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GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-05, 01:00 AM
Another old BABB recycled thread:

The Star of Bethlehem (http://mentock.home.mindspring.com/xmasstar.htm)

Imagine that you are an ancient astrologer, in the evening of late summer of 1BC, and you are watching the bright planet Mars in the east as it turns retrograde to pass through Pisces. Pisces is regarded as the zodiacal sign where evidence of the messiah will appear. Mars will be at opposition in Pisces in mid-September, and at its brightest (magnitude -2.5). In that dark area of the sky, there are only a small number of stars brighter than sixth magnitude, and as Mars slowly backtracks through it, you notice that there is one new star, about magnitude 5.7. It is not on your charts, and even more amazingly, it is moving, and also moving west! It continues to move west through the month of November, as Mars returns to prograde and passes by it less than a degree away. The new star continues its westward journey.

No planets are so dim, and it is clearly not a comet, and no other stars move. Your colleagues are convinced it is a sign and decide to follow the star west towards Jerusalem. You arrive in early December, and the star seems to have stopped, and stood still. For two weeks, it stays within an area of the sky of less than one arcminute in radius, after having spent the previous four months moving almost 240 arcminutes--about the width of the full moon every two weeks. After your conversation with the king, you observe the star that evening. It is nearly directly south, and you follow it to Bethlehem.

In the next month, the star vanishes in the sunlight, and is not found again for centuries. Of course, it wasn't really a star, but a planet: Uranus.

Kinda interesting, don't you think?

<font size=-1>[Fixed paragraph formatting]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: GrapesOfWrath on 2001-11-05 08:52 ]</font>

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-05, 12:43 PM
In particular, I would be very interested in some comparisons of the results of planet simulation software, whether they actually agree on things that happened 2000 years ago.

For instance, in an unrelated example, do two different astronomy packages show the same configuration for Jupiter's moons on Mar. 15, 532BC?

James
2001-Nov-05, 01:31 PM
The Star of Bethlehem (http://mentock.home.mindspring.com/xmasstar.htm)

Imagine that you are an ancient astrologer, in the evening of late summer of 1BC, and you are watching the bright planet Mars in
the east as it turns retrograde to pass through Pisces. Pisces is regarded as the zodiacal sign where evidence of the messiah will appear. Mars will be at opposition in Pisces in mid-September, and at its brightest (magnitude -2.5). In that dark area of the sky, there are only a small number of stars brighter than sixth magnitude, and as Mars slowly backtracks through it, you notice that
there is one new star, about magnitude 5.7. It is not on your charts, and even more amazingly, it is moving, and also moving west! It continues to move west through the month of November, as Mars returns to prograde and passes by it less than a degree away. The new star continues its westward journey.

No planets are so dim, and it is clearly not a comet, and no other stars move. Your colleagues are convinced it is a sign and decide to follow the star west towards Jerusalem. You arrive in early December, and the star seems to have stopped, and stood still. For two weeks, it stays within an area of the sky of less than one arcminute in radius, after having spent the previous four months moving almost 240 arcminutes--about the width of the full moon every two weeks. After your conversation with the king, you
observe the star that evening. It is nearly directly south, and you follow it to Bethlehem.

In the next month, the star vanishes in the sunlight, and is not found again for centuries. Of course, it wasn't really a star, but a planet: Uranus.

Amazing. To think that the timing of when Uranus was visible and when Jesus was supposedly born(there are variations on when he actually was born, but another topic) was such that it would convince three men to travel to Bethlehem and be there in time for the birth of someone who'd be responsible for practically flipping the world on its head. To think that all of that was because of a planet that some people have to joke about.

Amazing. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif

And to think that in the Weekly World News they have predicted that the star of Bethlehem would reappear soon and so heralding the return of Jesus. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif
Guess it never happened. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif

Diogenes
2001-Nov-05, 04:04 PM
Amazing. To think that the timing of when Uranus was visible and when Jesus was supposedly born(there are variations on when he actually was born, but another topic) was such that it would convince three men to travel to Bethlehem and be there in time for the birth of someone who'd be responsible for practically flipping the world on its head. To think that all of that was because of a planet that some people have to joke about.





Another typical mis-quote of the 'Bible', which says nothing about '3' Wise men.. Only '3' gifts.. gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

It also says they came into a 'house'.. not the 'Stable' of the 'Luke' narative.. When did Jesus' family move into a house in Bethlehem? They were only suppose to be there for the census when Jesus was supposedly born..

Also, this famous visit triggered Herod's slaughter of all male children in Judea under the age of 2, (Jesus/God gotta be proud of this one). Why '2' for christsake? (pun intended).. Which has to raise the question of the timing of the so called 'Star of Bethlehem' which supposedly heralded Jesus' 'birth'..

You would have thought Herod could have had someone follow the 'Wise' men and just murder the child in question.


P.S. You really should kick this around at the 'Bad Mythology' BB, not Bad Astronomy...

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-05, 09:16 PM
On 2001-11-05 11:04, Diogenes wrote:
Another typical mis-quote of the 'Bible', which says nothing about '3' Wise men.. Only '3' gifts.. gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.


Yep, this one almost everyone gets wrong, because it's been in the folklore for so very long.


It also says they came into a 'house'.. not the 'Stable' of the 'Luke' narative.. When did Jesus' family move into a house in Bethlehem? They were only suppose to be there for the census when Jesus was supposedly born..


Surely you're not suggesting that Mary get on a donkey the next day after delivering her baby? Suggest that plotline to your wife and/or mother, as the case may be, and see if she/they don't tear your ears off! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif

Seriously, the Bible doesn't give, or pretend to give, all the details. Yes, the Magi find Jesus at a house, not the stable behind the inn, in Bethlehem, and... (continued after next quote)



Also, this famous visit triggered Herod's slaughter of all male children in Judea under the age of 2, (Jesus/God gotta be proud of this one). Why '2' for christsake? (pun intended).. Which has to raise the question of the timing of the so called 'Star of Bethlehem' which supposedly heralded Jesus' 'birth'..


...(continued) after they leave Herod orders the death of all male children two years old and under. Obviously, we're supposed to understand that from what the Magi told Herod, the Child had been born about two years (or more correctly, "no more than two years", as Herod might have just added a year to be sure he got the Right One) previous to their arrival in Jerusalem.

So although Joseph and Mary had been living in Nazareth, and "only" came to Bethlehem for the census, they decided to stay for a while. Remember that it was their ancestral home (both were descendants of David), so it's very possible that there were relatives who wanted them to stay for an extended visit (every maiden aunt likes to coo over a newborn Baby). It's even possible that one or the other became ill--or simply needed a couple of years to work themselves up to that long bumpy road back to Nazareth on donkey-back again. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif We're not told why they're still in Bethlehem two (or so) years after the birth of Jesus, just that they are.

Actually, if I can insert an opinion here, the Magi _were_ the reason that Joseph and Mary had stayed in Bethlehem for two years or so, even if they didn't know it themselves. God has a way of putting people where they're supposed to be when it's important, so rather than drive the Magi nuts by tracking the Star up from Bethlehem to Nazareth, He just kept the family there to await their guests. Maybe by telling them directly to stay (as He did later when He sent them to Egypt: they were told "Stay here until you hear Herod's dead", and He could have said something like "Stay here until you receive royal guests" in Bethlehem), or maybe by just keeping things from ever being 'convenient' for them to leave. As I say, that's just my opinion, but I think it's a believable one.

Getting back to the Star, it's pretty clear from Matthew's account that the Star did not continuously shine from the time of Christ's birth to the visit of the Magi. It shone at the time of His birth, which the Magi saw and noted the time and direction. They head off that direction and come to Jerusalem, but the Star is no longer visible, based on Herod's questioning:



002:007 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

002:008 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.


In other words, he couldn't just step outside with them and say, "Oh, that Star over there! Well, we'll just all go to where that Star is, and worship Him together!" Then:



002:009 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

002:010 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.


Now, if they had been following the Star itself for as long as it took them to get from 'the East' to Jerusalem, what's the need for celebrating. "Look, the Star's still where it's been for the past two years! This calls for a party!" Nah. Obviously, they had traveled based on where they first saw the Star, but the Star itself was no longer showing--until they left Herod when it appeared again, thus showing them that they were on the right track, and thus the celebration.



You would have thought Herod could have had someone follow the 'Wise' men and just murder the child in question.


Actually, it's pretty certain that Herod just expected the Magi to fall for his statement that he, too, wanted to worship the Child; and in fact, if it hadn't been for God's warning, they most likely would have. Putting a spy on their tails might have warned them ("not all spies are good spies, we know this" [apologies to Tom Paxton]), whereas he had no reason to think they wouldn't want to tell the news to any interested party.

I'm pretty sure he was kicking himself about the idea of a spy later....



P.S. You really should kick this around at the 'Bad Mythology' BB, not Bad Astronomy...


Well, it's that time of year when everybody associated with Astronomy gets asked questions about the Star, so it is astronomy-related, even if only seasonly. As for "mythology", _that_ we could take to a different bulletin board. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

The (of course, it didn't happen in the dead of winter, anyway....) Curtmudgeon

Diogenes
2001-Nov-05, 09:30 PM
Thanks Curtmudgeon, for a bit more analysation..

Of course, when all else fails, one can always whip out the old.. " God works in mysterious ways.."...

However, regards:

"Actually, it's pretty certain that Herod just expected the Magi to fall for his statement that he, too, wanted to worship the Child; and in fact, if it hadn't been for God's warning, they most likely would have"

It would have been nice of God to warn a few other families about getting out of Dodge, till Herod died, also.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Diogenes on 2001-11-05 16:31 ]</font>

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-05, 09:41 PM
On 2001-11-05 16:30, Diogenes wrote:
Thanks Curtmudgeon, for a bit more analysation..


