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A Star Is Born
The Star of Bethlehem: Fact or Fiction?
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Friday, December 28, 2012
J.L. Robb

My Christmas Day was ''different'' this year.  The weather was bad in Atlanta, so I suggested my kids not come out, I could truly make it all by myself.  Actually, I really wanted to ''do nothing,'' and I did.

Except I turned on the History Channel H2 early Christmas morning in time to watch “Secrets of Christianity” where I learned that most of the things we learned about Jesus were wrong.  This on Christmas Day.  I found myself wondering if the History Channel would schedule TV shows debunking Muhammad during Ramadan?  Not likely; but then Christians don’t kill their detractors, they suck it up.  It was surprising to learn that Jesus was a “copycat” messiah who got all His ideas from a previous “messiah” named Simon of Perea.

According to the ancient Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus:

"There was also Simon, who had been a slave of king Herod, but in other respects a comely person, of a tall and robust body; he was one that was much superior to others of his order, and had had great things committed to his care.  This man was elevated at the disorderly state of things, and was so bold as to put a diadem on his head, while a certain number of the people stood by him, and by them he was declared to be a king, and he thought himself more worthy of that dignity than anyone else."

"He burnt down the royal palace at Jericho, and plundered what was left in it.  He also set fire to many other of the king's houses in several places of the country, utterly destroyed them, and permitted those that were with him to take what was left in them for a prey.  He would have done greater things, but care was taken to repress him immediately.  [The commander of Herod's infantry] Gratus joined himself to some Roman soldiers, took the forces he had with him, and met Simon.  And after a great and a long fight, no small part of those that had come from Peraea (a disordered body of men, fighting rather in a bold than in a skillful manner) were destroyed.  Although Simon had saved himself by flying away through a certain valley, Gratus overtook him, and cut off his head."

The narrator in the Secrets of Christianity, Simcha Jacobovici is a well-recognized journalist and director, born in Israel and raised in Canada.  He also appeared in a documentary claiming that the nails that held Jesus to the cross had been found as well as an ossuary containing Jesus’ brother James’ bones.  All of these finds seem “questionable” according to other scholars, but it does make for great television.

According to Secrets of Christianity, James of Perea seems to be the model for Jesus, not God.  It reminds me of the Islamic belief that Muhammad will return in the last days and show Jesus how to pray.  Say what?

James of Perea claimed to be king, something that Jesus did not, and was decapitated by a Roman soldier.

Why would the History Channel, on Christmas Day, schedule a show that mythifies Jesus?  If they had done their homework, they would have learned that Jesus never went to battle against anyone, as did James of Perea.  Jesus’ philosophy was to turn the other cheek and love your enemies.  He didn’t even battle to come off the cross.

To be the prophesied Messiah who was to come to the Jewish people, this person must fulfill specific predictions. The Messiah was to cure the blind, make the lame walk, the deaf hear and the mute speak.  Did James of Perea do any of this?  Did Muhammad do any of this?

Jesus is the first person in recorded history to cure a person blind since birth, he met the “specifics.”  He was also to be called Prince of Peace, Immanuel and Savior.  Jesus has been called by all these titles, but no other messianic figure has.  The Messiah was to perform all kinds of miracles.  According to His immediate followers, if all of the miracles of Jesus were recorded, there wouldn’t be a library large enough to handle the writings.

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NIV)

Was the Star of Bethlehem a reality?  This has been debated for hundreds of years but begs the question:  Why did Matthew mention it when talking about the Kings of the East?

“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” (Matthew 2: 9-10 NIV)

Writing was not an easy or inexpensive endeavor way back in Jesus’ day.  There weren’t a lot of “novels” written, and most writings were historical.  With the amount of effort and expense involved in writing in Matthew’s day, why would he make up something?  To get over on all of us 2,000 years later?  I don’t think so.

One argument against the Star was that the Kings of the East saw the star in the “east.”  If they were in the “East” and they saw a star in the “east” then the star would not have been in the west for them to see over Bethlehem. But the Kings did not say they were in the east when they saw the star rise, only that they were from the East.  Indications are they were in the geographical area, possibly on a trade mission, when they saw the star rise and went to Jerusalem to inquire.

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the star existed but that it was a product of Satan rather than a miracle from God, that Satan was trying to spotlight Jesus’ location so King Herod could find him to kill him.  To me, that’s quite a stretch.

Could the Star of Bethlehem have been a “heavenly wonder” like the ones to come mentioned in the Bible?  The subject has been investigated thoroughly, starting with the astronomer Kepler when he saw a “new star” suddenly appear in the sky one night in October, 1604.  The newly born star was a supernova, a rarely seen wonder in the sky and lasted for a year.  It was so bright it could be seen in the day time.

Most astronomers today say the Star of Bethlehem could not be a supernova, because there would be remnants left from the world’s most massive explosion of the star, plus there was no recorded history indicating such an event in the 5-4 BC time frame.

Examination of early Chinese and Korean texts indicate otherwise.  In 5 BC, a Chinese hui-hsing (comet or “broom star”) was documented.  In 4 BC, a Korean po-hsing (described as a “bushy star” or comet that seemed to emit rays) was documented.  The 4 BC event was later determined to have occurred in the spring, the same time of year that the shepherds would be watching their flocks at night to keep the wolves away from the newly born lambs.  Coincidence?

I heard Bill Stossel say something to the effect in an interview, and I really like Stossel, that he would believe in God if he could just see “proof.”  That seems to be the history of mankind and our downfall, the constant need to see proof.  The ancient Israelites saw “proof” in Egypt and the deserts, but a generation later, their kids wanted to see “proof.”  Fifteen hundred years later, people saw “proof” when they watched Jesus’ performances; but today we still demand to see proof with our own eyes, not read about it.  Yet we eagerly buy the “proof” provided by Hollywood.  Why is that?

The StarWhatever this Star of Bethlehem was, there was another Star born that night, and He was named Jesus.  He grew up to perform wonders like man had never seen before and has not seen since.  Many of the wonders are “historically documented.”  It’s just that the “brilliant” want to disprove anything to do with God; and as a result, the writings by the Apostles aren’t “historical” enough.

I think it was the “brilliant” who stood on the hills laughing at Noah.  I wonder how long it rained before they started believing?

My bet is supernova!


About J.L. Robb

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