The Star of the Magi - The Mystery that Heralded the Coming of Christ
by Courtney Roberts
New Page Books
, 2007; ISBN 978-1564149626, 223 pages. £7.25/$14.99
Reviewed by Garry Phillipson
One unfortunate consequence of astrology's fall from academic respectability was that historians grew increasingly ill-equipped to decipher any events in their purview which involved astral lore. It might be hoped that astrology's recent incursions into academia would start to improve matters, and I see this book as an excellent sign that this is indeed starting to happen.
Let's be frank: a natural concern when a book has such a title is, whether it's going to turn out to be a rant in support of some more or less crackpot theory. Absolutely not, in this case. The book is undogmatic in the extreme, and the argument is supported throughout by reference to the subject's literature with both ancient source material and modern academic analysis being brought to life by an understanding of the astrological undercurrents.
The range of the book is huge, stretching from Cyrus the Great of Persia restoring Jerusalem to the Jews in 538BCE (p.34) to the theory of Kepler that the 'star of the Magi' was in fact a triple conjunction (p.112). Everything is here, from the historical background which explains how and why some astrologers following a star made it into the Bible in the first place, to the attempts people have since made to understand what exactly that star was all about and what its message for us might be.
The Star of the Magi brings an excellent range of astrological, historical and scriptural scholarship to bear on the task of understanding the significance of the star of Bethlehem. The book sheds much light on our history and on Christian belief, all from a basis of solid research. Roberts' quest to get to the real story makes this a gripping journey into Christian mysteries; The Da Vinci Code for grown-ups.