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Star of Bethlehem


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A bible class discussion on the theories of the Star of Bethlehem.

A bible class discussion on the theories of the Star of Bethlehem.

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  • 1. Star Investigation • Why even ask the question? The Star of Bethlehem • Search Luke 2:1-20 and Matt 2:1-20 Holy Cross Bible Class • Find clues left regarding: December 20, 2009 – Time, Location, Who Involved Outline/Plan Wise Men ? = 1. Essenes 1. Background – Wisemen/Herod • Jewish monks (near Dead sea) 2. Dating the Star • Astronomy studiers 3. Supernatural Theories • Matthew indicates from another 4. Natural Theories country = not really an option 5. Theory Specifics 6. Conclusions? Wise Men ? = 2. Indian Buddhists Wise Men? = 3. Arabians • Had similar teachings of Buddha • Gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and and Christ Myrrh were tied to Arabians. • Used astronomy to select their • Nearness of Arabia to Palestine leader (Dalai Lami) • Language of Arabians similar to • Reincarnation, theological positions Jews, probably knew Messianic rule them out prophecies.
  • 2. Wise Men? = 4. Chinese Wise Men? = 5. Babylonians • Recorded astrological events • Experts in astronomy and astrology • They thought China was the center • Saturn & Jupiter represented kings & of the world so why leave? royalty so planetary changes meant • “East,” but very far away. On the earthly events to them other hand, they had up to 2 years • “Multi-godded” people to get there. • “We Three Kings of Orient Are” Wise Men? = 6. Persians Daniel 9: 25-26 • "Know and understand this: From the • Emerged from Parthian Dynasty issuing of the decree to restore and • Upper house of government, priestly rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed class. Heroditus and Plato visited. One, the ruler, comes, there will be • The Magi were followers of Zoroaster, seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' a pupil of Daniel It will be rebuilt with streets and a • Zend Avesta “Bible” includes Daniel trench, but in times of trouble. After the prophecies sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. Wise Men? = 6. Persians Wise Men? = 6. Persians • Zoroaster = state religion of Persia, • Precedent existed prophesied birth of king heralded by • “When Tiridates was made king over sign in stars in constellation Virgo. Armenia by the emperor Nero, the • Zoroaster included: a Good spirit new Magian king went to Rome with fighting against a Bad spirit, the other Magi to present gifts to eventually a savior comes to defeat Nero. A great deal of ceremony was bad, a son of a virgin associated with this visit of the Magi.”
  • 3. Wise Men? = 6. Persians Magi Kings by Tradition • Persians/Parthians were at war with • Caspar of Tarsus Rome. Israel often the battleground young, European and between Romans and Persians offers gold • Magi delegation guards would have • Melchior of Persia penetrated Roman territory middle-aged, Persian and offers myrrh • Groups probably riding horses, camels only carry baggage • Balthasar of Saba elderly, Ethiopian and • Herod “troubled” understandable offers frankincense 3 Kings Traditions Outline/Plan The elaborate story that 1. Background – Wisemen/Herod we know today can be 2. Dating the Star found in the History of 3. Supernatural Theories the Three Kings, which is attributed to the 4. Natural Theories fourteenth-century cleric 5. Theory Specifics John of Hildesheim. 6. Conclusions? King Herod Numbers 24:17 (NIV) • Read Numbers 24:17. "I see him, but not now; • Herod the Great, an Edomite, I behold him, but not near. becomes King of Israel A star will come out of Jacob; • Herod murders any threat – even his a scepter will rise out of Israel. wife, mother, sons, etc. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, • Orders that upon his death one person from each house killed the skulls of all the sons of Sheth. – Balaam’s Fourth Oracle • Ordered Bethlehem baby slaughter
  • 4. Numbers 24:17 (NIV) King Herod "I see him, but not now; • Find Numbers 24:17 I behold him, but not near. • Herod the Great, an Edomite, becomes King of Israel A star will come out of Jacob; • Herod murders any threat – even his a scepter will rise out of Israel. wife, mother, sons, etc. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, • Orders that upon his death one the skulls of all the sons of Sheth. person from each house killed – Balaam’s Fourth Oracle • Ordered Bethlehem baby slaughter “King of the Romans” Precedent “King of the Romans” Precedent • According to Julius Marathus, a personal • So concerned were some of the senators confidant of Augustus Caesar, the Roman of this astrological interpretation, whose Senate in the year 63 B.C ordered all boy wives were pregnant, that they refused to babies to be killed who were born in that register births from their wives in hopes year because prophetic dreams and that the signs applied to them. astrological signs suggested that a “King • We are informed that in that very year (23 of the Romans” was to be born. September, 63 B.C.), the person who later • The Senate ostensibly considered a “King became the first emperor of the Romans of the Romans” to be anathema to the (Augustus) was born. government of the Republic. Herod the Great Herod’s Death Date? Josephus records: 1. Herod died shortly after an eclipse of the TO DO LIST Moon seen at Jericho, and sometime Do Laundry… before the Feast of Passover. Buy some 2. There was a Jewish holiday celebrating stamps… Herod's death on 2nd day of the month of Shebat. Kill babies in 3. Herod died after a reign of 37 years from Bethlehem.. the time he was made king by the Pay bills… Romans and 34 years from the death of Antigonus.
