Skip to comments.The Magi and the Star
Posted on 12/21/2009 3:31:25 PM PST by NYer
By Michael J. Miller
During a 2007 BBC radio interview, the archbishop of Canterbury deconstructed elements of the Nativity story. Stars simply dont behave like that, Rowan Williams said. Asked about the existence of three wise men, he replied, It works quite well as legend.
But years ago Father Walter Brandmüller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, published an essay applying the historical-critical method to the question of the Nativity story. (The essay is reprinted without cumbersome footnotes in Light and Shadows: Church History Amid Faith, Fact, and Legend [Ignatius].) He found that an unbiased examination of the historical evidence for the Nativity does not undermine, but corroborates, Christian Tradition.
Brandmüller cites the Anglican scholar J.A.T. Robinson, whose 1976 study Redating the New Testament challenged the 19th-century scientific consensus that the Gospels were written after 70 A.D. The late dating conveniently gave Scripture scholars maximum latitude for their speculations. Robinson points out that the Acts of the Apostles (the sequel to Luke) do not mention the deaths of Peter and Paul (circa 67) or the Roman-Judean war, which started in 66. Based on a careful evaluation of both internal and external evidence, he concludes that all four Gospels were written before 70 A.D.
Brandmüller comments: The fact that the Gospels not only are based on eyewitness and hearsay reports but also were written for contemporaries made it impossible to include fictional accounts, which could have been exposed at any time as untrue by contemporaries who were still living.
He then presents the documentary and monumental evidence for the census of Caesar Augustus and the archaeological traces of Christs birth in Bethlehem. The mere fact that Emperor Hadrian found it necessary to replace the most popular Christian shrines with pagan temples so as to eradicate all thoughts of Christian salvation historyhe even had a grove in honor of Adonis planted over the Grotto of the Nativityshows that the memory of Jesus birth was very much alive at the beginning of the second century. Relying on the local tradition, Emperor Constantine had a church built over the grotto in the fourth century. The Church of the Nativity is still standing there today.
The birth of Christ is anchored in time and space at least as securely as most other events in antiquity. Nevertheless, many people still balk at the story of the Magi and the Star. Over the centuries Christian writers have produced a bewildering array of explanations, many of them extremely fanciful. But they do not discredit the Gospel account any more than antiquated theories about crystalline spheres and interstellar ether disprove Keplers laws of planetary motion.
To help sift through the interpretations of the Magi and the Star, lets consult the commentary on the Gospel of Matthew by Cornelius à Lapide, S.J. (1567-1637), a Scripture scholar who taught and wrote in Rome. His encyclopedic work compiles opinions and excerpts from patristic, medieval, and contemporary commentators.
Who were the Magi? Father à Lapide notes that magi is a common word among the Persians meaning philosophers. The word seems to be Hebrew in origin . The Chaldeans, following the Hebrews, were accustomed to call their philosophers Magi, according to Saint Jerome. Pliny and Tertullian also testify that Near Eastern peoples generally applied the name magi to their wise men and astrologers. (Therefore, when Matthew writes magi he does not necessarily refer to the hereditary Zoroastrian priesthood.)
What was their country of origin? Some Church Fathers think that they came from Persia . But the distance would seem too great . Others [Jerome included] with more probability think that the Magi were Chaldeans because [they] were addicted to astrology. Chaldea (Babylonia) was located along the Euphrates River, in the eastern third of the Fertile Crescent. À Lapide, however, deems it most probable that they were eastern Arabians. He cites Psalm 71:10 in the Vulgate, the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts, and Plinys observation, Nowhere is there frankincense except in Arabia.
But the arguments for Arabia are weak. Trade routes crisscrossed the ancient Near East, and frankincense (like champagne) can be selected as a gift regardless of ones nationality. In many translations Psalm 72:10 is a generic prayer for prosperity, not a prophecy. It is fulfilled in Matthew 2 only if you assume what à Lapide is trying to prove.
Jeromes opinion is weighty because he was a multilingual scholar who worked in Rome and Bethlehem. Moreover, the Chaldeans had been keeping astronomical almanacs for centuries before the birth of Christ.
