4 An Astronomical and Historical Evaluation of Molnar’s Solution

In: The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi
Bradley E. Schaefer
Search for other papers by Bradley E. Schaefer in
Current site
Google Scholar

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



Previously, the most prominent explanation for the Star of Bethlehem was to identify one of many astronomical events as the inspiration for the journey of the magi. However, all of the astronomical answers have detailed refutations, as this chapter will demonstrate. As astrologers, the magi would have derived meaning and importance only from arcane patterns of the positions of the seven planets, as presented in a horoscope. There would have been no meaning for ancient astrologers in triple conjunctions, Venus/Jupiter occultations, or any other spectacular astronomical event; they were looking down at their horoscopes and not up at comets, novae, or supernovae, which were never placed in a horoscope.

In 1999, Michael R. Molnar proposed a completely new solution to the problem of the star, in which the star originated as a report of a natal horoscope for 17 April 6 bce. This natal horoscope shows very impressive regal portents and points to Judea. It is very improbable that such a rare planet configuration (occurring on average only once per millennium, or even more rarely) would coincide with the restricted date of Jesus' birth unless there is some causal connection. The magi were astrologers, so they were only interested in horoscopes. The primary tool of the astrologer is the horoscope, and natal horoscopes tell exactly—and only—the date, country, character, and future for the birth of a child; this is exactly the information that Matthew tells us the magi got from the star. This astrological solution ultimately provides simple and natural explanations for many of the ways in which the star operated. Notwithstanding other issues regarding the historicity of the information provided in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth, for the issue of the Star of Bethlehem alone, Molnar's astrological solution is convincing.

  • Collapse
  • Expand

The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi

Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Experts on the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman World, and Modern Astronomy

Series:  Themes in Biblical Narrative, Volume: 19


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1289 110 22
Full Text Views 100 1 1
PDF Views & Downloads 21 3 0