If the seemingly incessant autumnal – and now winter – storms abate for Christmas (and the weather forecast for Spain suggests that they might) you may get a chance to look up at the Christmas sky. If you do so as darkness falls, you will not be able to miss the brilliant, white “star”, low [...]
The Star of Bethlehem: An Afterthought
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 [...]
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 Reflections
If I had a 10€ note for every time that I am asked about the Star of Bethlehem around this time of year I would probably be able to retire (well, maybe not “retire”, as I do have a mortgage). I have been writing and speaking on the Star of Bethlehem for nearly forty years [...]