Sir: Astronomers should stick to astronomy; interpretation of the Bible is best left to those who understand it ("Christmas Star shines in a cosmic ballet"; Science, 28 November).
Dionysius Exiguus did not make a mistake in his calculations and Jesus probably was born in 1BC. The stories of Jesus' birth are all invented, as is any association with Herod the Great.
The Star too is an invention, probably deriving from Levi 19:3 and the Talmud, which predicted that "when the Messiah is to be revealed a star will rise in the east...". It may also echo the story of the birth of Mithras, where a star fell from the sky and was followed by Zoroastrian priests called "Magi" on their way to worship the newly born god.
Astronomers look for a celestial sign that existed only in the imagination of the evangelists.
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