From the The Biblical Astronomer, Vol. 8, No. 86, p. 12, Fall 1998.
Originally published as: "On the Star of Bethlehem,"
THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM
Gerardus D. Bouw, Ph.D.
Attempting to decisively date the birth of Christ or his crucifixion is a formidable task for any chronologist; and trying to ascertain the nature of the so-called Christmas Star is just as formidable to the astronomer. This paper reviews the current ideas surrounding the Star of Bethlehem and it also attempts to date the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ using a variety of evidence. It is a shortened and updated version of the paper which is presented in full in The Geocentric Papers.
To avoid confusion from the outset, the B.C. (before Christ) years do not include the mythical year zero. Many popular commentators to the contrary, there properly should not be a zero year in a calendrical system referring to any historical event. The first year of Christ's stay on earth would be, by definition, the year A.D. 1; the year before his birth would by the same definition be the year 1 B.C. Hence there is no room for a year zero. The question arises, what year was it 2,000 years ago from this year, 1998? Arithmetically, 1998 - 2000 = -2, but that includes the year zero. The year zero is the same as 1 B.C. So 1998 years ago it was 1998-1998=0, that is, 1 B.C.; 1999 years ago it was 2 B.C.; and 2,000 years ago it was 3 B.C. As we'll see below, the Lord Jesus Christ was born in the late summer or early fall of 2 B.C., which at that time of year next year (1999) will be 2,000 years ago.
There are many naturalistic explanations for the Star of Bethlehem, and most of them can easily be dismissed. In order, though, to ascertain the validity of any and all naturalistic explanations for the star, we need to collect all that is actually and reliably known about the star. For that we need to turn to the Bible.
The Biblical Evidence
The only direct reference to the star occurs in Matthew chapter 2 where we read in the second verse that the wise men ask Herod the king:
Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
Earlier they had seen the star in their native land (presumably Babylon), but evidently the star was no longer visible by the time they arrived at Jerusalem, for verses 9 and 10 relate that:
9 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.
10 When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
Herod questioned the wise men, asking them when they first saw the star. The Bible does not report when they first saw the star, but we do know from Matthew 2:16 that on the basis of the wise men's report, Herod slew all the children about Bethlehem:
from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
This passage seems to allow for a delay of as much as two years between the appearance of the
star and the visit of the wise men. Jewish Talmudic tradition holds that there would be a
two-year delay between the appearance of the star and the actual birth of the Messiah.(1) If this
were a common belief in Herod's day, then no doubt Herod was not taking any chances by
executing all children two years old and under.
The only other possible mention of the star occurs in Numbers 24:17 where Balaam, in blessing the nation of Israel as it is about to enter the promised land, says:
... there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
The passage relates that a Star will rise out of Jacob. But what is meant by the term "Star out of Jacob?" Some evidence is found in Joseph's dream in Genesis 37:9-11, where Joseph is the star about whom Jacob (who is Israel), his wife, and eleven of his sons do obeisance. That passage identifies Israel with the sun, and Joseph is a star "out of Jacob." Now Joseph is a type of Christ, and Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of Balaam's prophecy. Now if Numbers 24:17 refers to the Star of Bethlehem in addition to referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, then either the wise men saw a star ascending into the sky from the very land of Israel; or else a part of the sun was torn loose and was observed as a star by the wise men in the east.
In addition to the Biblical references, there are also three apocryphal references to the star. One of these appears in the blasphemous Protoevangelion, where it is reported that the wise men said unto Herod:
We saw an extraordinary large star shining among the stars of heaven, and so out-shined all the other stars, as that they became not visible, and we knew thereby that a great king was born in Israel, and therefore we are come to worship him.(2)
A second reference is found in the Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians and it is like unto the first:
A star shone in heaven beyond all the other stars, and its light was inexpressible, and its novelty struck terror into men's minds. All the rest of the stars, together with the sun and moon were the chorus to this star; but that sent out its light exceedingly above them all. And men began to be troubled to think whence this new star came so unlike all the others. Hence all the power of magic became dissolved; men's ignorance was taken away; and the old kingdom abolished; God himself appearing in the form of a man, for the renewal of eternal life.(3)
Both of these passages claim that the star was supremely bright; but if that were the case, then why is there no record of the star in any other culture? There are other cultural accounts of Joshua's long day and of Hezekiah's sign, but none of this star which is here reported to have exceeded the combined brightness of the sun, moon, and stars. This star was somehow missed by the Romans, Chinese, Mayans, Babylonians, and even the Jews themselves. All things considered it becomes obvious that these two apocryphal accounts are fabrications.
