Modern Calendar New Year
The origins of the calendar which we use today are often credited to the Scythian monk Dionysius Exiguus, who lived in the middle of the 6th century, however this is inaccurate. Exiguus was concerned, as were other theological scholars of his day, with the correct date of Easter. Also, in his day, years were often cited as A.D., meaning after the emperor Diocletian.
Dionysius desired to change this fact, as Diocletian was a notorious persecutor of Christians during his rule from 284 to 305 CE. In his calculations, he also explored a determination of the date for the birth of Christ. He placed this date, probably wrongly, as the eighth day before the Calends (first day of the Roman month) of January in the year 753 - that is, 753 years after the founding of Rome.
Hence the Calends of January in 754 became the first day of A.D. 1. He called the years following Christ’s presumed birth years “of the Lord”, which became Anno Domini or A.D., and the years preceding Ante Christum or A.C.
The term B.C. is usually credited to Saint Bede, an English monk, who in 731, used it in The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. So Exiguus had little or nothing to do with reforming the mechanics of the calendar per se, rather, he is partly responsible for the system of how we number our years.
While no one person can be credited with devising the calendar, the system which we use today most resemble that devised by the 1st Cen. BCE Greek scholar Sosigenes, as the Gregorian and Christian reforms were arguably minor in comparison to his work.
The majority of scholars today no longer use the terms A.D. or B.C., instead using the terms BCE and CE, which mean Before Common Era, (some say “Current Era”) and Common Era, respectively. This is done in order to use objective, non-denominational terms.
So, the bottom line is, we really don’t know what year it is. The earth has made it’s annual trek around the sun more times than we can guess. The presumed age of the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years. Your guess is as good as anyone’s as to what year it really is. So Happy New Year Number 4,500,000,000+!
Just a thought …
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.