Keep in mind that this is an argument being written in "real time," and that I could use some help with it... rsavage@nycap.rr.com

 

Psalm 19 (New International Version)
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge…
(http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm%2019)

Numerous passages in the Bible seem to tell us that
G-d speaks to us through the stars…

 

VI. Jesus in the Stars
(3/20/10)

 

I. Even the stars seem to tell the Jesus story.

1. From my readings, it is easy to see (or imagine) the “face” of Jesus in the prophetic “cloud” of the Old Testament (Tanakh). Not that his “face” is unavoidably described in the “cloud,” but it does seem to be a very reasonable facsimile – or, interpretation -- thereof.
2. Much the same can be said for the ANCIENT SYMBOLISM in the stars. From at least one perspective, the starry symbolism seems to clearly predict a world “Redeemer” along the lines of the New Testament Jesus -- Jewish, in the lineage of Judah, God's son, born of a virgin, doing battle with the devil, suffering and dying for our sins, rising, etc… (Link)
3. And then, science STRONGLY suggests that the symbolism referred to here would have been in place in the mid-east by at least 500 BCE. (It seems to have been LARGELY in place over much of the civilized world, long before that.) In other words, the symbolism was not determined “after the fact” of Jesus. (86)
4. For the moment, I will NOT address this OVERALL claim. Rather, I will try to present the case that this ancient symbolism includes a TIMETABLE for this Redeemer that is a PERFECT MATCH with the timetable presented in the New Testament for Jesus…
5. Then, I will try to show that we are statistically justified in believing that the correlation between these two timetables cannot (nearly) be explained by chance.
6. In other words, I will be trying to show that we are statistically justified in believing that these two timetables are not "INDEPENDENT" -- that, somehow, these two timetables are causally connected, and that somehow again, they are "tied" to the same truth.
7. In still other words, I will be trying to show that this correlation almost PROVES that both "accounts" are TRUE.

8. Of course, the possibility remains that even given such a high correlation, this is just a simple – albeit, highly unlikely -- COINCIDENT… After all, we can be statistically justified, and still wrong…
9. And then, even if we are RIGHT about a causal connection, that connection could be simple “chicanery” – for example, the authors of the New Testament could (perhaps) have invented a story to agree with the symbolism.
10. If not, however (and, I think I can show that it wasn't, and they didn't), the remaining possibility seems to be that the causal connection between the two timetables is that they BOTH (somehow) REFLECT THE TRUTH… (Link)
11. Which would mean: 1) the Biblical story is true, 2) the ancients who named and designated meaning to the planets, stars and constellations thousands of years before, were being "supernaturally" guided, and finally 3) the heavenly events and the earthly events were somehow coordinated...
12. So, I will be making numerous assertions leading to numerous, but fewer, interim conclusions, and try to provide adequate documentation (via links) for any assertions that require it.
13. That’s the idea, anyway.

14. The following are my current, gross, suspicions in regard to the possibility of there being “messages” in the stars (of all things).

15. The stars (the “heavens”), in their ancient symbolism, do “speak” to us…
16. As crazy as the following will sound, ancient symbolism seems to have accurately predicted the future – at least where Jesus was concerned (Link)…
17. It is what it is… (And, was what it was.)

18. In particular, the stars agree with the apparent time table of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.
19. In the last decade of BCE, they seem to predict, and then mark, the birth of the Messiah.
20. And then, they seem to lead the Magi to him.
21. And finally, they seem to line up with his crucifixion…
22. Just like the Bible says.

23. Perhaps, THE basic claim here is that the fit of the Jesus story with 1) the rest of the Bible, 2) historical documents otherwise, and 3) ”celestial symbolism” (basically Astrology), is very strongly SUPPORTIVE of the Jesus story.
24. You may think that celestial symbolism has no bearing upon RATIONAL judgment, but as you will see, the FIT of this celestial symbolism with these other pieces is -- statistically speaking – HIGHLY significant, and virtually forces itself upon us.
25. And, in effect, we can rationally reject the “null hypothesis” here – we are justified in REJECTING the hypothesis that the correlation we find between the relevant “astrology” and the other kinds of evidence is DUE TO CHANCE.
26. This correlation is MUCH too great for that…
27. Symbolism in the stars provided a truncated time table for the comings and goings of the Jewish Messiah.
28. The truncated timetable of Jesus -- as found in the Bible, and in historical documents otherwise -- is a perfect match with that truncated timetable of the Messiah found in the stars…
29. See what I mean?

30. I mean, if this is true (and not due to chicanery), the world really is “magical” -- in the strongest sense of the word. Just like Jesus said it was…
31. You just might want a new paradigm – or worldview, even.