  • 5. Checking Eclipses: Lunar/Solar Herod’s Death Date? • "When Did Herod the Great Reign?", • 7 and 6 B.C. = No eclipses. Andrew Steinmann, Novum • 5 B.C. = Eclipses March 23, Sept 15. Testamentum, Volume 51, Number 1, • 4 B.C. = Partial eclipse March 13. 2009 , pp. 1-29. • 3 and 2 B.C. = No eclipses • Professor of Theology and Hebrew at • 1 B.C. = Total eclipse on January 10. Concordia University Chicago. (R.F.) • Argues Herod most likely reigned from late 39 BC to early 1 BC. Census Ordered Census • Three empire-wide censuses were in Document 28 B.C., 8 B.C., and 14 A.D. • Records of Roman Census from 104 AD • Qvirinio = and 119 AD found as well. Quirinius? • The Greek verb is apographo, which • Censvm = literally means to "enroll" or "register" as in Census an official listing of citizens. A Quirinius Problem? Birth Date: Weather • Roman historians Tacitus, Seutonius, and • Shepherds: only 2 times a year when Dio Cassius, and Jewish historian sheep on fields - spring or autumn Josephus all wrote of him. We know Quirinius governed around 6-7 A.D. • This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. • The Greek word for "first" (prote) is sometimes translated "prior to" or "before. • Also beliefs that Quirinius may have been “elected” twice to office.
  • 6. Birth Date: Day of Trumpets? Ceasar Augustus • Kings announced with Trumpets. • "Caesar Augustus" reigned as emperor of the Roman empire from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D., –Solomon, Jehu, Joash 41 years in all. His real name was Gaius • AKA. “Rosh Ha-Shanah”, which Octavius and he lived from 63 B.C. to 14 starts between Sept 6 to Oct 5. A.D. He was the Grandnephew of Julius Caeser who legally adopted Octavius as • Considered a New Year’s Day. his son. Octavius took the name "Caesar" (Joseph freed from Egypt prison on from Julius, which in later years became a this day). Period ends with the Day name almost equivalent to "emperor." of Atonement. "Augustus" is a Latin term that means "worthy of reverence." From Reign of Tiberius Virgo Reference in Dating • Luke is very explicit that Jesus was on the • Again… Zoroaster (state religion of threshold of his 30th birthday when he was Persia) prophesied birth of king baptized in the 15th of Tiberius (Lk. 3:1, heralded by sign in stars in 21). ... Thus, the 15th year of Tiberius’ constellation Virgo. reign would be A.D. 29-30. • Revelation 12 mentions “when sun and • Using the accepted method of reckoning, moon in Virgo.” This is usually considered which makes the 15th of Tiberius equal Sept 10th 3 BC. or Sept 29th 2 BC. A.D. 29-30, this means Jesus was born in 2 B.C. and turned 30 years old soon after his baptism, before Dec. 31st, A.D. 29. Virgo in Revelation 12 Suggested Dates of Christ’s Birth “A great and wondrous sign appeared in • 5 BC = R. Faid, Day of Atonement heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown • 4 BC = Many historians of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was • Sept 11, 3 BC = E. Martin, Day of about to give birth. …..The dragon stood in Trumpets front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the • Dec 25, 2 BC = R. Larson moment it was born. She gave birth to a • June 17, 2 BC = J. Mosley son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child • Sept/Oct 2 BC or 3 BC = B. was snatched up to God and to his throne.” Setterfield