The third apocryphal account is found in the extremely blasphemous First Infancy Gospel.
And at the same time there appeared to [the wise men] an angel in the form of that star which had before been their guide in their journey; the light of which they followed till they returned into their own country.(4)
This passage is interesting only in that it attributes the star to an angel, a consideration to which we shall turn our attention later.
We conclude that all that is reliably known about the Star of Bethlehem is what is recorded in the Holy Bible: it was a single star; that it was not particularly bright (since it had not been noticed by Herod or the Rabbis); it disappeared after its original sighting until the wise men saw it again en route from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, a distance of a little more than six miles. Furthermore, it went ahead of them until it stood over the house wherein the young child was. Finally, the visit of the wise men may have been as much as two years after the appearance of the star, possibly, even, two years after the birth of the Lord.
Some Spurious Naturalistic Explanations
We are now ready to consider the naturalistic explanations which have been put forth in order to account for the star. Some of the proposed phenomena may be quickly disposed of. One claim is that the star was actually the planet Venus which can take people by surprise with its brilliance. It can even be seen in daylight, and it is the most commonly reported "UFO" today. But if Venus had been the star, then it would have been recognized by the wise men who undoubtedly were aware of its position and motion.
A second spurious suggestion is that the star was a meteor or fireball. Such "shooting stars," which are little particles of rock or nickel-iron ranging in size from a grain of sand to many tons, are short-lived, common phenomena. They are so common, in fact, that it hardly seems likely that any fireball or bolide (an exploding meteor) could have spurred the wise men on to a 450-mile journey to Jerusalem. After all, most meteors last less than ten seconds.
A third spurious suggestion, that the Star of Bethlehem was an early sighting of the planet Uranus.(5) Uranus was "discovered" by Sir William Herschel in 1781. It is barely below the detectability of the naked eye and it was located in the constellation of Pisces (Figure 1) during the time of Christ's birth. But even though Pisces is made up of faint stars, it is doubtful that the slow-moving, exceedingly faint Uranus would have been detected. Even if it had been seen, there is nothing compelling in its appearance that would urge the wise men toward Jerusalem.
Some More Plausible Naturalistic Suggestions
A more feasible possibility for the star is the suggestion that it was an exploding star a nova or supernova. Far eastern records do record two "temporary stars" around the time of Christ's birth.(6)
The first appeared some time in the second month (March 10 to April 7) of the second year of the Ch'ien-p'ing period (5 B.C.) near the stars Alpha and Beta Capricorni. This star was observed for seventy days and there is some question as to whether or not motion was recorded for it. If it did move, then most likely it would have been a comet. At its appearing it would have risen 4.5 hours before sunrise; hardly an early morning or "eastern" object.
The second report of a nova or supernova hails from Korea. It is not too reliable, however, as its date may have been improperly recorded.(7) This object reportedly appeared late in winter or early spring in the year 4 B.C. in the constellation of Aquila. Some have suggested that the 5 B.C. and the 4 B.C. objects may have been one and the same,(8) but Morehouse(9) has suggested that the 4 B.C. object was a supernova which can now be identified with the binary pulsar, PSR 1913+16b. Be that as it may, there is nothing particularly unique about either of the two objects that would provoke the wise men into traveling to Jerusalem.
Another weak suggestion is that the Star of Bethlehem was a comet. Outside of the possibility that one or both of the above objects may have been comets, there is no known record of any comet around the time of the birth of Jesus. Mention is sometimes made of the 11 B.C. appearance of Halley's comet, but that date is far too early for the birth of Jesus.
Of course, there is the unbeliever's conclusion, most unlikely of all, that the star was merely a
legend or a fabrication on Matthew's part. It fails on three counts. First, if as some claim,
Matthew concocted the star in order to fulfill the prophecy of Balaam in Numbers 24:17, we are
left to wonder why he would do that since there is no reason to concoct such a star, for the
passage does not require a literal star for its fulfillment. Second, had Matthew felt it necessary
to invent the story of the star as a fulfillment of Balaam's prophecy, then why did he not mention
the fulfillment? Third, his star is far too subdued. Truly fantastic stars are such as we
encountered in the first two apocryphal writings mentioned above, not as we find in Matthew.
