A 16th century depiction of the conversion of Paul. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Fondazione Cariplo
The evangelist's divine experience may have coincided with an ancient Chelyabinsk-like meteor explosion.
According to the fifth book of the biblical New Testament, Paul had been traveling on the road to Damascus when a bright light suddenly appeared in the sky, blinding him. As he struggled to regain his sight he heard the voice of Jesus, an experience that would go on to change his life and shape the future of Christianity.
But what exactly was it that Paul saw in the sky that day ? William Hartmann, co-founder of the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, believes that he may have found the answer.
Just like the huge flash of light that occurred over Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013, Paul's experience on the road to Damascus may have been triggered by a meteor exploding in the sky above him.
"Everything they are describing in those three accounts in the book of Acts are exactly the sequence you see with a fireball," he said. "If that first-century document had been anything other than part of the Bible, that would have been a straightforward story."
That's not to say however that Paul's experience had not been a genuine one.
"It's well recorded that extraterrestrial impacts have helped to shape the evolution of life on this planet," said NASA's Bill Cooke. "If it was a Chelyabinsk fireball that was responsible for Paul's conversion, then obviously that had a great impact on the growth of Christianity."
Source: New Scientist | Comments (22)
Paul, Meteor, Christianity, Apostle