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5 Astronomical Thoughts on the Star of Bethlehem

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Chapter Summary

Astronomers, being in the main rational scientists, approach the Star of Bethlehem as if it were a physical reality in the celestial realm. Unfortunately, the imprecision in the dating of the nativity of Jesus, the astrological confusion as to what was an apposite stimulation for the magi’s journey to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and a complete lack of knowledge regarding the magi’s home country and their astronomical sophistication has left astronomers free to suggest a broad range of objects as potential candidates for filling the role of the star. These range from comets to novae and supernovae, and also include most of the planets known at that time. Some even resort to more localized objects, such as meteors and ball lightning. One of the more probable suggestions, and one that fits in with most of the (rather limited number of) biblical clues, is the coming together of the planets Jupiter and Saturn three times in 7 bce against the background of the constellation of Pisces. This paper reviews this suggestion, and all of the other suggestions as well.

10.1163/9789004308473_006
/content/books/b9789004308473_006
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