At least, I'm good for something! Over-analysation's a dirty job, but...ah, you know the rest.



...However, regards:

"Actually, it's pretty certain that Herod just expected the Magi to fall for his statement that he, too, wanted to worship the Child; and in fact, if it hadn't been for God's warning, they most likely would have"

It would have been nice of God to warn a few other families about getting out of Dodge, till Herod died, also.


This one we can go on with, and it certainly will be off-topic for BABB. There's a complete area of theology devoted to this question, Why does God let bad things happen? If your point is anything other than rhetorical (as I suspect), then send me a private message and I can probably start you on a reading list. But there's no easy answer to it, even for believers.

The (God certainly doesn't believe in making everything easy for us) Curtmudgeon

Simon
2001-Nov-06, 06:21 AM
Actually, I've heard that the Star of Bethlehem might have been a supernova. Any stellar remenants found in that direction?

Well, actually, since there's dispute over when exactly Jesus was born, knowing the direction to look in would be tricky...

Matherly
2001-Nov-06, 12:41 PM
{Carl blinks}

Awwww... all the cool insiteful things I wanned to say have already been said.

{Carl pouts}

Anyways, it is nice to see that people still read the Bible and think rationally about what it says instead of just parroting what other people tell them and assume that Jesus spoke English since that's what there Bible is writen it.

{Carl notices he is on a soapbox. He blushes and quickly scurries away}

Peter B
2001-Nov-06, 01:40 PM
Folks

You're all missing one rather important fact.

Herod died in 4BC.

If he was involved in any shenanigans to do with Jesus's birth, then Jesus must've been born earlier than that.

Anyway, last Sunday I saw a program from the UK, hosted by some BBC correspondent that mentioned the significance of Jupiter entering another constellation (Sagittarius I think) in around 5 or 6 BC. In any case, the constellation was supposed to be the one which astrologers had assigned to the Judeans.

And I remember hearing something about about a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in September 7BC.

Golly, these significant astronomical events just keep happening.

Sorry folks, it seems that you can find something astrologically significant for just about any date you'd like to ascribe to Jesus's birth. It reminds me of a book which came out just before the last return of Halley's Comet which said that, well, yes, every major disaster on Earth CAN be associated with a comet.

Gimme a break.

Matherly
2001-Nov-06, 04:14 PM
Actually, I had always heard that the Gregorian calandar was off (3 is usually the number of years quoted, but no one really knows).



On 2001-11-06 08:40, Peter B wrote:
Gimme a break.


O.K., I'll bite.

A break from trying to research/debate an astronomical event near/at the time of Jesus' birth?

A break from trying to research/debate an astrological event near/at the time of Jesus' birth?

Or a break for wanted to associate any event with Jesus' birth?

[Note: edit added to put new info in without double posting]
_________________
The poster formerly known as Carl Matherly

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Matherly on 2001-11-06 11:39 ]</font>

DJ
2001-Nov-06, 04:35 PM
Two comments that came to mind as I read this fascinating thread:

1) The Gregorian calendar is off by quite a bit, possibly decades. It is unclear exactly what manipulations went on and why,

2) The answer to the other question: Why does God allow bad things to happen? Answer: Because nothing is really bad. When the tiger kills the gazelle, the only creatures that think this is bad are the humans. Tigers think it's a tasty meal, and gazelle's are just left wondering why they're chased so often.

Matherly
2001-Nov-06, 04:41 PM
On 2001-11-06 11:35, DJ wrote:
Why does God allow bad things to happen? Answer: Because nothing is really bad.

While I personally wouldn't presume I knew the answer to the problem of Evil's existance, I have to admit that there is a degree of logic in that thought.

Kaptain K
2001-Nov-06, 04:43 PM
... assume that Jesus spoke English since that's what there Bible is writen in...

Not only that, when was the last time you saw a picture of Jesus that portrayed him looking even slightly jewish? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_confused.gif


_________________
All else (is never) being equal.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kaptain K on 2001-11-06 11:45 ]</font>

Matherly
2001-Nov-06, 04:56 PM
Oooooo... good point Kap'n K!!!

Diogenes
2001-Nov-06, 06:15 PM
On 2001-11-06 11:35, DJ wrote:
Two comments that came to mind as I read this fascinating thread:

1) The Gregorian calendar is off by quite a bit, possibly decades. It is unclear exactly what manipulations went on and why,

2) The answer to the other question: Why does God allow bad things to happen? Answer: Because nothing is really bad. When the tiger kills the gazelle, the only creatures that think this is bad are the humans. Tigers think it's a tasty meal, and gazelle's are just left wondering why they're chased so often.


I somehow feel comfortable with my belief that Tigers chasing gazelles is somewhat different than the kings` soldiers disemboweling 2 year olds. Unless, of course they are going eat them later, or at least share them with someone who would otherwise go hungry. A slow tiger perhaps?

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-06, 10:05 PM
On 2001-11-06 11:43, Kaptain K wrote:

... assume that Jesus spoke English since that's what there Bible is writen in...

Not only that, when was the last time you saw a picture of Jesus that portrayed him looking even slightly jewish? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_confused.gif


This is the one that really gets me when people start seeing pictures of Jesus, Mary, Satan, et-bloody-cetera in their tortillas/on their walls/in the WTC smoke, et-bloody-cetera-again.

We simply don't know what any of them really look(ed) like. Period. What they are really seeing is something that sort of reminds them of some Renaissance Italian's idea of what they might have looked like, at a time period when Jews were very much considered evil by the Church. Or maybe a Renaissance Dutchman (did Vermeer or Rembrandt even do religious paintings?). But anyway, as you point out KK, not a single one of those paintings looks Jewish. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

By the way, Jesus is always shown as a handsome man, perhaps even somewhat effeminate. The closest thing we have to a physical description is a prophecy by Isaiah, where he says that the Redeemer will have no physical beauty to attract people--people will follow Him because of who He is and what He teaches, not just because He looks like a pre-Hollywood superstar. I would suspect that most paintings of Shylock from 'Merchant of Venice' or The Wandering Jew look more like Jesus must have looked than those that purport to be "of" Him.

The (that comforts me, being ugly myself) Curtmudgeon

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-06, 10:13 PM
On 2001-11-06 13:15, Diogenes wrote:
I somehow feel comfortable with my belief that Tigers chasing gazelles is somewhat different than the kings` soldiers disemboweling 2 year olds. Unless, of course they are going eat them later, or at least share them with someone who would otherwise go hungry. A slow tiger perhaps?


Now there is something you and I can agree on, Dio. I would also disagree that the Slaughter of the Innocents is comparable, morally, to a tiger getting lunch (or a gazelle getting lunched /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif ).

Pedantic aside: Tigers are Asian, gazelles are African. Tigers should never lunch on gazelles except in a frightfully ill-managed zoo or wildlife park. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif

The (hope my agreement doesn't frighten you off!) Curtmudgeon

Peter B
2001-Nov-07, 11:27 AM
Matherley bit and wanted to know why I wanted a break.

Well, maybe I was getting a bit over the top there.

I suppose my point is that so many events in the Bible are now considered not to have ever taken place, so there's no reason to assume the Star of Bethlehem was real either.

Nevertheless, we now have at least three unusual astronomical events spread over about six years, any of which could be the star of Bethlehem. If you add to them one-off events which we have no way of checking (short of a time machine) such as comets and meteorites, you get a range of phenomena which COULD have been the Star of Bethlehem. And if you were to play around with an astronomical program set around that time, how many more unusual events might you find?

Another part of the problem is that the significant event of September 7BC was in a different constellation to the one at the top of this thread, yet both both claim to be the constellation associated with the Jews. This is starting to smack of pseudo-science masquerading as real science.

AFAIK, Jesus is supposed to have been born while Herod was still alive. He was presumably born in Bethlehem, though that might've been made up so that Jesus could later claim to have been meeting the prophecies.

Other things to remember is that two of the four gospels contain no birth stories, and the other two gospels disagree - one has shepherds and the other has wise men. Given that many would-be messiahs and gods in that part of the world made similar claims to those ascribed to Jesus, why are those of Jesus given more credibility?

Peter B
2001-Nov-07, 11:37 AM
Just thought you might want some info about the calendar.

The BC/AD system was developed by the monk Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century. Up until that time, dates were reckoned in the year of the city of Rome. Dionysius did his sums, checking things like who was consul when, and so on, and came to the conclusion that Jesus was born in the year 753 of the city. He designated that year 1 in the year of the Lord (anno domini). The year before was 1 BC, because Dionysius lived at a time when the concept of zero was yet to be introduced to the West.

Unfortunately, he was out, by at least four years, but, AFAIK, no more than about eight. Jesus was born in the reign of Augustus, before Herod died, and was crucified when Tiberius was emperor and Pontius Pilatus was prefect or procurator in Judea.

hullaballo
2001-Nov-07, 12:42 PM
Not only that, when was the last time you saw a picture of Jesus that portrayed him looking even slightly jewish? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_confused.gif

If someone could please tell me what does a Jew look like. We are talking a religious group. What does a christian look like?

Matherly
2001-Nov-07, 12:43 PM
On 2001-11-07 06:27, Peter B wrote:
Matherley bit and wanted to know why I wanted a break.
<massive sniping>


Question answered. Thank you.

I do see your point. If nothing else, the truth of what happened is so hoplessly mired in the past that the only thing one can do is (dare I say it) have faith /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif.

As for why Jesus is considered the Christ...<shrug> there's that pesky faith again.

