SOME PEOPLE WILL SAY ALMOST ANYTHING ABOUT THE STAR….
[UPDATE: CHRISTIAN TODAY bypasses the info below to feature a crazy article on The Bethlehem Star – to be recognized via symbols of C.S.Lewis’s’ Narnia!? bit.ly/2h3AJpS ]
To cut to the chase in this issue, let’s get some things out of the way first. There exist some rather complicated and silly theories about the Bethlehem Star that have drawn a lot of attention and even been the subject of films.
One of them wishes to associate Christ’s birth with Jupiter/Venus conjunctions in 3 and 2 BC which if astrology involved the Magi at all, and it did, would be ridiculous. While it’s true that in the last book of the bible Jesus is self-described as “the bright morning star” (i.e. the love planet, Venus), that is not any statement that derive from his lifetime or describes his life and destiny on earth. Jupiter/Venus is about riches, success and the good life, the sort of thing the crucified Jesus, denied his natural Jupiterian kingship, did not experience. And good astrology is about what is and what will be, here on earth, not what merely could be. Royal Jupiter prominent in any pattern for Jesus would need to suffer modification and challenge from somewhere. This it did from the position of Saturn in 7 BC if one follows the D’Occhieppo/Hughes theory from two noted astronomers that was widely praised in academic circles back in the late seventies and mentioned more recently by Pope Benedict in his The Infancy Narratives (2012) as a plausible explanation of the facts. (7 BC as a birth date is disfavoured by some because it wouldn’t make Jesus “about thirty” at the time of his ministry, but as ages could be counted in multiples of five, 30 could indicate anything from 30 to 35).
Another Star theory from such as Michael Molnar, and in recent days from the astronomer, Grant Matthews, would link Jesus’s birth to planetary phenomena involving bellicose Aries, sign of the outgoing era (incoming was Pisces), a sign with perhaps the least natural association with Jesus’ life and character. Matthews even seems to imagine that the Saturn, which is part of his alignment, is a giver of life – hardly the standard image of Saturn whether ancient or modern – in the Middle Age it was even regarded as the devil planet!
Basically, both scientists and conservative Christians are in harmony to wish astrology out of the picture for Jesus as far as possible…..which only helps to keep the ignorance and confusion going. (The Christians never explain why not even the Essenes and Talmudic rabbis considered astrology “divination” against the Law).
The claims for a comet are more persuasive and I come to that presently, but first for a bit of frank dogmatism.
THE BETHLEHEM STAR DEFINITELY WAS….
As per the D’Occhieppo’/Hughes thesis which I have radically developed and may be said to have completed, the Bethlehem Star itself was Jupiter at 19 Pisces during its second conjunction with Saturn in Pisces in 7 BC….If anyone could now possibly doubt this after reading the mass of evidence given in my Testament of the Magi, https://goo.gl/x8KASy for the pattern that the emphasized, relevant Jupiter oversees, let them get back and tell me. It could be a tough job, one which perhaps especially unbelievers might prefer to avoid altogether rather than tackle for its striking revelations. No other birth data for Jesus can begin to rival it with everything from the Part of Brothers conjunct asteroid James to the natal sun (the core identity) conjunct the Part of Redemption in the case of someone called the Redeemer. Flukes and coincidences can occur to mislead in any research enterprise, but not on the scale I produce. You couldn’t invent it. The picture can’t not be Jesus described through an unprecedented tell-all birth chart (for which of course a godless media and publishing has “no room at the inn” – not so much as an author’s op ed in a paper drawing attention to an historic discovery!).