 

B. And, virtually, anyone can ‘listen.’

1. After watching a video, and reading an article, By Professor Frederick A. Larson of Texas A & M University claiming that the “Star of Bethlehem” was for real (http://www.bethlehemstar.net/), I bought some astronomy software for my computer, and started checking things out for myself.

2. Today, anyone with a computer and the right software can view the night sky as it would appear from any location, on any date, facing any direction and at any time of the night (or day -- for that matter)…
3. The software required starts at $0. http://www.skyviewcafe.com/skyview.php?version=4
4. I paid $25 for mine (just the “Core Application” module at http://www.starrynight.com/), but the free one above seems to work also.

5. Theoretically, mathematicians have had this potential (minus the computer) ever since the early 1600s when Johannes Kepler discovered the Laws of Planetary Motion.
6. They could locate the STARS before Kepler’s discovery – they just couldn’t be sure where the planets would be.
7. NASA, and the others who study the stars today, still use Kepler’s formulae.

8. One interesting consequence of Kepler’s discovery – for those who are otherwise interested -- is that we now have the ability to search backwards for the alleged “Star of Bethlehem.”
9. And, with modern computers, VIRTUALLY ANYONE CAN DO IT.
10. Was there, or was there not, such a star?

11. Of course -- if there was such a star, it was something of a “miracle” anyway, and may not show up in our mathematical model anyway…
12. But then again, there might have been a natural event, responsible for the story (miracle or not), that WOULD show up on our computers…
13. Whatever, Johannes Kepler understood this potential in his discovery, and began searching for the star, himself.
14. But couldn’t find it…
15. Being a Christian, he noted the “triple conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BCE as a possibility, but favored a nova/supernova explanation instead (an event that would NOT show up on his mathematical charts). http://www.astrosurf.com/comets/Star_of_Bethlehem/English/Possible.htm

 


C. A True Story

1. As unreasonable as the “Star of Bethlehem” story might first appear to us members of the intelligentsia, THE ACTUAL BIBLICAL ACCOUNT (AS INCREDIBLE AS EVEN IT IS) IS PROBABLY TRUE -- and should be “appreciated’ by whomever…

2. The first PROBLEM with the Star of Bethlehem story is that our typical understanding of it is not quite “Biblical.” Our typical understanding is a compromised, amalgamation of two small and separate Biblical passages -- only one of which (Matthew 2:1-11) actually speaks explicitly about the star and the Magi who ‘followed’ it.
3. In the Matthew passage, Jesus is a toddler, no telling how many Magi there are and there’s no sign of a manger.
4. The second passage comes from Luke. This is the passage that speaks of the shepherds, “the glory of the Lord (shining) round about them,” a manger and the baby Jesus. There is no explicit star and no magi in the Luke passage.

5. Matthew 2:1-11. http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/kjv/mat002.htm
1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet.
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrh.


6. Luke 2: 1-16
1. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.4.
4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

7. So, according to the book of Matthew, wise men/astronomers/astrologers/former day scientists/“magi” from the east came looking for the prophesied Jewish king, and they came when they did because they had seen the “King’s star” in the east.
8. And, the real “Nativity Scene,” if there was one, with the shepherds in a barn over a feeding trough (“manger”), comes from Luke 2. But again, there was no explicit star, or Magi, in Luke.
9. So, there was nothing in the Matthew short story about a manger, or even the number of wise men. They came to a HOUSE, and the “group” (however large) was bringing three types of gifts.
10. Probably, none of the Magi were “kings,” and however many Magi came, they were probably accompanied by a large entourage. WISE men would not have made such a trip (about 500 miles across Saudi Arabia) without enlisting a small army. (Link)
11. And also, the Greek word for “young child” above refers to a toddler (or thereabouts) rather than an infant. (Link)
12. And besides, they might have been riding horses rather than camels. (Link)
13. These two alleged visits – one from the shepherds, and one from the Magi -- if real, were surely several months apart.
14. Unfortunately, while these corrections simplify the story, they do nothing to actually “clear the air” – the real logical problems are right there in the official Matthew story.
a. Magi from the east should have seen the star in the west -- not the east…
b. And, wouldn’t Herod and HIS “wise men” also have known about such a star? After all -- it stood over Bethlehem.
c. And, why would Herod and the people be troubled?
d. And, how does a real star come to stand over a particular town, anyway?
e. And, doesn’t Christianity dismiss astrology anyway?
f. And finally, do intelligent people in general still believe in astrology -- or there being “signs” in the sky?
15. So, up till now, the story has in fact sounded pretty lame, or fishy (I don’t do puns) -- even to me…

16. But, that was before I started looking for myself.
17. With my new astronomy software, I can now actually look at the sky back then -- and compare it to the history taking place beneath it…
18. And, as incredible as the “Star of Bethlehem” story in Matthew may sound from a cursory listening -- in my current opinion, it just about HAS to be true.
19. I tell you what -- you be the judge.



