The Star of Bethlehem – A Real Event? – with guest Dr. Peter Barthel (rerun)

SparkDialog Podcasts is currently on break until February 6th with Season 3.  In the meantime, enjoy this best of episode.

We hear it every year around this time – the story of the Nativity.  More specifically, we hear about three wise men, following the star of Bethlehem to bring the newborn Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  But is this story grounded in reality?  Or was it a literary device concocted by Matthew as he wrote his gospel? 

It’s a question that has been around for quite some time.  Was the star of Bethlehem a comet?  A supernova?  An alignment of planets?  Was it real at all?  Thanks to modern astronomy, along with an understanding of the motions of the stars and planets that has been around for thousands of years, we can actually reconstruct what the sky looked like around the time Jesus was born to attempt to answer this question.  

In today’s podcast, we talk to Dr. Peter Barthel.  Peter is a professor in astrophysics at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute at the University of Groningen.  For his University’s 400th anniversary, Peter helped to host a conference on the Star of Bethlehem, bringing together scholars in astronomy, history, and religion.  Was the star real?  What did the Magi understand it to be?  Did they really travel to Bethlehem?  And why did Matthew include this story in his Gospel?  

So grab a cup of cocoa and join us for a discussion where we explore some of the latest understanding and analysis  surrounding the star of Bethlehem.   

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