(And for those who are new, in the intrest of full disclosure- I am a Universalist. I believe that the hand of the Divine works as much in the Tao te Ching as it does in the Bible (just to pick two books))

Chief Engineer Scott
2001-Nov-07, 01:10 PM
In an earlier The Curtmudgeon stated that both Joseph and Mary were of the house of David.
Mary's cousin Elizabeth is clearly stated in Luke to be a "daughter of Aaron", this makes them of the house of Levi.
In addition, as Joseph is supposedly NOT the father then his geneology doesn't matter either.

Kaptain K
2001-Nov-07, 04:06 PM
If someone could please tell me what does a Jew look like.

Excuse my sloppy linguistic shortcut. Substitute Judean, Palestinian, Beduin, or any other term that refers to a native of region at the eastern end of the Mediteranean Sea known as the Middle East.

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-07, 06:45 PM
On 2001-11-07 06:27, Peter B wrote:
...Nevertheless, we now have at least three unusual astronomical events spread over about six years, any of which could be the star of Bethlehem.


I'm fairly certain that if you dig a little bit, you'll find considerably more than just three astronomical events that have been, at one time or another, associated with the Star, not even counting the ephemerals that you mention.



...Another part of the problem is that the significant event of September 7BC was in a different constellation to the one at the top of this thread, yet both both claim to be the constellation associated with the Jews. This is starting to smack of pseudo-science masquerading as real science.


Yep, I caught that one, too. Is there a reputable astrology (I can't believe I just put those two words together! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif ) book that can verify which planet, if any, really was associated with the Jews/Judea as of circa 1 AD +/- 10 years? Any classic Greek, Egyptian or Persian astrology texts?



...Other things to remember is that two of the four gospels contain no birth stories, and the other two gospels disagree - one has shepherds and the other has wise men.

(Note: emphasis added by me.)

Not disagreement, just different details included. Luke makes it clear that he's talking about the exact night that Jesus was born and the shepherds visited; Matthew's account, as I've shown earlier in this thread, obviously takes place approximately two years after His birth when the Magi show up. Since the two events are separated by that much time, there's no reason to believe that they couldn't both be true (except, of course, for those who choose to believe that the whole thing is a fantasy).

You might as well say that our favourite childhood tales of George Washington "disagree" because one has him chopping down his father's cherry tree and another has him throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac River. Surely, one story does not preclude the other in any way.



Given that many would-be messiahs and gods in that part of the world made similar claims to those ascribed to Jesus, why are those of Jesus given more credibility?


The main reason, of course, is the fact that His birth fulfilled so very many prophecies which were in written existence centuries before His birth. (The last OT book, Malachi, was written approximately 400 BC; other prophets are even earlier.) The other incidents you mention are conspicuous by the fact that the so-called signs of the "great" person's birth are totally unknown until after the fact.

F'rinstance, Sargon II of Assyria (or was it Shalmanesser? doesn't really matter which) was also supposed to have been born of a virgin, according to accounts written during his kingship. But there are no 400-year-older Assyrian writings prophesying that a great Assyrian king would be born of a virgin and extend the Empire to its largest extent ever. It's just that he writes he was born of a virgin, which proves that he's semi-divine, so therefore anyone that crosses him is guilty not only of lese majeste but also sacrilege. All of it very much ex post facto.

A second fact I'll put forward, without putting too much faith in it getting accepted here, is that no putative religion based on Sargon II (or Shalmanesser, whatever) being the "Son of God" survived after his death. Survived, in fact, in spite of extreme attempts to put a stop to it and everyone who followed it. If there ever was such a religion, it just "softly and silently vanish[ed] away" (apologies to LC and all snark-hunting bakers). False religions don't stand up against persecution very well.

The (we're getting waaaay too far off track now) Curtmudgeon

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-07, 07:15 PM
On 2001-11-07 08:10, Chief Engineer Scott wrote:
In an earlier The Curtmudgeon stated that both Joseph and Mary were of the house of David.
Mary's cousin Elizabeth is clearly stated in Luke to be a "daughter of Aaron", this makes them of the house of Levi.


That makes her of the house of Levi. It doesn't make Mary of the house of Levi, because of course we're not told on which side they're cousins. Jewishness is considered matrilineal (i.e., if your mother is Jewish, you're Jewish, no matter what your father is), but I think that tribal affiliation goes through the father. If Mary and Elizabeth are cousins because their mothers are sisters, then one could be a Levite and one a Judahite through their respective fathers. If tribal affiliation is also matrilineal, then the converse is true (i.e., their fathers could be brothers). Or one's mother and the other's father were sibs.

I've got plenty of Hodge, Houtsma, etc., cousins without having a drop of Hodge, Houtsma, etc. blood in me.



In addition, as Joseph is supposedly NOT the father then his geneology doesn't matter either.


It does for some things. For example, I only mentioned Joseph's geneology to account for why they were in Bethlehem; you can take it for granted that as far as the Roman tax-farmers were concerned, his pregnant wife was bearing his kid and they were all going to Bethlehem to be numbered and taxed as a family.

Also, it does have a bearing on settling questions of Jesus's right to the throne of the Kingdom of Israel, if only to put to rest any conflicting claim. He inherits the throne both through His mother, which is His only actual human bloodline, and also through His adoptive father Joseph. By tying both claims together, any other possible contender is eliminated without the need for comparing whose claim is "closer".

The (no Hanoverian Pretenders for this throne!) Curtmudgeon

ToSeek
2001-Nov-07, 07:22 PM
On 2001-11-07 14:15, The Curtmudgeon wrote:


On 2001-11-07 08:10, Chief Engineer Scott wrote:
In addition, as Joseph is supposedly NOT the father then his geneology doesn't matter either.


It does for some things. For example, I only mentioned Joseph's geneology to account for why they were in Bethlehem; you can take it for granted that as far as the Roman tax-farmers were concerned, his pregnant wife was bearing his kid and they were all going to Bethlehem to be numbered and taxed as a family.



I think the point is that the whole purpose of the genealogy given in the gospels is to prove that Jesus is a descendant of David (as he is required to be according to the Old Testament). But if it's a virgin birth there's no point in giving Joseph's family tree in support of this.

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-07, 07:26 PM
On 2001-11-07 07:42, hullaballo wrote:

Not only that, when was the last time you saw a picture of Jesus that portrayed him looking even slightly jewish? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_confused.gif

If someone could please tell me what does a Jew look like. We are talking a religious group. What does a christian look like?


Nope, we're talking about an ethnicity. The word 'Jew' has two meanings, a follower of the Judaic religion, but also a member of the tribe of Judah, one of twelve (or thirteen, depending on how you count 'em) co-associated tribes descending from a common bloodline. As such, it's perfectly possible to talk about Jewish physical characteristics, especially as (until fairly modern times) almost all Jews married within the bloodline, which as any biologist or rancher will tell you, would tend to reinforce physical similarities.

Yes, there are followers of the Jewish religion who are not ethnic Jews--they're called 'proselytes'. Sammy Davis, Jr. did not look like an ethnic Jew, but religiously of course he was Jewish. A comparable point would be to say that there are American citizens who are not subject to American laws--if by the first 'American' you mean a citizen of either of the two American continents, and by the second you mean the laws of the United States of America. 'American' has two different meanings (a fact which often escapes or infuriates our cousins in the Frozen North, eh), but context usually makes clear which is intended.

The (I'm double-American) Curtmudgeon

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-07, 07:45 PM
On 2001-11-07 14:22, ToSeek wrote:
I think the point is that the whole purpose of the genealogy given in the gospels is to prove that Jesus is a descendant of David (as he is required to be according to the Old Testament). But if it's a virgin birth there's no point in giving Joseph's family tree in support of this.

(Note: emphasis added by me.)

That's geneologies, ToS. Compare the two geneologies in Matthew and Luke, and you'll see that Luke gives Mary's and Matthew (who is often very concerned with Jewish legal questions) gives Joseph's. It was important to the Gospel writers to provide both, but Joseph's is because he was Jesus' adoptive father.

The (geneologies-r-us) Curtmudgeon

PS: Damn, I seem to be taking over this thread as if I thought it was my very own. I really am not trying to dominate the discussion, just answer points that I see other posters raising, or where I think they've misread or misunderstood the Biblical text or comments that I've made earlier. I desperately do not want to be seen as trying to hammer-down, or out-shout, any opposition. It's just that while I can live with someone holding differing views on what the Bible means, I get a little miffed when someone claims the Bible says something other than what it does.

Diogenes
2001-Nov-07, 08:49 PM
Dear Curtmudgeon,
Don't apologize. The thread has diverged a bit, but you are providing some inciteful(errr... insightfull)insight. heh, heh.. You seem to know what you are talking about, or otherwise have a high level of expertise in the search function. you are a good excuse to keep coming back.. I'm working on some food for thought which I will try to serve up later.. Don't go away.

ToSeek
2001-Nov-08, 02:41 PM
On 2001-11-07 14:45, The Curtmudgeon wrote:
Compare the two geneologies in Matthew and Luke, and you'll see that Luke gives Mary's and Matthew (who is often very concerned with Jewish legal questions) gives Joseph's. It was important to the Gospel writers to provide both, but Joseph's is because he was Jesus' adoptive father.



Is there any real evidence that Luke's genealogy is for Mary, or is this just a way of avoiding the obvious contradiction?

Diogenes
2001-Nov-08, 08:06 PM
Yeah, if it was so important for the Gospel writers to provide both, why didn't they all provide both?



My question is, of course, rhetorical..

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-08, 08:13 PM
On 2001-11-08 09:41, ToSeek wrote:
Is there any real evidence that Luke's genealogy is for Mary, or is this just a way of avoiding the obvious contradiction?


