Monday, December 22, 2008

What was the Star of Bethlehem?

Currently making waves in churches abroad and here in the Philippines are the website and DVD entitled “The Star of Bethlehem” by Frederick A. Larson, a litigation lawyer and professor at Texas A&M University. Essentially, Larson says that the Star of Bethlehem was “the planet Jupiter crowning the star Regulus in a rare triple conjunction in the constellation of Leo The Lion and then rendezvousing with the planet Venus.”

Reasons why Larson's theory is wrong


(1) Contrary to Larson's view, the vast majority of Biblical scholars and archeologists date Herod's death at 4 BC, based on the writings of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. Larson's theory therefore has a significant problem since Herod would be dead by the time the Magi arrive.

(2) Larson's theory about the Star of Bethlehem emphasizes Jupiter's retrograde motion. Some astronomers have also emphasized this retrograde motion but have come up with different explanations and conclusions.

(3) Larson's theory is based on a gross misinterpretation of Revelation 12.

Old theory, different spin

Despite what Larson's DVD seems to claim, this theory on the conjunctions of Jupiter, Regulus and Venus being the Star of Bethlehem is not original with him.
More than twenty five years ago, Roger W. Sinnott, writing in the astronomical journal Sky and Telescope, was the first to draw attention to this unusual conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 2 B.C.E.

Seventeen years ago, Professor Ernest L. Martin in his book “The Star that Astonished the World” positively identified this conjunction of Jupiter with Regulus and then with Venus on June 17, 2 B.C.E. as the Star of Bethlehem.
Martin (a follower of Herbert W. Armstrong’ s Worldwide Church of God) even went so far as to claim that Christ’s birth took place on September 11, 2 B.C.E. Because of Martin’s research, planetariums all over the world have been showing these spectacular celestial events.

Way back in 1987, astronomer John Mosley of the Griffith Observatory wrote about Martin's theory in his book “The Christmas Star.” (Please watch the Flash movie based on Mosley’s book to learn more about planetary conjunctions and retrograde motion.)

Larson in the FAQ section of his website acknowledges the previous research of Sinnott and Martin. He distinguishes his project and DVD however as being “built upon a leap of insight which is entirely new: that the Star of Bethlehem is part of a celestial poem that begins at Christ's conception and birth, but concludes with great drama on the day of the Cross.” Larson propounds the Biblical basis for his theory in what he calls the nine points of Christ's Star. The exact quotes from his website are posted below:

In 3/2 BC, Jupiter's retrograde wandering would have called for our magus' full attention. After Jupiter and Regulus had their kingly encounter, Jupiter continued on its path through the star field. But then it entered retrograde. It "changed its mind" and headed back to Regulus for a second conjunction. After this second pass it reversed course again for yet a third rendezvous with Regulus, a triple conjunction. A triple pass like this is more rare. Over a period of months, our watching magus would have seen the Planet of Kings dance out a halo above the Star of Kings. A coronation.

By the following June, Jupiter had finished crowning Regulus. The Planet of Kings traveled on through the star field toward another spectacular rendezvous, this time with Venus, the Mother Planet. This conjunction was so close and so bright that it is today displayed in hundreds of planetaria around the world by scientists who may know nothing of Messiah. They do it because what Jupiter did makes such a great planetarium show. Jupiter appeared to join Venus. The planets could not be distinguished with the naked eye. If our magus had had a telescope, he could have seen that the planets sat one atop the other, like a figure eight. Each contributed its full brightness to what became the most brilliant star our man had ever seen. Jupiter completed this step of the starry dance as it was setting in the west. That evening, our Babylonian magus would have seen the spectacle of his career while facing toward Judea.

You can read from the website or watch from the DVD the research, Biblical and scholarly bases for Larson’s claim that the conjunctions of Jupiter, Regulus and Venus were the Star of Bethlehem. You can then decide for yourself whether he is right or not about the Star of Bethlehem. As noted above, astronomers have confirmed long ago that there was a spectacular conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 3/2 B.C. In Larson's own research, he used the Starry Night software based on the well-established laws on planetary motions by 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler. (Kepler himself had his own theory about the Star of Bethlehem being a supernova.)

How can the Magi interact with a dead Herod?