D. Why it’s probably true


1. At first glance, the “Star of Bethlehem” story, even sticking strictly to Matthew, is pretty unbelievable.
2. If, however, we
2.1. study the actual Biblical story (not the popular, commercial story),
2.2. take into account a 2BCE perspective, and way of telling a story, and
2.3. look for
2.3.1. idiomatic expressions that have been translated literally,
2.3.2. whatever else we might be losing in translation,
2.3.3. unwarranted assumptions we’re unwittingly making
2.3.4. what was actually going on in the heavens during that time period…
2.4. The story is still ‘incredible,’ but it also appears to be TRUE.
3. Once we actually check out the stars back then, what the author of Matthew was trying to describe seems (to ME, at least) obvious…
4. Listen up.

5. My conclusion after some serious research through the stars of the intertestamental period, and through Google, is that the logical problems with the story of the Magi are not of the Bible’s making – the logical problems with the story come from our own READING of the Bible.
6. In reading the Bible, we of the 21st century need to suspend our normal, “modern,” perspective, and try to take on the perspective of those who did the writing – which was often cryptic, simplistic, metaphoric, dramatic and/or hyperbolic (and, mistranslated) .
7. Attach this 2 BCE, mid-east, perspective to the dramatic astronomy of that period, and the Matthew story, as incredible as it sounds, has a decided ring of truth...
8. And, we can all check this out for ourselves.


9. If we do that, and study the actual stars at the time, we can see what Matthew was probably talking about… The obvious problems with the story collapse, and it all begins to make sense.
10. Not really to say that one story becomes the OBVIOUSLY TRUE story – just that one story (to me) does STAND OUT somewhat above other reasonable possibilities -- and most of all, contrary to first appearances, there does turn out to be some very reasonable possibilities.

11. From historians of the day, we know that there were, in fact, “schools” of “Magi,” and a particularly impressive one “in the East” (relative to Jerusalem) – probably Persia or Babylonia (Iran or Iraq). (Link)
12. The Magi were basically astrologer/astronomers. (Link)
13. Keep in mind how visible and totally enigmatic the stars would have been to the people of the day. Human nature would have forced us humans to attribute magic and divine meaning to them… No way around it.
14. “The astrological metaphor in ancient times was deeply ingrained. Everything was integrated and connected. The things that happened in the heavens corresponded to the same events on Earth. The astronomer-priests were considered among the wisest people of their time because they knew how to read the signs in the divine realms of the night sky.” (Link at bottom)
15. According to the Old Testament, Daniel the Israelite, and wisest of men, was the Head Magus of Babylonia about 500BCE; his God was greatly respected by the Kings of Babylonia; and, he predicted the coming of the Jewish Messiah to Jerusalem in about 500 years (by one translation, exactly 173,880 days).
16. It makes sense that Daniel’s prophecy would have been on the minds of Magi from the East 500 years later. (After all, Astrology had already been around, AND PASSED DOWN, for several thousand years…)

17. And then, it turns out that the astrological symbolization in the stars during those last several years BCE can easily be INTERPRETED (at the very least) as forecasting the birth of the prophesied Jewish “Messiah.”
18. During that time period, there were ALL SORTS of potential celestial signs of the "imminent" coming of the Jewish Messiah.

19. What I want to do now is track down the frequency, and degree of relevancy, for each relevant celestial event -- and then, the probability of all these different events occurring within such a small timeframe, by chance. (See #23 where I’m including the math as I slowly gather it up.) But for now, I’ll hazard a guess that the probability of THIS PARTICULAR COMBINATION occurring by chance within such a small timeframe is like three in a billion -- or much less (say, three in a QUINtillion?), or MUCH less...
20. This may not be as exciting as it sounds, however, as what we really want to know is not the probability of this particular combination of celestial events occurring within such a time frame, but rather the probability of EQUALLY RELEVANT POSSIBLE COMBINATIONS occurring within such a timeframe. At this point, I don’t know how many equally relevant possible combinations there are...
20.1. Unfortunately, this is critical. There could be multitudes of such combinations, and the estimated probability of at least one of these combinations occurring in such a time frame might be more like 9 in 10 (90%), and the probability of, say, 5 occurring during that time frame would equal .9X.9X.9X.9X.9, or .59049, and clearly, nothing to write home about…
20.2. (For anyone not interested in Statistics, this would mean that there is a greater than 50/50 chance that such a combination would occur during ANY 5 year period – and, that one of these possible combinations occurred during this particular 5 year period would be no big deal, and nothing to draw conclusions from…)
20.3. And after all, in my readings, ALL the constellations and planets had meaning to ancient Jews, and the coming Messiah was probably the central figure in their celestial stories…
20.4. (Apparently, while astrology was an official “no no” in Israel, there was still a dedicated following, and the Old Testament does attribute the heavens with messages.)
21. But also, at this point (#23 again), I'm just getting started in "adding up" (multiplying) the specific probabilities of the relevant symbolic celestial coincidences...
22. I hope you're getting all this.

