Astrologers don’t want to be collectively thought of as the Grinch who stole Christmas, but evidence from both Biblical and historical sources – and a star map of the ancient sky — suggest Jesus was born much earlier in the year, most likely in late May with the sun in the astrological sign of Gemini.
Astrologer Christine Arens says historians impressively argue against the December 25 date, when Christ’s birth is traditionally celebrated by Christians around the world. A more likely date is May 29, 7 BC, she maintains.
According to History.com, the true date of Christ’s birth wasn’t known to early Christians. In the 4th Century AD, the Roman Catholic Church established the Christmas holidays in December near the winter solstice in order to blend in with pagan Saturnalia festivals observed in Rome and elsewhere in Europe.
Historical records are sparse, but Arens says Scripture provides some important timing clues. For example, Scripture describes the appearance of angels heralding the birth of Jesus to shepherds who were watching their flocks by night.
“The sheep indigenous to this region have their mating season from October to December. With a five month gestation period, all of the new lambs would have been born by late May and the shepherds would be in the fields watching their flocks by night to make certain none of the newcomers went astray.
“What this gives us is a birth date for Jesus sometime in late spring.” she says, adding:
“The Roman historian Flavius Josephus writes about the illness and death of Herod, which occurred while a lunar eclipse was visible in Judea on March 13, 3 BC. Since the Bible tells us Herod was very much alive when Jesus was born His birth had to be prior to this date.”
An additional clue from the Bible: at the time of Christ’s birth Mary and Joseph had traveled to Bethlehem to register for their taxes. From ancient Roman records we know that three such calls for taxes were sent from Rome – in 28 BC, 8 BC and 14 AD.
“The 28 BC date is probably too early and the 14 AD date is obviously too late. Most likely, the 8 BC tax call is the one Scripture refers to,” Arens said.
Using modern computers astrologers can swiftly create a star map that shows the heavens exactly the way they would have looked to ancient astrologers more than 2000 years ago. From an astrological perspective, 8 BC was not an especially eventful year but the following year, 7 BC, was.
“Given the distances and communications challenges involved, it’s likely that most Jews would have registered for taxes in the year following the call, or in 7 BC when the heavens better explained the events unfolding,” she said.
Every Christian knows the story of the three Wise Men who followed a star to Christ’s birthplace. It’s likely these Wise Men, or Magi, were astrologer priests from the star cult of Zoroastrianism, a religious sect found in ancient Persia and Arabia that still exists today.
Arens believes the star the Magi followed was not an astronomical phenomenon like a meteor shower, a comet or nova as none were recorded during this period. More likely, the Magi were anticipating an extremely rare coinciding of two naturally occurring astronomical cycles: a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction (which only occurs every 20 years) on the same day as a new moon (moon-sun conjunction).
A conjunction occurs when planets line up in the same zodiacal degree. After observing a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in December, 1603, astrologer Johannes Kepler proposed that the Christmas Star may actually have been a conjunction of these two planets. Arens agrees.
“When the planets involved in the conjunction are the two largest gas giants in the solar system they can light up the night sky spectacularly. This is what Kepler observed in 1603 and what ancient astrologers viewed in 7 BC,” she points out.
Arens says archeological evidence confirms the ancient Magi astrologers were competent mathematicians and astronomers who understood the Saros cycle, which identifies the positions of new moons and eclipses and how these positions regularly repeat themselves. The Magi astrologers would have realized that Jerusalem – and the little town of Bethlehem nearby – was the only major urban area in the known world where both the sun and moon would be rising exactly together on the Eastern horizon.
This, she explains, is why the Magi traveled to Jerusalem.
“The ancient astrologers would have considered the coinciding of these two cycles to be an event of major significance. Two Roman emperors who claimed to be “divine” said they were born exactly at sunrise. A new moon sunrise birth would be even more significant.
“With the new moon on Jerusalem’s Eastern horizon it would be seen as bringing the power of the heavens to the physical world of the earth,” she says.
This fixes the time for Christ’s birth on May 29, 7 BC at 5:36 a.m. with the sun, moon and the sign rising on the eastern horizon all at 4 degrees of Gemini. Jupiter and Saturn would be conjoined high up in the eastern sky (the Star in the “East”) at 20 degrees of Pisces.
“Although maybe not the earthly king the Magi were reportedly looking for, with this combination Christ was born to be a great leader – a spiritual teacher and healer – who was destined to serve mankind,” Arens concludes.
Editor’s note: Christine Arens and a professional astronomer will present contrasting views on the Star of Bethlehem during a radio podcast set for Thursday, December 12 at 7 p.m. EST (4 p.m. PST) on www.paramaniaradio.com For astrologers, Arens will lead a serious (technical) Kepler College webinar on the subject on December 14 at 4 p.m. EST (1 p.m. PST). at www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/events-kepler/webinars. Both programs can be downloaded for at least two weeks following the given dates.