The Star of Bethlehem/in the East, Three Wise Men/Kings, Sirius and Orion
Robert Tulip wrote:
Richard Carrier wrote:
"...every Jesus mythicist who attempts to make an astrotheological argument for the origins of Christianity and (especially) the construction of the Gospels is just engaging in a Rorschach inkblot test ... That doesn't mean astrotheological theories are necessarily false. But it does mean none can be proved even probable on present evidence, so the whole attempt should be abandoned."
This error is widespread, and easily refuted, for those with ears to hear. The sun is the light of the world, and Jesus is allegory for the sun. This is simple and obvious unless you are blinded by irrational prejudice....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rorschach_test
explains the origin and use of the inkblot as a way of diagnosing mental illness. Carrier appears to be insinuating, in his typical insulting arrogance, that you have to be mentally ill to investigate the hypothesis that the ancients encoded stellar imagery in their myths, even though this hypothesis is abundantly scientific. He seems to have such an emotional aversion to this whole area of study that he seems to be afraid of getting infected if he takes any interest in ancient cosmology, so he dismisses the whole topic with irrational fear...
As our dear Robert - who, as opposed to the irrational, fearful and lazy critics, actually is erudite about this subject - has analyzed so well, this dismissal is absolutely ludicrous and born out of bigotry, cultishness and other mental problems, apparently.
I've been reading the wonderful book by a REAL, professional astronomer, Dr. Edwin C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, called Beyond the Blue Horizon: Myths & Legends of the Sun, Moon, Stars & Planets
. I include several quotes here to demonstrate that, not only are these critics completely wrong about the subject of ancient religion in general - having not studied it at all, apparently, before dishonestly pretending to be "experts - but they are also way off base when it comes to this particular subject of the "star in the east," Sirius and Orion
. Of course, we already knew that fact, because they obviously are too lazy to read my 12-page chapter in Christ in Egypt
about the same subject, which provides texts from antiquity, such as the Egyptian. As we can see from the Krupp quotes below, the disingenuous critics are far out of their league and should be ignored and their erroneous opinions themselves abandoned.
While many books pretending to be "exhaustive" and "definitive" ignore the core Sirius-Orion mythology, Dr. Krupp discussed both stellar subjects extensively, demonstrating the theme of the three stars pointing to the bright star, indicating the "birth of the savior" at the horizon, both a solar motif and the annual flooding of the Nile.
The image above is a photograph from Krupp's book (206), showing the three stars in Orion's belt, pointing to the rising of Sirius on the horizon. The caption by Krupp reads:
After the big Dipper, Orion the Hunter is probably the most recognized pattern of stars. The three stars of its belt point upward from the center of the photograph. Close to the dawn glow on the eastern horizon, Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, has just risen.
As we can see, the stars are lined up fairly straight and strikingly indicate the brightest star, highly noticeable, especially to the ancient stargazers. As I discuss in Christ in Egypt
—quoting professional Egyptologist
Dr. James P. Allen, for one—in Egyptian mythology, Sirius or Sothis was viewed as the herald of the coming messiah, Osiris, the Nile's water flooding its banks and bringing with it the renewal of the harvest along it. Without this annual flood, which took place in late June, around the solstice, the Egyptians could expect crop failure and famine. Hence, one can fathom why this event was so important and why it was considered a time of salvation. The "star in the east" was noticed also to herald the rising sun at the horizon, another extremely important messianic figure who was likewise represented by Osiris, as his son Horus, born again in the dawn—again, the documentation for these contentions can be found in CIE
.Rising Heliacally in the East
The association of Orion with the dawn is also important and can be found in ancient mythology as well, leading to the notion of the three stars pointing to the place where the solar savior would be "born" in the morning. In this regard, Krupp (27-28) states:
Stars like Sirius, the sky's brightest star, also died when they disappeared in the daytime sky, but they were reborn when they reappeared again in the twilight before sunrise....
For the Egyptians, cosmic order was also visible in the return of the goddess Isis as the star Sirius to the predawn sky. At about the same time of year, the Nile, no longer bound to its banks, flooded and refertilized the land. Every year Sirius put in an appearance in the right place at the right time, and the Nile made life possible in Egypt for another year.