23. So again, what I want to do now is track down the frequency, and DEGREE OF RELEVANCY, for each relevant celestial event during this 5 year period. (Links to terminology, and symbology at bottom. Don’t get discouraged in reading the following. Probability is a confusing subject for most of us, and I have a lot of editing to do if I am to expect the reader to be able to follow and evaluate my analysis.) Here’s the star story:

23.1. May – Dec, 7 BCE: “TRIPLE CONJUNCTION” OF JUPITER AND SATURN IN PISCES. Highly relevant and, according to my sources, occurs only once in 800 years.
23.2. 2/25/6 BCE: CONJUNCTION OF MARS, JUPITER AND SATURN IN PISCES. Highly relevant and occurs only once in 900 years, but not sure that this means much since dependent upon 23.1.
23.3. 3/2/5 BCE: “PRECISE ASTROLOGICAL (SUN-CENTERED, OR HELIOCENTRIC) MAPS OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM ON THIS DATE SHOW THE ‘SEAL OF SOLOMON.’” (4 in Biblio) Highly relevant, and, according to my source, occurs only once every 40,000,000 years! I do need to get confirmation on this.
23.4. 5/19/3 BCE: CLOSE CONJUNCTION OF SATURN AND MERCURY. About when , according to NT, Gabriel would have come to Zechariah. (Needs work)
23.5. 6/12/3 BCE: CLOSE CONJUNCTION OF SATURN AND VENUS. (Needs work)
23.6. 8/12/3 BCE: CLOSE CONJUNCTION OF VENUS AND JUPITER IN LEO. (Needs work)
23.7. 8/31/3 BCE: CONJUNCTION OF MERCURY AND VENUS. Interesting in that this occurs about the time that the angel Gabriel would have come to Mary (in the New Testament) to tell her about her coming conception – given that the (soon to be projected) birth date is correct. Mercury is known as “the messenger,” and the Greek word for “angel” also confers “messenger.” Angels are messengers. This conjunction occurs very often (once a year?), but we may not be able to see it but about 3% of that time, or (say) once every 30 years. (Needs work)
23.8. 9/14/3 BCE – 5/8/2 BCE: TRIPLE CONJUNCTION OF JUPITER AND REGULUS IN LEO. Highly relevant. Beginning 9 months before the (soon to be projected) birth date. Need to determine the frequency of this event, but doesn’t occur ‘very often.’
23.9. 6/17/2 BCE: FULL MOON. Relevant simply as full moon, but combined with the following event would have lit up the sky for the shepherds and have been HIGHLY relevant. Occurs once every 28 days.
23.10. 6/17/2 BCE: EXTREMELY TIGHT CONJUNCTION OF VENUS AND JUPITER IN LEO, NEAR REGULUS. Highly relevant and unlikely—according to the particular calculation used, occurring somewhere between every 1,000 years and every 34,000 years. In addition, from the Magi’s perspective, this would have occurred directly over Judea.

24. So (if the NT is true) the Magi probably got their sign for the Messiah’s birth on June 17 of 2 BCE – a full moon followed by a 15 minute “perfect” conjunction between the two brightest stars in the sky – Jupiter and Venus -- and loaded with the right symbolization, as they set over Judea. (To see this, you’ll need your own astronomy program, or go to a Planetarium during the Christmas season.)
25. For about 15 minutes, this conjunction would have been seen as a single star, and probably the brightest star that anyone living had ever seen. (Though, from Chinese history, we have reason to believe that there was, in fact, a somewhat dim nova in 5BCE (Link).)

26. Surely, the Magi would have saddled up.
26.1. 6/17/2 BCE -- ?: Magi would have “followed” Jupiter as it kept setting in the west. This is too dependent (upon events already included re probability) in order to reduce the overall probability here, but it does allow for the Magi to “follow His star.”
26.2. 8/27/2 BCE: CONJUNCTION OF MARS AND JUPITER, IN A CLOSE GROUPING OF VENUS AND MERCURY -- IN LEO. This fits with the coming danger to the predicted Christ child. (needs work)
27. And afterwards -- 1/10/1 BCE: total lunar eclipse over Jerusalem. Highly relevant . Need to track this down, but probably occurs only once every 20 years, and to work here, has to occur within a 2 month time period, and full lunar eclipses over a particular site would occur only once in 120 2-month time periods…
28. (Passover started on March ** that year, is relevant, and fits within another necessary 2-month time period, and reduces the probability of these events coming when they did by 1/6.)

