Skip to comments.New Research Suggests Christmas Story Of Visit By Wise Men Was ‘Historically True’
Posted on 12/25/2017 10:17:56 AM PST by blam
Despite attempts by modern biblical scholarship to debunk the gospel account of three magi visiting the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem, the stories were historically true according to extensive research by author Dwight Longenecker. In his new book, Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men, Longenecker, a scholar and Catholic priest, states that an impartial study of the relevant data shows beyond reasonable doubt that the Magi of Matthews gospel were historical figures.
For many years, Longenecker writes, skeptical scholars have rejected the possibility that the infancy stories about Jesus could be historical for a number of reasons, such as the fact that they contain supernatural elements.
The first problem with this is that the skeptic simply assumes supernatural experiences are impossible, therefore any story that contains supernatural elements must be a fanciful invention, he notes.
In the early twentieth century, Bible scholars began to write off the stories of Jesus birthespecially the story of the wise menas pious fantasies, he continues. They did so without considering if the stories might, at least, be rooted in real events.
Because of this prejudice, most scholars never did the necessary research to sift out the historical element buried beneath levels of legend, he says.
Moreover, the idea that there might be a historical basis to the magi story became an academic no-go zone, Longenecker says. When ones academic reputation might be at stake the motivation to challenge the academic dogma and entertain the possibility of a historical basis to the magi story becomes even more remote.
As one Biblical scholar noted: If you want a career in New Testament scholarship thats somewhere you just dont go.
As a result, within the vast realm of Biblical scholarship there is surprisingly little research
(Excerpt) Read more at breitbart.com ...
Except it was probably rising sea levels, not sinking shorelines, although the educated may have gravitated westward some thousand or more years earlier.
Decades ago, I read a science fiction story about exploring a dead planet (killed when its star went super nova) that had remains of a great and benevolent society. Nut of the story was that the exploding sun would have been visible on earth to guide the Magi.....no reason why the God that spoke the universe into being couldn't have arranged for a star to light up to guide folks to His Child's birth....(but I doubt He would have wiped out a race to do it unless they were less good than the story indicated)....
TY for posting that
No. 1 - The bible does not give a number to the visitors.
No. 2 - Magi was a term sued to describe Zoroastrian priests, not Nabateans.
Where does he get this evidence? Personally, I believe the essence of the story, but not his interpretation as so superficially presented in the article.
Not only that, we also know that his Family was Samnite in origin, due to the name.
Nahh. They would have done a hit job on Herod.
One thing we can be sure of, they were not 8 wise men and one “wise Latina”.
Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism preaches the birth of a series of saviors (sayosant).
That was the “sense” of the phrase I was asking about(a seen star in the east vs “we of the east have seen his star”.
How ever I do believe the star looked and stayed “fixed” no matter what time of season and what time of night...that is what would have captured their attention since the heavenly bodies appear to move thru the night as well as thru the seasons except this
star...much in the same way Moses kept looking at the burning bush(many such bushes would catch fire in that region because of the oil resins and the intense heat of the sun) and kept looking before realizing that the bush wasn’t being consumed.
I believe the star came out and stayed fixed and may have done so for nearly 2 years....hence Herod ordering the destruction of children 2 years or younger, planning those ages based on having learned for what time the star had appeared before the Magi had arrived. Heavenly bodies normally shift with the time of night and with the seasons...this was no ordinary anomaly they were looking at...but it may have taken 2 years to really get a look at the star, watch it’s apparent lack of position changes before deciding that something extraordinary was happening that needed to be investigated.
“You may not agree with this, but a star which at night is seen to be in the eastern sky will soon before morning be in the west, and will appear in different places throughout the year; whereas one that appears on or only above the horizon in southern skies, will be there in the same general locality night after night, although for part of the year it may disappear due to precession of the earth relative to it throughout the year. While those at the north of the equator will always see Polaris in the same place, as one’s location moves to the South Pole, the North star will appear only part of the night until it finally disappears the farther south one moves. That is similar to the fact that the people of USA do not see the Southern Cross constellation: Exploring the Famous Southern Cross Constellation (click here)” YEAH I KNOW ABOUT THE MOVEMENTS OF THE STARS AT NIGHT and changes in through the seasons...and so would the MAGI!