Some Lesser Suggestions
Seiss(10) proposed a peculiar star as a candidate for the Star of Bethlehem. He referred to the Arab historian Gregory Abulfaragus (1226-1286), who claimed that the wise men were Zoroastrians, and that in their bible, the Zend Avesta, it is written that the appearance of a new star in the constellation of Virgo would herald the birth of the Messiah. Abulfaragus further claimed that Zoroaster was a student of Daniel, whence he learned of the star. Now we have already seen that there is no record of a new star in Virgo anytime near 1 B.C.
As a second possibility, Seiss notes that the word coma, which in Hebrew signifies "to long for" (Psalm 63:1), is also the name of a constellation north of Virgo. Seiss concludes that the constellation of Coma must be the one wherein the Star of Bethlehem appeared. Seiss's account is confusing. He reports a flare-up of a star in the constellation of Coma in the year 125 B.C. Seiss identifies that star which, upon becoming visible in daylight, caused Hipparchus to recognize the transience of the stars and thus to draw up his famous star catalog. Seiss then mentions a Chinese report of a flare-up of the same star about the time of Christ's birth; but he has either confused this with one of the two novae reports mentioned previously, or he had access to an account which is now lost. He continues that Ptolemy wrote that the same star was barely visible in his day (A.D. 150). Seiss identifies the star as 5 Comae which he claims was the Christmas star and which also passed overhead at Jerusalem and was seen by the wise men when they looked down the well.
According to the tale of the well, the wise men traveled by day from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and, when they looked into the well by the inn, they saw the reflection of the star. Now stars are reputedly visible in daytime when seen from the bottom of a long shaft; but there are several flaws with this story. First of all, the wise men would have had to take elaborate precautions to avoid having their heads in the way of the star's light when looking down the well. Second, the star must still be fairly bright, and third, contrary to the Biblical report, they could not have seen it going ahead of them on their journey to Jerusalem. Last, the star's visibility in the well would not have uniquely pinpointed the place but would only have indicated the proper latitude, not the longitude.
None of these naturalistic explanations satisfy the Biblical record of the Star of Bethlehem. Neither does Seiss's candidate star which apparently lasted for 275 years and would thus hardly be considered special, having started 125 years before Christ's birth.
There is one other naturalistic phenomenon commonly associated with the star of Bethlehem and that is that it was one or more planetary conjunctions. In order to evaluate those we need to accurately know when Christ was born.
When Was Jesus Christ Born?
Luke 3:1 reports that John the Baptist started his ministry in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. There is little doubt that Caesar Augustus died in A.D. 14, the date being attested to by coins and historians of the era. So the first year of Tiberius' reign started August 19, A.D. 14 and went through August 18, A.D. 15. So his fifteenth year ran from August 19, A.D. 28 to August 18, A.D. 29.
Now John was six months older than Jesus, and since the priests could not serve until age thirty, John, whose father was a priest, was thirty when he started his ministry. Thus the year of John's birth was between August 3 B.C. and August 2 B.C. Presumably, Jesus started his work six months later. Traditionally, (perhaps as with Ussher,(11)who based his conclusion on a comparison of Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 26:28), Christ's ministry on earth is taken as having lasted three and a half years. The crucifixion would then have been in A.D. 33.
In support of this conclusion, Luke 3:23 states that at the time of his baptism by John:
... Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age.(12)
This would then have been late in the fourteenth or in the fifteenth year of Tiberius.
All these considerations pinpoint the year 33 for the crucifixion. Most likely Jesus' ministry thus began in the fall of A.D. 29, early in the sixteenth year of Tiberius; with John having started some six months earlier, perhaps in time for the Passover (Leviticus 23:21).
All this serves to date the birth of Christ as the fall or late summer of 2 B.C.; the birth of John being more specifically datable as about 25 March, 2 B.C., that day being the first day of spring and nine months after the first course of Abia (Luke 1:5, 8, 23).
It is interesting to compare the various dates for Christ's birth. Whereas most modern commentators place it in 5 B.C. or earlier, most ancient authorities quote a date of 3 to 2 B.C. (that is, corresponding to the Jewish year ending in late September). Those who do include Julius Africanus, Hyppoletus of Rome, Hyppoletus of Thebes (first fragment), Jerome, Origen, Photius of Constantinople, Zonares, Eusebius of Caesaria, Bar Hebraeus, Chrysostom, Basilides, Tertullian (who thought the spring of 2 B.C. at which time Saturnius instead of Cyrenius who was mentioned in Luke 2:2, was governor of Syria), the Paschal Chronicle and the Chronicon Cyrianicum.