I had typed up a reply to this already, then went to check another URL for something, came back via my browser's 'Back' button, and the whole @#$%^&*( message body had been reset. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_evil.gif That hasn't happened to me before, and didn't just now when I repeated it. Pout.

Anyway, ToS, my earlier reply which the BB software had determined you are not allowed to read, simply said that you have a valid question there, but since I don't have my Study Bible here at work (where I generally post from) I'll have to send myself-at-home a note to check there and get back to you. Actually, reply #1 was a bit longer-winded than just that, but it would have boiled down to the same thing.

The (very mudgeonly right now) Curtmudgeon

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-09, 02:19 AM
On 2001-11-08 09:41, ToSeek wrote:
Is there any real evidence that Luke's genealogy is for Mary, or is this just a way of avoiding the obvious contradiction?


Right, I'm back at my hovel now, with reference works to hand. Here's to answer your question (page 1193 of The Criswell Study Bible, for those of you who want to follow in the text):



3:23-38 The genealogy given here reveals the true humanity of Jesus, substantiates His messianic claim by noting his Davidic descent, and reveals the universal nature of His mission by tracing back to Adam [note: the genealogy in Matthew only goes back to Abraham; Matthew is considered to be the most Jewish-oriented of the Gospel writers]. The ancestors from Heli to Zerubbabel (v. 27) are not known elsewhere....Several notable differences between this genealogy and the one in Matthew 1:1-16 have been reconciled by either of the following possibilities: (1) The operation of the law of Levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5) suggests that one genealogy (either Luke's or Matthew's) gives the legal descent and the other the physical descent, or (2) Both Joseph and Mary were descended from David by different branches of the family. Matthew gives Joseph's descent, which is the legal descent of Jesus [note: this is true even though Jesus is only the adopted son of Joseph]. Luke gives Mary's descent, which is the actual connection of Jesus with the race that He came to save. The second explanation has fewer difficulties and is less complicated.

(Note: emphasis and italicised notes added by me.)

So, the brief answer to your question, ToS, is no, there is apparently no other evidence that Luke is giving Mary's genealogy (among other things, I've finally learned the correct spelling of 'genealogy', which is bad considering I'm the current holder of our family's).

I've checked that reference to Deuteronomy 25:5, and that's the description of the Jewish law that if an elder brother, being married, dies without children, his next brother in line takes the widow to wife, and the firstborn of his children will actually be counted as the deceased brother's child. In other words, by this explanation, the discrepancy between Matthew's "Jacob begat Joseph" and Luke's "Joseph, son of Heli" is that one is the father-by-law and the other is father-by-nature, next younger brother of the other. The reason this explanation is less simple than the Joseph/Mary explanation is that there's more than just that one generation that is different, so one would have to postulate numerous cases of younger brothers doing their fraternal duty. A whole string of 'em, in fact. Possible, but a lot less likely than the idea that Luke used "son of Heli" when to our way of thinking he really meant "son-in-law of Heli".

The (now we'll sing a hymn and pass the plate) Curtmudgeon

Lusion
2001-Nov-09, 06:18 AM
Okay, I'll try to keep the theology short here, and make a possibly futile attempt to pull this thread back into the realm of astronomy.

I'm going to assume, probably quite safely, that not everyone on this board is Christian. It would be nice if people kept this in mind. As for the non-Christians, it'd also be nice if they kept in mind that some people on this board are Christian. As much as I love a debate about Christianity, or any other religion for that matter, the issue as to whether or not Christianity is true is outside the scope of this forum. Regardless, the topic itself is very interesting and falls into the realm of this forum. Thus, I think the proper way to approach this topic, especially in this forum, is in a completely secular manner.

Part of what I'm going to do here is humor both Christian and non-Christian viewpoints, only to demonstrate that there is a lot of futile stuff there. But I'll also be tying in a central theme that's probably more relevant to the Star of Bethlehem in particular.

Geneologies and Gospels

The geneology of Matthew, when compared to other geneologies, can be found to be missing a few steps. Thus, some claim, it's not a real geneology, therefore, it's made up. A rebuttal: Matthew 1:17 lists fourteen generations from Abraham to David, from David to some odd event that was significant, and from that event to the birth of Jesus. This cites the number 14 three times. It has been suggested that geneologies are often handed down skipping generations, and that this is done partially to help people memorize them. To me, that doesn't sound too outlandish of a claim (note also that the author of Matthew was obviously literate, and it's not unreasonable to understand that he had access to scriptures, which must have been at least somewhat similar to the old testament writings).

Now you can compare Matthew's geneology to Luke's, and you notice disrepancies. These disrepancies are very apparant, and apologists have been explaining them since day 1. The most cited theological explanation is that Luke's geneology is that of Mary. Other explanations are that the geneologies are often transferred along maternal lines. Now, Luke doesn't say that the geneology he cites is of Mary's line, so the only evidence I can see of this claim is tradition. As for partially maternal geneologies, that doesn't sound unreasonable. If you throw in that tradition allows for skipping people in geneologies, you create something a lot more potentially complex. I think to delve into these complexities, in an attempt to prove that it was all made up, would not be productive on this forum (ie, it'd get off topic and very deep way too quickly, and wouldn't resolve anything soon).

The Star of the Gospels

Let's start from a secular view, and piece this together. We're looking for a Star of Bethlehem, and we're looking at geneologies (or, it could be, biblical contradictions, historical disrepancies, whatever your choice--after 2,000 years of people doing this, I really doubt anything said would be new). Anyway, we have the bible. The most skeptic, anti-Christian on the face of the planet, in order to be reasonable, has to admit at least one thing--that the bible was written at all.

It's good to just start there. Now let's approach things in an objective way. Open the book of Matthew and start reading it. The first thing he does is present this geneology... begat this begat that, yada yada... and then the good stuff. There's immaculate conception, and then an angel tells Joseph in a dream not to sweat it, that it's meant to be. The angel then tells Joseph that Mary's child is of divine origin, and that he should call the baby Jesus, to fulfill a prophecy about a virgin bearing a son that should be called Immanuel. Now, to me, to call someone Jesus to fulfill a prophecy that he be called Immanuel is interesting.

I don't even think the rest of this lines up in the original Hebrew. The prophecy is often attributed to Isaiah, and is highly disputed in some circles. According to what I can gather from the Jewish community here, the word for "virgin" in the Isaiah prophecies (Isaiah 7:14) is better translated as a young woman. Furthermore, by context, this isn't really a prophecy about the Messiah.

However, by looking at extra biblical texts (eg, Qumran--ie, the Dead Sea Scrolls--do not confuse this with the Qu'ran, the holy text of Islam), it's easy to see that Messianic prophecies and common interpretations suggest that the scriptures would have multiple interpretations that are true. Thus, it's not unreasonable to maintain, regardless of the fact that Isaiah's prophecy doesn't quite fit the situation, that it can indeed be regarded as a philosophy.

What am I getting at? Well, let's step back again, once more. Matthew is writing this text decades after Jesus reportedly died. He adds this verse as a prophecy fulfillment. If you continue to look at things objectively, you'll see other patterns. A story is told in depth of the devil attempting to temp Jesus on a mountain. A prayer Jesus gave alone in the garden right before he was crucified is quoted. Matthew says that Jesus is born of a virgin.

Now, think of the authors and their relationship to what they are writing. What do the authors of the book really know, and how do they know it? How can Jesus's prayer get quoted right before he's crucified? How can more than one gospel make an account of the temptation of Jesus if he was alone when it happened? What's going on here? If the bible were really the word of God, then this could have came about through divine inspiration. Even this, you can interpret on various levels--from literalism (2 Timothy 3:16) to an imperfect, yet still divine, type of revelation (1 Corinthians 13:12).

As I'm not proposing a theological debate, I won't make any conclusions. But I will point out that all of this depends on what you believe, which is an issue of religious conviction, and would probably not be fit to debate in detail on this forum. But regardless of your faith, it is apparant that the gospels are an attempt to spread the teachings of Jesus, and to share that Jesus was the son of God. At least part of the purpose of the gospels was to demonstrate Jesus's divine origin.

This is where the virgin birth, the temptation of Jesus, and our Star of Bethlehem all join together--they are attempts by the authors of the gospels to demonstrate that Jesus has fulfilled prophecies. The prophecies we may never really know, even though we have things like the old testament and the Qumran, because there's nothing tying to the particular theological doctrines held by the common community around the time of the writings of the gospels. The closest references to what these prophecies were are the gospels themselves.

Secular approaches to the Star of Bethlehem

So, is there a secular way to resolve the Star of Bethlehem mystery? IMO, yes, but it involves a few assumptions. With all of the miracles of divine revelation, ressurection of the dead, turning water into wine, etc etc, going on, I would wonder why the Star of Bethlehem would necessarily have to be astronomical in nature. Without these miracles, I'd wonder why the Star of Bethlehem would be any different than the virgin birth.

Nevertheless, if you humor the Christian viewpoint, and if you take the story of the wise men at heart, there are some clues as to what to look for. Sometime around 1AD, give or take a few years, there was a "star" (which should not necessarily be interpreted as a star as we view it in modern terms--ie, a glowing gravity ball of hydrogen) that in some way stood out. This star somehow was able to determine a westward location on a revolving planet.

I'd say that a holy grail here would probably be a temporary earth satellite in an unstable, yet roughly geosynchronous orbit, or something to that effect, because it'd have to determine a location. Even a roughly visible object that hovered over the same place on earth may not have caught much public attention, but would have shocked the tunic off of astronomers of the day. Of course, I'm not sure how such an object can be used to determine the location within a 1/2 house radius--perhaps the area of interest was larger, depending on the estate. I'm also not sure how we'd know, today, that such an object would exist. But wouldn't it be neat to do things like propose some theories as to how such objects could possibly exist in this thread? (eg, propose some orbits, some theories as to how Eastern astronomers of the era could use such an oddity to locate the birth child, etc)?

