Measures of Time
CE stands for “Common Era.” AD is an abbreviation for “Anno Domini” in Latin or “the year of the Lord” in English. Both measure the number of years since the approximate birthday of Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) a little over two millennia ago.
CE and AD have the same value. That is 1 CE = 1 AD, and 2011 CE = 2011 AD. The word “common” simply means that it is based on the most frequently used calendar system: the Gregorian Calendar.
BCE stands for “Before the common era.” BC means “Before Christ,” or “Before the Messiah.” Both measure the number of years before the approximate birthday of Yeshua/Jesus. A year in BC and BCE also have identical values.
Although many people believe that Yeshua/Jesus was born at the end of 1 BCE, most theologians and religious historians estimate that he was born in the fall of a year, sometime between 7 and 4 BCE. However, we have seen estimates as late as 4 CE and as early as the second century BCE.
Of course, one has the option of interpreting the letter “C” in CE and BCE as referring to “Christian” or “Christ’s” The Abbreviations Dictionary does exactly this. The “C” has also been interpreted as “Current.”