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A linguist's angle on the star of Bethlehem

By Richard Coates


There is no shortage of suggestions for the astronomical events that may have given rise to the Bible's descriptions of the Star of Bethlehem. In this account, I consider the question from a linguist's point of view, focusing on the language used to describe phenomena in the sky around 2000 years ago. What would an astrologer have meant by "we have seen his star in the East"? And what events might have been both visible in the conditions described, and considered of significance? Scholars working in this area cluster in groups: the comet group, the planetary group, the supernova group, and so on. None has yet succeeded in delivering a fatal blow to the others' accounts. I may be in a group of one for the time being: the astrological group. I present here a type of argument that may reconcile astronomical events, astrological learning of 2000 years ago and biblical accounts. © 2008 Royal Astronomical Society

Year: 2008
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