I'm not proposing this as a Star of Bethlehem theory, but rather, am pointing out an example of something that would, in fact, be fun to entertain on this forum. Is this theory at all possible? If not, can another type of object do the things that the star did? Can it be determined what the star's nature actually was?

BTW, there's a specific reason why I don't think the "star" should necessarily be interpreted in modern terms. That reason is called "anachronism". If someone called it a star back then, they obviously didn't mean a big ball of light fueled by hydrogen fusion, as they had no concept of this stuff. Thus, to say that any bright object in the heavens is a star, to me, is more of a translation of viewpoints and language (which, btw, wasn't English, which is yet another issue, but I'd ignore that one) than it is a complete misnomer.

Diogenes
2001-Nov-09, 11:16 AM
Lusion,
Nice contribution to this thread..

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-09, 09:31 PM
Lusion, I'll start by agreeing with Dio (again--better watch it, Dio, we're getting more alike every day!) and saying thanx for joining in with a great contribution.

That, of course, doesn't mean that I agree with everything in it. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif (Okay, raise your hands out there, those of you who thought I would!)



On 2001-11-09 01:18, Lusion wrote:
Okay, I'll try to keep the theology short here, and make a possibly futile attempt to pull this thread back into the realm of astronomy.

Yes, please do! It was never an intention of mine to sidetrack this onto theology, it's just that I couldn't see letting some people's questions go unanswered, or seeing misstatements of the Biblical text going without pointing out. I've tried to stay away from telling anyone "You're wrong and I'm right," although I'll plead guilty to phrasing my statements in the manner in which I hold them, as facts. But hopefully, I've managed to keep my focus on just pointing out how the text reads, and staying away from interpretations; I'll admit the Joseph/Mary genealogy thing got a bit over that line.



...Regardless, the topic itself is very interesting and falls into the realm of this forum. Thus, I think the proper way to approach this topic, especially in this forum, is in a completely secular manner.

Fair 'nough.



Geneologies and Gospels

...To me, that doesn't sound too outlandish of a claim (note also that the author of Matthew was obviously literate, and it's not unreasonable to understand that he had access to scriptures, which must have been at least somewhat similar to the old testament writings).

But I really don't understand this point at all. Why not just assume that he had access to the Old Testament writings themselves, rather than something "somewhat similar"? After all, the Hebrew text had been translated into the Greek Septuagint in Alexandria around 250 BC or so, so the texts were readily available in both Hebrew and Greek for at least a couple of centuries before Jesus' birth. Even if you don't accept that the author of the Gospel According to Matthew was the same as the Apostle Matthew, the OT text was conveniently available so there's no need to postulate anything "somewhat similar". And if you believe, as modern textual critics do, that the Gospel wasn't even written until at least a century after Jesus, then that's all the more time after the translation of the OT.

Whether you believe the book of Matthew to be "gospel", in the modern little-g sense of the word, or not, surely it's not too much to assume that whoever wrote it, and whenever he (or they) wrote, and even why-ever he/they wrote it, had access to the OT itself.



...
The Star of the Gospels

Let's start from a secular view, and piece this together. We're looking for a Star of Bethlehem, and we're looking at geneologies (or, it could be, biblical contradictions, historical disrepancies, whatever your choice--after 2,000 years of people doing this, I really doubt anything said would be new). Anyway, we have the bible. The most skeptic, anti-Christian on the face of the planet, in order to be reasonable, has to admit at least one thing--that the bible was written at all.

It's good to just start there. Now let's approach things in an objective way. Open the book of Matthew and start reading it. The first thing he does is present this geneology... begat this begat that, yada yada... and then the good stuff. There's immaculate conception, ...

Just a very minor point, and not at all in disagreement with you, but just to avoid a possible obfuscation for some people. The Catholic Church (and some other denominations) have a tenet called The Immaculate Conception (with initial capitals included--I realise you didn't capitalise, which is why I say this isn't disagreeing with your post)--there's a feast day coming up in early December, I believe--which is not the conception of Jesus by Mary, but rather the conception of Mary herself, since they believe that in order for Mary to have birthed the sinless Jesus, she had to have been sinless herself. So it might be best to shy away from that "i.c." phrase when talking about Jesus' conception, since any Catholics (etc.) in the audience might get foncused about where in the genealogy we actually are.



...and then an angel tells Joseph in a dream not to sweat it, that it's meant to be. The angel then tells Joseph that Mary's child is of divine origin, and that he should call the baby Jesus, to fulfill a prophecy about a virgin bearing a son that should be called Immanuel. Now, to me, to call someone Jesus to fulfill a prophecy that he be called Immanuel is interesting.

Er, um, it's very near a quibble, but that's not quite the way it's worded. The Angel tells Joseph, "thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." Then Matthew, or whomever the author is considered to be, makes the editorial insertion, "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Like I say, it's pretty durn-near a quibble, but as Dr. Sanson Currasco would say, "exactitude of meaning" is important.

By the way, just to simplify, I'm going to use the name "Matthew" from here on as shorthand for the phrase "the author or authors of the Gospel According to Matthew" (similarly with "Luke", etc. as needed). Please feel free to identify this person or persons with the Apostle Matthew, as I do, or not, as you might wish. I just don't want to keep typing the longer phrase every time.


I don't even think the rest of this lines up in the original Hebrew. The prophecy is often attributed to Isaiah, and is highly disputed in some circles.

Again, I'm confused by your wording. Why "often attributed to Isaiah", when you yourself cite the very chapter and verse, Isaiah 7:14, where it occurs? There it is, in black and white:


007:014 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Other than the translation of the name Immanuel, which wouldn't have been needed by Isaiah's original Hebrew-speaking audience, it's obviously the exact prophecy that Matthew quotes.


According to what I can gather from the Jewish community here, the word for "virgin" in the Isaiah prophecies (Isaiah 7:14) is better translated as a young woman. Furthermore, by context, this isn't really a prophecy about the Messiah.

This has been going the rounds for a long time, although originally it was based not on the Hebrew word in Isaiah, but on the Greek word 'parthenos' which is used in the NT as its translation. I won't touch it here, since this definitely gets into matters of interpretation rather than text.

But as for the matter of context, every Jewish scholar knows that many statements and prophecies of God have multiple referents in time. The Talmud and Mishnah are full of them. They choose to make a point of this one because they do not accept that Jesus was the fulfillment of any OT prophecy, but as a general rule they do not let the fact that the context of a prophecy is one specific event limit how, or how many times, the prophecy is fulfilled.

[For those who left their Textbook at home, the context is a request by Ahaz, King of Judah, of a sign to show that a recent alliance of Syria and Israel [at that time a separate kingdom from Judah] would not mean the ruin of Judah. Isaiah in reply gives his prophecy of the virgin-born child to be named Emmanuel.]


However, by looking at extra biblical texts (eg, Qumran--ie, the Dead Sea Scrolls--do not confuse this with the Qu'ran, the holy text of Islam), it's easy to see that Messianic prophecies and common interpretations suggest that the scriptures would have multiple interpretations that are true. Thus, it's not unreasonable to maintain, regardless of the fact that Isaiah's prophecy doesn't quite fit the situation, that it can indeed be regarded as a philosophy.

Which is what I just said, and I should have just kept my mouth shut until you got to it. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif



What am I getting at? Well, let's step back again, once more. Matthew is writing this text decades after Jesus reportedly died. He adds this verse as a prophecy fulfillment. If you continue to look at things objectively, you'll see other patterns. A story is told in depth of the devil attempting to temp Jesus on a mountain. A prayer Jesus gave alone in the garden right before he was crucified is quoted. Matthew says that Jesus is born of a virgin.

Now, think of the authors and their relationship to what they are writing. What do the authors of the book really know, and how do they know it? How can Jesus's prayer get quoted right before he's crucified? How can more than one gospel make an account of the temptation of Jesus if he was alone when it happened? What's going on here? If the bible were really the word of God, then this could have came about through divine inspiration.

And if it's not the Word of God, it could still have come about, since Matthew was supposed to be a daily companion of Jesus for something like three years after the temptation occurred. What, you think they never talked?

I'll grant it's a little harder to justify the knowledge of the Gethsemane prayer on these grounds (albeit, to say "right before he was crucified" compresses approximately a day into a brief moment), since the occasion to talk doesn't appear, unless you accept the Resurrection of Jesus as a fact--in which case, questioning how Matthew knows the exact words of the prayer becomes a moot point. But even so, there are moments in the story when Jesus was _not_ alone and could have told one or more of His apostles what He had prayed.


...This is where the virgin birth, the temptation of Jesus, and our Star of Bethlehem all join together--they are attempts by the authors of the gospels to demonstrate that Jesus has fulfilled prophecies. The prophecies we may never really know, even though we have things like the old testament and the Qumran, because there's nothing tying to the particular theological doctrines held by the common community around the time of the writings of the gospels. The closest references to what these prophecies were are the gospels themselves.

No, the closest references are the OT prophetic texts themselves, which were in writing at least 400 years before Jesus' birth, and translated into Greek about 250 years before. We do know what the prophecies really are, even though we can disagree on whether or not Jesus fulfilled them, or even on His existence. Even religious Jews, who of course refuse to accept that Jesus fulfilled any of them, don't quibble on what the prophecies are.

To say that we "may never really know" the prophecies is just plain silly. They're all there, written down, for everyone to read, no matter whether they then choose to ignore them, or interpret them six different ways from Sunday, or fold them up into paper airplanes, or whatever.


