Not to forget the Reason for the Season, Christianity Today published an article December 19th about the Star of Bethlehem. The article interviewed astronomers including Michael Molnar, author of the 1999 book, The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi. -EditorUsing powerful computer software, an Australian astronomer says that he has re-created the night sky over Bethlehem in the year 2 B.C. and discovered a planetary conjunction that may have been the Star of Bethlehem that drew the Magi to worship the baby Jesus.
Astronomer Dave Reneke said the close proximity of Venus and Jupiter created a spectacle in the night sky just before the summer solstice that year. Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported that Reneke went so far as to suggest that perhaps Christmas should be celebrated on June 17 rather than December 25. An interesting idea, since the December Christmas celebration probably doesn't mark the true birth day of Jesus either. The December observance has its roots in a Roman celebration of the winter solstice.
The story in Matthew's Gospel seems to indicate that the people of Judea were oblivious to the Star. So, at least one scholar has taken a different approach to identifying the Star of Bethlehem.
"I set out to find what a stargazer of Roman times would have recognized as the star of a new Judean king," wrote retired Rutgers University astronomer Michael Molnar in the preface of his 1999 book, The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi.
Owen Gingerich, professor emeritus of astronomy at Harvard University, thinks that Molnar is on the right track. "He has made a serious attempt to situate the Star in terms contemporary with the event, tying it in with numismatical evidence and Roman imperial horoscopes," he said. "Too many have tried to formulate the Star in modern terms, without considering the first century context."
Molnar said it was an ancient coin that initiated his Star quest. "That coin had Aries the Ram on it," he said in an interview. "My research of several astrological manuscripts from Roman times showed that the kingdom of Judea was represented by Aries the Ram."
Molnar's extensive research in primary sources led him to a set of conditions that "pointed like an astrological road sign to Jerusalem."
To read the complete article, see: Searching for the Star of Bethlehem (www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/decemberweb-only/151-51.0.html)
For more information on Molnar's book, see: Revealing the Star of Bethlehem (http://www.eclipse.net/~molnar/)
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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