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Introduction The Star of Bethlehem is a common topic of questions asked to astronomers, especially around Christmas time because it is a special astronomical phenomenon that occurred around the time of the birth of Jesus the Christ. What was the Star of Bethlehem? The rest of this article will be based on the assumption that there is, in fact, an astronomical event or events that was the Star of Bethlehem.
There are those who argue with admittedly good reason that the assumption is wrong and that we should not try to do historical astronomy with the birth narratives. I will return to this at the end of the article. In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?
For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage. Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.
When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.
Here are the relevant verses from the NRSV: In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.
He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Index Though Jesus came to have a significant impact on the history and culture of western civilization, he was not considered important during his lifetime so the precise details of his birth were not recorded as they occurred.
The major non-biblical source of information about Jewish happenings around the time of Jesus' lifetime comes from the writings of the Jewish historian, Joseph ben Matthias C. However, Jesus receives just a brief mention in Josephus' writings and what is there is only about his adult life.
The Roman historian Tacitus around C. The best information we have comes from the biblical books of Matthew and Luke that were written about years after Jesus' birth. The authors of Matthew and Luke did not write with our modern understanding of historical accuracy in mind and did not attach the same significance to historical, physical truth we do today.
This fact is not remembered by many Christians, agnostics, and atheists today and has led to many heated debates between them in the past few hundred years.
However, my intention is to provide the historical information that many modern inquirers are asking for. King Herod is also mentioned in the first chapter of Luke in reference to Jesus' cousin John the Baptizer who was approximately six months older than Jesus.
Despite the differences in birth narratives given by the authors of Matthew and Luke, the fact that they do agree on Jesus being born during the reign of King Herod tells us that Jesus was very likely born sometime between B.
Jesus was probably born just a few years before the end of Herod's reign. This agrees with Herod's estimate of Jesus' age in his order to kill all the children other translations narrow that to just the male children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under.
The author of Matthew uses the same word to describe Jesus' age when he fled to Egypt with his parents and when he returned after Herod's deathhe was a little child when he left and when he returned. Index Another way to estimate Jesus' birth date is to determine when his public ministry occurred and work backwards.
According to Josephus and other early historians we know that Pilate ruled from C. Josephus says that Jesus' entire year ministry occurred during Pilate's rule. The author of Luke provides another time reference mark.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
Tiberius reigned as sole emperor from C. Caiaphas was high priest C. Unfortunately, the only Lysanias known to have ruled Abilene from other sources died in 36 B. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that the author of Luke could have used the Julian, Syro-Macedonian, Egyptian, or Jewish calendars to fix his dates.
All of the major Roman historians use C.Ways to conclude an academic essay, corruption essay in english words or less mobile revolution essays block quoting poems in essays nuclear power advantages and disadvantages essays essay in english subject and predicate factory pollution essay quotations.
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