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The word "Nazareth" is related to the word "netzer" which means "sprout", [24] and which some Bible commentators [25] think refers to Isaiah , "And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit. Many scholars who see the gospel nativity stories as later apologetic accounts created to establish the messianic status of Jesus regard the Star of Bethlehem as a pious fiction. Scholars suggest that Jesus was born in Nazareth and that the Bethlehem nativity narratives reflect a desire by the Gospel writers to present his birth as the fulfillment of prophecy.

Matthew's description of the miracles and portents attending the birth of Jesus can be compared to stories concerning the birth of Augustus 63 BC. This delegation was led by King Tiridates of Armenia , who came seeking confirmation of his title from Emperor Nero. Ancient historian Dio Cassius wrote that, "The King did not return by the route he had followed in coming," [32] a line similar to the text of Matthew's account, but written some time after the completion of Matthew's gospel.

The ancients believed that astronomical phenomena were connected to terrestrial events. Miracles were routinely associated with the birth of important people, including the Hebrew patriarchs , as well as Greek and Roman heroes. Although possibly intended to refer to a time that was long past, since the kingdom of Moab had long ceased to exist by the time the Gospels were being written, this passage had become widely seen as a reference to the coming of a Messiah.

If, then, at the commencement of new dynasties, or on the occasion of other important events, there arises a comet so called, or any similar celestial body, why should it be matter of wonder that at the birth of Him who was to introduce a new doctrine to the human race, and to make known His teaching not only to Jews, but also to Greeks, and to many of the barbarous nations besides, a star should have arisen?

Now I would say, that with respect to comets there is no prophecy in circulation to the effect that such and such a comet was to arise in connection with a particular kingdom or a particular time; but with respect to the appearance of a star at the birth of Jesus there is a prophecy of Balaam recorded by Moses to this effect: There shall arise a star out of Jacob, and a man shall rise up out of Israel.

Origen suggested that the Magi may have decided to travel to Jerusalem when they "conjectured that the man whose appearance had been foretold along with that of the star, had actually come into the world". The Magi are sometimes called "kings" because of the belief that they fulfill prophecies in Isaiah and Psalms concerning a journey to Jerusalem by gentile kings.

While Origen argued for a naturalistic explanation, John Chrysostom viewed the star as purely miraculous: "How then, tell me, did the star point out a spot so confined, just the space of a manger and shed, unless it left that height and came down, and stood over the very head of the young child?

And at this the evangelist was hinting when he said, "Lo, the star went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. In , German astronomer Johannes Kepler determined that a series of three conjunctions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn occurred in the year 7 BC. Karlis Kaufmanis , an astronomer, argued that this was an astronomical event where Jupiter and Saturn were in a triple conjunction in the constellation Pisces. In 3—2 BC, there was a series of seven conjunctions, including three between Jupiter and Regulus and a strikingly close conjunction between Jupiter and Venus near Regulus on June 17, 2 BC.

Since the conjunction would have been seen in the west at sunset it could not have led the magi south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Other writers suggest that the star was a comet. His theory involves a hypothetical comet which could have appeared in 6 BC.

If I Had Been in Bethlehem

A recent hypothesis is that the star of Bethlehem was a supernova or hypernova occurring in the nearby Andromeda Galaxy. The Magi told Herod that they saw the star "in the East," [59] or according to some translations, "at its rising", [11] which may imply the routine appearance of a constellation, or an asterism. One theory interprets the phrase in Matthew , "in the east," as an astrological term concerning a " heliacal rising. Two modern translators of ancient astrological texts insist that the text does not use the technical terms for either a heliacal or an acronycal rising of a star.

However, one concedes that Matthew may have used layman's terms for a rising. Astronomer Michael R. Molnar argues that the "star in the east" refers to an astronomical event with astrological significance in the context of ancient Greek astrology. The events were quite close to the sun and would not have been visible to the naked eye.

Babylonian astronomers usually referred to the planet Jupiter as MUL. Attorney Frederick Larson examined the biblical account in the Gospel of Matthew , chapter 2 [73] and found the following nine qualities of Bethlehem's Star: [74] [75] It signified birth, it signified kingship, it was related to the Jewish nation, and it rose "in the East"; [76] King Herod had not been aware of it; [77] it appeared at an exact time; [78] it endured over time; [79] and, according to Matthew, [80] it was in front of the Magi when they traveled south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and then it stopped over Bethlehem.

