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1 Kafitrar  Tue, Dec 24, 2013 9:25:51am

Arthur C. Clarke wrote a short story about this entitled, “The Star.” lucis.net

2 William Barnett-Lewis  Tue, Dec 24, 2013 10:46:05am

Beat me to it. That’s always the first thing I think of when I see these stories each year. Exquisite tale, well deserving the Hugo it took home.

3 SidewaysQuark  Tue, Dec 24, 2013 11:01:51am

The biggest “suspect” is that someone just plain made the story up. That would be consistent with the rest of the (most likely fabricated) narrative about the birth of Christ.

Merry Christmas!

4 CriticalDragon1177  Tue, Dec 24, 2013 11:29:51am

re: #1 Kafitrar

re: #2 William Barnett-Lewis

When I told some friends of mine on twitter about this article, one of them also recommended that “The Star” story. I guess it’s well known. Not surprising Arthur C. Clarke is really famous and considered one of the greatest sci fi writers of all time.


However, I’m not sure if I head about it, before today.

5 William Barnett-Lewis  Tue, Dec 24, 2013 11:49:07am

re: #3 SidewaysQuark

The biggest “suspect” is that someone just plain made the story up. That would be consistent with the rest of the (most likely fabricated) narrative about the birth of Christ.

Merry Christmas!

The stories were almost certainly made up. However folk memory of a spectacular astrological event could have played a part in the stories that got told about a seemingly miraculous healer & rabbi from Nazareth.

6 KingKenrod  Tue, Dec 24, 2013 4:02:01pm

re: #3 SidewaysQuark

The biggest “suspect” is that someone just plain made the story up. That would be consistent with the rest of the (most likely fabricated) narrative about the birth of Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Biblical authors rarely just made things up. Their audience at the time would remember or record odd celestial events, so they would know if the teller of the story was just making up the new star’s appearance circa 0BC.

The event (whatever it was) was probably real, just connected to Jesus’s birth after the fact.

7 wheat-dogghazi  Tue, Dec 24, 2013 6:20:47pm

re: #5 William Barnett-Lewis

The stories were almost certainly made up. However folk memory of a spectacular astrological event could have played a part in the stories that got told about a seemingly miraculous healer & rabbi from Nazareth.

Halley’s Comet makes several appearances in art over the ages, including the Bayeux Tapestry (commemorating the Norman Invasion of 1066). Strange stuff in the sky made an impact on people back then.

8 ausador  Tue, Dec 24, 2013 7:59:55pm

re: #6 KingKenrod

Biblical authors rarely just made things up. Their audience at the time would remember or record odd celestial events, so they would know if the teller of the story was just making up the new star’s appearance circa 0BC.

The event (whatever it was) was probably real, just connected to Jesus’s birth after the fact.

But the books of the New Testament were not written during Jesus’s lifetime or even during the entire next two generations. Biblical scholars put the date of the earliest written New Testament verses somewhere around 60 A.D.

The majority of New Testament scriptures were written between then and around 150 A.D although many scholars claim that at least two of the supposed letters of Paul/Saul are latter day forgeries and were not written until sometime considerably after 300 A.D.

So just like anyone reading the story today, the written account of the “Gospel” was written after anyone who might have actually witnessed it was already dead. (don’t forget the average lifespan then was considerably shorter).

There was no one still alive to cry foul and say “Hey, that never happened, there never was a star of the East that outshone all the other heavenly bodies, at least not when they say it did.”

Besides all of which the story of the “Three Magi” and the “Star of Bethlehem” only appears once in the bible, in the gospel of Matthew. Matthew was written between 70-110 A.D. based on earlier oral gospel stories and the gospel of Mark which scholars now believe was actually the first gospel to be written.

Many after-the-fact tales in the “gospels” were apparently written in order to fulfill (or appear to fulfill) earlier prophecies regarding the Jewish messiah. In this case the prophecy comes from the old testament book of Numbers…

I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of tumult.

The kingdom of Moab had long since ceased to exist by the time of Jesus, but the prophecy of the star arising had become an accepted and anticipated sign of the messiah amongst Jewish theologians.

Therefore when someone got around to writing up the gospel of Matthew 80-90 years (scholarly best estimate) after the death of Jesus they included the story of the “Magi” and the “Star of Bethlehem.”

I have to rate the probability of the story of the Magi and the Eastern star being factual as exceedingly low given what we know about the formation of the written account.

9 jvic  Tue, Dec 24, 2013 8:38:41pm

re: #8 ausador

Well argued. Heck, I’m surprised at some accounts I read of things that happened in my adult lifetime, and that’s despite the communication & recording technology we have that didn’t exist two millennia ago.


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