Tag Archive | Bethlehem Star

Astronomical Fact Check: A Review of The Bethlehem Star, The Star That Astonished the World, by Earnest L. Martin

BFB151218 Martin - Star that Astonished the World

Everyone knows when Jesus was not born.  Even the most devoted Christians understand that December 25 is not the date their Savior came into the world.  But when exactly was He born? 

The average person would say that no one knows.  That answer is incorrect.  It is possible to know when Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth was born – at least within a few days of the event, if not the actual day.  That is the message of Earnest L. Martin’s work, The Star of Bethlehem:  The Star That Astonished the World

If the book considered only the evidence of the Bethlehem Star, it would not be sufficient to establish the case with any degree of certainty.  The title, however, does not embrace the comprehensive nature of the work.  Martin delves into astronomy and the astrological practices of the ancient world, but that is only the beginning.  His quest for truth leads him to investigate multiple avenues of evidence, including Roman, Judean, and Parthian records and historical data, Jewish cultural and religious practices of the era, and clues hidden within the text of the biblical accounts.  In the process, he not only establishes with a reasonable degree of certainty when Yeshua was born, but also sheds light on a period that is considered one of the least known in Roman history.

This weight of evidence permits Martin to make this astonishing claim:

[The] historical evidence supports the nativity of Jesus in 3 B.C.E., at the beginning of a Roman census, and (if we use the astronomical indications of the Book of Revelation) his birth would have occurred just after sundown on September 11th, on Rosh ha-Shanah, the Day of Trumpets — the Jewish New Year Day for governmental affairs.  There could hardly have been a better day in the ecclesiastical calendar of the Jews to introduce the Messiah to the world from a Jewish point of view; and no doubt this is what the apostle John clearly intended to show by the sign he recorded in Revelation 12.

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Silent Night in September

At some point in my youth I grew curious about why we Christians celebrate Christmas in December.  When I asked my elders where to find Christmas in the Bible, they pointed me to Luke 2 and Matthew 2.  Although those famous passages explained the details of Jesus’ birth, neither they nor anyone I asked could explain how those accounts got translated into the festivities of December 25.  The best answer I got was something like this, “We really don’t know when Jesus was born.  It probably wasn’t in the winter, but since we don’t really know, December 25 is as good a day as any.”

That answer never satisfied my curiosity as a child, and it should not satisfy any serious believer in Jesus, especially when we consider the high quality of Luke’s gospel.  Dr. Luke was a meticulous scholar who recorded great detail both in his gospel and in the book of Acts.  His accounts, such as those in the first two chapters of his gospel, included evidence he had acquired from people who witnessed the events.  In particular, he must have talked with Mary the mother of Jesus to understand her thoughts and words.  How is it possible, that she would forget when her Son was born, or that Luke would not tell us that detail?  It truth, it is not possible to overlook such an important detail, and in fact Luke did tell us.  All we need to understand the answer is a little Bible knowledge, not only of the scriptures, but of the Hebraic context in which they were written.  Most of what we need is in Luke 1, with a little help from I Chronicles 24.  We begin with the story of a priest in the Temple at Jerusalem: Please click here to continue reading

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