29. So, the claim here is that the probability of so many events of such relevancy occurring during this time period by chance … is next to ZERO. (For the LINK to a discussion of this claimed relevancy, go to bottom of this page.)

30. The Magi might have ridden by horseback, were not just three in number, could have picked up other Magi along the way and brought a significant entourage, whatever. (Link)
31. Coming from Babylon (say), 500 miles due east across the deserts of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, the Journey, itself, probably took a few, to several, months -- not counting whatever preparations were required. (Link)

32. So, Jupiter would have been “his star” that the Magi claim to have followed. It would have risen in the east and set in the west, directly over Judea. It didn’t need to just stay over Judea in order to fit with the description in Matthew. (Link)

33. Then, it just so happens that Dec 25 had special meaning for Jupiter in 2 BC. That was the exact day that Jupiter began a six day “station” and HALTED ANY PERCEIVABLE MOVEMENT -- RELATIVE TO THE STARRY FIELD. [If nothing else, an appropriate coincident.] (Link)
34. And, if the Magi arrived in Jerusalem on or before the 24th, had their meeting with Herod, found out that the “King” was supposed to be born in Bethlehem, and began their next trip in the wee hours of the morning (which seemed to be their way (68)) of the 25th, as they rode out the Gate of the Essenes(?), they would have found Jupiter hanging directly over the road to Bethlehem. Nice “coincident.”
35. Matthew 11:
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
36. And then, Bethlehem happens to be about 6 miles, and 20 DEGREES WEST OF SOUTH, FROM JERUSALEM.
37. The road to Bethlehem probably started due south, or even a little east of south, and gradually curved around to the south southwest. (Link)
38. If it took about an hour to ride from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, Jupiter would have moved ABOUT 20 DEGREES TO THE WEST (relative to the "earthly field"), and basically HUNG OVER THEIR ROAD THE ENTIRE TRIP.
39. The Magi would have entered Bethlehem as the sun was rising and Jupiter was about to disappear.

40. And then, less than 3 weeks later (1/10/1 BCE): There was a total lunar eclipse over Jerusalem. (And, Herod probably died sometime after this eclipse and before the Passover of 1 BCE)

41. And, this would fully explain Matthew’s story.
42. Not that it PROVES Matthew’s story, but it certainly IS an interesting fit and seemingly quite possible.
43. It seems easy to understand Jupiter as the King's star that the Magi referred to, and followed – and its conjunction with Venus, preceded by a full moon, as indicating the King's birth, as the Magi's signal to start packing, and as the "glory of G-d showing round about" the shepherds.


44. And further, this fits very nicely with the prophecy in Daniel 9.
45. And keep in mind that Daniel was the head Magus in Babylon for many years – and, many of the Magi of Jesus’ time would have been well aware of Daniel’s prophecy.

46. There are a few different ways to interpret the Daniel prophecy, but one of those ways has the Messiah entering Jerusalem, for the first time as “King,” exactly 173,880 days after the decree by Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. (Link)
47. We know the exact date this decree was given, and it has the Messiah entering Jerusalem as “King” on March 30 of 33 CE, which would have Jesus crucified on April 3 of 33 CE. (Link)
48. April 3 of 33 CE seems to be the current best guess for the date of Jesus’ crucifixion -- EVEN WITHOUT TAKING THE DANIEL STORY INTO ACCOUNT. (Link)
49. And, reasoning backwards from everything we know, that date for Jesus’ crucifixion fits perfectly with a June 17 of 2BCE for his birth. (Link)
50. This supports the story of the Magi in that the Magi would have been expecting the Messiah’s birth about that time, with the Messiah coming to Jerusalem as King 30 some years later (30 years old being the traditional age that a priest would begin his ministry) -- even before they saw, or even predicted, all the signs in the sky.

51. As briefly alluded to above, it also fits very nicely with the story of the shepherds in Luke 2, when “the glory of the Lord shown around about them.”
52. This might well be how Luke and the people of his time would have depicted the full moon leading to the “perfect” conjunction of Jupiter and Venus.
53. And June 17 would have been a better time (than Dec 25) for shepherds to have been “out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” -- instead of in a barn. (Link))

54. So, while it’s been well-accepted in recent years that Jesus was not BORN on Dec 25th, that he was VISITED BY THE MAGI on Dec 25th makes a lot of sense. And remember, in the traditional story, the Magi are there right after his birth… In other words, there may have been a reason for believing that Jesus was born on the 25th other than that the 25th was already a festive holiday or the beginning of the spring equinox. (And also, how would we explain “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” and “Jingle Bells”?)
55. But anyway, there was a lot in the stars that supported the Magi story of Matthew, and nothing in the actual story of Matthew that would clearly contradict science or logic.
56. The Matthew story may not be true, but there is no reason to believe that it isn’t (except for the implications to our naturalistic and mechanistic worldviews) -- and there is a lot of reason for suspecting that the story is true. When we go back and study the stars, the people and what Matthew actually claims, it seems (to me, at least) that the whole story has a decided ring of truth.