I think they saw a star that stayed fixed all night and in the same place and at the same apparent angle of elevation no matter what the seasons....that is what got their attention.(like Moses who doubtless saw many burning bushes which was common in that desert region nevertheless saw one and still was of the congnitive ability at age 80 to recognize that there was one bush that looked very different in that it wasn’t being consumed.) Over time when it didn’t move and stayed fixed all night, they had to go and look at it. It may have been apparent to them for up to 2 years which is the time span they may have told Herod(thus his destruction of the children 2 years max and under.)
And south from where? Well, northerly from Bethlehem (which is a hundred feet or so in altitude above Jerusalem. So it is not goofy for them to be from what is now "Turkey," th location of Padan-Aram (Genesis 25:20), the Plain of Aram, where the outflow of descendants coming down from Mt. Ararat a few miles away found arable land to raise flocks, herds, and to farm for food. These then also perpetuated the truths from the holy man Noah, who knew Jehovah personally, receiving wisdom and prophecy from Him; doubtless the clear prophecy of the blood sacrifices for the remission of sins, and typified by the then clearly visible sign of the Southern Cross symbol appearing from the heights of the crags of the Chaldee mountains, but generation by generation drawing theologians and their astrographers more anfd more to the south to keep it in view, as well as its eternal promise of a Savior from sins.
For your information, the constellation can still be seen from Brownsville, Texas; but its appearance is still moving south, Brownsville is still almost the same latitude as Dubai! Also, as an intertesting aside, the people of Ankara do not call their huge poultry bird a "turkey.' To them, it is a "Hindi." (I had Turkish citizens as fellow graduate students back in the 1960s and '70s, inviting them to my home for Thanksgiving. They loved a feast of Hindi and stuffing.)
You are arguing from a naturalized astronomical point of view...I’m saying it was supernatural...as in something that was in a fixed geosynchronous orbit...because as the Magi came to Bethlehem the star was seen directly over the house...not continuously off in the distance as would a normal star or constellation. The magi were said to have rejoiced to “see the star’ and it went before them and stood over the house where Jesus and mary stayed. A star constellation wouldn’t do that.
I'm much more impressed with the omnipotent and omniscient supernaturality--using His own physical laws ordering His Creation to the end of glorifying Himself and His Son--than the smallness of yours.
And I'm not trying to spite you or scorn your lack of ingenuity, just making a comparison.
I believe in miracles, even ones that to me are as yet unexplainable, for that is my occupation as a trained, degreed scientist: to esplain the unknown. But I have seen that many of God's operations simply employ processes that are not well-understood or even recognized at the time He manifests them.
For instance, you might want to take a look at the twelve "mysteries" discussed in the Old Testament Scriptures but not understood, but revealed in the New Testament Scriptures for the Church Age believer. I have spent about a year effectively teaching about the revelation of these "Mysteries" to uninitiated Christian men.
You might be wrong in trying to stack your untutored credulousness against what is clearly seen when Bible-based scientific examination is employed by the educated person of genuine faith.
"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: . . ." (Isa. 28:9 AV).
Don't try to wave away a completely reasonable explanation of a Biblical event by simply assigning a lack of your own understanding as being a completely non-physical event snatched from another unearthly dimension. All you need to say to me is, "I can't yet grasp the conditions through my own limited understanding, and I have as yet insufficient knowledge base to accept yours." But don't tell me that my explanation is wrong if you cannot prove it. That would be a puerile attitude.
So you insult me by calling me stupid? Do you also deny that Moses actually saw a burning Bush that was not consumed? Or that Christ never made the water into wine? Or that God has no power to create a geosynchronous beacon that seemed to call only the Magi at the time as no one else seemed to be interested in such a sight or to ponder on its significance? These men were called and they responded, so much so were they called that God even spoke to them in a dream not to go back to Herod. You call me credulous! I believe in Christ and I believe you believe in Christ... there-fore the atheists would call us both out for our credulous simplicity! Yet you claim perhaps to be less credulous than me....hmmmmm. In truth, the both of us can’t really be sure of what the star mechanically was...but I think I can argue the real meaning, better than you!
