Re: [asa] Gospel in the Stars WAS Star of Bethlehem presentation?

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Tue Nov 24 2009 - 16:49:03 EST

> I don't agree that Matthew made up the story of the slaughter of the
> innocents.† Herod was a very nasty boy; I wouldn't put something like that
> past him, not at all.

A popular joke (with better alliteration in the original) was that it
was better to be Herod 's swine than his son as the former were less
likely to be killed. Several family members were executed by him on
suspicion of political plotting, sometimes on good evidence, sometimes
on rumors fomented by a rival heir, etc. It would be out of character
if Herod didn't try to wipe out a possible rival. If I recall
correctly, he proposed having some mass killing when he died to ensure
that the populace would be in mourning, though in a rare display of
sense his heirs did not carry this out. [This is Herod the Great-not
to be confused with all his Herod and Herodias descendants who inbred
to make things more confusing.]

On the other hand, it is true that the popular concept of the
slaughter of the innocents is rather exaggerated relative to what
Matthew records. Bethlehem was a small town, and the number of young
children at any one time would not be large.

"I think there's something wrong with the supposed conservative view
that God spoke to astrologers (a false religion), with them
functioning as prophets (either directly learning from God or getting
info from God as a seer) to give them a sign for the Christ-child."

Not sure what's wrong with that. There is a theological problem with
claiming that going out and doing astrology will lead you to Christ.
However, given that Christianity holds that we're all by nature
looking for God in the wrong places, He has to reach us where we are
in some fashion.

A different question is how a star could guide someone to a house.
Given the vast distance from the Earth to things in space, pretty much
any astronomical object will appear to be overhead from anywhere in
entire village at the same time. One possible solution is an
alignment of the rising or setting of the star. From the Magi's
position, it could appear to indicate a specific building.

"It does seem suspicious, I think, that such a traumatic experience
(Herodís killing the children) wasnít recorded in Luke, and Luke gives
details about the birth of Christ. Likewise, Matthew mentions nothing
of the census as Luke records. They each have their own answer to ďIf
Jesus is the Messiah, how come heís not from Bethlehem, as
prophesied?Ē His parents traveled to Bethlehem for the birth, thatís
why. Why did his parents have to go there? Luke and Matthew give
different reasons."

It does seem suspicious when any failure to mention something in every
account is regarded as evidence against veracity, especially if
agreement between accounts gets invoked as proof of copying rather
than of accuracy. Matthew and Luke have somewhat different audiences
in view-Matthew is aimed more at a Jewish audience, who would be very
interested in OT fulfillment; Luke writes to an educated Gentile
audience, probably acquainted with the LXX but lacking the personal
interest in how Jesus fulfills the calling of Israel. There's no need
to record everything, and, as John points out, no space to do so,
either. One might as well infer that Jesus wasn't born because Mark
and John don't record it.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Tue Nov 24 16:49:34 2009

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