What was the Star of Bethlehem – natural, supernatural or fiction?

Supernova, comet, planet, angel, miracle, star? Or something else.

Star of Bethlehem a literary creation, says Ohio State physics scholar | The Columbus Dispatch.

In the newly published The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View, the Ohio State University scholar says the star was most likely the literary creation of the author of the Gospel of Matthew, meant to convey a message of salvation.

None of the other hypotheses he has encountered can explain it, [Aaron] Adair said, and at least one — that the star was a “fantastic” conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in either 3 or 2 B.C. — would have to change history to fit the story.

“I found out that pretty much all the hypotheses failed to really conform to what the Gospel actually said,” noted Adair, who has a master’s degree in physics and a doctorate in physics education at Ohio State.

The religiously inclined take the story at face value, that there was SOMETHING that drew the Magi. More realistic-based researchers say there is just not much evidence to go by, making it difficult to investigate.

Brett Ellman, an associate professor of physics and planetarium director at Kent State University sagely notes: “[…] matters of religion are often outside the purview of science — if one chooses to believe in something based on faith, they generally do not require a real-world explanation.”

I admire a real-world explanation myself. The Bible clearly should not be taken literally. It makes no sense as a science or history book. Check out Aaron’s book here.

  10 comments for “What was the Star of Bethlehem – natural, supernatural or fiction?

  1. Massachusetts
    December 20, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    So , not a super nova? Interesting. I guess novae are briefer phenomena?

  2. bdash
    December 20, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    The story of the birth of Jesus didn’t appear until forty years after his death. He never claimed it happened. At the time, they thought the son of god would have to be from a “virgin birth”, so the story was retro fit into his legend. The star was just part of the story.

  3. bdash
    December 20, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    The story didn’t appear until 40 yrs after his death. He never claimed it. The belief at the time was that the son of god must be from a “virgin birth”, so they retro fit the story into his legend. The “star” is just part of that story.

  4. Jim1950a
    December 20, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Seems to me that if it was a natural phenomena, there would be other references in contemporary documents.

  5. Bob
    December 21, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    The entire nativity story is a creation of later writers. If one looks at them side by side, one finds they do not tell the same story. Obvious myths.

  6. Lowell
    December 21, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    It was my understanding of the story, that there was no physical star. When the Magi say that they saw Jesus’ star rising in the East, they were refering to his horoscope. Which would explain why neither Harod nor anyone else in Judea can see a bright new star over Bethlehem. I think it was a clever literary invention of the Gospel writers to both legitimize their claims of Jesus’ divinity and set up the story of the slaughter of the innocents, which mirrors Moses’ origin myth.

  7. December 21, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    I give it a thumbs up even though its written a bit sketchy in spots.

  8. Stuart Robbins
    December 21, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    I interviewed him on the latest episode of my podcast: http://podcast.sjrdesign.net/shownotes_096.php .

  9. December 21, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Excellent – consider me subscribed!

  10. Stuart Robbins
    December 22, 2013 at 5:50 PM


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