Opting for a birth date of 2 B.C. are Epiphanius and the early Syrian historical treatise, the Chronicum Edessenum.
Given the historical opinions and evidences, why do modern scholars insist on a birth date for Jesus of 4 B.C. or earlier? The answer to that question lies in the date usually affixed to the death of king Herod. The Jewish historian Josephus reported that Herod died shortly after an eclipse of the moon. There was a partial eclipse of the moon in the early morning hours of March 13, 4 B.C., which reached its maximum phase about 2 a.m. But there are a number of serious problems associated with identifying Herod's death with the 4 B.C. eclipse.(13)
There is another candidate eclipse, however. On January 9-10, 1 B.C., there was an eclipse of the moon which was a total eclipse and which was visible to all Jerusalem in the early evening hours rather than being a partial eclipse late at night.
If the 1 B.C. eclipse is the right eclipse, then we can construct a chronology for the governorship of Syria, which Luke says was Cyrenius (Luke 2:2). Now Quintilius Varus was governor of Syria from 7 to 4 B.C. A stone inscription found near the Anio River outside Rome refers to Varus, who, according to the inscription, was twice governor of Syria.
Josephus reports (Antiq. 17, 58) that Varus succeeded Sentius Saturnus as Governor of Syria shortly before the death of Herod. Josephus further indicates that Saturnius was governor that previous spring. Now either this was in 7 B.C. (which means that Herod died no later than 6 B.C. with no eclipse) or else Josephus was referring to the second time that Varus was governor of Syria, namely, 2 B.C. Furthermore, Josephus also noted that Syria had several governors during the rule of Saturnius (Antiq. 16, 280, 285, 357, 361).
Now the year 2 B.C. was also the silver jubilee of the rule of Augustus. It was a year in which there were great celebrations in Rome as the Senate conferred the title of Pater Patriae on Augustus Caesar. Apparently, there was a special taxation of the Roman world in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Augustus' rule. This was the taxation referred to in Luke 2:1-5. It was a special tax, as noted in Luke 2:1, by the very fact that it was decreed rather than automatic. The yearly taxes were more or less automatic; they required no special proclamation, but the Bible reports that this taxation was by proclamation.
Indications are, then, that Caesar Augustus proclaimed a special, unscheduled tax as part of his silver jubilee (February 2 B.C. to February 1 B.C.) and that Joseph went to Bethlehem to pay said tax toward the onset of the rainy season (at the last possible moment, in other words) thus finding no room at the inn.
It is common today to confuse the taxing mentioned by Luke with one of the censuses. The last Roman census before the birth of Christ occurred in 8 B.C. The next census did not occur until A.D. 14. The censuses were scheduled to occur every 20 years with updates every five years. The update nearest the birth of Christ was thus in 3 B.C. These, like annual taxes, were more or less automatic, requiring no special decree, violating Luke 2:1.
Armenian sources, as well as Josephus, report that in 3 B.C. the census also entailed an oath of fidelity to Caesar, but the oath was to be administered at the temples, not the home towns of the participants. So this oath of allegiance could not have been the taxation referred to by Luke.
Now Luke 2:2 reports that:
... this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria,
indicating that Cyrenius was sole governor of Syria, not a co-regent. Josephus reports that Saturnius was governor of Syria in the spring of 2 B.C., and that Varus replaced him in the autumn of 2 B.C., but it seems likely that both of these regents would have been in Rome for the summer festivities, thus leaving Cyrenius in charge as governor of Syria from the early summer until the early fall of 2 B.C. The indications thus are that Jesus was born between late August to early October of 2 B.C. Now the new moon that year fell about September 26. Had Jesus been born on the 29th, then 40 days later his presentation at the temple would have fallen on the Day of Atonement. Five days later would have been the Feast of Tabernacles when all Jewish males were legally required to be in Jerusalem. Luke 2:39 reports that after this, they returned to Nazareth.
What of the wise men? When did they arrive? There are two possible times. First, they could have arrived at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (October) and may have found Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem, at the house of friends or relatives. Second, it is not at all inconceivable that the wise men came later in 2 B.C., happening upon Joseph and Mary when they were visiting family and friends at the Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah) in December. Old traditions indeed do report the visit of the wise men to have happened on December 25. If that were the case, then we can date the flight into Egypt as starting in late December of 2 B.C., and Jesus, Joseph and Mary would not have stayed in Egypt for more than about 40 days, for Herod would have died on January 18 of 1 B.C.
