Questioning Christmas: The Star of Bethlehem

The Evangelical Liberal

Star of wonder, star of night…

It’s a seasonal staple of carols, Christmas cards and nativity plays but what was the Star of Bethlehem? Astronomical fact or pious fiction, theological symbolism or astrological sign, or simply an inexplicable supernatural event?

Matthew’s star

Only Matthew’s gospel mentions the star and its attendant Magi or wise men (possibly Persian Zoroastrians or exiled priests):

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east [or at its rising] and have come to worship him.”… Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared… [Then] they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Questioning Christmas: The Star of Bethlehem

  1. Like · Reply · 9 hrs
    Murrell Selden
    Murrell Selden Jesus was circumcised and 40 days from birth taken to the temple for purification. In the Magi
    case, it was next year after birth when Jesus was over 1 year old. Heriod ordered all the babes less than 2 years old to be killed. Had Jesus just been born, Herod could have “snapped the kid” at the temple (no trip to Egypt).
    Here is the right chronnology:

    This all started at Passover with Zechariah in 3 B.C.E. Pregnancy of Elizabeth in months Iyyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Ab, Elul (5+ months,near start of Iyyar to start of Elul is 5 mos. Sometime in early Elul began her sixth month of pregnancy). Mary visited Elizabeth in her sixth month and stayed 3 mos. By Tishri Mary was impregnated by holy spirit, and this is marked by the conjunction of Jupiter with Regulus. Nine months later, on Pentacost, Jesus was born in the month of Sivan (Sivan 6). Eight days later, Jah marked it with the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. Jesus satisfied the Abrahamic covenant, which we do not have to do. John was born close after Mary went home, close to December 15 th (after 3 mos. Tishri, Heshvan,and Chislev which ends in Dec.).


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