The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi

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Rutgers University Press, 1999 - Religion - 187 pages
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Could the $50 purchase of an ancient coin by a Rutgers astronomer have unlocked the mystery of the Christmas Star? For years, scientists have looked, with little success, to astronomical records for an explanation of the magical star that guided the Magi to Christ's manger. Intrigued by the image he found on the latest addition to his coin collection, Michael Molnar thought there might be more to learn by looking, instead, at the teachings of ancient astrologers.

Molnar argues in his book that the Star of Bethlehem was not a star at all, but rather a regal portent centering around the planet Jupiter that was eclipsed by the moon. He bases this theory on the actual beliefs of astrologers, such as the Magi, who lived around the time of Christ. Molnar found some intriguing clues to the mystery while researching the meaning of astrological symbols he found an ancient coin, which bore the image of Aries looking back at a star. He found that Aries was a symbol of Judea at the time, and that ancient astrologers believed that a new king would be born when the moon passed in front of Jupiter. Molnar wondered, could the coin have been issued as a response to the Great Messianic Portent, the Star of Bethlehem?

To match the story of the appearance of the Christmas star, Molnar also knew the event had to happen when Jupiter was “in the east.” Using these criteria and a computer program, he was able to chart an eclipse of Jupiter in Aries on April 17, 6 B.C., a day when Jupiter was precisely “in the east,” which confirmed his theory. Moreover, he found that a Roman astrologer described the conditions of that day as fitting the birth of a “divine and immortal” person.

According to Harvard University Professor Owen Gingerich, “this is the most original and important contribution of the entire 20th century” about the Magi's star. Using clues from astronomy, astrology, and history, Molnar has created a provocative, fascinating theory on the Christmas Star. He weaves together an intriguing scientific detective story which resolves one of the world's greatest mysteries: The Star of Bethlehem at the birth of Christ.

  

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The star of Bethlehem: the legacy of the Magi

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Agos n (Spanish, Wellesley Coll.) devotes the first half of her autobiography to her childhood and early adolescence, an epoch already treated in A Cross and a Star (Univ. of New Mexico, 1995). The ... Read full review

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Very interesting and scientific! Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
A Mysterious Star
15
The Dawning of the First Millennium
32
Secrets of Regal Horoscopes
64
Astrological Portents for Judea
85
Epilogue
124
Appendices
127
ASTROLOGICAL INFLUENCES
128
REGAL HOROSCOPES
134
Chronology
139
Notes
145
Glossaries
163
HISTORICAL AND NUMISMATIC TERMS
169
SIGNIFICANT HISTORICAL PERSONS
170
Bibliography
175
Index
181

THE SYSTEM OF MUNDANE HOUSES AND CARDINAL POINTS
132

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Page 196 - Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

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About the author (1999)

MICHAEL R. MOLNAR, an astronomer, is retired from the Physics and Astronomy Department at Rutgers University.

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