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Unique book on the The star of Bethlehem

16 November 2015
Cover The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi

Brill and the University of Groningen are proud to present the publication of The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Experts on the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman World and Modern Astronomy. This book, edited by Peter Barthel and George van Kooten is the fruit of the first ever interdisciplinary international scientific conference on the biblical story of the Magi and the Star of Bethlehem.

The conference, held in 2014 at the University of Groningen, was attended by world-leading specialists in astronomy, the history of science, the ancient near-eastern and Greco-Roman worlds, and religion. Intended both for academics and interested general readers, The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi describes intwenty chapters the various aspects of the Star of Bethlehem: the history of its interpretation, ancient near-eastern astronomy, astrology and the Magi, astrology in the Greco-Roman and Jewish worlds, and the early Christian world. An epilogue summarizes the fact-fiction balance of the most famous star that has ever shone.

Full spectrum of academic views and arguments

Peter Barthel (Faculty of Science and Engineering, Astronomy Department) and George van Kooten (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies) highlight its importance: 'This first scholarly, interdisciplinary discussion of the Star of Bethlehem has resulted in an exciting and fresh presentation of facts, ideas and opinions on this enduring subject of interest. The book encompasses a full spectrum of academic views and arguments, ranging from those who are completely skeptical of all elements of the biblical story to those who maintain that Matthew’s narrative of the Star of Bethlehem is based upon underlying historical and astronomical facts. The differing views provide the starting points for further study and vigorous debate.'

The book was applauded by Silke Ackermann, Director of the Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford, who also attended the conference: “The conference has for the first time ever asked experts in very different fields to answer the same four questions about the Star, namely ‘What?’, ‘When?’, ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ The learned, surprising, thought-provoking answers in this fascinating book are a must-read for anybody interested in a phenomenon that has influenced our culture like few others.”

The conference was generously sponsored by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA), the Leiden Kerkhoven Bosscha Fund, and the University of Groningen.

Last modified:17 June 2019 10.34 a.m.
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