If, then, the birth date of Jesus is established at 2 B.C., what of the usual interpretations for the Star of Bethlehem, namely the planetary conjunctions?
The Triple Conjunction Theory
The most popular of those interpretations is that the star was the 7 B.C. triple conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces. A tremendous amount of mythology has been embroidered around the event since Kepler noted it in the late sixteenth century. The scenario of the 7 B.C. conjunction is reported below.
On May 27 of 7 B.C., Jupiter and Saturn approached each other and came as close as 0.99 degree apart. This is twice the apparent diameter of the moon which is about 0.5 degree. The planets then proceeded apart, only to reverse direction, approach each other again until coming to within 0.98 degree of each other on October 5. Eventually, on December 5, they again conjoined at a separation of 1.05 degrees.
One of the mythological embellishments which has been affixed to the triple conjunction has to do with the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement fell on October 3, in 7 B.C. This has led many to report that the middle conjunction fell on the Day of Atonement, but more accurate planetary positions show the conjunction to have happened two days after the Day of Atonement, on October 5.(14)
September 30 is sometimes also erroneously given as the date of the middle conjunction.
A second myth oft repeated about the triple conjunction states that the two planets fused into one brilliant star. Actually, they never came any closer than about two apparent lunar diameters; hardly noteworthy at all. Furthermore, even had they fused, they would not have been significantly brighter than Jupiter by itself. Also, an even close triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn had occurred some 59 years earlier. It, too, was in the constellation of Pisces and would have afforded an even more spectacular and significant herald of Christ's birth; but no wise men are reported as having showed up at Jerusalem seeking a new king at that time.
A third myth associated with the 7 B.C. conjunction is the story that it was Kepler who first associated the conjunction with the birth of Christ. Actually, the Annals of the Abbey of Worchester, in reporting on the 0.17 degree approach between Jupiter and Saturn during their triple conjunction in Pisces in 1285, noted that such an event had not happened since the birth of Christ.(15)
All in all, it seems unlikely that the triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 B.C. was any portent to the Lord's birth.(16) Martin(17) claims that the star referred to by the wise men was none other than the planet Jupiter, but if that is so, then there would be negative significance in addressing Herod with the words: "We have seen his star in the east" (Matthew 2:2) since such an event occurs regularly as clockwork every 13 months. Martin thus claims Jupiter as the Star of Bethlehem, but others(18) have, by the same type of argument, selected Saturn as the star.
Planetary Configurations in 3-2 B.C.
Although the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction was not that significant, there were a number of significant and unusual planetary configurations in the years 3 and 2 B.C. Sequentially, they start with a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus on the 12th of August, 3 B.C. At that time these two brightest of the planets came within 0.23 degree of one another, about half the apparent angular diameter of the moon. That conjunction was followed by another on the first of September when Venus and Mercury approached each other to within 0.36 degree.
On the 14th of September, 3 B.C., Jupiter had the first of three conjunctions with the star Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo, the lion. This could mark the starting date of the star and could be the date given Herod by the wise men. Evidently Herod added a year when he slew the childrenjust to be "safe." At that time it passed about 0.63 degree from the star. The following 17th of February, the second of the triple conjunctions took place at a separation of 1.19 degrees. The last conjunction was on May 9 of 2 B.C. when Jupiter and Regulus were 1.06 degrees apart.
The following month, on June 17, 2 B.C., Jupiter again came in conjunction with Venus. This time the conjunction was truly spectacular as the two brightest objects in the sky outside of the sun and moon merged together into what, to most human eyes, appeared as a single object. At their closest they were only 0.05 degree apart.
Finally, on the 27th of August of 2 B.C., Mars and Jupiter passed within 0.14 degree of each other. At that time all of the major planets, except for Saturn, were in the constellation of Leo, being massed within 10 degrees of each other. We see, then, that the most spectacular planetary configurations all occurred in the year preceding the historic date of Christ's birth.
Spectacular and intriguing though such conjunctions may be, yet they cannot possibly be the Star of Bethlehem. Matthew plainly states that there was one star, not a couple. Hence all speculations which involve planetary configurations must be ruled out from the start. Besides, had the star been a planet, then Matthew could have used that word (planetos) instead of star (astros), for our very word "planet" comes from the Greek word which Matthew did not use (compare Jude 13). This is not to say that the above planetary configurations did not possibly have significance, for the very purpose of their creation was that they be for signs (Genesis 1:14). All I'm saying is that the Star of Bethlehem itself could not have been a planet or a planetary configuration.
