Thursday, December 13, 2018

That "star in the east"

'TIS THE SEASON: Can astronomy explain the biblical Star of Bethlehem? Experts weigh in on whether the Gospel account of Jesus’s birth, including the wise men who were guided by a ‘star in the east,’ has any scientific merit (The Conversation via the AP via David Weintraub, Times of Israel). This story usually comes up in the Christmas season, usually with the same range of explanations. The one given here is as plausible as any.

If you want to see a planetary "star in the east right" now, look to the east at sunrise. That bright star in the sky is the planet Venus on a very close approach to the earth. For a while it was so close I was pretty sure I could see a disk (which looked more like a crescent with binoculars). I don't know what it's current astrological significance is, but I'm sure there's something.

For my own view about Matthew's star, see here. For the earliest surviving reference, after the Gospel of Matthew, to the Star of Bethlehem (in a letter by Ignatius of Antioch), see here. Another early mention is in the Revelation of the Magi, on which more here and links. And for many other past posts on the Star of Bethlehem, start here and follow the links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.