The Star of Bethlehem
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THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM FASCINATES. For millennia, believers, scoffers and the curious have wondered at the Biblical account of the Star. The Bible recounts unusual, or even impossible astronomical events at Christ's birth. For many doubters, the account of the Star is easily dismissed as myth. For many believers, it's a mystery accepted on faith. But what happens if we combine current historical scholarship, astronomical fact and an open mind? Judge for yourself...
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Top Customer Reviews
My only (mild) criticism is that the polish of Frederick Larson's presentation could use some work. Some special effects might also add impact--although I admit that the simplicity of the format emphasizes the wow-factor of the information itself.
Mr. Larson has done fascinating research--Biblical and historical. Furthermore, he uses a commercially available (and scientifically accurate) program (Starry Night Pro) to run the solar system backwards through time to see the actual nighttime skies over the Middle East at the time of Jesus' birth. You can buy the program and verify this for yourself. I've had the program for years, but never did the awe-inspiring research, nor found the jaw-dropping conclusions he reached.
The celestial conjunctions he describes (and shows) are 100% accurate. The mathematics of how the solar system works do not lie. His logical arguments on their meanings, based on historical research and astronomical symbology, are almost as difficult to assail. The awesome implications of this material will have many shouting in excitement! Interestingly, he also presents some similarly veined information on the date of Jesus' crucifixation which will also "wow" all but the most jaded hearts!
Whether you are convinced by his conclusions or not, if you aren't stunned and awed by the material in this presentation, you haven't understood it!!!
In my opinion, this documentary has a place in the home of every serious Christian. Not to confirm your Faith, (although it may) but for its Scriptural journey and for the wonder and joy found in seeing the awesome majesty of the Creator's handiwork, written across the sky!
Since this is a popular level talk, proper documentation is missing (although a good bit can be found on the author's bethlehem star website). I wish the DVD producers had added a page or two of supporting citations for the various assertions made in the DVD -- I say this as a scientist who is interested in such things. For one thing, the talk implies that the speaker had stumbled on the crucifixion eclipse on his own, but the information he gives was first (I believe) presented by Humphreys and Waddington (Oxford) in a paper published in Nature in 1983 -- see the Wikipedia article on the Crucifixion of Jesus.
I must admit that the heavy use of the names for prominent constellations and planets - Leo, Virgo, Ram (noted in the "additional material"), Jupiter, and the star Regulus -- in support of his work is a bit startling at first, but on reflection it is probably legitimate -- after all, constellation names are mentioned in the Bible (while at the same time it condemns astrology). It is perhaps natural that a person who looks to the heavens to discern the signs, times and seasons would use star patterns and name them as a mnemonic aid. From my investigations, it appears that the origins of the constellation names is buried so far back in ancient times that nobody knows where they first arose.
Without explicitly saying so, this DVD makes some important theological observations. First, it is incredible that the star configurations that heralded Jesus' birth and mourned his death are just happenstance. God must have planned them from eternity past -- therefore the factual content says a lot about God's foreknowledge (and puts the lie to the notion that he can't look into or control future events) and about predestination.
Second, it is remarkable that the significance of the prophet Joel's and the Apostle Peter's reference to a "moon of blood" (a common ancient term for a lunar eclipse) was apparently lost to the church for nearly 2000 years. And its recent rediscovery testifies to God's use of modern science to proclaim his glory and handiwork to the modern world.
Third, the reference to the lunar eclipse in Acts 2:20 is a strong confirmation of the historical accuracy and historicity of this account, and should refute the claims by many critics that the events of Jesus' life are historical fiction.
In summary, this is an excellent DVD. It should be in the library of every evangelical church, and should be a strong challenge to those thinking people who see the Gospel account of Jesus' life as mere fabricated folk lore. My only regret is that the video production is relatively amateurish. The compelling and attractive subject matter deserves a more professional production.
Added Sep09: Here is my take on the issue of whether the retrograde change in direction of Jupiter on December 25, 1 BC satisfies the observation in Matthew that "it came to rest over the place where the child was."
First, the word for "place" is quite indefinite: it doesn't mean "house" as some versions say -- it might just mean that the direction change occurred towards the South, over Bethlehem, as the Magi were on the 5 mile trek from Jerusalem, in a sort of confirmation of the Micah prophecy that they had just heard. Of course the "mathematician" in the group would have known this already, it is not something he could actually observe visually (I assume). The confirmation consists in learning from Herod's query that Bethlehem is the "place" and the fact that Jupiter was at that time "stopped" -- in the South, on a compass (!) direction that passed directly over Bethlehem.
Second, Bethlehem was a small town (by modern standards), perhaps at most a few thousand people. In keeping with the times, almost everyone knew everyone else. The family had been there for over 6 months, and they were in any case related to most of the residents in the town.
Third, the wisemen knew the exact date that the star appeared the previous June. There probably was only one, and couldn't have been more than 2-3 infants that would be the right age. All they had to do was ask around, just as I do if I want to know where the farmstand is when I get to an unfamiliar town.
So, in conclusion, I consider this a non-issue, and certainly the star "stopping" does not require a miraculous intervention by God. The Jupiter direction change is more than enough.