Krupp's words could not be clearer, and they confirm completely what I asserted in CIE
Speaking of a myth in an ancient Greek text called the Katasterismoi
(also discussed and quoted in CIE) about Orion becoming blind and then having his sight restored through "communion" with the sun god Helios, Krupp (214) comments:
The references to Orion, the sun and the direction east alert us to the possibility of astronomical coding in the myth. Orion faces east when it is setting in the west, and it is only by going west that Orion can get to the east. The constellation's last evening appearance in the west marks the beginning of its period of conjunction with the sun. After this "communion" with the sun, Orion rises in the dawn, and that heliacal rising in the east was, perhaps, what was meant by Orion "regaining his sight."Death and Rebirth/Resurrection
Orion's heliacal rising may also be symbolized in the Odyssey, where Homer alludes to the fact that the goddess Eos ("the Dawn") marries Orion….
Krupp (214) recounts that the Hunter is carried off to the island of Delos, home of the god Apollo, who, contra
Krupp, is a sun god as well:
From Delos, Apollo's home turf, the sun was said to rise each day. It was after his arrival in Delos, according to Apollodorus, that Orion died.Tammuz
Orion, then, is with the dawn in the place where the sun rises, but his death on Delos doesn't really make sense unless there is something else going on. Orion's transformation into stars and placement in the sky was one kind of death, but another may be intended here. The dawn does enjoy Orion's company from the time of his heliacal rising in summer until the first time he sets at dawn in winter. After that Orion sets before the dawn can join him. Those trips below the horizon that take place during the time Orion is never seen with Eos may signify his death, for as he descends, the Scorpion rises. Orion, then, remains "dead" until he can rejoin the dawn in the east. The Greeks didn't tell us if this is what they had in mind, but Orion, more than anything else, is a constellation in the sky. References to Delos, Helios, Eos, Scorpius and the Pleiades in his myths strongly suggest they carried astronomical messages.
Krupp then describes Orion in detail, noting that the three stars in his belt are called Mintaka, Alnilam and Alnitak, after the Arabic designations. He next states (214):
The Sumerian name for the constellation of Orion was Siba-Zi-An-Na, the "True Shepherd of the Sky," and he seems, in Mesopotamia, to have been the immortal spirit of the deceased Tammuz.
Here we are reminded that the dying-and-rising, Sumero-Babylonian solar-fertility god Dumuzi/Tammuz was mourned by the Jews at Ezekiel 8:14 and that a Hebrew summer month is named after him. Tammuz also was the Semitic wine god of the spring and the autumnal harvest festival. Tammuz's death in the fall and resurrection in the spring are elements of his astrotheological nature, as well as the fact that the concept of death and resurrection of the deity was known long before the supposed advent of Jesus Christ. Here Tammuz represents the placing underground of wine to age, while his resurrection is the opening of the underground wine "tomb," as was the case with the Dionysian spring festivals.The Three Kings
Krupp (216) continues his analysis of Orion by discussing the many names of the three stars in his belt, called by the ancient Germans, for example, the "Three Reapers," while some Siberians perceived them as three stags. The pre-Christian Maya called the belt "Three-in-Line," while, after the Spaniards arrived, they referred to the stars as the "Three Kings" (Tres Reyes) and "Three Marys" (Tres Marias). This fact demonstrates that it was Christians themselves who labeled Orion's belt the "Three Kings,"
evidently reflecting knowledge of the motif of the three stars pointing to the brightest star, Sirius, which in turn led to the "birth" of the solar messiah. It appears some Christian(s) in antiquity was privy to this knowledge of the astronomical allegory
in the gospel tale; hence, identifying it quite bluntly by calling Orion's belt the "Three Kings" and associating it plainly with the magi bearing the three gifts. Therefore, it is not moderns who are making this association but ancients within their own context. Krupp's description here of Orion, Sirius and the sun on the horizon confirms completely this logical and scientific association. According to the irrational, censorial and ignorant critics, we are supposed to "abandon" this information, thus making us equally ignorant. Directional Arrow Heralding the Bright Star
Krupp also discusses the Hindu mythology depicting Orion's belt as an arrow shot at the supreme god Brahma Prajapati, who was trying to mate with his daughter, the Dawn. While the god changed himself into a buck, she became a deer, Rohit. The other deities found this incest intolerable and so shot Prajapati, stopping him. Rohit, Krupp clarifies, is the star Rohini or Aldebaran, in the constellation of Taurus the Bull. It should be recalled that Rohini accompanies Krishna's birth
, as his
"star in the east."
