The Stars of Bethlehem: A Scribe Who Studied the Kingdom of Heaven by Kenneth Beckmann
Now in the Kindle Library at Amazon.com
The Stars of Bethlehem: A Scribe Who Studied the Kingdom of Heaven serves as a primer or introduction to a series dedicated to the Star of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12, 16-18). The primer provides a portal or pathway to an anthology of topics associated with the Star of Bethlehem and the visit of the Magi. The literary form, a New Testament Midrash, was written by a Greek speaking, Jewish-Christian who was alarmed about the over reach of astrology and star worship in a small religious community of whom he was a member. The author was quite familiar with astronomical and astrological concepts of his day!
This primer uncovers multiple stars which the author referred to as the Star based on three observations left within the Midrash. Over the centuries, those who interpreted the meaning behind the Midrash may have assumed that the author was speaking about one Star, but a reader in Matthew's day would have recognized the author spoke about multiple stars.
A closer examination of the Greek wording of the text not only revealed multiple stars, but provided a cipher for identifying particular candidates for the Stars of Bethlehem. With knowledge of the activity in the heavens over a period of three years (7 BC to 5 BC), Beckmann was able to identify at least three sets of Stars of Bethlehem the author associated with the Star of Bethlehem.
The Midrash, set in a sub region of Asia Minor known as Antolia or “the East,” the author described the origins of the Midrash and how the author of the Gospel of Matthew utilized the Midrash to combat rumors circulating in Mesopotamia that were meant to discredit Matthew's Gospel and ultimately a newly evolving faith known as “The Way”(otherwise known as Christianity).
Besides the author's familiarity with astrology (a rudimentary form of astronomy), Matthew used astrology to draw star worshipers into the Christian community becoming converts while at the same time defending the Christian faith and upending astrology's influence on the Christian community.
This primer is one of a kind. Unlike other books which attempt to identify candidates for the Stars of Bethlehem without fully understanding the Midrash, Beckmann translates and interprets the Greek in the context in which the description of the Stars are couched before identifying potential candidates. He also carefully studied the use of words by the author which revealed how those dedicated to “The Way”sought to outwit the wise and learned, among them, the astrologers or Magi who would have read Matthew's Midrash with keen interest.
This primer also serves as an introduction to two other books, Morning Star: The Search for and the Discovery of the Stars of Bethlehem and Messages from the Kingdom of the Heavens. The Midrash also functioned as a planetarium for identifying a date and time when the Magi made their visit to Bethlehem.
The Stars of Bethlehem: A Scribe Who Studied the Kingdom of the Heavens is a must read. It offers the modern day audience an opportunity to understand the Midrash in a way never before.