The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of the brilliant, guiding star that led the magi from the east to Bethlehem, where they showered the infant Jesus with gifts. Hovering above the “place where the child was,” the star acted as a steady beacon for the travelers. But stars—even bright ones—don’t shine with such a precise beam. Although this star defies our modern, scientific ideas, it has much in common with the ancient understanding of another type of heavenly being that served as a guide. In “What Was the Star that Guided the Magi?” Dale C. Allison, Jr., examines how ancients would have interpreted and understood the star of Bethlehem.
Allison, a specialist in New Testament and early Christianity, is a research fellow at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. Author of The New Moses: A Matthean Typology (Fortress, 1993), Allison received his Ph.D. in biblical studies from Duke University. His article on “The Baptism of Jesus and a New Dead Sea Scroll,” BAR 18:02, appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review, BR’s companion magazine.