In a December 2007 Baptist Press article, Michael Foust quotes the objections to Larson’ theory by Professor Denny Burk of Criswell College in Dallas:

Scholars long have known Jupiter and Venus were in conjunction around the time of Christ's birth, but few have gone so far as Larson in describing it in such detail.

Denny Burk, professor of New Testament at Criswell College in Dallas, said he believes Larson's theory has some problems but applauded him for putting together a "fascinating" DVD.

Among concerns Burk has with Larson's theory is that Larson "goes beyond what the Bible teaches was the symbolic significance of the Bethlehem star," and that Matthew "gives some indications that the Bethlehem star was a miraculous sign" and not a "natural (though unusual) alignment of the stars." Additionally, Burk said, the "vast majority of scholars" date Herod's death to 4 B.C., although he said there is a minority viewpoint putting it at 1 B.C. If Herod died in 4 B.C., Larson's theory would have a significant problem, since Herod would be dead by the time the Magi arrive.

Larson in defending his work cites a recent study of Josephus’ earliest manuscripts reportedly conducted by the British Library in London and the American Library of Congress. The study allegedly revealed a copying error in 1544 that caused all of Josephus’ manuscripts in both libraries dating after 1544 to say Herod died in 4 BC when all Josephus’ writings before 1544 concluded Herod’s death was in 1 BC.

However, Nick Strobel in his article “The Star of Bethlehem, An Astronomical Perspective” defends the 4 B.C.E. date of Herod’s death. He says that Herod’s three sons (Herod Antipas, Philip, and Archelaus), among whom his kingdom was divided, all reckoned their reigns began from 5 - 4 B.C.E.

Star Wars: Aries versus Leo, other conflicting theories by astronomers

Larson emphasizes in his theory Jupiter’s retrograde motion to explain among other things, Matthew’s account that the star stopped over Christ’s birthplace. However,
Strobel in his article cites theories by astronomers Ivor Bulmer-Thomas and Michael Molnar which make use of Jupiter's retrograde motion but which differ from Larson’s view.

Molnar of Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA, explains in his website "Revealing the Star of Bethlehem" that the Star was the retrograde motion of Jupiter in the Aries constellation and a conjunction with the Moon in 6 B.C.E. As Molnar puts it, “Other investigators of what the Star was were not only looking in the wrong constellation but they were also looking for the wrong celestial phenomenon.” (Molnar first published his findings in 1991.)

Larson's theory, as noted above, is that the Star was “the planet Jupiter crowning the star Regulus in the constellation of Leo The Lion in a rare triple conjunction and then rendezvousing with the planet Venus in 3/2 BC. In a CBS 11 News (Forth Worth) story, SMU adjunct professor of astronomy and physics John Cotton said Larson's approach is flawed, in part because he did not research ancient astrology as Molnar did. (In ancient days, astronomy and astrology were indistinguishable.)

Larson also states, “This association of Messiah with the tribe of Judah and with the lion is a productive clue. It clarifies the connection between Jupiter's behavior and the Jewish nation, because the starry coronation—the triple conjunction—occurred within the constellation of Leo, The Lion. Ancient stargazers, particularly if they were interested in things Jewish, may well have concluded they were seeing signs of a Jewish king.”

Molnar, on the other hand, dismisses this association of the tribe of Judah with the constellation Leo: “For religious and astronomical reasons people have proposed Pisces the Fishes as the site of the Star. A fish is a powerful Christian symbol. Also the spring equinox moved into Pisces close to the time of Jesus’ birth. So people assumed that Pisces was the sign for the dawning of Christianity – a beautiful but erroneous conclusion. Others have proposed Leo the Lion (thinking that this was the Lion of Judah), and others like Virgo the Virgin (believing that this was the Blessed Virgin Mary). Another notion claims “the manger” of Cancer the Crab. There are other clever ideas using Greek mythology and Christian symbols which have no basis in the ancient texts on Greek astrology.”

