Biblical astronomy and the Star of Bethlehem
There are two things that we need to understand in order to talk about biblical astronomy
and the Star of Bethlehem. One of which is biblical cosmology, that is the study of the creation of the universe. According to Genesis, God created the heaven and the Earth, the sun, moon and stars and then every living thing that moves and humans were last. (Though that point varies depending on which version of creation you follow. Both are in Genesis, back to back, read them carefully, they are different.)
What cosmology does is explain to us the way the universe was structured and the evolution that is has gone through. We can find great truths, that science later backed up, in the bible. For example in Joshua 10:12-14 God commands the sun to stand still, he does this on behalf of the army of Joshua. This would then tell us that the sun is the center of the universe and we rotate around it which is the opposite of what many scholars believed for many years. However, today many points of what the bible has to say in regards to the universe and astronomy have become points of contention with scientific belief. This is where the biblical astronomy comes in.
In a very broad way, biblical astronomy takes the views from the Bible as far as the position of the Earth in the universe, the designation of the stars, planets, fixed stars and the views about those stars. One such star is the Star of Bethlehem. There are some really interesting theories out there about the origin and purpose of the star. Here we are going to look at a couple of the very many theories out there.
Biblical astronomy – theories about the Star of Bethlehem
First theory is that the star was simply a “one shot” ordeal, something that had never been seen before or since then. That God really did place it in the sky to announce the birth of his son. This theory leaves little for an astronomer to argue. As that it was a supernatural miracle, which then defies any scientific explanation. Theologians though will want to label it with a divine interpretation which is why it is so important in the Nativity story.If you admit the star was a natural phenomenon that had an actual scientific explanation, that would remove its biblical significance.
A second theory is that the Star of Bethlehem was added to the Nativity story after the fact. Believe it or not, there could be some truth to this. When Jesus was born, very few people recognized the significance of the star. There is only one time that the star is mentioned in the Bible, and that is in the book of Matthew. You will not find a mention of it in any other Gospel account of the Nativity. Matthew may have added it to the story of Jesus as he was writing after the crucifixion. This would’ve been done because, at the time, all great kings had stars associated with their own nativity. Jesus’ importance was not apparent until he began his ministry, when he was 30, which is the age the Jewish people consider the age of spiritual maturity.
Biblical astronomy and the Star of Bethlehem is a fascinating topic
There are many other theories out there. It makes for interesting reading to spend the time and do a little research into biblical astronomy to read what theologians and astronomers think about the Star of Bethlehem. Was it real, was it made up, was it truly a sign from God? It will depend on what theory you can relate to and what your spiritual belief is.
Return to the Astronomy For Kids Online homepage from this biblical astronomy page