Planets, stars, novas or even UFOs, all have been presented as the source of the account in the Gospel of Matthew. He was the only gospel writer who felt it necessary to include the star, which make many wonder if it really happened. Like many of these topics, one can choose to be quickly dismissive or delve deeper.
The latter is what Michael R. Molnar does in his book The Star of Bethlehem. It’s one of the most complete studies of the topic I have run across and draws out many overlooked details in the biblical account and from history. Some additional studies from a science-faith think tank can be found here, but Molnar’s book would be a great study for this Christmas season.
If you want more Christmas lore, try Revelation of the Magi by Brent Landau. This is a translation of a once popular, now largely forgotten, apocryphal Christian story. It’s a fascinating account for students of early Christian history and Christmas traditions. Does it add any truth to the gospel account? Maybe, maybe not. It has the style of fiction rather than historical reporting.
Now Landau’s speculations about the story and the biblical account are, at times, poor theology. He thinks the infancy accounts have no value and supposedly the “majority” of scholars agree. It didn’t take me long to find many who disagree with that. He also seems to be promoting some sort of pluralistic variety of Christianity by somehow concluding this Magi text points to all religious beliefs coming from Christ. It’s sad that some “scholars” seem to ignore scholars who don’t agree with them and try to dumb down Christianity (I’m not saying other religions don’t have any truths in them, but pluralists like to pretend everyone is the same). So don’t buy Landau’s book for the theology. If ancient texts interest you, his translation of the Magi text is a good read.
Instead of non-stop rushing around this month, take some time, sit by the Christmas tree, and learn about the history and traditions that surround us this time of year.