Larsons theory is based on a gross misinterpretation of Revelation 12

In my opinion, what makes Larson’s theory wrong is his gross misinterpretation of Revelation 12. Let me explain. First let’s see what Revelation 12 is all about:

Revelation 12 (KJV)

1. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
7. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
13. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
In his website and DVD, Larson explains Revelation 12 this way:
The last book of the New Testament is, in part, a prophetic enigma. But a portion of the Book of Revelation provides clear and compelling guidance for our astronomical investigation. The apostle John wrote the book as an old man while in exile on the island of Patmos. Perhaps the austerity of this exile or a lack of companionship left him time to ponder the night sky. Whatever the reason, Revelation is full of star imagery. In Chapter 12, John describes a life and death drama played out in the sky: the birth of a king.

1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre...

A woman in labor, a dragon bent on infanticide and a ruler of the nations. We have already seen this ruler in the Book of Genesis, above. This would be the Messiah, in his role as King of Kings. If that interpretation is correct, then according to the gospel story the woman would be Mary, the mother of Jesus. The dragon which waits to kill the child at birth would be Herod, who did that very thing. John says the woman he saw was clothed in the Sun. She had the moon at her feet. What can he be describing? When we continue our study of the sky of September of 3 BC, the mystery of John's vision is unlocked: he is describing more of the starry dance which began with the Jewish New Year.

As Jupiter was beginning the coronation of Regulus, another startling symbol rose in the sky. The constellation which rises in the east behind Leo is Virgo, The Virgin. When Jupiter and Regulus were first meeting, she rose clothed in the Sun. And as John said, the moon was at her feet. It was a new moon, symbolically birthed at the feet of The Virgin.

Summing up Larson’s interpretation of Revelation 12, the dragon is Herod, the woman in travail or about to give birth is Mary and the child is Christ. (This is also the interpretation of Philip Yancey in his book “The Jesus I Never Knew” if I remember correctly.)

What is the proper interpretation of Revelation 12?

1. Revelation 12 is prophecy of events yet to happen (i.e. the Tribulation) and not the Apostle John’s backward look at the events of Christmas as reported in the Gospels.

2. If King Herod was the dragon mentioned in Revelation 12, then what does verse 3 mean by the dragon having “seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads”? What exactly did Herod do when verse 3 says “his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth”?

3. If Mary was the woman mentioned in Revelation 12, what does verse 6 mean when it says, “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days”?

4. Larson’s interpretation of Revelation 12 smacks of Roman Catholic imagery and Marian veneration. Take note again of Larson's explanation: "The constellation which rises in the east behind Leo is Virgo, The Virgin. When Jupiter and Regulus were first meeting, she rose clothed in the Sun. And as John said, the moon was at her feet. It was a new moon, symbolically birthed at the feet of The Virgin."

5. I don’t agree with everything that Ptr. John Macarthur says but I think that his explanation of Revelation 12 is what the chapter really is all about. He says in his study Bible that:
[a] The woman is not an actual woman but a symbolic representation of Israel, pictured in the OT as the wife of God (Is. 54:5,6; Jer. 3:6-8; Ezek. 16:32; and Hos. 2:16). The phrase “cried out in pain” refers to Israel which is often pictured as a mother giving birth (Hos. 13:13; Mic. 4:10; 5:2,3; Matt. 24:8). Israel had agonized and suffered for centuries, longing for the Messiah to come and destroy Satan, sin, and death, and usher in the kingdom.

[b] The phrase “clothed with the sun ... moon under her feet ... twelve stars” speaks of the exalted status of Israel, the people of promise who will be saved and given a kingdom. The picture of the moon under her feet possibly describes
God's covenant relationship with Israel, since new moons were associated with worship (1 Chr. 23:31; 2 Chr. 2:4; 8:13; Ezra 3:5; Ps. 81:3).The 12 stars represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

[c]
The phrase “a male Child” refers to Jesus Christ. In His incarnation, Christ was of Jewish descent (Matt. 1:1; 2 Tim. 2:8). Despite Satan's efforts to destroy Israel and the messianic line, Jesus' birth took place as predicted by the prophets (Is. 7:14; 9:6; Mic. 5:2). The phrase “to rule all nations with a rod of iron” refers not to Christ’s earthly ministry as recorded in the Gospels but to his future millennial rule.

[d] The great dragon is Satan. The woman's mortal enemy is Satan, who appears as a dragon 13 times in Revelation. The phrase “seven heads ... ten horns ... seven diadems” is figurative language depicting Satan's domination of 7 past worldly kingdoms and 10 future kingdoms. He has inflicted relentless pain on Israel (Dan. 8:24), desiring to kill the woman before she could bring forth the child that would destroy him.

[e] The period of “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (42 months or 3 1/2 years) is the midpoint of the Tribulation when the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel, puts a stop to temple worship, sets up the abomination of desolation and devastates Jerusalem (11:2). At this point, many Jews flee for their lives.
BibleGateway’s commentary on Revelation 12 and even Matthew Henrys Commentary present another view of who the dragon and the woman are. These views are somewhat different from Macarthur’s view but still, they do not equate the dragon with Herod and the woman with Mary as Larson does.

Should we really be concerned about explaining scientifically what the Star of Bethlehem was?


Larson should have presented his theory as just that, a theory. A credible theory it may be but it is not a fact. Molnar states that his explanation is probably the best answer to what the Star was. He leaves the conclusion, however, with his readers. As he states in his website, “I am told that I have the best answer. Whether it is the correct answer can only be determined by your examination of my findings.”

The issue of what the Star of Bethlehem was has been vigorously discussed and debated down through the centuries. But should we really be concerned about explaining scientifically what the Star of Bethlehem was? A. W. Tozer decades ago in his essay “That Incredible Christian” probably said it best:
The current effort of so many religious leaders to harmonize Christianity with science, philosophy, and every natural and reasonable thing is, I believe, the result of failure to understand Christianity and, judging from what I have heard and read, failure to understand science and philosophy as well.

At the heart of the Christian system lies the cross of Christ with its divine paradox. The power of Christianity appears in its antipathy toward, never in its agreement with, the ways of fallen men. The truth of the cross is revealed in its contradictions. The witness of the church is most effective when she declares rather than explains, for the gospel is addressed not to reason but to faith. What can be proved requires no faith to accept. Faith rests upon the character of God, not upon the demonstrations of laboratory or logic.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

poor you not to believe in Larson's idea. You dont even have the same intelligence as his. He's million miles away intelligent than you.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Thanks for your comment. Too bad you are not man enough or woman enough to identify yourself so we can have a rational discussion of the issues I raised in this post.

In Argumentation and Debate, there’s a term for your comment. It’s called “argumentum ad hominem” or “argument against the person.” Instead of a rational discussion of facts and reasons, you resorted to sarcasm and ridicule. My website tracker Sitemeter.com reports that you spent only 39 seconds or more in viewing this post and yet you were able to immediately form your conclusion. You must be a fantastic speed reader with superior reading comprehension to finish reading a post that is eight pages long when printed out.

Now, that’s an argumentum ad hominem!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

This was a very well thought out explanation of your view. I appreciate you taking the time.

Here are some biblical things I would like you to consider:

Do you think the woman is in Rev 12 could be the the same woman from Gen 3:15? What do you think "her seed" is referring to? Is it logical for a woman to have a seed and is this consistent with the thinking of the Jewish people at that time about women or would only men normally have seed? Who is the child? Did the woman already have the child or are we still waiting?

Did the war in heaven between Michael and his angles and the devil and his angels (Rev 12:7-9) occur already or are we still waiting for it to start? Is this what Isaiah 14:12 was referring to? Is this what Jesus was referring to in Luke 10:18?

When God says now is come the kingdom of God in Rev 12:10, when you consider this along with other verses like Matt 3:2, Luke 17:21 and Luke 11:20, then Isaiah 35, 32, 9 and Matt 6 all and why that prayer (9-15) in Matt 6, why seek the kingdom and his righteousness first as Matt 6:33 says unless it can be found now? What in the world is Jesus talking about and how does it all fit together according to Gods plan for our salvation as recorded in the Bible? Is this all saying the kingdom of God is here now or that we have to wait for it or is it somehow saying both?'

What does Rev 12:11 mean about overcoming him by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives unto death? Why does it not say they overcame him by reading the bible and praying and being a good christian or being filled with the Holy Spirit?

Rev 12:13 - why is the dragon pursuing the woman?

Why does it say in Rev 12:14 that the woman was given two wings of the great eagle so she could fly into the wilderness and what does this mean?

Rev 12:17 - is this war between the dragon and the woman's children going on now or are we waiting? Why does it say the dragon was enraged with the woman and went off to make war with her children instead of being enraged with Jesus and His children? Why does it say her children keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus instead of saying the children of Jesus or God's children?

Thanks!

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Just a quick reply as of now, will give you a more detailed answer much later, okay? Besides this blog, I maintain six other blogs and three websites. Answering legal inquiries from visitors to my Family Matters website and my Legal Updates blog (pro bono basis) takes the bulk and priority of my time. Most often, these inquiries are urgent in nature.

1. As I said, I don’t believe that Revelation 12 has anything to do with Herod and Mary. John Macarthur’s interpretation is good but as I also said, BibleGateway’s commentary (taken from InterVarsity Press) and even Matthew Henry’s Commentary differ from his interpretation. In Macarthur’s view, the woman is Israel, while in BibleGateway and Matthew Henry, the woman is the church during the Tribulation.

2. Whatever view may be correct, verse 4 is problematic since it seems to go back in time to an event that has already happened rather than an event that is still to come. Even Macarthur interprets verse 4 as being Lucifer’s original rebellion Isaiah 14:1 et seq and Ezekiel28:1 et seq.

3. The issue in verse 14 (and Revelation as a whole) is whether to take things literally or symbolically. The vivid and sometimes confusing images often lead to conflicting, sometimes even fantastic, interpretations.

One thing I have learned is not to be bogged down in the details. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I heard numerous pastors and prophecy experts refer to the ten toes in Daniel’s vision as the then-forming European Common Market (which we now know as the EC or European Community). I remember back in those days, people were saying that once the Common Market reached ten member nations, then that’s it, it’s Rapture time. It is 2009 now and the EC has more than 20 member nations, but I have not heard of pastors and Bible scholars explaining the disparity between the current political reality and what is the generally accepted interpretation of Daniel’s prophecy.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I appreciate that. I was very happy to see your post because I have been trying to understand other viewpoints on how to interpret this and you seem to have the most logical view I have come across so far.

I assume your position is that the dragon is the devil and not Herod because it actually says so in Rev 12:9! So, how could anyone not agree. Although, sometimes people do the work for the devil just as we do work for God as the body of Christ. So maybe Herod was filling that role for the devil?

What I cannot quite understand is how you can completely reject Mary's role as the mother of Jesus. There is only one woman that ever gave birth to Jesus and it was not the Church or Israel. It was a real Jewish woman named Mary. Now, I believe and agree the Bible can often have more than one meaning when it says something and that is the case here too. However, this clearly seems to be referring to a woman that gave birth to Jesus. You agree the child is Jesus. Why can the woman not be Mary?

I have found that all the details in the Bible can be understood and explained. So, I do not agree with just ignoring the details. As a lawyer you must agree that the details are always important!

Jesus himself said only the Father knows the date and time of His second coming (Mark 13:32) so this is not something you or anyone else will ever figure out until it happens. I agree not to bother with that as it is just a waste of time and precious brain power :) We must just wait and watch (Mark 13:37).

The question for you is this: is the second coming and the Kingdom of God the same? Or can the Kingdom of God be upon us now just as the Bible says (why would we not believe the bible) and we still wait for the second coming of Jesus?

Thanks

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Like I said, I will have to get back to you much later to address the issues you raised in your first comment.

You have me at a disadvantage though. My profile is public and so you know about me. But you have chosen to comment anonymously. I’d rather prefer that you identify yourself so that I will know where you are coming from, so to speak. My website tracker Sitemeter.com tells me that you are from Fountain, Colorado, USA and a Mac user. Sitemeter tells me that you have visited my blog at least seven times today.

Since you are searching seriously and are quite in a hurry for a “baptist explanation of revelation 12” let me point you to an authority in the US whom you can correspond with. He’s Dr. Phil Stringer, pastor of Ravenswood Baptist Church in Chicago IL and former president of Landmark Baptist College in Haines, Florida. His church website is http://www.ravenswoodbaptist.com/

Dr. Stringer is coming to the Philippines this January or February, I think, to teach a master’s class on Revelation. I met him only once and so he doesn’t know me personally.

GregS said...

Hi again,

Sorry for the anonymous posts.

