Afterthought (January 16th 2018): One note to add that bears remembering. As was pointed out in post #9, we know that Chinese records from the period between 20 BC and 1 AD are almost certainly incomplete. In this twenty year period there are just four records. If we follow the conventional reasoning, two of these [...]
Category: Interdisciplinary science
Star of Bethlehem X: Trying to Explain the Star
My apologies that this wrap-up piece has been delayed. I had intended to have it posted on January 1st, but the previous posting took longer to complete than I expected and, after that date, other commitments stopped me writing for a time. ------------------- After our walk through the evidence and through the different theories for [...]
Star of Bethlehem IX Ancient Observational Records II: China
Chinese Skies For many years the Chinese observations from 5 and 4 BC have created confusion. We have two, similar records in similar dates of consecutive years. First, the Chi’en-han-shu. Chinese records generally use three words to describe new objects in the sky: k'o-hsing, or Guest Star, for novae; hui-hsing, or Broom Star, for a [...]
Star of Bethlehem VIII Ancient Observational Records I: Persia and Babylon
Until the early 1960s the resources for studying the ancient sky were minimal. Astronomers such as Johannes Kepler could calculate the positions of the planets two thousand years ago, but laboriously by hand. Astronomers could make reasonable estimates of when Comet Halley would return and could look back to see if there was any bright [...]
Star of Bethlehem VII: Clever, but almost certainly wrong!
There have been dozens, if not hundreds of theories to explain the Star of Bethlehem. In this sense it is similar to the death of the dinosaurs where many dozens of theories have been proposed, but just two or three are real candidates to be correct. Here are a few of the less likely ones: [...]
Star of Bethlehem VI: Kings or Magi?
When you think of Christmas, what do you see in your mind’s eye? For many people it is the image of the three kings, crossing the desert on their camels, following an overwhelmingly bright star. For me, the image of Christmas is encapsulated in the words of the carol: We three kings of Orient are [...]
Star of Bethlehem V: What do Matthew and other contemporary sources say about the Star?
We have already looked in the second post of this series at some of the problems with interpreting the Nativity story. Now we have to face them head on. Matthew, Mark and Luke are what are called Synpotic Gospels: they have a lot of content in common, but also significant differences. Although there are many [...]
Star of Bethlehem IV: Why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25?
Why do we celebrate Christmas in December? It is actually a long and quite complicated story. Most people do not realise that the date that we celebrate Christmas Day now is not the same as it was in times of Christopher Columbus. Similarly, they do not realise that many of our Christmas traditions were imported [...]
Star of Bethlehem III: The calendar (or when should we celebrate christmas, really?)
Before we can hope to answer the question of what the Star of Bethlehem was, we must first find out when the events associated with it related by Matthew and Luke actually happen: when was Jesus born, or phrased differently, when was the first Christmas? This is actually one of the most difficult elements of [...]
Star of Bethlehem II: The Nativity Story
There is one part of the western Christmas that is probably common to all of us, either directly or indirectly. Who has not participated in a Nativity play at school, or, at the very least, seen one as or with a proud parent? We all know the story: the journey in response to the census, [...]