I think your view of God is way too small. I have waved away nothing about your explanations just offered another view beyond your obviously mechanized view of God’s universe. Why just these Magi...was no one else watching at the time? Perhaps as Paul describes such gentiles, God perhaps “winked” at them as they groped about in darkness looking for light...and what did they find, a star which led to the living God in flesh!
I understand what you are trying to say about the stars and the times and the seasons, but the bible gives no primer as to what the spiritual significance of what the various stars and constellations are supposed to mean, (just that they are given to denote the seasons and for signs)...we have only the vague suppositions and traditions handed down to us.
I have not strayed from any biblical texts in making my own assertions; the learned Magi of that time would have had the same knowledge as you or I in terms of what belonged in the sky of those times and what did not! That they were not completely knowledgeable of Jewish history of prophecy was evident when they asked,” where the child was”. The chief priests had to be consulted who pointed out that it was Bethlehem. The Bible says the “star went before them” not my own “credulity” so we have only the Bible to go on, not your “wind up Toy” view of God’s creation!. God acts tactically as well strategically, coming and going when and where he wills. Paul says ‘in him we live and move and have our being’!
You miss the whole story of the magi and the star...no matter what the mechanics of the star or its origin...I mean I have no real animus toward your opinion, perhaps it is all “wind up toy”. Yet the real story is the motivations of these magi in question...what about this “star” so motivated these men that over a two year period, they observed, planned, and traveled to see a “king” that they worshipped as their own despite not being of his culture or heritage? That is what you are missing!!!
Moses saw a bush, then saw that the bush was not burning. I believe the Magi saw a star, then they saw that that it did not move or deviate from its position, no matter the time of night, nor with the seasons. Only Polaris was known to have no apparent movements. This , I believe got them to interested in finding out more.
Yet that is my opinion...I have watched the stars over my life...how they move east to west and how the little and big dippers move around Polaris at night and how the positions change with the season.
You have an opinion as to what you think the star was in terms of the natural progression of the southern cross as it’s upper star hadn’t quite gone over the equator; but it still would have apparent movement on a 24 hour rotation of the earth as well as it’s position change as the earth went around the sun.(yes like the Greeks, they knew the earth was round and that the earth went around the sun,,,still think I’m credulous?)
My opinion was that the Magi had access to records of astronomy from the times of the Babylonians and perhaps had access to devices such as the planetary calculation device found on the mediterannean floor. The constellations and their processions would have been known already by these SMART Magi and thus the Southern Cross natural procession would have already been considered and rejected as they studied this extraordinary event...a fixed star...not moving in nightly time or by season.
They were apparently spiritual minded men and God honored their faith, winking at them through the brilliance of the star; though the jews of the land remained blind to the star’s significance! These gentile wisemen were allowed to find and worship their true KING OF KINGS while the Jews of Israel remained ignorant of His coming!
If this view marks me as a credulous simpleton...then may God pour more of that on me. For this is the true meaning of the star, that God was calling out not just for the Jews to return to his loving fellowship, but for the gentiles as well. The Magi may very well have been the first Gentile converts to Christ of our modern era(depends on where one sets the beginning of the church age)
So you scoff at my apparent credulous simplicity...perhaps I am suffused with it...but beware:”At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” Matthew 11:25
Now go play with your wind up toys and I’ll go play with mine...and when it’s time, Father will call us all down for dinner!
Thank you for your response. It is clear that your field of knowledge is no astronnomy. So, let’s try history and archeology. Who were the Magoi, and where did they come from? And in what direction were they looking when they first saw the star that was a sign of the King?
no not astronomy
I don’t care...the fact is you don’t know the real mechanics and I don’t know the real mechanics of what the star was...I’m just a dummy who reads the Bible and wonders about why people suddenly get up to go hundreds of miles because they saw something so extraordinary they had to go see it. You have an opinion on how the Bible story was to be interpreted based on your view of celestial mechanics and a bunch of sophistry based on old traditions and wivestales not found in scripture.
