Friday, 28 January 2011

Another bad astronomy story

This follows the 'bad astronomy' story in the Telegraph last week, that Betelgeuse could explode any moment now (ie in the next million years or so).

The Daily Mail has this wonderful headline:

Asteroid the size of the Titanic caused giant crater on Jupiter spotted by amateur astrologer

All together now, "An astronomer studies the stars, an astrologer ... well, doesn't."

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  1. "All together now, "An astronomer studies the stars, an astrologer ... well, doesn't.""

    So, what were the Magi?

    Mark B.

  2. They were fictional.

  3. The magi were Gentile forerunners of the influx of the nations anticipated at the end of Matthew's gospel. (Cf Dt 4:19, perhaps.)

  4. PS the important point is that the Magi were not journalists who ought to know the contemporary difference between -nomer and -loger.

  5. John, your expectations of journalists exceeds mine.

    Mark B.

  6. They never existed.
    Cf Ps 72: 10,11. Typical Matthew midrash.

  7. Unsigned Anon:

    In two posts you have failed to provide any evidence for your claim that the Magi never existed. Where does it originate?


  8. Dan, (though if you’ll forgive me for saying so ‘Dan’ is no more than an anonymous cipher), you ask me for evidence that the magi did not exist. My last post was the evidence – Cf Ps 72: 10,11. Typical Matthew midrash.
    I expect you need me to explain it.
    The magi (and the associated massacre of the innocents) do not exist in any other gospel. Luke, who has the only other infancy narrative, does not mention any of this. It’s unbelievable that if these things had happened they would not have been advanced as evidence by the contemporary supporters of Jesus. The silence surrounding them is astonishing.
    Matthew, throughout his gospel, takes OT passages which he feels illuminate the ministry and person of Jesus and he elaborates them into historical events. They’re sorts of encouraging sermons and within the rabbinic tradition of the time. He isn’t trying to deceive, he’s using a formula that the original audience would have recognised. We don’t and it sounds like factual reporting to us.
    The magi only existed in Matthew’s evangelical imagination.

  9. Thank you John. But to paraphrase -

    "Feed not the trolls according to their folly...
    "Feed the trolls according to their folly...."

    Anyway to the other chap (wish you'd at least give a name to address you by!) -

    I did look up Psalm 72:10,11 - well, I knew roughly what it said anyway - and I'd always seen it as a very general, long-term Messianic prophecy of whose total fulfilment the magi were only a very small firstfruits taster. Cf. Isaiah 60 of course.el

    How strange to accuse Matthew of midrash when he himself records Jesus' attack on "the traditions of the elders" which gave rise to that sort of thing!

    Yes, you do have some explaining to do ;)

    This post would be very, very long if it listed every event, saying and deed of Jesus' life that's mentioned in just one gospel. The frequency of the phenomenon makes each occurrence quite unremarkable and useless for the argument you seek to draw from it.

    Moreover you say, "It’s unbelievable that if these things had happened they would not have been advanced as evidence by the contemporary supporters of Jesus."

    Well, how do you know they didn't? Either orally or in writings now lost to us. Remember that Luke's introduction notes that others have already written up things "most surely believed among us" so why doubt that the magi story was also one of these things, right from the beginning of the church?

    Look, the magi could have come and gone without anyone else much noticing, but there's no way Matthew could have successfully invented the widespread slaughter of infants and written it up in a gospel for Aramaic-speaking (including Judean) Jews within the lifetime of people who'd remember it!

    I wonder how RC visitors to the blog will react to being told that Matthew was "evangelical"!

    Dan B.

    (Is that enough John? I don't think you're enforcing the "full name and address" rule very strictly at the moment....)

  10. Well, Dan. To take just one of your points, the massacre of the innocents is, of course, Matthew's updating of the slaughter of the firstborn of Egypt story, showing Jesus to be greater than Moses.

  11. It still looks like trolling - ie a remark designed to provoke a reaction, but where the subsequent discussion isn't taking us anywhere.

    So - I will close down comments here unless:

    1. Dan and Anonymous each post 'a statement of theological competence', ie the level to which they have currently studied theology.

    2. Dan and Anonymous each tell us what level of ministry they are involved in.

    3. Each, having done this, explains the difference their position makes to our exposition and application of Matthew.

    I note that Hill in his commentary and Carson in his each deal with this issue in a couple of paragraphs, though they take different views.

    I will need some persuading that the issue will be resolved on my blog - hence the requirements above.