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  Columnist: Roy Batham

Image credit: Waldemar Flaig (1920)

The Star of Bethlehem

Posted on Saturday, 6 July, 2013 | 7 comments
Columnist: Roy Batham

The origin of this work was begun about 1995 when a news item concerning a new theory on the 'Star of Bethlehem' was published. Another of those theories by academics that was pure conjecture based on Roman paganism and conjunction of planets. It failed to prove anything. I decided to investigate the 'star' myself, being an interested amateur scientist of all things mystical. So with my 'Commodore 64 ' and Atari planetarium I set out to find physical evidence beginning with what was known. The star is only mentioned by St. Matthew, seen in the east and moved from the east. So what ? that is the normal pattern due to the rotation of the Earth. Was it a comet?, was it Halley's comet ? Experts say no, the dates are wrong, something I now dispute. The German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) studied solar eclipses at the time of the crucifixion and put the birth of Christ back to 4BC (E) a year with no known spectacular astro events. There is no year 0 in the Christian calendar. Our date of 25th Dec. 1 AD (CE) comes from the Roman historian and bishop Eusebius 300 odd years after the event when Christianity became the accepted faith of the Empire. Being close to the winter solstice, is evidence that paganism was still practised. The year was taken from the Jewish history.

Search for the Star of Bethlehem

I dared to do what no-one had done before, look for an actual significant apparition before 4 BCE . Using the Atari planetarium I began to search month by month for anything significant. Obviously comets would not be shown so I was looking for a very conspiucous planetary conjunction. 9th Feb 66BC looked interesting. A very close conjuction of the three brightest planets was visible in the twilight and must have been seen by any casual observer. Venus can be observed during daylight if one knows it's exact position and I suspect that these three planets in close conjunction would also have been seen in daylight hours.

If this was in fact the 'Star' then 66 years of European history are missing. which is not really surprising as many pages are not accounted for in the 'Dark Ages'. Sources of English and European history are (1) Julius Caesar, recording many events at a time when the calendar was a bit 'uphazard ' (2) Bede, whose dates vary from the accepted by a few years and an incomplete history missing much of the Roman period.


Is a proof possible ? In my opinion Jesus Christ existed and the gospels have a certain amount of 'truth' Little is known about his early life, but it is evident that this humble carpenter's son received an excellent education in the scriptures and I believe sciences. Looking for further astronomial evidence I found reference to his baptism. I use the King James version as it is the one I was brought up with.

St. Matthew 3

16: And Jesus when he was baptized went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.....meaning what ? It went dark and the stars were visible, a solar eclipse which Jesus knew about and purposely went to be baptized at that time.

Jesus was about 30 at that time making it about 30AD by the accepted calendar. My Redshift7 planetarium shows the following eclipses

none of which were total or caused significant darkness. If my date of 66 BC is taken as year 1 then:-

many more had taken place. The one highlighted is the best fit is a total passing right over Jerusalem. The dove descending may have been the planet Mercury, visible if the eclipse made it dark enough. This makes Jesus 28 at his baptism.

One eclipse does not constitute definite proof. So is there anything else ? Kepler calculated his date of 4BC from a solar eclipse on Nov 24th 29 AD which he thought caused the darkness at the crucifixion. His achievements in science were great but in this case he was completely wrong. That eclipse was nowhere near full at Jerusalem and passed unnoticed. Debate still goes on about the crucifixion, all confusing to me. We know that it took place somedays prior to the feast of the Passover which is celebrated near to or just after full moon, so a solar eclipse could not take place. My own date would be about 33BC and I have no astronomical event to offer except a lunar eclipse that Jesus might have been watching for in the garden of Gethsemane when he reprimanded his desciples for falling asleep. That was the night before he was betrayed. Ist. April 33 BC. Not an April fools joke.

Leaving the crucifixion aside I turn next to the Acts of the Apostles and Saul (later St,Paul ) on the road to Damascus.

Acts Ch 9: 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined around him a light from heaven. 4: And he fell to Earth........8: And Saul arose from the Earth: And when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hands. and brought him into Damascus. 9: And he was 3 days without sight..............18: And immediatley there fell from his eyes as if it had been scales: and he received sight.

The symptoms here remind me of my days in engineering when welders (arc) not being careful received a 'flash' when striking an arc. The sudden bright light caused pain, running eyes, and temporary partial blindness which lasted a few days. Saul was not a welder, but did he suddenly look at a very bright light ?. Today we are told not to look directly at a solar a solar eclipse. Is that what Saul did ? Putting a date to the event is not easy but the apostles had spread the word and the church was well established abroad. Does 11 years from the crucifixion appear reasonable ? 11 AD reveals nothing so to my date, 33-11 = 22. 22 BC and we have Aug 11th 22 BC, annular eclipse close to Damascus.

When I tried to publish the above (with a lot more on dating the Bible ) I was ridiculed, no publisher wanted it, academics laughed and said I was putting the birth of Christ before the birth of Pontius Pilot and before all the other characters involved. There are none so blind as those that will not see. How do you explain to so called educated academics that I was not putting events out of context, merely pushing the whole time scale back 66 years and wanting to put 66 blank years into the dark ages. Christ was born 1 AD but that actual event occured 66 years earlier than the usually accepted year. Julius Caesar went to Britain 55 BC . It still stands at 55 BC in my time scale but was actually 66 years earlier.It means that Eusebius who who started counting from the birth of Christ (329 years after the event) calculated the wrong year.

Leaving St John and his visions in Revelations aside I'll look at a couple of well documented events. The Emperor Constantine was marching with his army towards Rome to assert his claim. In the spring of 312 AD he has a 'vision' of a cross or crescent above the sun. This comes from the writings of Eusbius many years later. Between 307 and 317 AD nothing unusual appeared around the sun. Using my altered dates -66 or about 240 AD there are many possibilities. With Eusebius surely a bit of leeway is acceptable and I choose the Annular eclipse of 14th June 234 AD. as the best fit. A fiery ring at 4: 46 am

So are our chronology and calendar faulty ? It would appear so from the evidence I have presented. But, I'm not finished yet. Let's look at Halley's comet. I was given 3 or 4 facts about it at school in the 1950's. It returned every 75 or 76 years. It appeared at the Battle of Hastings 1066. It was last seen in 1910 and would return in 1986. In that year I watched with interest, found it a bit disappointing because it was an unfavourable return. However, I decided to look at the historical accounts, 1910, 1835, 1758, 1682, 1607, 1531, 1456, 1378 ? 78 year interval). can the year be trusted?, 1301 ? ( 77 year interval blamed on planets Jupiter and Saturn), 1222 ? 79 year interval. ,1145 77 years again. Then 1066, 79 years again. As you see the further we go back the more erratic the comet appears, or is it the calendar that is erratic ? From 1456 on we see a regular sequence, Then in the late middles ages thing go awry. As for appearing before the Battle of Hastings the account I had described a 3 tailed comet that appeared in January 1066. Halley's a 3 tailed comet ?? The battle was in October. So was the 1066 comet Halley's ? I think not. If the interval is kept to 75 or 76 years from 1456 the sequence would be. 1380, 1224, 1148, 1073 , 998, 922, 848, 772, 696, 520, 454, 378. 302, 226, 150, 84, 8, - 68, 68 BC ? very close to my date of 66 BC. It seems ironic that after all my investigation that Halley's Comet and the Star of Bethlehem were possibly one and the same.

Article Copyright© Roy Batham - reproduced with permission.

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