Series:

Peter Barthel

Abstract

The fascinating story of the Star of Bethlehem contains certain astronomical details that cannot be pure fiction, regardless of whether or not the evangelist in the Gospel of Matthew intended to write prophecy fulfillment (which is unlikely). The story of the single star—“his star”—moving over the sky and standing still must have certain historical, scientific facts behind it. An explanation in terms of a 6 bce astrological portent related to the regal planet Jupiter (which moves and stands still), as reported by Parthian magi in Antioch around the time of Jesus’ birth, is considered plausible. Furthermore, this view offers an explanation for the absence of prophecy fulfillment terms in Matthew’s account of the star.

The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi

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

Edited by Peter Barthel and George van Kooten

This book is the fruit of the first ever interdisciplinary international scientific conference on Matthew's story of the Star of Bethlehem and the Magi, held in 2014 at the University of Groningen, and attended by world-leading specialists in all relevant fields: modern astronomy, the ancient near-eastern and Greco-Roman worlds, the history of science, and religion. The scholarly discussions and the exchange of the interdisciplinary views proved to be immensely fruitful and resulted in the present book. Its twenty chapters describe the various aspects of The Star: the history of its interpretation, ancient near-eastern astronomy and astrology and the Magi, astrology in the Greco-Roman and the Jewish worlds, and the early Christian world – at a generally accessible level. An epilogue summarizes the fact-fiction balance of the most famous star which has ever shone.

Cover illustration: © Michael Farrell

Series:

Edited by Peter Barthel and George van Kooten

Series:

Peter Barthel and George van Kooten

Series:

Edited by Peter Barthel and George van Kooten

Series:

Edited by Peter Barthel and George van Kooten

The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi

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

Series:

Edited by George H. van Kooten and Peter Barthel

This book is the fruit of the first ever interdisciplinary international scientific conference on Matthew's story of the Star of Bethlehem and the Magi, held in 2014 at the University of Groningen, and attended by world-leading specialists in all relevant fields: modern astronomy, the ancient near-eastern and Greco-Roman worlds, the history of science, and religion. The scholarly discussions and the exchange of the interdisciplinary views proved to be immensely fruitful and resulted in the present book. Its twenty chapters describe the various aspects of The Star: the history of its interpretation, ancient near-eastern astronomy and astrology and the Magi, astrology in the Greco-Roman and the Jewish worlds, and the early Christian world – at a generally accessible level. An epilogue summarizes the fact-fiction balance of the most famous star which has ever shone.