Thursday, December 17, 2015

John Byl On The Great Christ Comet

A recent post at his blog is about Colin Nicholl's book on the star of Bethlehem.


  1. If he wants a naturalistic explanation why not speculate that it was an alien spacecraft?

  2. I've found in several sources that in biblical imagery "stars" are symbols of angels. Why do we ignore that every Christmas and go looking for comets and planetary alignments?

    1. Because then how would you sell books every Christmas? Duh!

    2. "And yet possibly the Christmas Star was a comet, but … an other one"

      I agree with Jason Engwar when he notes:”The best explanation for their joy is that the star had disappeared earlier and just reappeared”. Let's try to look at the Matthean pericope Mt 2:1-11 with a fresh eye.
      The canonical text Mt 2:1-11 reports about ONLY two observations of an unusual “star” by the magi: the first time the magi “saw his star when it rose” Mt 2:2 (here and further “New International Version”) and the second time AFTER the “star” had “stopped over the place where the child was” (cf. Mt 2:9 and Mt 2:10).
      It may be assumed that the first time the magi saw the rising “star” near Jerusalem. The magi thought that "a king of the Jews" was born in the capital and hurried there to worship him. They came to Jerusalem in the late morning, so the “star” was not visible in daylight and no one could see it. Herod was quickly informed about the excited magi and their report. But there was not a suitable baby in the families of Herod’s numerous descendants. Then the king could simply ignore the magi with their fantasies.
      But someone from Herod's environment “added fuel to the dying fire” making a clarification: according to the prophecy Numbers 24.17 the rising of an unusual “star” could mean much more than the birth of another future "king of the Jews", namely the birth of Christ - the Messiah - Mashiach. At the meeting Herod asked “chief priests and teachers of the law... where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea” they replied... Then Herod called the Magi secretly" Mt 2.4,5,7. The king did not leave the meeting immediately so the magi had to wait. Herod met the magi in the evening and he wanted them to show him their "star". However, their “star” had not yet risen and the king only "found out from them the exact time the star had appeared” Mt 2.7. Herod wasn't impressed at all by the humble magi. He was sure they would not find in Bethlehem a newborn "king of the Jews" and even less Messiah. That's why he did not give them any escort.
      The magi spent the night in Jerusalem, and the next day at dawn they went to Bethlehem. That morning the magi did not observe the rise of their “star”, probably due to cloudy weather. Though the Gospel says that "the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them” Mt 2.9 the magi did not observe it when they were following the winding road through hills to Bethlehem. They saw the “star” for the second time only after it had "stopped over the place where the child was" (cf. Mt 2.9 and Mt 2.10). Thus when the magi had seen the “star” for the first time they left it behind them and entered Jerusalem from the east. Now they suddenly saw the “star” standing over the house before them. That’s why it’s written “went ahead of them” Mt 2.9. Note that two observations of the star” by the magi are separated by a little more than one day.
      It is quite obvious that Matthew did not invent these details, but carefully wrote down what came to him in the oral tradition several decades after the events. It may be easily shown that such a simple realistic interpretation is in a better agreement with the letter and spirit of the canonical text than traditional ones!
      So I do not agree with Jason Engwar that the Christmas star was a supernatural phenomenon but I agree with Colin Nicholl, that possibly it was a comet, though an other one.
      For further details, see a short summary of my hypothesis on the site
      Alexander I. Reznikov, physicist. Russian Academy of Sciences. Moscow.