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Is the Star of Bethlehem a Myth or Actual Astrological Event?

The birth of Christ foretold in scripture-- written in the stars. Countdown to Christmas: 10 Weeks

by
Rhonda Robinson

Bio

October 19, 2013 - 4:00 pm
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StarOfBethl

 

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Matthew 2-11

In my series on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesusthe author explains that one of the primary reasons Jews refuse to accept Jesus of Nazareth as the promised messiah, was his failed attempt at liberating his people from the oppression of the Roman Empire.

However, in ancient times, not everyone used Boteach’s litmus test.

Some looked for the sign of the coming messiah in the stars. The story goes that three “wise men” came from the east bringing gifts, following a star to worship a new king. And so it goes, the rich historical account of the birth of Christ is watered down to a manger scene, reenacted every year by Sunday school children and illuminated in plastic on lawns everywhere.

But what if we read the book of Matthew as an accurate historical document? What, if anything, actually happened on December 25th?

Using Matthew as his guide, indisputable historical facts and today’s technology, one man did just that– what he found will astound you.

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All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
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Howdy Ms Robinson
I'm afraid I'm about to add to the dogpile.
The setting of the story of the Nativity points toward a birth in Spring more likely than in December, let alone Dec. 25th. In fact the day of Jesus' birth is not given in the gospels at all. But the shepherds were tending their flocks by night, something that historians have linked to lambing in the Spring rather than a winter activity.
The actual year of the event is also fuzzy at best. That makes it much harder to link to an astronomical event.
The general historical record of Jesus is actually a difficult issue in Christian history. My understanding is that there's virtually no documentation from the time period, independent of the gospels that were written in the next couple of centuries, to verify Jesus' lif. Paul apparently does have documentation in Roman history, although I could be wrong about that as well.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
This documentary has been around for several years now, but it doesn't stand up well to criticism. Much of it is based on bad research and speculations where facts indicate the opposite. http://gilgamesh42.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/the-star-of-bethlehem-documentary-a-critiical-view-index/

If you are interested in seeing all of the naturalistic theories of the Star of Bethlehem critically examined, check out the book The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View.
https://www.facebook.com/SoBskepticbook
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm skeptical of Mr. Larson's conclusions for two reasons; one a matter of fact, one a matter of principle.

1. As to facts, Mr. Larson has proven he is not careful about details, and not a careful student of Scripture. For example, from his website, "We can deduce an important clue from the gospel records: Jesus must have died in a year when the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan fell on a Friday…"

This is a very popular blunder, but not one that any careful researcher should be making. It comes from the assumption that Sabbath equals Saturday. It does not. Every Saturday is A Sabbath day, but there are many Sabbath days that do NOT fall on a Saturday. Check the 2013 Jewish holiday calendar for many examples. This year, Passover started on MONDAY and went to TUESDAY.

http://www.chabad.org/holidays/default_cdo/year/2013/jewish/2013-Holidays.htm

The Passover and other holidays were Sabbath days regardless of the day of the week on which they fell.

This is pretty basic stuff, yet Mr. Larson gets it completely wrong.

2. As to principle, it's very human to try to find naturalistic explanations for miracles in the Bible. It's human, but it's not faith. God doesn't need volcanic eruptions in the Mediterranean Sea to make the waters of the Red Sea retreat and allow the Israelites to escape from Pharaoh. He doesn't need a freak storm to drop quail on those same Israelites. He doesn't need a distant volcano to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. And on and on and on.

Nor does he need an alignment of stars or a supernova to set a beacon over Bethlehem. Trying to fit miracles into natural events is the opposite of faith.

Now, could Mr. Larson be right about this? Could God have used this method? Certainly. He can do as He pleases.

But don't pin your hopes on Mr. Larson. If this not-very-careful-researcher is proven wrong, where will your "faith" be then?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm with you Mark. I don't pin my hopes on anything but faith.

However, I do the fact that the God that created the universe can use a donkey, or a even hapless lawyer to get His point across.

43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Ms Robinson
I also completely believe that God can use anything that suits God's purpose. It's a long way from being sure God could do something -- like light up a star and park it as He needed -- to being sure God DID do such a thing. God could guide Magi without a star, after all.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The magi, he believes were scholarly decedents of Daniel."

No, I'm pretty sure they were still alive when they made their trip to Jerusalem.


Spell checkers are fickle servants. ;-)
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
AHH! Hate That. :-/
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hee hee! Gotcha! :D

It's a funny line the way it is, anyway.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah sure, and no one had noticed Jupiter before that.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Prov 18:13 The one who gives an answer before he listens — this is foolishness and disgrace for him.


Knee jerk? Or did you hear the man out?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whatever it's origin, planetary and stellar objects flaring and the fading away are not an unknown.

(I own Starry Night, btw)
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I prefer the open-source program Stellarium to the commercial "Starry Night". You can download it from http://www.stellarium.org.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the title, 'astronomical' would be the correct term to use. 'Astrological' still means 'of or related to astrology'.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course you're right Allstonian-- an Archie Bunker moment.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, she means astrological. Portents of dragons in the sky, a figure of a woman crowned with 12 stars...
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
It stopped. Hmmm... retrograde motion? I'll watch and see if my guess is right.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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