The Star of Bethlehem (Matt. 2:1–12) has long captured the imagination of many even while it has stirred debate. Was it a conjunction of planets? An exploding star (supernova)? An angel? Or could it have been just an ordinary star? I recently corresponded with Colin Nicholl (PhD, University of Cambridge) about his latest work, The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem. As the title suggests, Nicholl argues that the Star was actually a comet that led the Magi to baby Jesus.
In this interview we learn how the Bible and science are not in tension, why knowing what the Star of Bethlehem practically matters, whether we should put comets atop our Christmas trees, and more.
Why are you convinced that the Star of Bethlehem was a comet? Could it not have been an ordinary star?
It's important to rehearse briefly what we know about the Star.
First, it appeared suddenly and remained visible for over a year — that indicates that it wasn’t an ordinary star, a meteor, or a planet like Jupiter, but rather was a supernova or a large comet like Hale-Bopp (1996–1997).