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Diocletian's attempt to exterminate the believers failed, and Christianity even became the favored religion less than 15 years later under Emperor Constantine.Still, it must have been troubling to many believers to utilize dates based upon Diocletian’s reign.He then designated the following year (754 AUC) as 1 AD.There was no year zero, so the period from January of 2 BC to January of 2 AD is only three years instead of four.We observe from the account of Herod and the Magi in Matthew chapter 2 that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Egypt after his birth to avoid Herod’s attempt to kill the child.This lets us know that Jesus was born while Herod was still alive.The absence of a year zero is also why the 21st century actually began on January 1, 2001 instead of in 2000 as many people supposed.It is unclear whether Dionysius included the negative “BC” years in his system or if they were added by Bede in the eight century (see next chapter).
At the time, some calendars were dated by the aforementioned AUC system (based on the founding of Rome), but in the most commonly used system, calendar years were dated from the first year of the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian (284 AD) who ushered in the bloodiest persecution of Christians (~303-311 AD) ever sanctioned by the empire.
Despite his abandonment of the old dating system, Dionysius established a correlation with the Diocletian years for those who continued to use the old system (the (AD).
It was later discovered that Dionysius was slightly off regarding his calculation of the year of the Incarnation.
After all, dating an ancient event within its original calendar dating system would mean nothing without at least a common point of reference to our modern dating system.
We now examine the , including how and why it come about.