Existence of the Star of Bethlehem before Jesus' birth


#1

A friend and i got into a round about religious talk, as is often the case becasue i end up taking it there, and we ultimatly disagreed on whether the bible supported the notion that the Star of Bethlehem that led the magi (if i get anything wrong please let me know) to Bethlehem existed before the birth of Christ. In other words was this a new star that was “created” at the time of Jesus’ birth to lead the magi or was this a star that already existed and was used as a guide. As our scripture passage to mull over we looked at :

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” Matthew 2:1-3

and

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. Matthew 2:7

He also mentioned remembering somehting about the star actually, physically, moving. Im going to quote an IM explaining his thoughts.

“It is suspected that the star of Bethlehem is the north star/polaris and that it either appeared out of nowhere or that it was situated somewhere else in the sky and it moved to reside over Jesus’ cradle in the manger.”

This is very nitpicky and really doesnt affect any article of faith, but its interesting :smiley:


#2

In all liklihood, the “star” of Bethlehem was not a literal, celestial star but some other heavenly apparition.

I mean, we read in Scripture that the star “went over the house where the child was.” Now, it is absolutely impossible to affirm that any given star in the sky is absolutely over a given location. The “star” must have been some kind of other apparition, one that was actually small enough to be able to move directly over Mary and Joseph’s house, and no one else’s.

See what I mean?


#3

I think that was my question exactly. Was it a natural event that was used for a supernatural universal brith announcement or was it a supernatural event. That is the crux of my question. I cant confine God to the laws of physics. He made the laws so he can most definitly do whatever he want to achieve whatever result he desires.


#4

I also wanted to say that a star can at a given point be directly “on top” of a site. If the planet, the star, and a given location were all alligned perfectly it would apear “on top” of a location. although youd need good perspective to see that. Its good thing God knew what he was doing. :smiley:


#5

I also wanted to say that a star can at a given point be directly “on top” of a site. If the planet, the star, and a given location were all alligned perfectly it would apear “on top” of a location. although youd need good perspective to see that. Its good thing God knew what he was doing.

How can any star be pinpointed to be above a particular house, especially by anyone living 2000 years ago, much less be said to move to there from another location in the general vicinity?


#6

It can be done becasue i concieve of god as omnipotent and omnipreseant. If you were face to face with God would you honestly tell him you cant align three points in the universe you created?


#7

To make the connection i had in my mind i wanted to say the scripture is the devine word of God. God could easily alighn three points in space and still remember to insert that into the scripture he was inspiring. I certainly dont mean to be condesending or anything like that. i simply have a hard time beleiveing God could not align things perfectly.


#8

Obviously, God can exactly pinpooint a star wherever he wants. But it would be impossible for any man on the planet earth to detect this, unless he had really, really advanced scientfic equipment thyat no one 2000 years ago had.

I don’t doubt that there was something supernatural (from God or the devil I don’t know) that the wise men saw, and which rested over Jesus’ house, but it was most certainly not a literal star.


#9

The only way we know about the star through the scripture is via Gods direct intervention. I would never argue that man needed to align the three points becasue it is Gods devine scripture that tells us of the alignment. Dont get me wrong i dont know if it was literally a star or not. I wont automatically discount it becasue miracles happen everyday even if just during mass.

this brings up another question. Please i just find this fasinating so im not arguing honest. If the star was an apparition just for the wise men does that mean that no one else noticed it? Also just logically it seems that if others saw they would have been either terrified or in awe. after all its a huge star like looking thing movving through the sky (the fact the perspective changes also would indicate its proximity.) whats scarier that a star that follows you around. j/k Its possible we never heard of others seeing the apparition of a star but i always concieved of it as a natural star that was used by the lord to guide the magi.


#10

The only way we know about the star through the scripture is via Gods direct intervention. I would never argue that man needed to align the three points becasue it is Gods devine scripture that tells us of the alignment.

You seem to be misunderstanding me.

What I’m saying is that there is no way that the **MAGI ** would have been able to pinpoint over which house exactly the star was over, if it was a literal star, and one that was light years away from earth. It’s simply impossible to tell, with the naked eye, and with the technology they had 2000 years ago, to tell over which particular house any given star in the sky is.


#11

aah. now i get your point. My bad. Good Point.


#12

Also, Bethlehem is South of Jerusalem. Stars don’t move from North to South in the night sky so I don’t see how it could have been a literal star.


#13

I forgot the exact details, but there was some kind of planetary alignment about 2000 years ago that caused an enormous light to be in the sky. This is an historical fact. The allignment coincides with the estimated time period of Christs birth. If it was to the west of the magi, then they could have followed it, much like early travelers used the North Star.


