History, Astrology
Martin Wells, Bethlehem, History, Astrology

The Messianic Star

New Light on the Star of Bethlehem
Studies in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, Vol. 13

by Martin Wells

ISBN: 978-1-907767-12-8
16 December 2022
£24.99 | $39.99
Paperback; 300 pages

The Star of Bethlehem, the great portent of Christ’s birth in the Gospel of Matthew, has been central to Christian imagery for two thousand years. It is still a popular feature of the modern Christmas card. The star was originally seen as a miracle, sent by God to announce the birth of His son. Since the seventeenth century astronomers have speculated that the star was some astronomical events, such as a planetary conjunction or a comet, or that it possessed astrological significance. In this ground-breaking book Martin Wells shows that these claims are all unjustified. By going back to the original texts Wells argues that we should understand the Star as an imaginative story intended to legitimise Christ’s role as the new Messiah, a story which resonates powerfully down to the present day.


Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Matthew’s Gospel Matthew, Luke and the Synoptic Problem
Chapter 2: The Nativity and Infancy Narratives
Chapter 3: Words and Their Meanings
Chapter 4: Jewish and Early Christian Responses to Astrology
Chapter 5: Astral Fate in the Pagan World
Chapter 6: The Astrological Hypothesis
Chapter 7: Interpreting the Star in the Age of Science
Chapter 8: Major Exponents of the Conjunction Theory
Chapter 9: Current State of the Astrological Hypothesis in Biblical Studies
Chapter 10: The Star as a Comet
Chapter 11: The Star as a Nova
Chapter 12: The Star as a Meteor
Chapter 13: The Star as Venus, the Morning Star
Chapter 14: Portents and Signs
Chapter 15: The Form of the Matthean Infancy Narrative
Chapter 16: Matthew and the Narrative Pattern of Legendary Birth Motifs
Chapter17: Birth Narratives in Biblical Literature
Chapter 18: Pre-Matthean Narrative and Matthean Redaction
Chapter 19: The Messianic Star: the ‘Star out of Jacob’
Chapter 20: The Messiah-King

Appendix I: Table of Folk Motifs Pertaining to Birth
Appendix II: Magi: ‘Process of Improvement’
Appendix III: Visual Chronology of Matthew & Luke 1‒2



Martin Wells began his love of history at an early age. Fascinated by mysteries of the ancient world he went on to study Biblical history at Saint David’s University College, where he achieved his BA (Hons) focusing on Orthodoxy and Heresy in the Early Church in Religious Studies in 1994. Further enthused by the subject, Martin went on to examine the Star of Bethlehem and the Infancy Narratives, completing his Doctoral Thesis in 2009.

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