The data is so efficient it even works, as a true chart should, for Jesus events to this day….it has even been doing so in the last few days with the tiresome intervention of Grant Matthews to distort matters through his suggestions there was no Bethlehem star. It’s a claim advanced just as transiting Saturn (restriction, doubt) makes what’s called affliction square aspect to the Jupiter of Christ’s birth and at that from the organized religions and universities sign of Sagittarius! (So the waters just had to be muddied, and the disproof rather than proofs that too many now want, promoted by someone from the noted Catholic University of Notre Dame. It was a promotion facilitated not just by the fact Jupiter was approaching the astronomer’s Libran sun, but by the fact a fortunate, easy trine of transiting Venus was directing upon the degree of the astronomer’s name, Grant….., itself in Jesus’ horoscope in the house of whatever undermines, as news reached the press on December 2nd. Far from being imprecise, astrology can be all too precise – again, one just couldn’t invent something like Matthews intervention to question Matthew’s gospel).
If, impossibly, the case I make in Testament of the Magi could be wholly disproved, the data would need to be the greatest statistical anomaly of all time to manage to present quite so much descriptive accuracy against chance.
BUT WHAT ABOUT A COMET?
The question people may nonetheless still ask is: could something else, connected to or additional to the certifiable factors of the birth pattern be involved?
I never particularly wished to associate a comet with Christ’s birth because his birth is “good tidings of great joy” and by tradition comets have always been deemed unfortunate. Colin Nicholl’s The Great Christ Comet, nonetheless argues that the association of comets with misfortune is not an exceptionless, universal rule. Since I anyway seek to take the tragedy of Jesus’ earthly life into account (as with Saturn modifying Jupiter) I must accept the possibility a comet could relate to and amplify the picture, and I now think it may have done so. A long tailed comet pointed downward, might even account for long held and popular notions of some miraculous, independent, brilliant “star” that “stood over the place”. (The early church father, Origen, did go so far as to suppose a comet). But “standing over the place” is of course something no comet (or planet) would ever exactly do, though it is how writing and writers of the times would describe things – Josephus had a comet “standing over Jerusalem” before its fall in 70 AD. So I think we can assume the Jewish Matthew’s literary style would particularly incline him to make any star or comet something like Israel’s pillar of fire to go before the people.
Apart from the fact that a plain sense reading of Matthew’s text has always been taken to support the idea of a star (aster) rather than the kometes word it doesn’t use, one problem with a comet as opposed a star “pointing” anywhere, is if it was very noticeable, wouldn’t Herod’s court already have seen it? It would be much easier for Herod to be ignorant of the motions and specialized astrological implications of planetary configurations. That’s why he consults with the Magi rather than just steps outside to gaze at the heavens. So, if it was involved in events, a comet would surely not need to be at its greatest magnitude, brightest and nearest earth as Nicholl wants to have it. The latter occurred in 6 BC, not 7 BC, and it’s by assuming a 6 BC over against a 7 BC birth that I feel Nicholl weakens such case as he has. But I return to this presently.
MOTIONS OF THE ALLEGED COMET
The real problem with Nicholl’s comet, which he even proposes may have been the greatest and brightest in history is, did it truly exist? Ironically, this is never made perfectly clear amid the often complex data of his academic study, the interviews and reviews (readers who bought into hype about the book’s racy narrative might wonder given the technicalities and learned notes!). All I can say is that, even though like most comets, especially the long period ones, it isn’t found in historical records,the comet could still have existed; and apparently the Armagh Observatory seems prepared to credit its existence and has “reconstructed” it.
I can’t possibly assess this and I think Nicholl and Armagh need to explain more; plus I do wish that Nicholl, who imagines a Jupiter/Saturnconjunction of 7 BC could have accompanied and alerted the Magi to the growing comet, would observe some basics of symbolic grammar and logic – it’s inadmissible to think of Jupiter as symbol of “God most high” and in relation to it Saturn as Israel. Jupiter is the younger over against the Saturnian person or thing that’s elder in time, a son figure as against a patriarchal, ancient Saturn, Rome’s Dei Filius, son of God. Regardless……what I can state is that since one can now read what is not supplied in Nicholl’s study, namely the GCC’s supposed motions across centuries according to Swiss Astrodienst, then perhaps the comet was real. If so, and I am not then dealing with the few allowable flukes and coincidences that could attend any wide ranging thesis, there does look to be something potentially significant in those motions.
