Star of Bethlehem, history, encyclopedia
Star of Bethlehem, history, astrology, encyclopedia

The principle purposes of this paper are twofold. The first, and most important, is to preserve the sacredness of the religious and cultural symbol which has come to be called "The Star of Bethlehem".  The second purpose is to provide convincing and easily reproducible proof regarding the discovery of the "Star".
The phenomenon known as "The Star of Bethlehem" has remained a mystery for almost two millennia. Thousands of books, articles and papers have been written about the star and, to date, not one has provided clear and unequivocal proof of the star's existence. 

star of bethlehem, history, encyclopedia

Star of Bethlehem, history, astrology, encyclopedia

star of bethlehem, history, encyclopedia
The following historic perspective regarding The Star of Bethlehem is reprinted from the New Catholic Encyclopedia :
"The star that led the Magi to Bethlehem according to Mt 2.1-12. See MAGI (IN THE BIBLE). The many interpretations of the star of Bethlehem can be divided into two groups: traditional exegesis and midrashic (rabbinical) interpretation.
Traditional Exegesis . The star, by this interpretation, is held by some to have been a miraculous phenomenon, created by God to lead the Magi to Christ. Ignatius Martyr, Chrysostom, and Diodorus of Tarsus attest to the antiquity of this view. P. Schanz, J. Knabenbauer, D. Buzy, and A. Durand are modern representatives of the opinion. The description in Matthew 2.9 of the unusual activity of the celestial body is the strongest argument for this interpretation. The opinion is, however, not unchallenged. IN AN AGE WHEN ASTROLOGY WAS HIGHLY DEVELOPED ONE WOULD EXPECT SOME MENTION OF THE STAR IN OTHER SOURCES. How did the Magi realize the significance of this event? Augustine suggested special interior revelation. Origen held that the Magi recognized the star as the fulfilment of Balaam's oracle in Nm 24.17.
Other's hold the star to have been a striking, but essentially natural, phenomenon, the precise nature of which is a matter of conjecture. Origen, M.J. Jagrange, and J. Bruns suggest a comet, possibly Halley's comet of 12 B.C. In 1603 J. Kepler proposed the idea that the star was really the conjunctio maxima of Jupiter with Saturn in the zodiacal sign Fishes (Pisces). Such a major conjunction occurred on May 21, 7 B.C. Since astrology associated unusual celestial phenomena with the birth and death of important persons, it would not be impossible for its practitioners to interpret this unusual event - it occurs once every 974 years - in the light of vague messianic expectations current throughout the empire. However, an obstacle to the "natural interpretation" lies in Matthew 2.9 (a star pointing out a particular house) unless with W. C. Allen and Lagrange this verse is considered a legendary amplification."
Midrashic Interpretation - While the traditional opinions focus attention on the star in isolation, as it were, more recent studies attempt to evaluate it in the general setting of the Infancy Gospel. Most commentators agree that the narrative belongs to a genus comparable to haggadic midrash. (e.g. S.M. Iglesias, R. Bloch, M. Bourke, J. E. Bruns). See Haggadah. Because this literary form presents a fact of history in a popular manner with fictional decorations adapted to the common mentality, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish fact from fiction.
In the framework of midrash, the theological import of the star is of far greater concern than its historical reality. Perhaps, as E. Lohmeyer suggests, the star signifies the fulfillment of Balaam's prophecy. The star might have been borrowed from a midrash on the visit of the Queen of Saba (Sheba) to Solomon ;its purpose would be to manifest Christ as the true wisdom of Israel. For others (Bloch and Iglesias) the star points to legends surrounding the birth of Moses and invites the readers to see in Christ the new Moses. In another midrash, astrologers inform the king of Abraham's birth made known by a star rising in the heavens. Christ would then be presented as the new Israel.
"NEITHER THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH NOR THE MODERN HAS PRODUCED ONE COMPELLING EXPLANATION OF THE STAR".
( end of quotation from The New Catholic Encyclopedia)

In the late 1970's the Library of Congress published a list of references on The Star of Bethlehem that was over 39 pages long. Most of the articles and books cited on the list focus upon astronomical events which occurred between 11 BC and 1 AD. Many of the works focus upon the year 7 BC because of a series of astrological conjunctions. An astrological "conjunction" is the appearance of two or more of the planets in our solar system appearing in the sky in close proximity to each other. Many commentators believe that a "conjunction" created the visual effect of one exceptionally bright star and have concluded that the birth of Jesus Christ occurred in 7 BC.
The "7 BC conclusions" are reasonable, however, they contain one or two significant errors. Each commentator forces his conclusions to conform to the 7 BC planetary conjunctions and/or either ignores or "bends" the chronology which is included in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
The Quarterly Journal of The Royal Astronomical Society , vol. 36, 1995, pp. 109-126 in a well researched article written by Michael Molnar entitled, "The Magi's Star from the perspective of Ancient Astrological Practices" excellently summarizes nearly the entire spectrum of Star of Bethlehem research. Molnar concludes that, "The Star of Bethlehem was an astrologically significant event invisible to all except the astrologers ." I too am in total agreement with this conclusion, in fact, using ancient astrological methods I have located and reproduced the exact position and configuration of "The Star".
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