Secular approaches to the Star of Bethlehem

So, is there a secular way to resolve the Star of Bethlehem mystery? IMO, yes, but it involves a few assumptions...Nevertheless, if you humor the Christian viewpoint, and if you take the story of the wise men at heart, there are some clues as to what to look for. Sometime around 1AD, give or take a few years, there was a "star" (which should not necessarily be interpreted as a star as we view it in modern terms--ie, a glowing gravity ball of hydrogen) that in some way stood out. This star somehow was able to determine a westward location on a revolving planet.

The problem is more deep-seated than that. First off, to accept the idea of a Star of Bethlehem from the Bible, and then to refuse everything else that the Bible says about it, seems to me to be a logically untenable position. If the Biblical story is an allegory or "miraculous birth" story in the tradition of so many others, then there's no need to postulate an actual, physical Star at all. It's a morality play, if you will, without any need for historical verification.

On the other hand, if you do accept the idea of a Star of Bethlehem from the Bible, then I feel there is a logical, if not moral, obligation to accept the rest of what the Bible says about it. At least to the extent of what a first-century people would have seen and interpreted in the terms used (i.e., I agree that the Star, as such, doesn't have to agree with a 20th-century definition of a star--e.g., the Greek word 'planet' was used for certain celestial bodies because they were thought to be "wandering" as opposed to fixed stars, but stars of a kind nevertheless).

So not only do you have to accept that the Star was able to pinpoint a specific house in the small village of Bethlehem (and note that while the Star brought the Magi from 'the East' to Jerusalem, they actually had to turn south to get to Bethlehem when they left Herod), but you have to accept that it

appeared at the time of His birth, since that is what attracted their attention and started their journey;
disappeared thereafter, as Herod had to question them diligently as to where and when they had seen the Star, rather than just walk outside and have them point it out to him; and
reappeared immediately after they left Herod, since it's only a short trip, even by camel or mule, from Jerusalem to Bethlehem--and as I mentioned above, in a totally different quarter of the sky but still recognisable to the Magi as the same Star--and brought them to the exact right house.


No astronomical event, be it nova, supernova, planetary conjunction, or gamma ray burst, can satisfy those three points.



...But wouldn't it be neat to do things like propose some theories as to how such objects could possibly exist in this thread? (eg, propose some orbits, some theories as to how Eastern astronomers of the era could use such an oddity to locate the birth child, etc)?...

It doesn't hold for another reason, as well. It's one thing to say, as medieval people did, that comets presage disasters such as wars and pestilences. You get a comet one year, boom, there's a war. You get another comet the next year, boom, there's a plague. You get another comet three years later, boom, there's another war.

It's totally different to have an event that is supposed to herald an important birth--the birth of a Person who by His very nature has to be singular, one-of-a-kind--and then to have someone walk up and say, "Yeah, but twenty-seven years later (or fifty-eleven years later, or two and a half centuries later) the exact same thing was seen." Or even, "Yeah, but see here, a description of the same event was written down seventeen years ago." And even back then, that was possible; no, not everybody could do it, but there were star-watching astrologers and proto-astronomers who could have certainly come forward with such data if it existed.

Supernovae, at least, fit the bill in that regard as being singular events. A star doesn't explode more than once (okay, yes, I know that there are stars that have blown up more than once, but they're not actual supernovae then). But no supernovae can fit the description of the Star of Bethlehem, as I've shown above. They don't appear, disappear, then re-appear in a different quadrant of the sky. And you certainly can't use one to pinpoint a single house in a small village.

But planetary conjunctions, or small terrestrial satellites, or anything else that involves orbits, by definition repeatable, is impossible, because it would have happened again and somebody would have noticed.

The (hey, Carl, is this your soapbox I'm standing on?) Curtmudgeon

[fixed some quotation errors]

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: The Curtmudgeon on 2001-11-09 16:38 ]</font>

[missed a 'not' in the Ahaz account]

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: The Curtmudgeon on 2001-11-09 16:47 ]</font>

Lusion
2001-Nov-09, 11:07 PM
Secular approaches to the Star of Bethlehem
So, is there a secular way to resolve the Star of Bethlehem mystery? IMO, yes, but it involves a few assumptions...Nevertheless, if you humor the Christian viewpoint, and if you take the story of the wise men at heart, there are some clues as to what to look for. Sometime around 1AD, give or take a few years, there was a "star" (which should not necessarily be interpreted as a star as we view it in modern terms--ie, a glowing gravity ball of hydrogen) that in some way stood out. This star somehow was able to determine a westward location on a revolving planet.
The problem is more deep-seated than that. First off, to accept the idea of a Star of Bethlehem from the Bible, and then to refuse everything else that the Bible says about it, seems to me to be a logically untenable position.

You don't have to do that. All you have to do is toy around with idea. I, for example, am not Christian, but see no problem in playing around with orbits, and wondering how wise men could use something like this to find a child.


On the other hand, if you do accept the idea of a Star of Bethlehem from the Bible, then I feel there is a logical, if not moral, obligation to accept the rest of what the Bible says about it.

I could refute this as well, but I won't seed things too much.



So not only do you have to accept that the Star was able to pinpoint a specific house in the small village of Bethlehem (and note that while the Star brought the Magi from 'the East' to Jerusalem, they actually had to turn south to get to Bethlehem when they left Herod), but you have to accept that it

appeared at the time of His birth, since that is what attracted their attention and started their journey;
disappeared thereafter, as Herod had to question them diligently as to where and when they had seen the Star, rather than just walk outside and have them point it out to him; and
reappeared immediately after they left Herod, since it's only a short trip, even by camel or mule, from Jerusalem to Bethlehem--and as I mentioned above, in a totally different quarter of the sky but still recognisable to the Magi as the same Star--and brought them to the exact right house.


I disagree. The star didn't have to disappear, unless Herod was an astronomer or had a set of astronomers in his court, and he had clear visibility.



No astronomical event, be it nova, supernova, planetary conjunction, or gamma ray burst, can satisfy those three points.

I tend to agree. Locating a house is a requirement in order to be able to call this the Star of Bethlehem.



...But wouldn't it be neat to do things like propose some theories as to how such objects could possibly exist in this thread? (eg, propose some orbits, some theories as to how Eastern astronomers of the era could use such an oddity to locate the birth child, etc)?...

...
But planetary conjunctions, or small terrestrial satellites, or anything else that involves orbits, by definition repeatable, is impossible, because it would have happened again and somebody would have noticed.


Orbits are not repeatable by definition. A comet that's temporarily captured by earth's gravity may be flung back out by the moon, or may just sling around once, or something. Can a temporary satellite like this be used by 1st century astronomers to pinpoint a location before they make, say, two year journey?

You could also come up with other theories. Maybe they could only locate, say, a town, and maybe they searched around for a while for the house to come to (by, say, asking questions, or something--note: shepherds at birth, wise men come when Jesus is much older, and make a guest appearance in nativity scenes).

Also, FWIW, nothing really mandates whatever this was being a singular event. But I do contend that people need to keep in mind that they're not merely looking for a bright flash in the sky--that there are other requirements.

Maybe a clearer way to phrase what I'd personally be interested in, in particular, would be a "physical sign fitting the biblical stories of Jesus's birth in the realm of astronomical possibility."

Addendum: I've replied privately to The Curtmudgeon concerning other points in this thread not related to the Star of Bethlehem.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Lusion on 2001-11-09 18:48 ]</font>

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-11, 06:21 PM
Wrench.



On 2001-11-06 11:35, DJ wrote:
1) The Gregorian calendar is off by quite a bit, possibly decades. It is unclear exactly what manipulations went on and why

I've never heard this before. What do you mean, off by decades?



On 2001-11-07 06:37, Peter B wrote:
Dionysius did his sums, checking things like who was consul when, and so on, and came to the conclusion that Jesus was born in the year 753 of the city. He designated that year 1 in the year of the Lord (anno domini).

No, that year was designated 1BC



On 2001-11-07 13:45, The Curtmudgeon wrote:
Yep, I caught that one, too. Is there a reputable astrology (I can't believe I just put those two words together! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif ) book that can verify which planet, if any, really was associated with the Jews/Judea as of circa 1 AD +/- 10 years? Any classic Greek, Egyptian or Persian astrology texts?

Not which planet, but which constellation. But you probably knew that since the post you were responding to said constellation. Anyway, my original post had a link to several webpages that discussed this issue--in fact, one researched admitted that the traditional constellation was Pisces, but that he thought he'd turned up evidence to support his theory that it was another constellation.



On 2001-11-09 18:07, Lusion wrote:
You could also come up with other theories. Maybe they could only locate, say, a town, and maybe they searched around for a while for the house to come to (by, say, asking questions, or something--note: shepherds at birth, wise men come when Jesus is much older, and make a guest appearance in nativity scenes).

That is pretty much what I assumed in my original post. As you say, anything else is untenable, even by technology available only twenty years ago.

You guys gotta get off this religion topic /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

David Hall
2001-Nov-11, 06:33 PM
On 2001-11-11 13:21, GrapesOfWrath wrote:



On 2001-11-07 13:45, The Curtmudgeon wrote:
Yep, I caught that one, too. Is there a reputable astrology (I can't believe I just put those two words together! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif ) book that can verify which planet, if any, really was associated with the Jews/Judea as of circa 1 AD +/- 10 years? Any classic Greek, Egyptian or Persian astrology texts?

Not which planet, but which constellation. But you probably knew that since the post you were responding to said constellation. Anyway, my original post had a link to several webpages that discussed this issue--in fact, one researched admitted that the traditional constellation was Pisces, but that he thought he'd turned up evidence to support his theory that it was another constellation.


They're probably both right. Astrology is nowhere near an "exact" science you know. I wouldn't doubt that different versions have different associations and interpretations for many things. I wouldn't be surprised if astrologers have been fighting over stuff like this for centuries. It would all depend then on who was doing the horoscopes.