57. And perhaps, for the moment at least, I can circumvent the problem of gathering up the specific frequency of these particular astronomical events around the birth of Jesus, and of other equally relevant astronomical events, and compute the probability of such rare events occurring in the indicated time span -- by dealing with this issue in the abstract.
58. Accepting, for the moment, that there are 20 potential, equally relevant, astronomical events (including, say, 5 of the events we’ve noted here), each having an average (“mean”) probability of 1/1,000 of occurring in any particular year, the probability that one of these would occur in a particular year would be 1/50 (i.e. 20/1000), and the probability that one would occur within a 5 year time span would be 1/10 (i.e. 20X5/1000). And the probability that say 5 would occur during that time span, would be about 1 in a billion (i.e. .1X.1X.1X.1X.1).
59. That ought to get us started.

 

 

E. Finally

1. And then, there’s the date of Jesus’ crucifixion

2. There are NUMEROUS variables that get in the way of determining the exact date of the crucifixion -- even if we take the Bible at its word. Placing the exact date depends upon which “variants” of the variables the authors were using…
2.1. When day begins. The authors could have assumed
2.1.1. In morning
2.1.2. In evening
2.1.3. At midnight
2.2. Calendar used
2.2.1. Roman
2.2.2. Macedonian
2.2.3. Jewish
2.3. Re 15th year of Tiberius
2.3.1. Shared reign
2.3.2. Exclusive reign
2.4. Way of “reckoning” time
2.4.1. “Inclusive”
2.4.2. “Exclusive”
2.4.3. “Liberal”
2.5. First night of Passover
2.6. First “day of unleavened bread” (http://philologos.org/__eb-ttms/temple13.htm#unleavened)
2.7. Sabbath
2.8. “Preparation Day”

3. Allowing for all the above variables, the following are my current contentions re the crucifixion of Jesus. According to the Bible,
4. Jesus was born while Herod was still alive.
5. He was baptized by John the Baptist.
6. The ministry of John the Baptist began during the 15th year of Tiberius.
7. The earliest John could have begun his ministry was 24 AD,
8. John was 6 months older than Jesus,
9. John was a Levite.
10. Levites traditionally began their ministries at 30 years of age.
11. John had time within his own ministry to develop a sizable following,
12. The very earliest that Jesus could have been baptized was mid 24 AD.
13. Jesus began his ministry when he was “about 30.”
14. Jesus began his ministry at, or shortly after, his baptism.
15. There were more than 40 days (and probably another month at least) between Jesus’ baptism and his first Passover.
16. Jesus attended at least two Passovers during his ministry.
17. Jesus’ ministry was more than one year but (surely) less than 5 years. (Link)

18. Then given
18.1. That the very earliest that Jesus could have been baptized was mid 24 CE.
18.2. That there had to be a couple of months (at least) between Jesus’ baptism and his first Passover, and
18.3. That Passover in 24 CE was on April 12.
18.4. CONSEQUENTLY, THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE PASSOVER AFTER JESUS BEGAN HIS MINISTRY WAS IN 25 CE.

19. Then given
19.1. That the earliest possible Passover after Jesus began his ministry was in 25 CE.
19.2. That Jesus attended at least two Passovers during his ministry,
19.3. That he was crucified the day before a Passover,
19.4. THE EARLIEST THAT JESUS COULD HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED WAS APRIL 10, 27 CE.

20. Given
21. that Jesus and John were both about 30 when they began their ministries,
22. that John was about 6 months older than Jesus, and
23. That John began his ministry no later than 28 CE,
24. JESUS MUST HAVE BEGUN HIS MINISTRY NO LATER THAN 29 CE.

25. Then given
26. That Jesus began his ministry no later than 29 CE, and
27. That his ministry lasted no more than 5 years,
28. THE VERY LATEST JESUS COULD HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED WAS APRIL 21, 34 CE.

29. Then, between 27 CE and 36 CE, the Passover dates were as follows:
29.1. Friday, April 11, 27 CE
29.2. Wednesday, April 28, 28 CE
29.3. Monday, April 18, 29 CE.
29.4. Friday, April 7, 30 CE.
29.5. Wednesday, April 25, 31 CE.
29.6. Monday, April 14, 32 CE.
29.7. Saturday, April 4, 33 CE.
29.8. Thursday, April 22, 34 CE.

