Ever Wonder about the Star of Wonder?

If you've ever wondered about the star of wonder, you might want to check out this week's Religion and Ethics newsletter by clicking here. Reporter Kim Lawton talks to professors and an author who have explored the star as a cosmic occurrence, a miracle, and a literary myth.

Ronald Kaitchuck, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Ball State University, Indiana, says there is ample scientific evidence to suggest a number of like possibilities about the starscape at the time of Jesus birth. For the past 40 years, his department at Ball State has offered a Christmas show about the possibilities surrounding the Star of Bethlehem.

"Three of the major planets appeared fairly close together in the same part of the sky. That'd be Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. And then, just a year later, we know from Chinese records there was a nova--an exploding star," Kaitchuck says.

At the same time, in College Station, Texas, law professor and evangelical Christian Rick Larson points out that in 2 BC the Wise Men of Babylon would have been looking toward Judea and seen Jupiter, the King planet, and Venus, the Mother planet, in an extremely rare conjunction that would have made them appear to be one bright star. This, Larson, says was enough to get the Magi heading toward Judea.

"Nine months earlier, there was another series of spectacular celestial events laden with symbolism. Larson says it matches a vision recorded by Saint John in the Book of Revelation. He believes this could coincide with Christ's conception. Using the same timetable, in 33 AD a lunar eclipse matches biblical accounts describing the day Jesus was crucified," according to Larson, who believes God has told the story of Christ's life through the stars.

Author Frederica Mathewes-Green is slow to jump on the literalist bandwagon, however. This author sees the star as a literary myth: "I think that's one of the things that the star speaks to us, that in its brilliance, its luminosity, its elevated qualities, but yet participating in this very same universe that we're in, that it shows us the depths of the story and, just as it led the Wise Men, it leads us as well deeper and deeper into the mystery."


  1. Hi Sandy.

    I wanted to drop by and say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Not sure about the star. I am sure there was more wonder in people's eye back then when any kind of natural occurrence happened.I would like to believe there was a star.

  2. Full of wonder, that Star.

  3. I saw the Star of Bethlehem by Larson on the trinity broadcast system Christmas day....it was fascinating. Hope your Christmas was wonderful.

  4. I've seen a couple of shooting stars. I always like to think of the star as a special sign of Jesus's birth Sandy. I'm sure it means different things to different people.

  5. Thanks for exploring the possiblities of the star. Well done!

    We purchased the Rick Larson DVD, "The Star of Bethlehem" this Christmas. You can read a brief review here. Wow, I'm completely convinced in the credibity of his theory. Larson's ideas are amazing, and I highly recommend his work.

    Blessings, e-Mom @ Chrysalis


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