What was the Star? À Lapides commentary lists the possibilities: a comet, certain signs in the stars, the Holy Ghost in visible form (as at Christs baptism), an angel, a nova, or a new meteor formed by the angels out of air, and filled with an immense light like the pillar of fire and cloud which guided the Hebrews through the desert. In advocating the last-mentioned hypothesis, à Lapide relies on an Old Testament parallel instead of examining the text of Matthews Gospel.
The Magi were from the east (Matt. 2:1), a plural expression in Greek: literally, from the eastern parts. But when they say, We have seen his star in the east (v. 2), this expression is singular. In both Greek and Latin its primary meaning is in the ascent or at its rising. This is technical astronomical language. Its time to consult the astronomers.
Again, there are many theories about the Star of Bethlehem. Here are three of the most recent.
Michael R. Molnar, citing Ptolemys Tetrabiblos, argues that the constellation Aries governed the Herodian monarchy in Judea, and on April 17, 6 B.C., Jupiter rose in the east in that sign of the zodiac, along with the sun and Venus. Unfortunately, Ptolemys astrological work was written a century later than the Gospels.
Frederick A. Larson, an Evangelical Christian lawyer and founder of The STAR Project, has synthesized astronomical findings, historical records, and scriptural allusions in an impressive video presentation that can be accessed online. He helpfully rules out several celestial objects: comets dont rise; the nova recorded in 5 B.C. by Chinese observers would have been visible in Jerusalem, too, whereas Herod had to inquire about the time of the stars appearance.
Larson identifies the Star of Bethlehem with conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus in the constellation Leo as an intensified Morning Star and Evening Star in 3 and 2 B.C., respectively. Between those two events, as Jupiter traveled across the night sky, its retrograde wobble made it appear to pass Regulus (ruler), the brightest star in Leo, three times back and forth. The Planet of Kings dance[d] out a halo above the Star of Kings.
As spectacular as these coincidences are, when viewed with astronomy software, they are historically implausible. Pagan astronomers would not have associated Leo with the lion of Judah (Gen. 49:9). Even the expert Chaldeans charted the movements of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn only, since the proximity of Venus to the sun made methodical observations too difficult and imprecise.
Without computer simulations or sextants, the Magi could only observe the reappearance of a planet in the eastern sky, note its stationary points and its setting in the evening, record the dates, and then count the days between recurring events. Larsons theory is just too sophisticated for their methods. It fails by a criterion that he does not mention: the Star of Bethlehem had to be predictable in order to be astrologically significant.
The late Austrian astronomer Konradin Ferrari dOcchieppo collected and published much new evidence for the planetary conjunction hypothesis. The theory that the Star of Bethlehem was a foreseeable conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn goes way back: it is found in the writings of the medieval polymath Cardinal Pierre dAilly and the 17th-century astronomer Kepler (although they looked for it in the wrong years).
Ferrari studied the Babylonian calendar tablets for the year 7/6 B.C. At least four different original copies still existimplying unusual interest in the celestial phenomena that they predicted: Jupiter and Saturn were to rise in the east on the same evening, September 15, 7 B.C., and have a triple conjunction in the sign of Pisces. There is no doubt that the Babylonian astronomers of that time, from their knowledge of long planetary cycles, had a full understanding of the extraordinary rarity of the circumstances of that configuration.
The Magi could have reasoned astrologically as follows: Jupiter was the planet of their highest deity, Marduk. From the eighth century B.C. onward Saturn was associated with the Jews, and central Pisces with Palestine. The appearance of the star thus signified the birth of a Messianic King in the West, about whom the Babylonians, too, had speculated for ages.
This would have been sufficient reason for the Magi to journey to Jerusalem, without any visual guidance. When Herods scribes told them to travel five miles to Bethlehem, they set out due south along the main road at dusk. Directly ahead of them Jupiter (with Saturn) shone brilliantly in the southern sky, standing at the top of the cone of zodiacal light (an oval haze caused by sunlight reflected from interplanetary dust). For three hours Bethlehems skyline was silhouetted against that glow, which appeared to pour down from the star. And behold the star went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was.