I had asked a question on another thread about how “we have seen in his star in the east” should have been interpreted and was told that it literally meant...”We Magi of the east have seen his star”...which was cool because that tells me they were viewing his star from the east looking west. Some added it may have been wise men of the Nabetean region and some also suggested perhaps some Zoroastrian folks from the Persian region. The Southern Cross processional idea came from a poster...I thought might have been you but it could have been someone else. We don’t know exactly what time of the year Jesus was born though I suspect either September of March based on the fact that shepherds had their flocks out by night. If two years had gone by before the Magi arrived, we definitely don’t know what season it was in terms of the constellations. Israel is hundreds of miles north of the equator but someone on one of the threads cited that 2000 years ago the extreme top stars of the southern cross could be seen just over the equator because Sol hadn’t moved to the apparent position point to where the southern cross is now.
Yet even someone with a cursory knowledge of astronomy would recognize that depending on the time of year the star constellations appear to reverse their rising and setting depending on Earth’s position in orbit around Sol...and that the stars and the constellations all appear to circle Polaris,( as seen in Israel 2000 years ago) rising eastward from beyond the lands of the Magi and setting westward with the pattern reversing exactly 6 months later or solstice to solstice! (depending on what point one counted the days)
The Magi who were “ASTROLOGERS” who would forecast portents based on their legends of the stars, but nevertheless who were schooled observers of the night sky, would already have noted position placements, what was changing what was not...what appeared important what was not. (and if they were super smart wise men of the day that we think they were, they probably had access to old records that noted the expected repetitions of planet positions and constellations with which to base their predictions on.)
I believe they saw a fixed star out of position with any predictable constellation positions which never varied from its position through out the night nor with the seasons and if you want to argue about the southern cross or some other celestial body that would show no apparent movments, then the star was a fixed point of light separate from any other known body that never varied in intensity or position through out the night or with the seasons.
Every 6 months, all constellations would reverse their apparent positions but this special star did not. This is where we differ....you scoff at me because I believe God created something special and you argue from a set mechanistic, earth and sol moving through various houses point of view which symbolically point to the fixed times in which God would perform his wonders, based on old notions of what various constellations were supposed to mean spiritually. I see no book of Constellations in the Bible and there must be a reason for it. The Magi were astrologers but also learned men who knew the skies and knew their history and their times!
I maintain that the star they saw was different and what would appear mundane to the average observer excited them tremendously. You adhere to a more mechanistic view while applying questionable astrological interpretations as to what YOU THINK the star of Bethlehem was. I think it was a special star much in the way God prepared a great fish to “swallow up” Jonah, or how God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush.
I know there are computer programs I can access to see what was what 2000 years ago...so an absolute knowledge of astronomy is not necessary for what I believe. There are those that argue that the star was a planetary conjunction that occurred in 6 BC...but such conjunctions don’t last 2 years.
I maintain they saw something so extraordinary that it prompted them to go to Israel to see what must have been the birth of a great king! (It would have occurred within a past period of 2 years because that was the time cut off that Herod used in ordering the murder of all the young children 2 years and under in the Bethlehem region.) God must have primed their hearts for this was a spiritual journey!
Imagine the spectacle of GENTILE wisemen arriving in Jerusalem asking the JEWS of the whereabouts of their new king so that the GENTILE Magi could worship him.
You are missing the important parts of the story...the celestial mechanics and the krinkly bits of what the star was or wasn’t don’t matter....the fulfillment of about a score or more of prophecies concerning this event alone are the real story!(The inclusion of the gentiles as an inheritance of the sons of Abraham, the prophecy of Balaam in Numbers who stated that “A star shall come forth out of Jacob, a sceptre shall arise out of Israel....” and many others)
No! I believe this was a supernatural star, quite out of sync with the rest of God’s glorious heavens and the Magi knew it. They knew it because God filled them with a supernaturally inspired zeal to find and worship this child...who was the hope of both Jew and Gentile. Men of great vision, groping in darkness, looking for light and truth so God winked at them and showed them that star of Jacob, that young child, who was the light of the world!
