Video | The Star of Bethlehem
Was the Star of Bethlehem a real astronomical event? A myth created by
the early church? It’s an astronomical mystery. A strange star is claimed
to have appeared at the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. This documentary is an investigation
of the story found in the Biblical Gospel of Matthew, a story often called
the ‘Star of Bethlehem.’
It brings the words of Roman and Jewish historians
alongside the visions of ancient prophets. It mixes “modern” mathematicians
with murderous turmoil in the Roman imperial court. It combines all these
with astronomical facts which no one disputes. And it concludes that the
star was a real event. Come solve this age-old mystery for yourself...
Setting the Stage Overview
JOHANNES KEPLER paved the way for rediscovery of the Star. He puzzled
out the math which drives the heavens. He even used his formulae to
search for the Star we seek. But unlike we, Kepler had no computer.
With software incorporating Kepler’s equations, we can animate ancient
skies over the Mid East with great precision. When we do that, the sky
THE BIBLE blasts worship of the stars. It even declares the death
penalty for star-abuse! So, by seeking the Star of Bethlehem, are we
doing something the Bible itself forbids? Actually, the Bible encourages
attention to the stars, but only attention of a very specific type...
NEARLY EVERYTHING in the sky has been proposed as the Star of Bethlehem
at one time or another. Why? Because investigators often grant surprisingly
little regard to clues found in the Bible. But, a close reading of the
Book of Matthew uncovers nine specific features of the Star. These qualifications
become primary tools in our investigation...
THE NINE CHARACTERISTICS of the Star eliminate most celestial objects
as candidates—they just don’t measure up. We quickly see what the Star
cannot have been. These ancient clues narrow our search dramatically
and yield an hypothesis we can test...
The Starry Dance Overview
OUR INVESTIGATION KNOCKS OUT most celestial objects as candidates
for the Star. But there is one class of stars that might still match
the rigorous tests we’ve extracted from the Book of Matthew: “wandering
stars.” That will be our hypothesis...
THE BOOK OF REVELATION is a puzzle. An enchanting puzzle, to be sure.
And a tantalizing puzzle to one conducting an astronomical investigation,
because John’s book is full of star imagery. While some of John’s vision
is enigmatic, some of what he writes unfolds to us with the help of
HUNDREDS OF PLANETARIA worldwide present “Star of Bethlehem” Christmas
shows. Most don’t feel comfortable using the Bible as the center of
their performances, so they miss much of what we are finding. But one
celestial event they nearly always include is a show stopper from an
astronomer’s perspective. The brightest event of our Magus’ career occurred
in 2 BC...
CAN A STAR STOP? Can and did. In the Southern sky, over the little
town of Bethlehem...
The Day of the Cross Overview
SOME ARE OBVIOUS, SOME OBSCURE. But there are many clues to the date
of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth: violent Roman history, the
Jewish calendar, startling ancient prophecies, a somber night sky. Each
adds data for our investigation. We can deduce an important clue from
the gospel records: Jesus must have died in a year when the 14th day
of the Jewish month of Nisan fell on a Friday...
IT WAS DANGEROUS to be Roman if you knew the wrong people. Tiberius
Caesar ruled the Empire during the time of Christ. He was not a hesitant
or forgiving man. A plot to take his throne was discovered—the plot
bathed Italy in blood—and it appears to have had a role in the execution
FAR FROM JERUSALEM a Jewish exile remained true. True to his people.
True to his god. True to the land of his birth. The Bible records his
mysterious vision: an angel speaking of the death of Messiah. And this
vision, which at first seems obscure, can be gently pressed to reveal
secrets—the timing of an execution to occur centuries later...
PETER WAS UP—it was time to speak. He had to address the rowdy crowd.
A strange scene was unfolding. It was less than two months after the
crucifixion. Worshipers from dozens of nations were in Jerusalem for
a Jewish holiday. Suddenly, the disciples of Jesus began praising God,
but in out-of-towners’ languages! Peter stood, and he used the sky as
STARS ARE ANCHORS for historians. Scholars dance when ancient texts
describe the sky. The heavens are so predictable that a description
of the sky in a text often enables precise dating of ancient events.
Our last clue for the day when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified comes
from the sky. And it’s the clincher...
What Does this Mean? Overview
IF THE BIBLE IS TRUE, God has given signs to men throughout history.
There is a common response by those who see wondrous things. We often
draw near to understand more fully. That is what the Magi did when they
saw the Star. The rediscovered Star is a sign to us today. So, we draw
near to learn its meaning...
IF THE STAR was a natural event, does that mean it was not a miracle?
Perhaps just the opposite. For, if the stars were arranged to create
a sign, that arrangement is as old as time. A Star which is part of
the orderly natural universe is a Clockwork Star. A sign put in place
before men walked the Earth...