Available for the next few weeks, BBC iPlayer has an interesting exploration of astronomical possibilities for the Star of Bethlehem (though beware a juvenile short section from The Life of Brian, and a lazy equivalence of pre-modern science astrology and “devout Christianity”.
The blogger Mark Shea has written a relevant article explaining:
"Whether [the star] was a natural or supernatural event, we do not know. We do know that Jupiter was in conjunction with Saturn three times in seven months in 7 B.C. We also know that Mars joined them and produced a very striking configuration at about that time. Further, there [was] … an occultation of Jupiter by the moon in 6B.C., with Jupiter, the royal planet, dramatically re-emerging from behind the moon. An ancient Chinese chronicle, the Ch’ien-han-shu, states that an object, probably a nova (a new star), was observed in March 5 B.C. and remained visible for 70 days.”
His other four pieces of evidence are
- “Matthew Chapter 2 itself”, [though not to be read as a modern fly-on-the-wall account].
- “The historical wise men (magoi) appear to have been an [influential] priestly caste in eastern lands. … [who] practised basic astronomy and astrology.”
- A “significant Jewish population … had lived [in Persia] since the days of Nebuchadnezzar, five centuries before these events. The Magi could have known the sacred Jewish texts; this certainly fits in with Herod’s behaviour in slaughtering the innocents of Bethlehem. We know from non-biblical sources that Herod was paranoid about rivals to his throne.
- Herod was an Edomite, historical rivals of the Jews, cf. Gen 27. The Edomites unwiitingly enabled Balaam’s prophecy, Num 24:17-19, “a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel; … Edom shall be dispossessed”. “A paranoid Edomite king, Herod, would have been unnerved by the Magi’s report of a star and their question, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?”. Herod had proved himself willing to murder his own son to protect his throne, so might well have not hesitated to kill the children of people in an obscure village if he thought it would keep him from being dispossessed”
Comments to email@example.com (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovuk
November/ December 2018
Recent Blog Posts
- Blog: 10.04.18Professor Stephen Hawking RIPWith the death of Stephen Hawking, the world has lost a great physicist who made important contributions to our understanding of cosmology. Together with Prof. Roger Penrose, he linked General Relativity with Quantum Physics in the immensely challenging context of Bla...Read More
- Blog: 13.02.18Over at First Things a transcript has appeared of the 2017 href="https://www.firstthings.com/events/2017-erasmus-lecture">Erasmus Lecture given at the end of last year by Bishop Robert Barron on the subject of “reaching the nones”, that is those who self-declare as being of “no religion”. The whole piece is definitely worth reading, a...Read More
- Blog: 28.01.18The recent Channel 4 News interview of Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, by journalist Cathy Newman is currently trending high on YouTube and various Social Media platforms. The 30 minute interview rapidly covers a lot of ground; the difference between the sex...Read More
- Blog: 08.01.18“Peace is the harmony of good order. Good order is the membering of man in ready acceptance and honest love.” (Edward Holloway, Catholicism: A New Synthesis, 1)As we begin 2018, the sense of tension in the international order is strong. There are fears of nuclear war given the problem...Read More
- Blog: 30.12.17Fr Chris Findlay-Wilson made the below defence of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Herald (15th Dec., letters):"a fresh witness of true love is desperately needed; that it is love – not sex – that fulfils us as human beings." This is a point often made by Fr Holloway, ...Read More
- Blog: 24.11.17Last Saturday was the 100th anniversary of Agnes Holloway giving birth to Edward.He was born just as Lenin’s revolution began. This was the beginning of changing the poor, Christian country of Russia into the powerful Marxist one. It was predicted by Our Lady of Fatima over the previous six...Read More