5.0292 Responses: BCE/CE; Trees (2/42)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 26 Aug 1991 18:58:28 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0292. Monday, 26 Aug 1991.

(1) Date: Sat, 24 Aug 91 21:11 EST (24 lines)
From: KROVETZ@cs.umass.EDU
Subject: BCE/CE

(2) Date: Sat, 24 Aug 91 18:27:26 EDT (18 lines)
From: Robert O'Hara <MNHVZ028@SIVM>
Subject: Trees and ideology

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sat, 24 Aug 91 21:11 EST
From: KROVETZ@cs.umass.EDU
Subject: BCE/CE

James Marchand mentions that he suspects the notation BCE/CE arose
as an attempt to provide a neutral form for dates. I think this is
probably true, but that doesn't imply there was any desire that it
be adopted by Christians. I think it probably was developed by Jewish
writers as a way for Jews to express dates without reference to
Christianity. Is there any evidence that it was intended to be used
by non-Jewish writers? As far as it's interpretation, I had always
heard of it as "[Before] Common Era"; the interpretation "[Before]
Christian Era" might be folk-etymology.

I also don't see any anti-Christian bias in the notation. I think
it's more a desire to avoid *pro*-Christian bias.


(2) --------------------------------------------------------------22----
Date: Sat, 24 Aug 91 18:27:26 EDT
From: Robert O'Hara <MNHVZ028@SIVM>
Subject: Trees and ideology

A further observation on the tree metaphor in stemmatics, systematics,
and linguistics: In evolutionary biology, the tree metaphor has often
(though not always) been linked to some notion of evolutionary progress,
and evolutionary trees have traditionally been drawn extending up to a crown
of some kind, occupied by us. This stands in interesting contrast to
the use of the tree metaphor in stemmatics, where the downward-pointing
trees are used to represent the "decay" of an archetypal text. Can any
of the linguists here tell us whether (historically speaking) trees of
language relationships have had either of these notions - progress or decay -
attached to them? If so, have such notions been commonly accepted, or
have they been look at askance?

Bob O'Hara, MNHVZ028@SIVM.bitnet
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution