Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Secular Calendar

So my copy of Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History arrived yesterday. I'm excited to start reading it--it's part of the syllabus I've been molding for myself this summer, to go along with my research into the history of the Middle East and Abrahamic Religions.

I haven't started reading it yet, though. I'm posting to note something that surprised and pleased me: I turned to the inside-cover of the back of the book, to read some preliminary information about the author and the contents of the book, and to my surprise, all the dates involved were listed not in AD or BC but...ACE and BCE!

It might seem like a minor orthographical change, but it is in effect a deliberate choice to use neutral, secular terminology instead of potentially loaded traditional terminology. Not that AD and BC have that much meaning attached to them anymore--they are, after all, colloquial and pragmatic more than anything. But using ACE and BCE is a simple sign of professionalism, and a signal to me that the book's author, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, has got a head on his shoulders (only confirming what I essentially already knew).

update: I have since found out that this tradition was started by Jewish scholars, to contest the Christian use of AD and BC. Luckily, Jews have a long tradition of respecting Secularism so it works out anyway, eh?

~parkbench (May 20, 2008, ACE)

No comments: