What are superstitions about stars

The stars and the writing lead to the goal

By Marie-Christine Andres Schürch

  • At the beginning of the new year, horoscopes are in demand - from a church perspective, superstition.
  • But the astrologers from the Orient remind us: astrology, astronomy and religion once went hand in hand.
  • Thoughts on the astrologers in the Gospel of Matthew from theological, astronomical and astrological point of view.


«When Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea at the time of King Herod, magicians from the east came to Jerusalem and asked: Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star rise and have come to pay homage to him. " (Mt, 2,1-2)

Stern is a headache

Evangelist Matthew is the only one who mentions the star and the astrologers. So far, astronomers have been unable to conclusively explain the “Star of Bethlehem” as either a comet or a supernova. The "royal conjunction" calculated by Johannes Kepler in the 17th century, in which Jupiter and Saturn are very close to one another in the sky, does not explain the star adequately. With today's knowledge of astronomy, it is possible to calculate what the starry sky looked like at the time of Jesus' birth. Still, it remains difficult to reconcile all the details described in the Gospels.

Interpret biblical words astronomically

Based on the biblical designation of the wise men as “astrologers”, the American astrophysicist Michael Molnar came up with a different explanation for the star of Bethlehem in 2001. He interpreted it as an astrologically unique constellation. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn appeared to be lined up, and the narrow crescent of the waxing moon passed before Jupiter in the sacred constellation of Judea, the Aries.

Thoughts of the ancient people

The decisive thought came to Michael Molnar while looking at an ancient coin. This was minted between 5 and 11 AD in the Syrian city of Antioch and showed a ram turning around towards a star. The animal represented the constellation Aries, which the city, which then belonged to the Roman Empire, used as a protective symbol. An important role is played by the fact that Antioch only used this zodiac sign when Rome annexed Judea. So Judea was also under this sign. It took on a new meaning for Molnar when he thought about the profession of the wise men from the Orient. In the Greek original they are called "Magoi", which means astrologer or astrologer. Michael Molnar's conclusion was that all previous interpretations of the Star of Bethlehem are based too much on the thinking of today's astronomers. In order to understand the star phenomenon, one has to put oneself into the world of thought of people in antiquity, i.e. to interpret the biblical words astrologically. For this purpose, the astrophysicist used the work "Tetrabiblos" by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy. In this, the Greek astronomer of antiquity provides rules as to when which constellation is favorable for the birth of a king.

The King's Horoscope

Seen in this way, Jupiter as king of the planets is always a positive sign. If Saturn joins the sky, noble and good people are born. In connection with Mars, a person also becomes strong, Mercury promotes pious and philosophical characters, Venus stands for those who love God. If the sun and moon are added, "those who are created will be kings," writes Ptolemy. The closer the heavenly bodies were to each other, the stronger the effect of the respective constellation should be. It was considered maximum when one touched and covered the other. Even a meeting of these planets is rare. But if it still happens in the constellation of Judea, the Aries, then the astrologers of the time must have seen the unmistakable sign of the birth of the new king of the Jews, whom a prophecy described in the Old Testament had prophesied for the people of Israel (Mos 4: 4; Mic 5.1).

Matthew’s intention

Finding a consistent theory is probably not even possible, says Thomas Markus Meier, longstanding adult educator of the Catholic Church in Aargau. The historically experienced theologian does not consider it necessary to explain the descriptions in the Bible plausibly. Because it is not the intention of Scripture to give us an exact historical picture. Thomas Markus Meier suspects that Matthew mentioned the star with a specific intention: The message of Jesus not only spread among the Jews, but also quickly reached many pagans. It could be that Matthew wanted to make this fact clear by having pagan astrologers come to the manger. Or, by mentioning the star, Matthew takes up the prophecy of Balaam in the Book of Numbers, which reads: "A star rises in Jacob, a scepter rises in Israel." According to Thomas Markus Meier, this reference is often overlooked.

The view of the sky

The German standard translation states in a footnote: "The Greek word 'magoi' translated with 'astrologer' initially referred to the members of a Persian caste of priests who dealt with astronomy and astrology, then Babylonian and other astrologers in general." From this explanation it can be concluded that astronomy and astrology formed a common science. At the beginning of both was the view of the sky.

The natal chart

Over the centuries, astronomy and astrology diverged. While astronomers penetrate further and further into the universe, astrologers traditionally concentrate on a few celestial bodies. The astrologer Monica Kissling writes on her website that a seriously created natal chart allows a differentiated analysis of personality and life's work. Critics are bothered by the fact that the natal chart depends entirely on the place of birth and the time of birth. With today's obstetrics options, the time of birth can be influenced in any way. Markus Eicher is an astrologer in Lenzburg and advises companies and private individuals. In response to the criticism of the natal chart, he replies: “As an astrologer, I am inclined to say that a child is born exactly as it was planned and created by a higher power. A conscious control of a birth is already included in the plan of the unborn child. " In this respect, from an astrological point of view, no objection can be made against the initiation of a birth, because doctors and midwives are to be regarded as "seconds" of the superordinate plan of an unborn child, explains the astrologer.

Astrology or god?

Gerhard Voss, the Benedictine who died in 2013, was one of the few Catholic theologians in Germany who studied astrology and horoscopes intensively. He did admit: «To place the hope more on astrological assessments of fate than on the one true God is, according to the Christian understanding, superstition, a violation of the First Commandment. [...] Those who live by faith stand above the stars. ", But also emphasized:" The loss of astrological wisdom signals a loss of the cosmic dimension of the Christian message. "

It takes both

Using the example of the wise men from the East, Thomas Markus Meier illustrates that several components are required. In order to get to Jesus, the magicians had to watch their surroundings carefully. However, they only came with the star to Jerusalem, to King Herod. He called the scribes to come. They quoted the prophecy from the Old Testament, “You, Bethlehem in the area of ​​Judah, are by no means the least important of the leading cities of Judah; for a prince will emerge from you, the shepherd of my people Israel. " (Mt 2,6) Only the interplay of astronomy, astrology and the Holy Scriptures brought the wise men to Jesus.

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