Krupp next remarks (216):
This makes good celestial sense, for in one direction the Belt of Orion points toward Aldebaran, and in the other it points toward Sirius.
Here we see that Orion's "arrow" is used clearly as a marker, like the magi following the star in the gospel story, symbolizing those who lead to the place of the savior's birth.
Speaking of the sky's brightest star, which points to the sun's place of "birth," Krupp (217-218) remarks:
In ancient Egypt, Sirius played the lead role in establishing the hours, mobilizing the calendar and charting the sky. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, and the Egyptians gave it credit for bringing the Nile to flood. They saw Sirius rising in the dawn at about the time of the Nile's inundation. The Nile's annual flood was important enough to prompt them to start the year with it. That is why they calibrated with Sirius and tied its first appearance in the dawn to the New Year. Egypt, it was said, is the gift of the Nile, but the Nile, as far as the Egyptians were concerned, was the gift of Sirius.
Thus, the star Sirius heralded the Nile's annual flooding, and Osiris was the embodiment of the Nile's water, overflowing its banks and creating the much-needed fertility for the crops to grow and feed Egypt. It is in this regard that the bright star was said to point to the time and place where the savior was born.
Krupp also discusses depictions of the bright star in Egyptian iconography, such as in the Dendera temple, constructed in the centuries before the common era, thus available for the later creators of the gospel story. Says he (218-219):
Sirius, then, was seen by the faithful on the roof at Dendera above the disk of the sun. She runs before the sun and so sits in the front of his boat.
"Her rays unite with the rays of the luminous god on that beautiful day of the birth of the sun disk on the morning of the new year's feast."
As the sun comes up, Sirius melts into the sunlight. Her rays "unite" with his.
Sirius here is the "stellar goddess" Isis, who "coaxes the Nile out of his subterranean womb," the Nile in the relevant imagery depicted by the god Hapi. This imagery dates from the Greco-Roman period, also available to the gospel writers.
The role of Isis as Sirius is explicated by Krupp (219):
The fertilizing power that fortified the flooding waters of the Nile belonged to the god Osiris, and Isis was his consort. As the star Sirius, Isis was "the mistress of the year's beginning" who "entices the Nile out of its source hole to provide life to living people." Another text from Dendera says she "causes the Nile to swell at the time when she shines at the beginning of the year." Osiris was the Nile River, and the handiwork of his talented wife stimulated him to rise and fertilize the land.
Osiris was also the moon, and he died in the last harvest's fallen grain, only to be reborn in the next season's growing crop. Osiris was never one thing: one of his titles made him "Lord of Everything." He personified a process, and that process seemed to make the world jump through its hoops. Osiris was born. He grew. He died. And he was reborn. Anything that goes through that cycle—and in the minds of the Egyptians nearly everything did—is Osiris: the land, the river, the moon, the sun, the plants, the animals, the power of the pharaoh, the souls of the dead…and the stars.
In the night sky, the Egyptians saw Osiris in the stars of Orion. They called him Sah in that form… Portraits of Osiris as the constellation Orion sometimes show him as a mummy in a celestial boat… He is looking back at Sirius… In the sky, Orion does take the lead and so can be imagined to turn his head back toward his faithful wife.
Orion and Sirius performed in the sky the way Osiris and Isis performed in the myth….
According to certain people, we should "abandon" all this knowledge and go stumbling blindly along! These pithy paragraphs from a professional astronomer
prove our points about astrotheology quite abundantly.
