OLDIE POST: What was the Star of Bethlehem?

In the older, traditional calendar, and in the tradition of both East and West from the earliest days, Friday 6 January was Epiphany.  However, we are now in the time after Epiphany.

I want to remind the readership of a cool DVD (sent to me last a couple years back by a reader) and website wherein a good argument is made about the Star of Bethlehem.

What was the Star of Bethlehem, anyway?

Surely it is a fact. It happened. But what happened?

This is the best explanation I have seen, and it is compelling.  It is offered by a Christian lawyer who examined all the available evidence from Scripture and added to it historical information from other ancient sources.  He also used spiffy software to recreate the motions of the planets during a period of time around Christ’s birth as viewed from the Holy Land.  This is also, therefore, an argument about the date of Christ’s birth… with some help from God’s big celestial clock, this solar system and view of the greater created cosmos.

HINT: An ancient manuscript copying error made a huge difference!

His presentation is available online HERE. Check it out. It’s fascinating. I won’t spoil the fun of drilling into it.

HINT: It was not a comet.

It’s on YouTube:

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  1. Sword40 says:

    I remember when you presented this a few years ago. It is fascinating. I shared it back then and I’ll share it again. Thank you Fr. Z.

  2. Gerard Plourde says:

    I remember hearing this exact hypothesis made in a presentation at the Fels Palnetarium in Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute when I was a child. It sounded extremely plausible and I’ve believed this to be the explanation ever since.

  3. Jeannie_C says:

    Very interesting and informative. Except for the part in the narration about the Virgin birth and how Joseph “did not consummate the marriage until after she had given birth”. Must have been a protestant version of the nativity gospel.

    [RIGHT! There is that flaw. However, that doesn’t change his main argument, which I find pretty strong.]

  4. Grumpy Beggar says:

    . . . Just watched the whole thing. I like Jeannie_C ‘s description : “Interesting and informative.”

    I won’t call what I noticed a flaw , but at least a deficiency : At one point in the video Mr. Larson seems to imply quite firmly that what St. John the evangelist saw on Patmos – when he was writing the Book of Revelation , was an astrological representation of the “woman” (Virgo) “clothed with the sun” within this movement of the stars. While it might be one viable interpretation of scripture , it doesn’t seem that God would make such a “Great Sign” only understandable to those of this era and who have access to the latest software. Moreover, why couldn’t the disciple whom Jesus loved and who took Our Lady of Sorrows “into his care” at Jesus’ behest from the Cross have been blessed with a vision of His (their) actual Mother instead ?

    Neither could our Blessed Mother be properly or completely honoured with such a complicated interpretation. Our Lady loves simplicity and often chooses children to convey her messages. Our Blessed Mother loves to be close to her children – not remote.

    So while our Christian brother Mr. Larson (God bless him) continues his inspired work to unravel the cosmic poem, which, admittedly relies on figures (constellations) given names by literally “connecting the dots” to complete those figures , I prefer to recall , in this year which will mark the 100th anniversary of Fatima, that our Blessed Mother – the Virgin Mary appeared to her children in person, multiple times at Fatima ; and her appearance didn’t rely on the sky and on connecting dots . . . in the words of the visionaries, Our Lady’s appearance :

    They looked up to see in Lucia’s words, “a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water, lit by burning sunlight.” The children stood there amazed, bathed in the light that surrounded the apparition, as the Lady smiled and said: “Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.” Lucia as the oldest asked her where she came from.


    . . . bearing all that in mind , I thought Mr. Larson’s video was pretty cool ! But I intend to get on my knees and to thank God for my Catholic faith before I go to sleep tonight. :)

  5. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Grumpy Beggar,

    I think that Mr. Larson’s interpretation of “the woman clothed with sun” is hampered by Protestant reluctance to recognize Mary’s special role in God’s saving plan, based on their rejection of the Immaculate Conception and their flawed understanding of the effect of Original Sin on the human race. Protestants are wedded to the idea that our first parents’ act of disobedience resulted in the total depravity of human nature, suited only for damnation, rather than simply a deprivation of the supernatural gift of grace that orients us rightly and enables us to be focused on serving and fully loving God.

  6. Pingback: OLDIE POST: What was the Star of Bethlehem? | Fr. Z’s Blog | Trump:The American Years

  7. Clemens Romanus says:

    I saw this presentation back in college. It was cool then, and it’s still pretty cool now.

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    Great video- it’s always a good day when a broadside is delivered against Bible “minimalists.”

    Now, if we could get this lawyer-astronomer interested in camels he could next tackle the “Abraham’s Camels” controversy. It erupted again a couple years ago.

    In 2014 most minimalist bible scholars and the NYTimes/National Geographic/HuffPo etc., all latched on to an obscure archaeology report from a site near the Dead Sea. This report said that camels were not domesticated in that particular area until the 10th century BC. “Aha!” said the usual suspects in media and academia, “Abraham having camels is an anachronism, therefore Genesis is a pack of lies, and now the entire Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is unreliable.”

    During an NPR interview one Professor of Religious Studies exclaimed, bizarrely, that Abraham could not have had camels because: “We [also] know that Jaguars [the sportscar] did not exist 200 years ago.” Meanwhile, the NYTimes thumped its chest and belched out a Feb. 10, 2014, article: “Camels Had No Business in Genesis.” According to a “biblical scholar” it would be like “people in the Middle Ages [using] semitrailers to transport goods from kingdom to kingdom.” Conveniently ignored amidst all this hot air is the weight of evidence that indicates Abraham indeed had camels.

    In the final paragraph the NYTimes placates those readers who have “Sunday school images” with this morsel: the Three Wise Men probably rode on camels.

  9. Grumpy Beggar says:

    @ Gerard Plourde : Hi Gerard Plourde . Your post makes good sense to me. I honestly don’t know how those who aren’t in full communion with the Catholic Church are able to hold on to their faith – I think I would fare much worse than them under the same circumstances.

    Just to clarify, when I said “But I intend to get on my knees and to thank God for my Catholic faith before I go to sleep tonight” , it wasn’t meant in a condescending manner . . . more along the lines of , there, but for my devotion to the Blessed Mother, go I.

    After reading Clemens Romanus’ post , I went to Rick Larson’s related site- bethlehem star.com to see if there had been any new developments. He is currently working on a new project, which is already fully funded called The Christ Quake. He’s researching, sifting the evidence, building his case and constructing a video to prove to naysayers and skeptics that there actually was a humongous earthquake coinciding with the moment our Blessed Lord commended His spirit into the Heavenly Father’s hands at Calvary. There’s a 4-minute teaser at the site which looks promising ( more cool to come ?)

    . . . gotta love the guy and his motivation.

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