Wise Men HeaderThe Theories.

By Rev. Phil Greetham. © Copyright 1996. This Version, 2012

4: The Nova/Supernova Theory
Hundreds or thousands of light years away a star explodes becoming thousands of times brighter than normal. Back on Earth, as its light reaches us, a new star appears in the sky. Its brightness is so great that it is visible even in the daytime. Our Magi might have interpreted this event as the birth of a new king, the greatest and brightest of kings. From other information they believed this world ruler will come from Israel and so they set forth on a journey to its capital, Jerusalem.
A supernova is a very rare event. It would be visible for several months and it is not unknown for them to brighten up again at a later date giving us the necessary repetition of the star appearance from Bethlehem. Ancient cultures often made records of such events. The American tribes of New Mexico recorded such an event on a burial bowl, to mark a supernova which appeared on July 5th 1054 in the constellation of Taurus. The Chinese also have a record of this supernova. They recorded that it was visible during the daylight for 23 days, the same number of spikes around the star drawn by the native Americans. The Chinese kept very meticulous records of supernova and many of their manuscripts are available today. The appearance of a bright new star, visible even in daylight, is probably the most comfortable explanation of Christ's Star. It matches the biblical account and also our 'Christmas card' expectations of what would have been seen.
As we have said, the Chinese kept records of every supernova that they observed. Unfortunately, no supernova was observed by the Chinese anywhere near the time of the birth of Christ. However Chinese astronomers did record a 'Nova' or new star in the constellation Capricorn in March--April of 5 BC which was visible for over 70 days. (Capricorn rises just before the sun in March from a SW direction). This would not have been a bright conspicuous star but it doesn't have to be. As long as the Magi realized it was new, that is all that matters. It is however too late for our precarious birth date of Jesus A proposed second nova on April 24, AD 4 is likewise far too late. Also the old problem remains -how did the Magi work out that seeing this star meant a journey to see a new Jewish king?
Timing - Too late.
Repeatability - Unknown
Direction - YES for first appearance
Theology - Unknown
Historic/Scientific credibility - No problems, as long as one can be found.
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