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