[JP Edit – this is taken from Aaron’s own blog. Aaron has a special interest in the Star of Bethlehem and I am editing a book for him on the Star to come out later this year, which is an exciting prospect. It looks at naturalistic and supernaturalistic claims of the Star in Matthew’s Gospel, and finds them wanting. I will keep you updated on the progress. So far, so good.]
About two weeks ago I was contacted about participating in a conference next year at the University of Groningen. In 2014 they are celebrating their 400th anniversary so it seems appropriate it relate to something else from 1614. In that year, Johannes Kepler published his tome on chronology, arguing that Jesus was born several years earlier than was the tradition in his time (on Dec 25 in 1 BC). In that book, he also talked about the Star of Bethlehem, and this is the apparent link for this conference.
In the last few days a webpage has gone up, which you can see here, and it shows the primary idea holding the conference together, along with the guest list. And you can see, I’m there!
There are a few notable names on there, at least to me. The conference is supposed to focus on the work of Michael Molnar, as he has one of the most astrologically-informed hypotheses about the Star to date. I have had words exchanged with him before, but it has been a long while. It should be interesting to interact with him in person.
Kocku von Stuckrad has done a lot of work on astrology in the classical world, and I have used some of his research and ideas in my work. He also talks about the Star and how it may relate to triple conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn.
Willem Drees is a philosopher and editor-in-chief at Zygon, which is where I had my most scholarly article on the Star of Bethlehem published. It may be because of him that I was even invited. If so, thank you Willem. If not, thank you for at least getting my article published.
Roger Beck is the foremost expert on the Roman cult of Mithras, and I think he has the best hypothesis to date for its origins. I can see why he is invited; people have been comparing Christianity to Mithraism for a lot time, at least back to Dupuis, and there is definitely astrological symbols in the cult. Could it provide insight into the astrology of the Christmas Star? I want to hear his opinion on the subject.
There are other names here that are less familiar to me, so I will have some homework to do. For example, Teije de Jong has done work on ancient astronomical observations. A quick search shows he done work on observations of Venus. I would be interested to see what he has to say related to that, especially since I think the motions of Venus can explain some details about Inanna/Ishtar. Rob van Gent is best known to me as the compiler of the online bibliography of Star of Bethlehem literature (see here). Plenty to read, plenty to read.
The conference is set for late October of next year. By then I should have my book on the Star of Bethlehem published, and perhaps another, academic volume on the subject as well (finger’s crossed). And since I hope to have my PhD by the end of this year (my thesis defense will probably be this August (!)), I won’t be the only person there without a fancy title. There is also the plan to having papers from the conference published in a volume through Brill. You all know you want a copy–well, Brill books tend to be expensive, so we’ll see about that.
I’m really looking forward to this, and hopefully I can do enough to prepare for it, not to mention have meaningful, scholarly engagements with some fascinating individuals.