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-12, 09:34 AM
Martin Gardner, in the article (http://www.csicop.org/si/9911/gardner.html) that I link to in my link (!), says that Picses was just a happy coincidence for Kepler. Kepler's theory on the subject was one that had been around for hundreds of years, but he was one of the first to go at it at length. Maybe he was just the most famous one.

Molnar (http://www.naplesnews.com/today/religion/d407269a.htm), the guy who assumed it was in Aries, thought that because of an old coin he found--and he said he found a Roman astrological text that said that Aries was associated with Judea.

So, it seems there is little evidence of which actual signs of the zodiac were associated with different countries by ancient astrologers.

<font size=-1>[Fixed first hyperlink]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: GrapesOfWrath on 2001-11-12 04:35 ]</font>

Diogenes
2001-Nov-12, 01:24 PM
You guys gotta get off this religion topic /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif



Didn't you start this thread ? Or is that another GrapesOfWrath?


I believe if you want to talk about The Star of Bethlehem, it has little context outside of the Bible/Religion..

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Diogenes on 2001-11-12 08:28 ]</font>

Diogenes
2001-Nov-12, 01:30 PM
On 2001-11-11 13:33, David Hall wrote:

They're probably both right. Astrology is nowhere near an "exact" science you know.



How about 'nowhere near science'?

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-12, 02:15 PM
On 2001-11-12 08:24, Diogenes wrote:
Didn't you start this thread ? Or is that another GrapesOfWrath?

Guilty as charged. I guess I should have plopped in more smileys


I believe if you want to talk about The Star of Bethlehem, it has little context outside of the Bible/Religion..

I dunno, astronomy is a pretty big context. This was a perennial topic on the old BABB, starting with when Molnar's book came out, I believe, and I responded. But there is a difference between discussing astronomical aspects of religion, and discussing religious aspects of religion, I'd think.

Diogenes
2001-Nov-12, 03:24 PM
I think the whole rationalization, (that some may grasp) of, " If you can prove something in the Bible really happened, then the whole book must be true", is absurd, but a path that many seem to take.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Diogenes on 2001-11-12 16:20 ]</font>

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-12, 03:48 PM
But those aspects should be discussed on the appropriate boards, don't you think?

Are you saying that the Against the Mainstream forum of the Bad Astronomy board is not the place to discuss astronomical theories such as this?

Diogenes
2001-Nov-12, 05:57 PM
On 2001-11-12 10:48, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
But those aspects should be discussed on the appropriate boards, don't you think?

Are you saying that the Against the Mainstream forum of the Bad Astronomy board is not the place to discuss astronomical theories such as this?





Oh, not at all. My most recent posts were in response to your statement.. "You guys gotta get off this religion topic ".. and I missed the 'grin '..

Biblical astronomy, may be among the 'Baddest' of all 'Bad Astronomy', and not even 'against the mainstream', in my opinion, just Bad... So, very suitable for discussion, here.

As we have seen, though, where the Bible is cocerned, the discussion can divurge quite rapidly.. And I say.."go for it"..

Hopefully, one would get warned, before being banned.. At least if it is not a flagrant violation of the rules..

P.S.. In saying.."But those aspects should be discussed on the appropriate boards, don't you think?" Do you mean, the question of whether or not the traditional town of Bethlehem existed in Jesus' time?
If it didn't, then the 'Star Of Bethlehem' is very Bad Astronomy indeed...


P.S.. I was way off base with some of this, check my last post below for clarification.. (probably not worth your trouble)

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Diogenes on 2001-11-12 16:16 ]</font>

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-12, 06:47 PM
On 2001-11-12 12:57, Diogenes wrote:
P.S.. In saying.."But those aspects should be discussed on the appropriate boards, don't you think?" Do you mean, the question of whether or not the traditional town of Bethlehem existed in Jesus' time?

Yeah, among other things. I don't see how a discussion of biblical archeology--if that is what that is--relates directly to astronomy or even cosmology.

Sure, you can make a comment that there are such theories, but a discussion of them should take place in email, or on some other board, I'd think. Maybe with an appropriate link, and a short summary, say. If it is at all relevant.

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-12, 06:59 PM
Boy, I get away from the BBoard for the weekend, and look what happens! I don't have to worry about hogging the soapbox now!

Lusion, I finally figured out how this BB software does Private Messages, and was in the process of responding to yours when my 'puter at home froze up (I have a reoccuring keyboard/mouse driver bug that I haven't found the right hammer for yet), so I decided to wait until I got back to work. So I'm not ignoring your message, and you'll be getting a reply soon now.

In your public post you said, in response to my points about the Star's characteristics:


I disagree. The star didn't have to disappear, unless Herod was an astronomer or had a set of astronomers in his court, and he had clear visibility.


Visibility in Jerusalem isn't much of a problem, especially in those pre-industrial days, since it's on a mountain top. Also, housing styles in Judea were flat-topped, and rooftop access was typical, so you could even get onto a roof in a mountain-top city and really see a long way (in fact, the Dead Sea is visible from Jerusalem in daytime, although finding a clear line-of-sight is much more difficult now). As for astronomers at court, well, that was very typical at that time, but I don't know for sure if Herod himself had any, so I'll let that slide. But I really don't believe that they would be necessary; Herod couldn't have figured out where the Star was or its importance on his own without astro[nom/log]ers, but he could have had the Magi point it out to him without them. 'What, you mean that little one just to the right of those three stars in a row? Okay, I see it!' Regardless, without the Star disappearing, why did the Magi feel the need to celebrate when they saw it after leaving Herod? The story, whether you accept it as factual or fictional, simply doesn't make sense if the Star was visible the entire time.

Grapes, yes, you're totally right, that word was 'constellation', spelt p-l-a-n-e-t, constellation. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_redface.gif Anyway, the talk about the different constellations proves what I was trying to point out: when someone tries to identify an astronomical event as the Star by saying it occurred in the "right" constellation, they have no real daffynition of what constitutes the "right" constellation. Any constellation can be justified as the Jews/Judea constellation, and apparently has been.

Diogenes, I'm very confused by your statement:


The 'Star of Bethlem' story takes on a whole new light, in view of some evidence (or lack there of) that the place even existed during the time period involved.


Bethlehem was the home town of David, some ten centuries or so before the birth of Jesus. The question of its continual occupation hardly occurs. Yes, I know that some towns have been abandoned over time and then re-established, but since Bethlehem was the birthplace of the greatest King of Israel (up to that time /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif ), it would certainly have been commented on, f'rinstance in Josephus, had the town ever ceased to be inhabited. I'm not aware that any historian or archaeologist has ever doubted that the town has been in continuous occupation since at the least the 10th century BC to the present. To suggest that it was abandoned at a time circa 1 BC/AD would require a whole lot of supporting proof. And absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, not without a whole lot of underpinning.

Anyway, I'm going to do everybody reading this thread a favour: I'm getting off of it. Not because of any problem with what's been posted--I've really enjoyed reading all the posts, and enjoyed the opportunity to discuss it without any name-calling at all!--but because the thread was originally started by Grapes to discuss a specific theory, or perhaps any theory, as to what astronomical event could have provided the source of the story of the Star. As I've shown, and as I posted when the thread appeared earlier on the old BABB, I just don't believe that any physical astronomical event can be the source of the story; I feel that the story itself precludes it. But others don't feel that way (discussion about the Star is always a favourite topic at planetaria this time of year), so I'll stop being the dog in the manger. Please continue to discuss, argue, and weigh whatever theories you like about it, and I'll probably continue to drop by and lurk, but I've said my considerably-more-than-tuppence about it and I'll rest my case. That probably will also make it easier to get this thread back to an astronomical basis before BA Phil blows a gasket all over us.

The (no, I'm not just pouting!) Curtmudgeon

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-12, 07:19 PM
On 2001-11-12 13:59, The Curtmudgeon wrote:
Anyway, I'm going to do everybody reading this thread a favour: I'm getting off of it. Not because of any problem with what's been posted--I've really enjoyed reading all the posts, and enjoyed the opportunity to discuss it without any name-calling at all!--but because the thread was originally started by Grapes to discuss a specific theory, or perhaps any theory, as to what astronomical event could have provided the source of the story of the Star. As I've shown, and as I posted when the thread appeared earlier on the old BABB, I just don't believe that any physical astronomical event can be the source of the story; I feel that the story itself precludes it.

I understand your position, but I would like to hear the specifics about what parts of the story would preclude the interpretation that I presented in the original post. For instance, the visibility to Herod--if the star was Uranus, at mag. 5.7, then you really would have to be an astrologer to have seen it, don't you think?

Diogenes
2001-Nov-12, 08:44 PM
OOps... I apologize to everyone about my referance to " the question of Bethlehem's existence.... A gross error on my part..

I was mixing up my memories concerning some ideas/questions about the existence of 'Nazareth' as a town during Jesus' lifetime.. A whole nother' topic, and of course not relevant here...

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-12, 10:44 PM
On 2001-11-12 14:19, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
...I understand your position, but I would like to hear the specifics about what parts of the story would preclude the interpretation that I presented in the original post. For instance, the visibility to Herod--if the star was Uranus, at mag. 5.7, then you really would have to be an astrologer to have seen it, don't you think?


Okay, but only because you specifically asked me for a response. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

I'll just point back up to my previous post where I listed three specific characteristics which the event must match to be the Star. Not only the disappearing act, but also the fact that the Magi had followed it from 'the East' to Jerusalem (i.e., travelling roughly west), but when it reappeared it pointed south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem (and no further than Bethlehem!) and yet they were convinced that it was the exact same Star.

