Letter: Star of wonder

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The Independent Culture
Sir: What is the point of trying to explain the Star of Bethlehem by investigating contemporary astronomical events, as reported by Roger Highfield (Saturday Essay, 19 December)? The relevant passage in Matthew's Gospel, far from giving useful evidence, raises more questions than it answers.

What "magi" would come from "the east", and why would they go to Jerusalem? How could they know that a rising star belonged to "the king of the Jews", when there already was one?

Rather than search for contemporary appearances of comets or novae or conjunctions or occultations of planets, why not just put the story of the star in the same categories as the stories of the sun standing still and darkness covering the earth - not astonomy, or even astrology, but mythology?

ANNA FREEMAN

Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire

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