30. It appears (to be argued later) that on the year that Jesus was crucified, Shabbat and Passover came on the same day.
31. If so, there should be only one date upon which Jesus could have been crucified -- 4/3/33 CE
32.
33.
34. After close scrutiny, it surely appears that the first day of Passover did coincide with a weekly Sabbath that year.
35. While the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke) each seem internally inconsistent on this point, John does not.
36. And upon closer scrutiny, the synoptics are probably not inconsistent either, and probably do point to a “conjunction” of the two days.
37. This date is especially interesting in that it supports
37.1. The astrologically predicted birth date of the Jewish Messiah – June 17 of 2 BCE.
37.2. The experience of the Shepherds near Bethlehem keeping watch over their flock by night (Luke 2: 8).
37.3. The coming of the Magi (Matthew 2: 1-11),
37.4. About 3 ½ years for Jesus’ ministry (almost 3 years and 10 months).
37.5. Daniel’s prophecy as to the very day (March 30, 33 CE) when the Messiah would enter Jerusalem as King of the Jews.

38. In addition, there was a total Solar eclipse over Jerusalem on March 19, 33 CE – 16 days before the Passover. Total solar eclipses were considered omens.

39. Then, according to the Roman historian, Phlegon Trallianus, in his “Olympiades,” “a failure of the sun took place greater than any previously known…” in 32/33 CE.
40. According to Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33 and Luke 23:44, there was a darkness over the land from noon till 3:00 PM. (Total solar eclipses last for no more than 8 minutes. In other words, this “darkness” was not just a total solar eclipse.)

41. There was a total lunar eclipse over Jerusalem on the evening of April 3, 33 CE. (Check it out.)
42. Total lunar eclipses were also considered omens.
43. In Acts 2:20, Peter alludes to a “blood red moon” (what they called a lunar eclipse) on or around the evening of the crucifixion (Acts 2).

44. I’m suggesting that, overall, the “coincidents” here were astounding.

45. The basic issue for me has been whether or not the first night of Passover coincided with a weekly Sabbath in the year that Jesus was crucified.
46. I don’t want the Last Supper to coincide with the Passover meal, cause if it does, Jesus would have been crucified on the first day of Passover, and he wouldn’t be raised on Sunday if Passover -- and his crucifixion -- were on the weekly Sabbath – Saturday…
47. Perhaps, Jesus was making this meal the new Passover, where bread Took the place of his body.
48. In order to keep all the symbolism arranged properly, the bread that Jesus broke and gave to his disciples at the Last Supper should have been unleavened – as unleavened symbolized sinlessness -- which would lead one to believe that the Last Supper was the Passover meal (or Seder).
49. But then, in order to keep all the symbolism arranged properly, Jesus should have been crucified on the day that the paschal lamb was sacrificed -- which would lead one to believe that the Last Supper was on the evening before the Passover meal.
50. And then, the upper room probably would have been cleared of leavening by the day before the Passover meal anyway, so the use of unleavened bread would not require that the Last Supper coincide with the Passover meal.
51. And while the term for bread in both Greek and Aramaic here did not indicate that it was unleavened -- and everywhere else in both testaments when we assume they’re talking about unleavened bread, they use a different word -- I’m thinking that the description here was of a sort that the unleavened part was understood…
52. However, Mark and Luke (14:12 & 22:7) equate the day that the disciples went to prepare the upper room, with the first day of unleavened bread and also the day that the Paschal lamb is sacrificed -- and according to Exodus 12, the Paschal lamb was to be sacrificed on April 14, which would end at sundown preceding the Passover meal, and the two dinners would coincide.
53. But then, according to http://www.abcog.org/3days.htm, the “first day of unleavened bread” would actually begin about April 13. If that’s true, we have to suspect that Mark and Luke were wrong to lump the first day of unleavened bread together with the day the lamb was sacrificed, and we’re still on track for Jesus to be sacrificed on the afternoon of April 14 along with the Paschal Lamb – but Mark and Luke made a mistake.
54. But then, because of all the variance in tradition between the different Jewish sects, we can’t be sure that Mark and Luke were not reporting accurately -- and from everything else I’ve read about the Gospels, I have to suspect that it is we who are not understanding accurately.
55. For one thing, there is some suspicion that our Bibles have not been translated quite accurately, and Jesus was not resurrected on Sunday. (From: The Anchor Bible: Matthew, 1971, W. F. Albright & C. S. Mann. New York: Doubleday, via http://www.abcog.org/3days.htm. Also, ***)
56. Matthew, Mark and Luke all have the disciples preparing for the Passover right before they (M, M & L) start talking about the Last Supper, so it sure seems like the Last Supper must be the Passover meal.
57. But then, they don’t say it’s the Passover meal – which one would sort of expect them to if it were -- and this could still be the evening before Passover.
58. All 4 authors point out that the disciples were reclining at the supper, which everyone is supposed to do at the Passover meal.
59. But then, reclining is accepted at other meals – it’s only that reclining is required at the Passover meal. So, this still need not be Passover.
60. But then, Luke (22:15) has Jesus saying that he has desired to eat this Passover with them, while he is reclining at the table, also implying to some extent that this is the Passover meal.
61. But then, the verb used here can be used to mean a forbidden desire.
(See http://www.herealittletherealittle.net/index.cfm?page_name=Last-Supper-Passover-Meal)
62. And then, there was a lot of varying tradition between eras, and between different Jewish groups, regarding such things as when a day, or particular date, begins and what was, in fact, the first day of unleavened bread.
63. And then, there are several different verses in the Bible suggesting that ambiguity in scripture can be desirable.
64. Then, there’s the three days till resurrection issue. Supposedly, Jesus and the authors would have used an “inclusive” figuring, and were counting Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So, that’s ok.
65. But then, *** refer to 3 days and 3 nights, which is hard to withdraw (to say the least) from Fri, Sat & Sun. And the first day of Passover could NOT coincide with the weekly Sabbath.
66. Also, there’s the quote that Jesus was raised AFTER the third day.
67. But then apparently, these claims wouldn’t have been a problem for the Jews of that time. In those days, the Jews were very “liberal” as to how they expressed such concepts – and from Friday into Sunday COULD be referred to as three days and three nights, and “ON the third day” COULD be expressed as “AFTER the third day”… See http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/570.
68. Then of course, those seeking Jesus’ crucifixion wanted to get it done before Passover, and nowhere in the New Testament, on the day of crucifixion or thereafter, does it imply that they didn’t achieve their goal. Nowhere does it say that people were rioting.
69. And following Matthew from 27:60 through 28:6, assuming that the “day of preparation” was the one preceding the Seder – which is the implication in all of Matthews previous statements regarding preparation (See Matt 26:17, for example), not to mention most of the references by the other authors – the day after preparation, and the day after the crucifixion, would be the weekly Sabbath as well as the High Sabbath.

