Wise Men HeaderThe Theories.

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

7: The Comet Theory
In the late summer of 12 BC the Magi watching the night sky in the early hours would have noticed an unusual fuzzy star rising in the east, perhaps while they were observing Mars, which was nearby. The star was unusual because it appeared to have a tail; being a 'hairy star' or a comet. Much further east, like minded Magi in China noted its first appearance on the 26th August. By early September it was growing bigger by the night, rapidly moving across the sky northward away from Gemini and moving through the legs of the Great Bear. Then as it swung around towards the west it would have receded, getting smaller until mid October when it would have been lost in the glare of the setting sun. Today, we know this to be Comet Halley, which comes around every 76 years. At that time, however it was thought that each comet was unique. Several astronomers and theologians throughout the ages have thought that this is the star which heralded the birth of Christ.

Comet Hale-Bopp - 1997 Chinese Astronomers have recorded other comets at the time we think Christ was born. Of particular interest is the comet that was seen between 9 March and 6 April, 5 BC. Comets cause excitement and interest whenever they occur like this appearance of Hale-Bopp in 1997 (my own photo). Incidentally it could not have been Comet Hale-Bopp because although it will appear again in 2000 years time, it last appeared 4000 years ago, its orbit having been changed in between.
Comets are very noticeable events especially when they are bright and stretch across the sky. Comets generally were thought to be the bringers of change, especially the death of a king and by definition the coming of another king. A comet does tend to have a front and back and can be said to be pointing in a certain direction which may explain how the star indicated the position of the house where Jesus was.
Comets are not particularly rare, although very bright ones are. Halley's Comet appeared in 12 BC which is too early for us. The Chinese comet is a bit late and our star needs to be repeatable 18 month later as the Wise men approached Jerusalem. More information is required on a possible second comet in 3BC. As usual it needs to be known why the appearance of this comet indicated the birth of a world king in Jerusalem.
Timing - Too early to be Halley.
Repeatability - Not of the same comet.
Direction - Initial eastern appearance
Theology - No difficulties
Historic/Scientific credibility - No problems, if one could be found.
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