  • 7. Outline/Plan Supernatural = Shekinah 1. Background – Wisemen/Herod Closest OT equivalent of “Holy Spirit” 2. Dating the Star a. John 1:8 = Bear witness to the Light 3. Supernatural Theories b. John 8: 12 = I am the Light of the world c. Ex 3:4-5 = Burning Bush episode 4. Natural Theories d. Ex 33: 18-23 = Moses + God’s face 5. Theory Specifics e. Num 9:15-17 = Tab. Cloud/Fire 6. Conclusions? f. Luke 9:28-36 = Transfiguration g. Acts 26:12-18 = Road to Damascus Revelations 22:16 Supernatural = Other? 1. God made a star move because "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give He can …so deal with it. you this testimony for the churches. 2. God’s motion detector went off in I am the Root and the Offspring of his driveway and the backyard David, and the bright Morning Star." lights went on. 3. Pastor Sorenson said so and that is good enough for me. Outline/Plan Natural Options 1. Background – Wisemen/Herod 1. Meteor 2. Dating the Star 2. Comet 3. Supernatural Theories 3. Nova/Supernova 4. Natural Theories 4. Planets/Constellation Conjunctions 5. Theory Specifics 6. Conclusions?
  • 8. Chinese Guest Star Korean Star • The chronicle, the “Ch'ien-han-shu” • A controversial record is found in the makes a statement which can be Korean “History of Three Kingdoms - translated as: the Chronicle of Silla (Samguk Sagi)” • “During the interval between March which can be translated as: 10th and April 7th of 5 BC, a comet • “On March 31st of 4 BC a bushy that was visible for more than 70 star appeared close to Altair” days appeared close to Alpha and Beta Capricornii” Comet’s “Standing” Comet’s “Standing” • Dio Cassius (Roman History, 54, 29) • Josephus (Jewish War 6,5,3) states 'a describing the comet of 12 BC (Halley's star, resembling a sword, stood over the comet) which appeared before the death city Jerusalem]', probably referring to the of Marcus Agrippa writes 'the star called comet of AD 64 mentioned by Tacitus comet stood for several days over the city (Annals, 15,47), comets frequently being [Rome]'. described as 'swords' in ancient literature • Marcellinus describing a comet of AD 390 because of their upward tails (in a writes 'a sign appeared in the sky hanging direction away from the sun). like a column and blazing for 30 days'. From Cosmology/S&CB%2010-93Humphreys.html Novae Aquila Novae Aquila = 1999 • Occasional Star in Aquila quadrant • Some known flare ups dates: 389 BC, 1918 AD, 1999 AD • Others at 134 BC and 173 AD. • Supernova 100,000 brighter at first From From
  • 9. Planets/Constellations Triple Conjunctions 1. Planets have astrological meanings • 17th century Christian Astronomer, – Saturn = Royalty Johannes Kepler, calculated that a triple – Jupiter = King conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn had – Regulus = King occurred in Pisces 7 B.C. – Pisces = Hebrews • “A Messiah-king will be born in Israel?” – Leo = Kingship (Rev 5:5 calls Jesus • Conjunction happened three times in 7 “the Lion of the tribe of Judah”) B.C. (in May, October and December) • Additional massing of Mars, Jupiter, and 2. Placement in constellations Saturn in 6 B.C. 3. Meeting other planets = conjunctions Early Record of Dec. 25 • A Roman city calendar for the year 354* A.D. lists burial places of the martyrs arranged in the order of the days of the year The Star of Bethlehem on which festivals were held in their honor. • The sequence of festivals in the church Holy Cross Bible Class year begins with the item: “VIII Kal. Ian. December 27, 2009 Natus Christus in Betleem Judeae” • The eighth day before the calends of January is December 25th. Thus, in the year AD 336, the festival of the birth of Christ was held on Dec. 25. * = Exact year varies with sources Split Celebration Previously • Western Churches celebrated Christmas • A Latin treatise written around 243 A.D. on December 25 after Emperor pegged March 21, because that was Constantine had declared Christianity the believed to be the date on which God empire's favored religion. created the sun. So Polycarp (c.69- c.155) concluded that Christ's birth and • Eastern Churches used January 6 until baptism most likely occurred on eventually adopted December 25. Wednesday, because the sun was created on the fourth day. • The Armenian church still celebrates on Jan 6.