My assumption has been that there can not be any reasonable Baptist explanation of revelation 12 and if you can help me see that I am incorrect, I would really appreciate it. If Dr Phil Stinger has an answer that makes sense I would be very happy to see it too.

Thanks,

Greg

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Greg,

Quick reply:

1. Two Baptist Distinctives are “soul liberty” (aka soul competency) and “church autonomy”. This means that unlike the RCC or some other hierarchical religions/denominations, no person speaks with full, final inerrant authority (or ex cathedra) for all Baptists. Thus, different Baptist groups or teachers differ in their interpretations of certain sections of the Bible. Some Baptists equate the Revelation 12 woman with the nation of Israel while others interpret her as the church.

To see the different interpretations by Baptists on Revelation 12, please use the following search engines: Baptistology, IFB Host and Baptist 411.

2. Norbert Lieth in an article for May 2003 issue of Midnight Call magazine (“The Future of United States and Europe” states that the Revelation 12 woman is not a literal woman but a symbol of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Since you are very interested in prophecy and Revelation, please read Midnight Call magazines or browse its website. The article you should read is “Revelation 12 and the Future of Israel” at http://www.midnightcall.com/articles/prophetic/revelation_12.html

3. The Revelation 12 woman cannot be Mary since verse 14 states that she will spend “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (42 months or 3 1/2 years) in the wilderness. If the woman is Mary, what does this period of time refer to? The exile in Egypt? The Gospels do not record that she, Joseph and Jesus spent this specific period of time there.

As to wings, eagle, etc, please read MacArthur’s Study Bible explanations.

Please also read Bible.org’s "The Angelic Conflict (Rev 12:1-17)" by J. Hampton Keathley, III. The link is http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=1765)

Part of Keathley’s article says (emphasis by boldfacing supplied):
The woman is the nation of Israel. This is evident for the following reasons: (1) Her description is reminiscent of Genesis 37:9-10 where these heavenly bodies, the sun and the moon, represent Jacob and Rachel. This identifies the woman with Israel and the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. (2) The 12 stars in her crown would link her to the 12 tribes of Israel or the 12 sons of Jacob, the patriarchs of Israel. (3) In verse 2 she is seen with child, one who rules with a rod of iron (vs. 5). This can be none other than Christ, who as promised in Scripture, was from the nation of Israel (Matt. 1:1-25; cf. also Psalm 2:8-9; Rev. 2:27; 19:15). (4) That she is Israel, the nation, and not simply Mary, the mother of Jesus, is clear from the fact she will be persecuted in the last half of the Tribulation (vss. 6, 13-17). So the woman is the nation of Israel, the matrix and source of Messiah.

The description given here is not merely to identify her but to describe her in queenly terms because of Israel’s prominence in the plan of God and especially in the millennial reign of Christ. This identifies her with the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Psalm 89:34-37).
Verse 2 describes the woman in travail, waiting to give birth to the Christ child. This undoubtedly refers to the sufferings of the nation and her troublesome and restless times at the first advent of Christ. She was even then suffering under not only the judgment of the deportations (see Matt. 1:11, 17) but the hatred of Satan. In fact, it was because of the Roman rule that Mary and Joseph had to make the trip to Bethlehem for the census during the winter when Christ was born.


4. Happy New Year!

GregS said...

Happy New Year to you too! I also wish you peace, happiness and God's grace this year.

Thanks for the references. I will certainly review these and if I have some feedback on these I will let you know.

GregS said...

I have not reviewed any of the information you suggested yet (thanks again by the way)...

one thing came to mind though I wanted to share...

You can somehow beleive the woman that gave birth to Jesus is not Mary (keeping in mind the ability of scripture to have more than one meaning) yet I wonder what you think about the verse Rev 11:19 that preceeds this chapter?

Does it seem odd to you that the ark of His Covenant is discussed there of all places? Could the woman be the ark of the New Covenant?

Just something to ponder for now :)

Thanks again,

Greg

Earl said...

Interesting. Somebody should post a chart, like Micheal Pearl's at nogreaterjoy.org or Larkin's.

Tom said...

