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Was Jesus a Gemini?

December 11, 2008

There was an interesting article in the Telegraph earlier this week: ‘Jesus was born in June’, astronomers claim.

Astronomers have calculated that Christmas should be in June, by charting the appearance of the ‘Christmas star’ which the Bible says led the three Wise Men to Jesus.

They found that a bright star which appeared over Bethlehem 2,000 years ago pinpointed the date of Christ’s birth as June 17 rather than December 25.

The researchers claim the ‘Christmas star’ was most likely a magnificent conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter, which were so close together they would have shone unusually brightly as a single “beacon of light” which appeared suddenly.

[Snip]

Generally accepted research has placed the nativity to somewhere between 3BC and 1AD.

Using the St Matthew’s Gospel as a reference point, Mr Reneke pinpointed the planetary conjunction, which appeared in the constellation of Leo, to the exact date of June 17 in the year 2BC.

Since the celebration of the birth of Jesus had more to do with christological controversies than strict chronology, I have no problem with seeing Jesus’ birth as having historically occurred in another month. Indeed, the mention of shepherds out with their flock at night in Luke2:8 point toward a date in late spring or summer (when shepherds tended to do this kind of thing). June 17th is as good a date as any.

However, the researchers’ argument is problematic. I’d have to brush up on my ancient Near Eastern astrology to see if this theory holds water from a phenomenological point of view, but what I found particularly unconvincing about this theory was that it pushed Jesus birth to 2BCE.

If the account of Jesus’ birth in Matthew is to be endowed with any historical credibility, Herod the Great was still alive when Jesus was about 2 years old. That in turn would place the birth of Jesus somewhere around 6 BCE. Of course, one might argue with the factuality of the Matthean birth account, but the researchers in this study were “[u]sing the St Matthew’s Gospel [sic!] as a reference point.”

This appears to be yet another failed attempt by scientists to explain a biblical miracle.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2008 11:20 am

    I’d be interested in what generally accepted research has placed the birth of Christ in 3BCE-1CE. I’m currently finishing a paper on the episode of the magi, and I’ve read as early as 12BCE, but I’ve yet to find someone placing it after 4BCE.

  2. wezlo permalink
    December 11, 2008 11:56 am

    Calvin, I want to read the paper.

  3. danielandtonya permalink
    December 12, 2008 11:32 am

    I thought Jesus was a Capricorn?

  4. December 12, 2008 1:06 pm

    Calvin,

    I second Wezlo’s desire to see that paper. Perhaps it will make some nice blog posts?

    DanielandTonya,
    Jesus as a Capricorn? He’s way too idealistic to be a prudent and practical Capricorn! 😉

  5. December 12, 2008 7:14 pm

    LOL…I don’t know if the paper will make it into a series of blog posts. Perhaps we’ll have to wait and see.

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