Using astronomy software , and an article [82] written by astronomer Craig Chester [83] based on the work of Ernest Martin, [84] [85] Larson thinks all nine characteristics of the Star of Bethlehem are found in events that took place in the skies of BC. By June of 2 BC, nine months later, the human gestation period, [90] Jupiter had continued moving in its orbit around the sun and appeared in close conjunction with Venus [89] in June of 2 BC.

Jupiter next continued to move and then it stopped in its apparent retrograde motion on December 25 of 2 BC over the town of Bethlehem. Again it slows, stops, and resumes its eastward course," said Chester. If the story of the Star of Bethlehem described an actual event, it might identify the year Jesus was born. The Gospel of Matthew describes the birth of Jesus as taking place when Herod was king. That the king is said to have ordered the execution of boys two years of age and younger implies that the Star of Bethlehem appeared within the preceding two years.

However, there is some debate among Bible translators about the correct reading of Luke Bruce , Ben Witherington and others have suggested may be the correct translation. In the Orthodox Church , the Star of Bethlehem is interpreted as a miraculous event of symbolic and pedagogical significance, regardless of whether it coincides with a natural phenomenon; a sign sent by God to lead the Magi to the Christ Child. Your birth, O Christ our God, dawned the light of knowledge upon the earth.

For by Your birth those who adored stars were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Justice, and to know You, Orient from on High. O Lord, glory to You. In Orthodox Christian iconography , the Star of Bethlehem is often depicted not as golden, but as a dark aureola , a semicircle at the top of the icon, indicating the Uncreated Light of Divine grace , with a ray pointing to "the place where the young child lay" Matt Sometimes the faint image of an angel is drawn inside the aureola. Simon the Athonite founded the monastery of Simonopetra on Mount Athos after seeing a star he identified with the Star of Bethlehem.

Christ's Birthplace Bethlehem Has Surprising History

LDS members believe that the Star of Bethlehem was an actual astronomical event visible the world over. Members of Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the "star" was a product of Satan , rather than a sign from God. This is because it led the pagan astrologers first to Jerusalem where King Herod consequently found out about the birth of the "king of the Jews", with the result that he attempted to have Jesus killed.

In The Desire of Ages , Ellen White states "That star was a distant company of shining angels, but of this the wise men were ignorant. Paintings and other pictures of the Adoration of the Magi may include a depiction of the star in some form. In the fresco by Giotto di Bondone , it is depicted as a comet.


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In the tapestry of the subject designed by Edward Burne-Jones and in the related watercolour , the star is held by an angel. In the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, a silver star with 14 undulating rays marks the location traditionally claimed to be that of Jesus' birth. In quilting , a common eight-pointed star design is known as the Star of Bethlehem. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Star of Bethlehem disambiguation.

Celestial phenomenon that according to the Gospel of Matthew revealed the birth of Jesus to the Wise Men. This section possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. December Learn how and when to remove this template message. See also: Chronology of Jesus. Christianity portal. Matthew's version is a conflation of Micah and 2 Samuel But few scholars accept the view that Jesus was a Nazirite.

Suetonius, C. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church.

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New York: Oxford University Press. Sanders , The Historical Figure of Jesus , , p. Archived from the original on Retrieved New Revised Standard Version.

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Retrieved December 29, Retrieved on December 29, Funk, Robert W. Paul L. For Micah's prophecy, see Micah Ehrman , Jesus: apocalyptic prophet of the new millennium , Oxford University Press , page June Journal of the British Astronomy Association Book I, Chapter LX. See Isaiah —7 and Psalms Venus, Jupiter put on a show". Alabama Media Group AL. Retrieved 14 July Tipler The Observatory. Bibcode : Obs Magnier; Francis A. Lewin The Astrophysical Journal. Bibcode : ApJ The Life and times of Jesus the Messiah.

Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, , several references, chapter 8. I-VII see examples in Vol. III pages: 12, 26, 30, 34, 40, New York: Oxford University Press, , See N. Retrieved on December 22, USA Today. January 5, This is even true of the Gospel of Matthew itself. Matthew was written around 80 AD, decades after the events it describes, so the astronomical event it mentions would have been interpreted long after the Crucifixion and the rise of Christianity.

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The Star of Bethlehem. December, 22 12 One clue is buried in the verse itself, where "in the east" could also be interpreted as "at the rising. Bright comets do appear in the sky from time to time, and have been described as "hanging over" particular cities or lands, as the Star of Bethlehem is often represented.

These appear in the sky as "new stars" and are sometimes brighter than even Venus or Jupiter in the night sky.


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