You quote a Baptist Press article: "Larson in defending his work cites a recent study of Josephus’ earliest manuscripts conducted by the British Library in London and the American Library of Congress." That's an accurate quote, but the information is wrong. The British Library and the US Library of Congress did not conduct the study. Some obscure researcher by the name of Beyer (not Bever as reported elsewhere) says he found the anomaly. The point is mute in any event, as there are numerous other facts that corroborate Herod's death in 4BC not 1BC as Larson claims based on Martin's book,

Martin, Mosely, and Larson have all been shown to be wrong about the date of Herod's death with convincing evidence. As such, Larson's whole premise falls apart.

Atty. Gerry T. Galacio said...

Tom,

Thanks for your comment. While writing this post, I tried tracking down on the Internet Larson’s claim that there was a mistake in the date of Herod’s death because of a copying error. I searched through the British Library and American Library of Congress websites but there was not a single reference to this alleged copying mistake. I even tried verifying Larson’s claim with the Encyclopedia Britannica Online. The only reference on the Internet I could find on this alleged copying error in Josephus’ manuscript was a RCC website called Agape Bible Study.

Tom said...

Yes, I had the same problem finding references that backed up Larson's claims. His case is very weak, approaching numerology, based on obscure sources that happen to fit his premise. The whole idea seems to come from Ernest Martin's thoroughly debunked The Star That Astonished The World.

Martin writes, "In 1995 David W Bever (sic) reported to the Society for Biblical Literature his personal examination in the British Museum of forty-six editions of Josephus's Antiquities published before 1700 among which twenty-seven texts all but three published before 1544, read "twenty- second year of Tiberius," while not a single edition published prior to 1544 read "twentieth year of Tiberius." Likewise in the Library of Congress five more editions read the "twenty-second year," while none prior to 1544 records the "twentieth year." It was also found that the oldest versions of the text give variant lengths of reign for Philip of 32 and 36 years.

The source was actually David Beyer not David Bever, and a search of the Society for Biblical Literature site—which claims to offer full text search of all their publications back to 1880—reveals no author by the name of David Beyer or Bever.

But at least Martin didn't try to bolster his case by claiming that the British Library or the Library of Congress conducted the study. That was added in the Baptist press article, unfortunately. Beyer (or Bever) appears in no journal articles or books listed online including Google Scholar, InfoTrac, and Lexis-Nexis.

A useful review of Martin's obscure book (only 28 libraries in the world have a copy) can be found at http://tinyurl.com/cz7kfm.

I also find it interesting that Larson's website lists three scientists that apparently endorse his movie. But one of them died 4 years before the movie was released. I emailed Larson about a broken link on his site, and he responded. But when I asked for links to the reviews he sites he never responded.

I decided to call Dr. Schorn at Texas A&M, and read Larson's quote to him and asked him if that's what he said, and could he provide a reference where I could read his whole review. He said, "Yes, I said 99% percent of the (Bethlehem) star stuff is nutty. And I also said that what he (Larson) had was just one of many unproven alternatives. The whole issue is very ambiguous. It's like numerology that originated with the Sumerians. The evidence is not there." I asked him were he wrote that, and he said, "I told him that face to face."

So besides being based on a weak premise, there seems to be some deception going on here too.

Speedlimit95 said...

I think we need to consider the time of when Mary met Elizabeth, and the baby jumped in her womb. It was a few months later during the Feast of Tabernacles when Mary gave birth to Christ. That takes place in the fall of the year, not in December.
Learn what to tabernacle with us means and you'll know when he was born.

He died during Passover, why wouldn't he be born during the Feast of Tabernacles?

tryagain said...

Hi, I'm a missionary in Costa Rica teaching a "Through the Bible" school for Latinos going out as missionaries. We are covering this subject of Jesus’ birth this coming weekend. From my studies I can contribute a couple of interesting observations.

First, the probable season of Jesus' birth. In the gospel of Luke Gabriel visited Zaccharius while he was burning incense in the temple. Then in the sixth month Gabriel visited Mary and gave her the news that she too would bear a son giving her the news that her cousin Mary was already 6 months pregnant. Mary then hurried out to Judea where John leaped in Elizabeth's womb (presumably at the presence of Jesus and not just a prophecy). This would have placed Elizabeth's conception of John in the first month passover and his birth 9 months later would have roughly coincided with Hannukah. Jesus’ conception 6 months after Passover would have been in the fall feasts and His birth 38 weeks later (which if this was an abib year with the corrective 13th month), would be right at Pentecost! Remember, Yahweh came down to Mt. Sinai on Pentecost. Interesting? Check it out for yourself.

