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Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Christmas Star

The Star of Bethlehem

Have you ever wondered about the Star of Bethlehem, the star the wise men followed to locate the Christ-child?

As we get older, some of us tend to get more logical, more analytical and possibly more critical. We tend to dismiss such things as the Star of Bethlehem into the realm of fantasy. If we were theological historians, we would never make such an assumption.

The three wise men: Who were they? Matthew 2:1 says they came from the East (east of Judea). Judea was the buffer state between the Roman Empire to the west and the Persian Empire to the east. Matthew used the word Magoi to describe the wise men. This means that they were king-makers and were held in very high regard in Persia. The gifts they brought of gold, frankincense and myrrh were the very best of the trade route at that time. It was prophesied in the Persian Calendar that a magi would be born and the date was somewhere between 3 and 2 BC. According to Zoroastrianism, the religion of the Persians at that time, there was to come upon the Jewish people a messiah. A sign of his coming would be shown in the constellation Virgo.

The word star meant many things at that time: anything that shone brightly was considered a star, but it has to move across the sky. Planets are the likely candidates to fit this description. Jupiter shone brightly and over a six week period headed toward Judea to an observer on the ground. The star spoken of by the Zend Avesta (sacred texts of Zoroastrianism) was Jupiter that appeared 65 degrees above the Southern Horizon directly over Jerusalem and Jupiter was in the constellation Virgo.

Regarding December 25th as the date for Christmas, December 25th in ancient times was the date of the Roman Festival of Saturnalia. Gifts were exchanged and houses were decorated. Early Christians may have adopted this date for the birth of Jesus, to avoid persecution by Roman authorizes for their celebrations. It was Constantine in the 4th century who declared December 25th as the date for Christmas.1

The miracle is that God said He would deliver a Messiah and He did. Science attempts to explain in this article one aspect of the miraculous, the Star of Bethlehem. Science does not minimalize the event: it simply tries to explain one aspect of it.

Have a very Merry Christmas.


1. See http://www.space.com/14036-christmas-star-bethlehem-comet-planet-theories.html?utm_content=SPACEdotcom&utm_campaign=seo%2Bblitz&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social%2Bmedia for more theories about the Star of Bethlehem and the date for Christmas.

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