So argue all you wish about archeology and celestial mechanics, but don’t miss the meaning of the Star. You have only a nicely dressed up theory as to what the star was and I have my own opinions. God will set us both straight. But I know the MEANING of what the star was and I suspect you do as well. So lets just wind up our play trains and send them around the base of the cross and out through the empty grave...next stop; Eternity!
"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from
the(added by the translators) east to Jerusalem, . . ." (Mt. 2:1 AV)
"τουThe δεAnd ιησουJesus γεννηθεντος(he)was born ενin (locative) βηθλεεμBethlehem τηςof the ιουδαιαςJudaea ενin ημεραιςdays ηρωδουof Herod τουthe βασιλεωςking ιδουlook! μαγοιMagoi=wise men αποfrom ανατολωνAnatolia=the land east of Greece παρεγενοντοshowed up ειςinto ιεροσολυμαJerusalem" (Mt. 2:1 Textus Receptus, with my translation of each word superscripted).
The area of Anatolia was well known to all Greek speakers, and the confirmation of that is given here:
"Assuwa is considered the Bronze Age origin for the name `Asia' as the Romans later designated the area. It was called, by the Greeks, Anatolia (literally, 'place of the rising sun, for those lands to the east of Greece)."
You seem to think (or probably most rather likely have been led to believe, or merely guess) that the "wise men" came from somewhere to the east of Jerusalem, but you don't know where, and that they looking to the west, saw a miraculous star.
Others read the English read the KJV and others and assume that these wise men, looking in an easterly direction, saw in that direction a star that did not pass overhead during the night. However it got them to Jerusalem area from that supposition would be a great mystery, wouldn't it?
Of course, neither of these untutored assumptions are true. The residence and learning center of the Magoi was in Anatolia, to the north of Jerusalem, and their Star that symbolized a royal being appeared in their view to the south, in the direction of Israel, because such a star seen on the horizon would remain in pretty much the same place throughout the night. Actually, it will have been in the same direction for a thousand years, inching closer and closer to the horizon that generations of astronomers had been observing it. But now, in the fulness of time, it was about to disappear unless they traveled south far enough to observe it again.
And at that time of history, the star could be seen in Jerusalem. On going to Bethlehem, six miles almost directly south, the star would remain directly before them, though low on the horizon. Today, due to shift in the position of the Southern Cross more toward the axial direction of Earth's South pole, that constellation cannot be seen until one travels about a thousand miles more toward the Equator.
So wherever you see "East" in this passage, it is the commonly then known name of that locality now referred to as Turkey.
Let me call to attention to your opening sentence to which I am replying:
I dont care...the fact is you dont know the real mechanics and I dont know the real mechanics of what the star was.
What you really have said is that if you do not know the real mechanics of what the star was (or who the Magoi were, or in what direction they saw the star), you absolutely have no basis, intellectual or spiritual, for arguing that I don't.
Another observation to be made from your screed is that you are so easily self-inflicted with the consequences of unsupported opinion that your arguments fail to be taken seriously.
The following link ought to help widen your horizons a bit:
From this article, the following is of note:
Who saw it first?
It is believed that Amerigo Vespucci was the first European explorer to see the "Four Stars," as he called them, while on his third voyage in 1501. Yet, Crux was plainly visible everywhere in the United States some 5,000 years ago, as well as in ancient Greece and Babylonia.
According to the writings of Richard Hinckley Allen (1838-1908), an expert in stellar nomenclature, the Southern Cross was last seen on the horizon of Jerusalem around the time that Christ was crucified. But thanks to precession an oscillating motion of the Earth's axis the Cross ended up getting shifted out of view well to the south over the ensuing centuries.
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