On the day and time I claim Jesus was born, the GCC at 21 Aquarius was conjunct Jesus’ 20 degree all-important Aquarian destiny and reputation Midheaven (itself conjuncted among other things by his Joshua/Jesus name) plus mysteriously too, and as though symbolizing some kind of life fulfilment, the GCC was on the precise degree of the Bethlehem Star on the day and time in 30 AD that, in possibly the most remarkable chapter of my book, I show Christ would have to departed this world. But there’s not only this.
Early December 7 BC is one of the times Nicholl singles out for meaningful but not maximum visibility of his comet. Following David Hughes in assuming that the Magi arrived in Jerusalem in early December around the time of the third Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, (which is to say after Jesus’ actual birth as the gospel implies), I naturally look to see what the GCC is doing around December 5th.
Strangely enough, it is at 14 Aquarius. In my book I point out this could be the most crucial, sensitive degree for the Magi since it’s Jesus’ degree of asteroid Chaldaea (and even on an axis with DavidHughes at 14 Leo who has helped return to us the Chaldaean secrets). Fascinatingly, at the time of the third and last era conjunction on 5th December 7 BC, the transiting sun in Sagittarius (sign of any foreigners and philosophies) was in favourable aspect to Jesus’ 14 degree Chaldaea at the same time as Saturn (the authorities, restriction) afflicted it. Could this be this celestial shorthand for hopeful Magi arriving and finding trouble and then needing an extra sign? It could be. It’s at least suggestive.
THE GREAT SIGN OF THE WOMAN IN VIRGO
Perhaps because it’s harder to imagine Middle Eastern Magi (who it’s accepted were aware of the special phenomena of 7 BC) being able to predict from and follow a comet rather than the planets, Nicholl wants and needs to associate Christ’s birth with extremely visible, obvious, minimally or non-astrological phenomena in the heavens and specifically associated with the constellation Virgo in especially 6 BC. But to do this he has to assume that Revelation 12’s vision of the birth of a man child is describing the patterns of Jesus’ gestation in the womb and birth itself against the background of the stars. Yet this same apocalyptic vision with its portent in the heavens is supposed to be prophetic, not historic. (I briefly consider this same vision, currently of interest in some circles due to what will be a rare highlighting of the constellation Virgo in 2017, in a recent article The Astronomy and Astrology of Apocalypse: Could there be such? http://wp.me/p2v96G-OA )
Whatever the truth about a comet and the Rev 12 vision, plainly the vision can never, I think, be made to time Christ’s birth or even just generally accompany it…..unless as regards a paralleling that one could factor in for one or two other ideas beyond present scope but that concern the prophet Micah’s prophecy of the Messiah in chapters 4 and 5 whose implications Nicholl ignores. This could allow both some kind of delay factor and duplication in the nature of what is seen as birthed, which is not the Messiah only.
Given this modification one could allow that the birth of Christ might still have a connection of sorts to the celestial signs of the Rev 12 pattern……but more as a sign of a whole messianic season than as guide to the precise birth day of the Messiah. This concession would also allow, as I think it should, that the supposed lesser light of the comet in 7 BC at the time of the last Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, can still be relevant. Whatever the comet might subsequently and however spectacularly do, is then seen as part of a more general visionary picture, even celestial celebration of the incoming era – why, after all, should only one day alone describe and celebrate a nativity and whole era with all the changes it bring right through to its ending regarding which the pattern might also supply clues.
We are presently at the end of the same era (the Piscean, age of grace, era) the Magi helped signal. I even believe that is why it is now possible for us finally to know the details of what it was the Magi knew and more than they knew. The information is at once historic and prophetic……One could even make poetry out of it….I have done this (adding some extraordinary facts in prose) on the blog The Magi at Era’s End: A Poem http://wp.me/p2v96G-ip
Available from Amazon https://goo.gl/x8KASy and from The Book Depository (UK)