  • 10. Other Dates Suggested 9 Months after Conception? • Early Christian writer Sextus Julius • Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215) Africanus (220 AD) speculated that the favored May 20 but noted that others world was created on March 25th, based had argued for April 18, April 19, and on his chronology of Jewish and Christian May 28. history. • Since the Word of God became incarnate • Hippolytus (c.170-c.236) championed from the moment of his conception, this January 2. meant that, after 9 months in the Virgin Mary's womb, Jesus was born on December 25. * from Why Christmas on Dec 25? Christmas Opposition • Converted Pagan holiday with Christian • Origen (c.185-c.254, Clement of Alexandria’s student) preached that it • 1 ) Romans celebrted the Winter Solstice, would be wrong to honor Christ in the SOL INVICTUS, the “Unconquerable Sun” same way Pharaoh and Herod were honored. “Birthdays were for pagan • 2 ) Birthday of Mithras, the Iranian "Sun of gods.” Righteousness" - Christianity Today article “Modern” Opponents? John Knox • While Beza, Luther, and other reformers “By contrary Doctrine, we understand found no fault with Christmas, many whatsoever men, by Laws, Councils, or Constitutions have imposed upon the Calvinist and Presbyterian reformers did, consciences of men, without the adopting a rule of worship that excluded all expressed commandment of God's word: things not positively prescribed. such as be vows of chastity, foreswearing of marriage, .. and keeping of holy days of - from certain Saints commanded by men, such as … Christmas, … Epiphany…. Which things, because in God's scriptures they neither have commandment nor assurance, we judge them utterly to be abolished from this Realm…”
  • 11. The Star of Bethlehem Star Characteristics 1. Background – Wisemen/Herod • Read Matthew 2:1-12. 2. Dating the Star 3. Supernatural Theories • Try to come up with 5+ facts / 4. Natural Theories characteristics of the star. 5. Theory Specifics 6. Conclusions? 9 Characteristics (R. Larson) The Starry Dance 1. It signified birth. 2. It signified kingship. 3. It had a connection with the Jewish nation. 4. It rose in the east, like other stars. 5. It appeared at a precise time. 6. Herod didn't know when it appeared. 7. It endured over time. 8. It was ahead of the Magi as they went south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. 9. It stopped over Bethlehem. Caveat Outline/Plan “Just in case you are ready to proclaim the 1. Background – Wisemen/Herod mystery of the Star of Bethlehem solved, 2. Dating the Star remember that this whole scenario rests on Herod dying in 1 B.C. rather than in 4 B.C. 3. Supernatural Theories The majority of historians and biblical 4. Natural Theories historians can't accept this critical revision. 5. Theory Specifics If Herod indeed died in 4 B.C., all of these coincidences …are just that, coincidences.” 6. Conclusions? - Ray Bohlin = = Probe Ministries
  • 12. Personal Conclusions Resource Suggestions 1. “Natural” is still “Supernatural” 1. The Star of Bethlehem DVD by Rick to me! Larson. ASIN: B002RBHDFK 2. The First Christmas: The True and 2. Why wise men from afar and Unfamiliar Story Paul L. Maier ISBN-13: shepherds in the field? 978-0825433306 (GOOGLE BOOKS) 3. Billboard vs. the Message. 3. The Star that Astonished the World by Ernest Martin. ISBN: 0-945657-88-9 4. The Christmas Star by John Mosley ASIN: B000V8ALN2 Select Source Links 7. 1. 2000/dec08.html /moreaboutmagi.html 8. 2. .htm 3. 9. -choice/EC1205W3C.htm 4. /astronomy/nova_burst_010910.html 10. inius.htm 5. s/Star/Visibility_Star.htm 11.http://www.ancient- 6. starbeth.html 12. Nazareth.htm