I don't think Uranus can do that.

The (now I'm gone) Curtmudgeon

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-13, 12:30 AM
On 2001-11-12 17:44, The Curtmudgeon wrote:
I don't think Uranus can do that.

I thought I handled all three, the first two in my original post. Uranus was retrograde (moving westward among the constellations) for a couple months, and then it was still for a couple weeks (as it prepared to start prograde again). It was mag. 5.7, whereas the known planets were greater than mag. 1, so it would have seemed to be a star, and it was not known before or even after, until it was discovered by Herschel in the eighteenth century.

So, that seems to fit.

James
2001-Nov-13, 01:12 AM
On 2001-11-12 19:30, GrapesOfWrath wrote:


On 2001-11-12 17:44, The Curtmudgeon wrote:
I don't think Uranus can do that.

I thought I handled all three, the first two in my original post. Uranus was retrograde (moving westward among the constellations) for a couple months, and then it was still for a couple weeks (as it prepared to start prograde again). It was mag. 5.7, whereas the known planets were greater than mag. 1, so it would have seemed to be a star, and it was not known before or even after, until it was discovered by Herschel in the eighteenth century.

So, that seems to fit.


A very nice theory, Grapes. So, to be technically correct, it would be the "Planet of Bethlehem" and not Star of Bethlehem?

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-13, 09:11 AM
Thank you James, may I use that as the title of my next book?

James
2001-Nov-13, 12:28 PM
On 2001-11-13 04:11, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
Thank you James, may I use that as the title of my next book?


It's a public domain... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif


<font size=-45>Go ahead, Grapes. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif</font size>

Peter B
2001-Nov-13, 01:14 PM
Sorry GrapesOfWrath, but have you dealt with the fact that Uranus is doin' its thang about three years after Herod died?

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-13, 02:12 PM
On 2001-11-13 08:14, Peter B wrote:
Sorry GrapesOfWrath, but have you dealt with the fact that Uranus is doin' its thang about three years after Herod died?

No need for apology Peter B--I am aware of that issue (http://mentock.home.mindspring.com/ifaq.htm#IFAQ005), but I've studiously avoided it, just in the interest of detached scientific amusement. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

On the other hand, I am still interested in my second question--about the reliability of sky simulations a few millennia in the past.

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-23, 03:40 PM
::bump::

So, does anyone have a couple astronomy simulation programs that they would compare, for a few quick tests of planet/moon configurations two thousand or more years ago?

Thanks

qteskimo
2002-Jul-22, 01:08 AM
I recommend people read the following, which (or may not, based on your particular beliefs) shed light (pun intended) on the subject.

"The Jesus Mysteries" by Tim Freke & Peter Gandy (synopsis: Jesus is a nearly complete myth based on older Godman myths)

"Ancient Mysteries" by Peter James & Nick Thorpe (synopsis: the Star of of Jesus was Halley's Comet).

Hope this helps.

jumbo
2002-Jul-22, 09:04 AM
"Not only that, when was the last time you saw a picture of Jesus that portrayed him looking even slightly jewish? "

I read a while back that the traditional portrayal of the appearance of jesus is heavily based upon the appearance of the statue of zeus (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world). Can anyone confirm or refute this?

Onto the astronomy bit.
Grapes (can i call you that?)
I only have skymap(when i find where i put my copy that is) so i can`t do a comparison by myself but if anyone else has an equivalent package i guess we could do some comparisons.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: jumbo on 2002-07-22 05:06 ]</font>

nebularain
2002-Jul-22, 11:29 AM
On 2002-07-22 05:04, jumbo wrote:
"Not only that, when was the last time you saw a picture of Jesus that portrayed him looking even slightly jewish? "

I read a while back that the traditional portrayal of the appearance of jesus is heavily based upon the appearance of the statue of zeus (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world). Can anyone confirm or refute this?


Acually, it was Michaelangelo's picture of god that was copied from Zues. It seems that after a certain period of time, I forget when, though, that images of Christ have a remarkable resemblance to the image on the Shroud of Turin. But, as you mentioned, they make Him out to look like a European rather than a mid-Easterner! Of course, pictures of the Greek philosophers (Aristotle et al) don't look very Greek to me either (would they have had white skin, too?), nor do the Romans appear very Italian to me - unless there's been a change in the gene pool of the people in those regions over the thousands of years. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Sep-04, 02:16 PM
On 2002-07-22 05:04, jumbo wrote:
Onto the astronomy bit.
Grapes (can i call you that?)

I (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=11&forum=5&start=8) (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=2063&forum=10&start=25)g (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=115&forum=1&start=60)u (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=5&forum=2&start=27)e (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=115&forum=1&start=48)s (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=276&forum=4&start=7)s (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=606&forum=1&24&start=1) (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=312&forum=1&start=5)s (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=325&forum=2&start=12)o, (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=362&forum=1&start=11)e (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=923&forum=6&start=3)v (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=488&forum=4&start=1)e (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=507&forum=2&start=7)r (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=569&forum=4&start=13)y (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=530&forum=4&start=21)b (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=636&forum=4&staart=7)o (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=928&forum=1&start=8)d (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=1424&forum=6)y (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=1738&forum=1&start=69)e (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=1826&forum=4&start=6)l (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=1794&forum=1&start=191)s (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=2063&forum=10&start=71)e (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=2113&forum=3&2&start=2) does.


I only have skymap(when i find where i put my copy that is) so i can`t do a comparison by myself but if anyone else has an equivalent package i guess we could do some comparisons.

I have a version of SkyMap as well. Let's see, for Nov. 28, 1BC, 20:00 UTC, 0 lat, 0 lon, it shows Uranus (mag. 5./phpBB/images/smiles/icon_cool.gif about 40 arcmin from Mars (mag. -0.3), and about the same distance from the 6th mag. star TYC 614-1404-1, about 2 1/2 degrees from the 5th mag. star mu Piscium.

When I try that with the online Your Sky (http://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/uncgi/Yoursky), Uranus appears in Pisces, but Mars is on the other side of the zodiac, in Libra. Oops, the year -1 is not 1BC, the year zero is. That's better, very close--although the online resolution is poor.

John_Charles_Webb
2005-Oct-29, 11:45 PM
Hello Everyone!

First of all, my hat is off to those of you who have posted on this thread. It is (this thread) one of the most intelligent and comprehensive discussions of the topic that I have found in cyberspace. It is my wish to contribute my opinion/research regarding the star.

First, some general comments:
1) Yes, the Gregorian Calendar is "off" otherwise we would not have Christ being born "before Christ" (B.C.)
2) Herod (as mentioned in the thread) died in 4 B.C. so the window for looking for the star would close sometime (August) in 4 B.C.
3) Nobody but the Persian Magi "saw" the star, including any astronomer/astrolgers in King Herod's Court.
4) The star that "stops" is the Sun at a solstice point (Sun Stationary).
5) A house (the star stopped over a "house") is (also) a component of an astrological chart.
6) The house "with the mother" (in ancient astrology) is the 4th house of an astrological chart.
7) The astrological 4th house is the place (point) of the Summer Solstice.

So far, it seems, that we are presented (also) with an allegory (of sorts) dealing with the astronomy of the Sun and astrology. At the time of the birth of Christ astrologers and astronomers were one and the same. It was only at the time of the invention of the telescope that the astrological cosmology (Earth centered universe) was replaced with (Galileo) the Sun centered cosmology. It was at this point in history that astrology started to become an object of ridicule, despite its transcendent imagery of the heavens (Mars, God of War; Venus, Goddess of love, etc.) which was eradicated by the pathos of crucifixions, suffering, sin and death.

8) Astronomy is observation of the heavens.
9) Astrology is the "interpretation" of celestial events, thus, any celestial event signaling "a birth" is astrological in orign, although utilizing astronomical information.
10) We are in the astrological "Age of Pisces", although, until the star is discovered we are not sure "where" we are within the age.
11) Astrological Ages are determined by Precession of the Equinox (1 degree apparent backwards movement every 72 years with one astrological age = to 30 degrees (or one astrological sign) x 72 years or 2160 years).
12) Precession of the Equinox was know to whomever built The Great Pyramid at Giza (circa 2800 B.C.) plus the complete knowledge of our solar system including elements of quantum physics. (thus, a Wonder of The World, largely ignored by mainstream scientists who cannot provide answers to the pyramid paradox.)
see, http://www.templeofsolomon.org/Pyramids/pyramid_symbolism.htm

13) The Star of Bethlehem, in my opinion, is revealed in an ancient heliocentric astrological chart for March 2nd 5 B.C. Suggesting that "the star" was not an event visible to anyone except the highly advanced Persian Magi who located the star in an ancient astrological chart.

see, http://www.templeofsolomon.org/pageone.htg/pageone.htm
for the star chart which includes a Seal of Solomon superimposed upon an ancient astrological aspect called a "Grand Cross". A once in over 40,000,000
year configuration whose appearance fits in perfectly within the time frame referenced in The Bible for the appearance of "the star". A star visible only to The Magi and interpreted by them as announcing TWO events:
1) The birth of Christ as foretold in the Old Testament
2) The beginning of a new Great Year of Precession (25,920 year cycle) and the start of The Age of Pisces.

That's it in a thumbnail (contrary to mainstream opinion).

Additional Note: The biblical phrase regarding the birth of Christ "Shepherds watching their flocks by night", although a latter addition, is also an astronomical/astrological metaphor. The ancient Chaldeans (pre-Egyptians) called the planets "sheep" or "wanderers". A "shepherd" (one who looks over the "sheep") is a metaphor for astrologer/astronomer. Of course, "by night" because when else can stargazers watch the stars, planets and, during that time, the changing of an Age!

Very Best and Warm Regards,

John