Second, the year of Jesus birth. Josephus is a nice read but not always accurate. So let's put the Bible first and the historian second. Luke gives us two reference points for Jesus birth. It's as if he wanted us to know exactly when this happened. The first is when Quirinius was governor of Syria (3-2 BC) and the second was in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Cesar's rule or 28-29 AD when Jesus would be just about to enter his 30th year. So 2 BC looks like where Luke pegs the nativity. Therefore, we should have another look at Herod's death. Here's an explanation from http://www.scripturescholar.com/Jesus2YearMinistry.htm "Herod died after an eclipse of the moon and Jesus was born before Herod died. The eclipse that occurred in March 4 B.C. was a minor partial eclipse only visible from two to four AM. Only a small number of people noticed this eclipse. There was a partial eclipse in which more than half the moon was obscured that was visible for two hours from the time the moon became visible about twenty minutes after sunset on December 29, 1 B.C. Since Herod died after a lunar eclipse, which occurred a month or more before the Passover, this eclipse more closely fits the data regarding the time of the birth of Jesus."
Another historian remarks about Herod killing the Jews in 1 B.C.just before that moon and Josephus says Gaius Cesar was in Rome after Herod's death and Gaius wasn't there until 1AD.
So, why are the reigns of his sons antedated to 4 BC? Because Herod was old and very sick (and murderous) and his sons were actually administrating from 4BC.

It appears the 3-2 BC conjunctions are a credible possibility with Jesus being conceived in the fall feast and being born at Pentecost.

Blessings in your work.

tryagain said...

Hi, I'm in Costa Rica teaching a "Through the Bible" school for Latinos going out as missionaries. We are covering this subject of Jesus’ birth this coming weekend. From my studies I can contribute a couple of interesting observations.

First, the probable season of Jesus' birth. In the gospel of Luke Gabriel visited Zaccharius while he was burning incense in the temple. Then in the sixth month Gabriel visited Mary and gave her the news that she too would bear a son giving her the news that her cousin Mary was already 6 months pregnant. Mary then hurried out to Judea where John leaped in Elizabeth's womb (presumably at the presence of Jesus and not just a prophecy). This would have placed Elizabeth's conception of John in the first month passover and his birth 9 months later would have roughly coincided with Hannukah. Jesus’ conception 6 months after Passover would have been in the fall feasts and His birth 38 weeks later (which if this was an abib year with the corrective 13th month), would be right at Pentecost! Remember, Yahweh came down to Mt. Sinai on Pentecost. Interesting? Check it out for yourself.

tryagain said...

Second, the year of Jesus birth. Josephus is a nice read but not always accurate. So let's put the Bible first and the historian second. Luke gives us two reference points for Jesus birth. It's as if he wanted us to know exactly when this happened. The first is when Quirinius was governor of Syria (3-2 BC) and the second was in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Cesar's rule or 28-29 AD when Jesus would be just about to enter his 30th year. So 2 BC looks like where Luke pegs the nativity. Therefore, we should have another look at Herod's death. Here's an explanation from http://www.scripturescholar.com/Jesus2YearMinistry.htm "Herod died after an eclipse of the moon and Jesus was born before Herod died. The eclipse that occurred in March 4 B.C. was a minor partial eclipse only visible from two to four AM. Only a small number of people noticed this eclipse. There was a partial eclipse in which more than half the moon was obscured that was visible for two hours from the time the moon became visible about twenty minutes after sunset on December 29, 1 B.C. Since Herod died after a lunar eclipse, which occurred a month or more before the Passover, this eclipse more closely fits the data regarding the time of the birth of Jesus."
Another historian remarks about Herod killing the Jews in 1 B.C.just before that moon and Josephus says Gaius Cesar was in Rome after Herod's death and Gaius wasn't there until 1AD.
So, why are the reigns of his sons antedated to 4 BC? Because Herod was old and very sick (and murderous) and his sons were actually administrating from 4BC.

It appears the 3-2 BC conjunctions are a credible possibility with Jesus being conceived in the fall feast and being born at Pentecost.

Blessings in your work.