What, Then, Was the Star?
What of the star? The wise men originally saw it in an eastern land and in the eastern sky, in the light of dawn, as the Authorized Version clearly states in Matthew 2:25:
For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
Then there is the requirement of Matthew 2:9 that the star definitely moved:
and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
Not only that, but the star had to either be close enough to the ground or else had to move fast enough that the wise men could see it "before them." Strictly speaking, there is no natural phenomenon known which can do this unless it be ball lightning, but ball lightning is too transient a phenomenon to have led the wise men for six miles. In any case, ball lightning is not a star.
That leaves us with only one alternative. The Star of Bethlehem was a miracle; and angel. Angels are referred to as stars in the Bible. One such reference can be found in Revelation 1:20 where we read:
The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.
Other references could be cited.(19)
This resolves all difficulties about the nature and behavior of the star, since angels can move and stay at will. Perhaps the angel first appeared in the constellation of Virgo, while the sun was yet in that constellation, even as the Zend Avesta reported. If so, then it could have appeared about the first day of autumn in 4 B.C., some two years before the actual birth of Jesus, as the Talmud reports.
Heralding the birth of Jesus the Christ, there was a sequence of close encounters between the planets Mars, Jupiter, and Venus as well as Regulus, the chief star in the constellation of Leo which is associated with Judah. The events started a year before Jesus' birth. Jesus himself was most likely born late September of 2 B.C. at which time Caesar Augustus had decreed a taxation in honor of his silver jubilee on the throne of Rome.
None of these events, indeed no natural event, can match the Bible's account of the star. Those characteristics can only be satisfied by an angel or special miracle. It seems that the wise men saw the angel or miraculous star first in their native land, in the eastern sky, probably in the morning. Possibly the star came from the sun (arising out of Jacob) a year or two before the actual birth of Jesus. The wise men visited the child Jesus in December a year or two later, being led from Jerusalem to Bethlehem by the star they'd seen in the east. At the time of their visit, Jesus was in a house (not a stable). The reason for their visit was to worship Jesus, but in the process they financed the family's flight to and return from Egypt.
We conclude that the most likely candidate for the star was a special miracle, an angelic star.
1.H. W. Montefiore, 1960. Novem Testamentum, II, (Leiden: E. J. Brill), p. 211.
2.Protoevangelion 15:7 in The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotton Books of Eden,Collins-World, 1977, p. 35.
3.Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 4:11-12. Ibid., p. 171.
4.The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ 3:3. Ibid., p. 40.
5.G. W. Bunton, 1977. The Star of Bethlehem, (Honululu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Press), pp. 7 & 10.
6.D. H. Clark, J. H. Parkinson and F. R. Stephenson, 1977. "An Astronomical Re-appraisal of the Star of Bethlehem A Nova in 5 B.C.," Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society,18(4):443-449.
7.Ibid., p. 445.
8.Ibid., p. 445.
9.A. J. Morehouse, 1978. "The Christmas Star as a Supernova in Aquila," Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, 72(2):65-68.
10.J. A. Seiss, 1882. The Gospel in the Stars, (Philadelphia: E. Claxton and Co.). Reprinted in 1972 by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids. Pp. 28-29 and 161-162.
11.James Ussher, 1658. The Annals of the World, (London: E. Tyler), p. 820.
12.Bible critics claim that the Greek here does not say that Jesus "began to be about" 30 years old but that, instead, the Greek "actually" says that Jesus was about 30 years old "when he began his ministry." In fact, however, no Greek manuscript had the word "ministry" in it at all, it being purely a fabrication of the imagination of the critics.
13.W. E. Filmer, 1966. "The Chronology of the Reign of Herod the Great," The Journal of Theological Studies, XVII (2):283-298.
14.B. Tuckerman, 1962. "Planetary, Lunar and Solar Positions 601 B.C. to A.D. 1," Mem. of the Am. Philosophical Soc.,56. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society).
15.H. R. Luand, ed., 1869. Ann. Monastici, IV, London, p. 447.
16.The last triple conjunction of these two planets was in 1980.
17.E. L. Martin, 1976. "The Celestial Pageantry Dating Christ's Birth," Christianity Today,December 3, pp. 16-22.
18.D. W. Hughes, 1977. "Matters Arising," Nature, 268(5620):565.
19.Num 24:17; Jg 5:20; Jb 38:7; Ps 104:4; Dn 12:3; He 1:7; 2Pe 1:19; Jude 13; Re 2:28; 9:1; 12:24.