Brandmüller recalls that the Old Syrian version of Matthews Gospel translates star with the usual name for Jupiter. And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
Magi or astrologers from the East are well documented figures in ancient history. There are several plausible astronomical candidates for the Star of Bethlehem. If you accept the planetary conjunction hypothesis elaborated by Ferrari dOcchieppo, then cuneiform tablets recording data calculated years in advance confirm the Matthean account in minute detail.
The venerable Greek liturgy testifies to the importance of this event in the early Church. In an oft-repeated hymn, the Troparion for Christmas, the faithful sing: Your Nativity, O Christ our God, has shown to the world the light of wisdom; for by it, those who worshipped the stars were taught by a star to adore You, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know You, the Orient [Rising] from on high. O Lord, glory be to You.
We three Kings of Orient ping!
Of possible interest to your list.
There is a remarkable documentary regarding “The Star of Bethlehem” that blew my socks off and was quite stunning. You can find the documentary here. Astronomers can actually go back to any period in history and show what the skies were doing with respect to positions of the stars, and celestial movement. There had to have been something remarkable that happened in the skies during the time of Jesus’ birth. One man stumbles upon the incident that compelled those to write about the Star.
I'm looking forward to the coming Kingdom on earth and the one-world government that the Messiah of Israel will be setting up, after He destroys, by His own hand, the present and evil one-world government that we see forming right now.
Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Luke Chapter One 1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. 5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. 8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." 18 And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time." 21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. 22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless. 23 And so it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. 24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 "Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people." 26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." 34 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" 35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible." 38 Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. 39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord." 46 And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. 49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. 50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever." 56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house. 57 Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. 58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. 59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 60 His mother answered and said, "No; he shall be called John." 61 But they said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name." 62 So they made signs to his father--what he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, "His name is John." So they all marveled. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. 65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, "What kind of child will this be?" And the hand of the Lord was with him. 67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, 70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, 71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; 79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace." 80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel. Luke Chapter Two 1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. 21 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. 22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord"), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." 25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel." 33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." 36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Matthew Chapter One 1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king.David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. 8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon. 12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations. 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus. Matthew Chapter Two 1 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, 2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.' " 7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also." 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son." 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: 18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more." 19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child's life are dead." 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene." Matthew Chapter Three 1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.' " 4 And John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?" 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
One important argument to debunk the notions of a comet, a supernova, or some other fantastic celestial event comes right from the Gospel of Matthew itself. When the Magi came to Jerusalem and sought out king Herod, they told him that they had come to visit "he that is born King of the Jews," and that they had seen his star in the east. Herod then consulted the chief priests and the scribes to ask them about it, and it was they who told him that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem.
If the Star of Bethlehem had been some kind of unusual celestial phenomenon, there would have been no need for Herod to ask about what exactly this "star" was all about. This would indicate that the "star" was nothing unusual in the night sky except for those who studied the stars and understood the significance of something that was in plain sight to anyone on earth.
This would point toward the movement of the moon and/or one or more planets as the key to what exactly the Star of Bethlehem was, since the moon and planets are the only celestial bodies that move across the sky in patterns that change against the rest of the stars in the sky from one night to the next.
Three Magi bumpus ad summum
Wise Men from the East [Ecumenical - with a question]
Feast of the Epiphany (2)
Feast of the Epiphany (1)
Epiphany (when the Gentile visitors brought gifts) [Ecumenical]
Twelfth Night [Eve of the Feast of the Epiphany]
Epiphany Revealed (Did the Wise Men Really Have Names?)
For the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord 'Three Kings' Seek, Find, and Worship the Lord
The Universal King
Helena's (Mother of Constantine) Epiphany Meditation
EPIPHANY - THREE KINGS - January 6 (Holy Day of Obligation)
star of the east site:freerepublic.com
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Mat 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Mat 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
The star was in the East...It wasn't in the West...But yet they followed the star to Jerusalem...
Mat 2:9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
Then, the star took them due South to Bethlehem...And it stood directly over where Jesus was...And the star was peculiar in the sense that they could lose sight of it...It certainly wasn't any star that we can look into the sky and see...
looks interesting bump
“Said the night wind to the little lamb,
“Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite.”
Was it a star?
Ping for after Christmas reading
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
Thanks again NYer. Note: this topic is from 2009.
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