Friday, December 10, 2010

The Christmas Star: How could a star guide the magi to the right house?

The King James translation of Matthew 2:9–10 says that upon leaving Jerusalem the wise men again saw the star they had seen in the east, and it “went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” This wording has led many to conclude that the star must have been some kind of light beam, like a celestial spotlight, directing the pathway to the dwelling where Jesus and His parents resided. Or, perhaps the star was moving along the route from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, pointing to the house of Joseph and Mary. No known astronomical phenomenon can function in such ways, and on this basis some interpreters have suggested that the Christmas star was a manifestation of the Shekinah, or the divine radiance.

The New International translation says the star “went ahead of them [the magi] until it stopped over the place where the child was.” This wording suggests that the star may have become clearly visible as the wise men approached Bethlehem and then dimmed when they neared the house where the Joseph, Mary, and Jesus lived. Other interpretations also seem possible.

The word-for-word Greek reads, “Behold the star, which they saw in the east, went before them until coming it stood over where was the child.” The key word in this sentence is the Greek verb histemi, for “stood.” Its range of meaning is too broad to distinguish between illumination of a geographical route and a supernaturally timed brightening and fading. It may be worth noting that the star as first seen by the wise men did not geographically guide them, or they would have gone straight to Bethlehem rather than to Jerusalem.

(Tomorrow: "Possible conclusions")

[This series is take from Hugh Ross on "Reasons To Believe"]

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