#14

[quote=Suppression]In other words was this a new star that was “created” at the time of Jesus’ birth to lead the magi or was this a star that already existed and was used as a guide.
[/quote]

I believe that star was made in the beginning:
*And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years *
[right]Genesis 1:14
[/right]


#15

This is a good question and several of you have given interesting suppositions. Lets think!

The Maggi were said to have come from the East- right? They brought expensive presents with them. How far they traveled isn’t known. Their nationality isn’t known. But they did travel. Herod was made aware that the Maggi were in his kingdom and questioned them. The Maggi delivered their presents and left. Now, what possibilities explain how they were guided to the birthplace of Jesus Christ?

It is not likely that a norrmal star guided them to the birthplace. During a night the apparant position of stars constantly changes. Also a star, such as Polaris, the North Star, is so far away that it couldn’t pin-point a particular city, much less a house, cave or a dwelling. The event of Jesus birth was a one-time only event and I susspect that God would have have a one-time only “guiding light” visable only to the Maggi. WHy didn’t Herods men see that “star”?

It is not said that the “star” was constantly visable. St. Elmo’s fire is commonly called “Ball Lightening”. I have seen it once. At night it can be between one and two feet in diameter and it moves. God could have led the Maggi with a naturally occuring phenomenom called ball lightening, especially during the Fall & Winter. In my humble opinion, I think the Star of Bethlehem was a small light that appeared just long enough each night to allow the Maggi to be guided. After all, Jesus birth was so special thet God most likely would have a special event guiding the Maggi.


#16

[quote=Steve M]I forgot the exact details, but there was some kind of planetary alignment about 2000 years ago that caused an enormous light to be in the sky. This is an historical fact. The allignment coincides with the estimated time period of Christs birth. If it was to the west of the magi, then they could have followed it, much like early travelers used the North Star.
[/quote]

You’re right, Steve. I attended a long, scientific presentation about 8 years ago regarding this: the only thing I remember is that the planets were Jupiter, Mars and Saturn–they aligned in an extremely rare phenonmenon known as a triple conjunction in the Sign of Pisces. The lecturer presented about two hours of evidence that this planetary alignment may have occured the year of Christ’s birth–many political and scientific primary sources from 6 and 7 A.D. make mention of the alignment.

Each of the planets, as well as the sign of Pisces, had a lot of theological and astrological symbolism attached (Jupiter, in both Greek and Jewish mythology/spirituality has been associated with the concept of a King) such that when they came together, it would indicate the presence of a new deity/ruler. It was a fascinating lecture.


#17

Thanks for that info from a presentation. Please, can you elaborate on just how an observer in the Middle East could have been “guided” toward Bethehem? Remember that these tiny specks of light were so far above the earth that it would be very remarkable for some man or three men to know where to go.Why was it that Herod’s men couldn’t follow the Star of Bethlehem? Wasn’t any light in the night sky called a “star”.

Imagine you are in a standard gymnasium that is dark. You are standing at one end under the basket. There is a coin on the floor at your end of the gym. A collaborator is to place a tiny flashlight somewhere on the opposite end of the gym that is supposed to guide you to that coin. EXPLAIN.


#18

Don’t forget that the Magi first saw the “star” two years before they arrived in Jerusalem, so there is no way it could have been a planetary alignment.


#19

[quote=Chesster]Don’t forget that the Magi first saw the “star” two years before they arrived in Jerusalem, so there is no way it could have been a planetary alignment.
[/quote]

I guess the astronomers that say this don’t know what they’re talking about.


#20

[quote=Exporter]Thanks for that info from a presentation. Please, can you elaborate on just how an observer in the Middle East could have been “guided” toward Bethehem? Remember that these tiny specks of light were so far above the earth that it would be very remarkable for some man or three men to know where to go.Why was it that Herod’s men couldn’t follow the Star of Bethlehem? Wasn’t any light in the night sky called a “star”.

Imagine you are in a standard gymnasium that is dark. You are standing at one end under the basket. There is a coin on the floor at your end of the gym. A collaborator is to place a tiny flashlight somewhere on the opposite end of the gym that is supposed to guide you to that coin. EXPLAIN.
[/quote]

This was much brighter than a star. If you’re ever seen on of the planets with the naked eye, you’ll know how bright they are. How you follow it is to simply go in the direction it is. It’s to their west, so they go west. In their path, they come to where God want’s them too be. The “star” would get them headed in the right general direction.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.