70. Then, whereas Matthew, Mark and Luke seem to be inconsistent as to whether or not the first day of Passover coincided with the weekly Sabbath that year, John seems to point exclusively to them coinciding.
71. In 13:29, sometime during or even after the supper, John has the disciples thinking that Judas was going to buy food for the feast, and we have to suspect that they wouldn’t have thought that if the supper they had already begun (at least) was the “feast.”
72. In 18:1, Jesus leaves the house of the last supper (and he remains outside until he is taken prisoner).
73. In 18:28, John says that the Roman cohort and Commander, plus the officers of the Jews, led Jesus to the Praetorium to present to Pilate, but that “they themselves” (apparently, the officers of the Jews) did not enter the Praetorium because that would have “defiled” them and they would not have been allowed to eat the Passover – indicating that the Seder meal had not yet been eaten.
74. In 19:12, John has the Jews shouting that Pilate is no friend of Caesar and Pilate reacting with fear. This suggests that
74.1. this was sometime after the execution (10/18/31 CE) by Tiberius Caesar of Aelius Sejanus, who had appointed Pilate but had plotted against Tiberius.
74.2. This had caused Pilate to be in fear for his life and to want desperately to avoid displeasing Tiberius.
74.3. Prior to that time, Pilate’s aim had been to displease the Jews, which had been the philosophy of the anti-semite Sejanus.
74.4. After Sejanus’ death, Tiberius decided that he wanted to “let the Jews alone,” so while Pilate’s natural set would be to frustrate the Jews by releasing Jesus, that would not have pleased Caesar, and Pilate fearfully relented.
74.5. That being the case, Jesus’ crucifixion must have occurred no earlier than 32 CE. Then, since Pilate served as Prefect until sometime in 36 CE (I can’t find the exact date),

75. However, there does seem to be a reasonable way to actually resolve this apparent conflict…
76. First, it should be noted that the Synoptics seem to be inconsistent regarding the Last Supper coinciding with the Seder. It isn’t like they consistently imply that the two coincide.
77. The really problematic verses are those that say that the disciples went to Jesus on the first day of the feast to ask about preparing for the Seder.
78. Mark and Luke amplify that by noting that this is the same day that the lamb is to be sacrificed.
79. But what we could be missing is that
79.1. The beginning of the first day is the evening immediately following Nisan 13,
79.2. This is when the disciples went to Jesus,
79.3. The 2 disciples sent to Jerusalem set off right away,
79.4. They prepared the upper room And,
79.5. Jesus and the rest came for dinner.
79.6. Perhaps, they were eating about 9 PM. (http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/570)
80. This would solve everything (I think).

(Terminology), (Symbology), (Bibliography)