiny, found some discrepancies in dating. Those discrepancies amounted to about four years. Scholars attempting to pinpoint the birth of Jesus must relate the biblical testimony to other historical data. For example, since Herod the Great was King of Judea at the time of Jesus' birth, how does this fit into a reconstructed time table? Luke tells us Jesus birth occurred at a time when Augustus ordered a census and Quirinius was governor in Syria. We now know that all these "peg dates" put the birth of Jesus, according to present dating, around 4 BC.
So what year are we in today? It is the year 2000. It can be no other way, for we have no other widely agreed upon standard. Even now, Asian countries date differently than western nations although they use the western dating for business, diplomacy, and communication. While we are relatively sure that Jesus was born prior to AD 2000, we can't be sure exactly when he was born. The Bible is ambiguous on this point. Was Jesus two-years-old when Herod ordered the "slaughter of the innocents" or did Herod order the murder of infants up to age two just to be certain the threat was handled? We do not know.
I spent a lot of time laughing at those who worried about the dire threats of so many as we approached AD 2000. While there was a genuine concern over the "millennium bug", those who related it to "end time" issues were misguided at best and liars at worst.
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