Krupp's caption on the image above is:
As the goddess Isis, Sirius sails in her celestial boat upon the ceiling (or "sky") of the burial chamber of the tomb of the pharaoh Sety I. Orion, depicted to the right as Osiris in his own boat, leads Sirius across this sepulchral heaven just as Orion precedes Sirius in the real sky.Star in the East
In discussing the myth of Osiris being killed and searched for by Isis, his body "found in the marshes by Set and cut up like the waning moon," Krupp (219-220) remarks that "in this part of the story he is like the stars of Orion." He next states of Osiris/Orion:
He sails from east to west each night and dies on the western horizon. Sirius trails him and disappears there herself.
We know the Egyptians saw this process as a daily birth and death of the star. It is a consequence of the earth's rotation, and a passage in the Papyrus Carlsberg I, a cosmological text written in the second century A.D., describes the appearance of a star in the east as birth from the goddess Nut, who represents the sky…
Although this document comes very late in Egyptian history, it repeats and paraphrases ideas that are much older, at least as old as the reign of the pharaoh Sety I (ruled 1291-1278 b.c.). The idea of stellar rebirth can, in fact, be traced all the way back to the Old Kingdom's Dynasty V (2498-2345 b.c.), when the Pyramid Texts, carved into the chamber walls inside the pyramid of Unis at Saqqara, declares the soul of the deceased pharaoh to be companion of Orion, who will "ascend from the east" with him, "renewed" and "rejuvenated."
Note again the discussion of the "star in the east," which, we already know, rises heliacally or with the sun, in the east
. Notice also the words "rebirth," "renewed" and "rejuvenated," all indicating a form of death and resurrection.
Emphasizing this birth-and-death cycle, Krupp (220) comments:
Sirius and Orion also live and die seasonally. Once they become lost for good in the light of the day-time sky—and are not seen at all during the night—they are said to have died. While still "alive," Orion gradually shifts from visibility in the morning sky to visibility in the evening. He sets sooner and sooner each night until he is last seen on the western horizon after sunset. His complete disappearance from the night sky, which follows, is now another kind of death. Sirius is not far behind him, and after a couple of weeks, she, too, dies in the glare of the sun. The pair return to Egypt when they rise heliacally seventy days later. Orion appears first, and Sirius follows a couple of weeks later.
Here we see that Orion makes his appearance on the horizon first, with the three kingly stars leading the way to the bright star in the east, as they rise with the sun. This event, Krupp reminds us, occurs near the summer solstice, accompanying the melted spring runoff of the mountains that feed the Nile, causing it to flood. Again, the flood in turn is met with rejoicing and festivals of salvation for Egypt. Stellar Indicator of Salvation
To repeat, the three kingly stars lead the bright star in the east to the time and place of the savior's birth, if we consider also the solar role of Osiris/Horus/Ra/Sokar and so on, likewise rising in the east, as the sun does. This syncretistic myth was clearly on the minds of millions of Egyptians over a period of thousands of years. The myth reflects events all important to the Egyptian people's continued survival, as without the Nile's flooding, life became miserable to impossible.
This event and theme permeated Egyptian culture, and they hardly could have been missed by a literate person of the time when the Bible was written, especially since Alexandria, Egypt, was the center for learning in the Mediterranean world. There is also a tremendous amount of evidence that much of the gospel story and the texts themselves were created at Alexandia, using the famed library and university there.
The individuals who wrote the gospel story were not illiterate fishermen and peasants, or even a literate taxman, as depicted in the tale. They were cultured Greek speakers who clearly were educated, and they betray knowledge of ancient pre-Christian Jewish and pagan religion and mythology over and over again. If they were not aware of the Sirius-Orion-sun event and mythology, they could not be considered erudite, but we know that they were. It is obvious that they were emulating the Egyptian story of the star in the east, the three "wise men" and the birth of the savior, who has numerous attributes and symbolizes several entities and elements. Birth of the Savior
Continuing this theme, Krupp (220) remarks:
Beginning in its annual flood, the Nile had been aroused by Sirius and was about to conceive her child, Horus. He was the new year, the revitalized land, the next crop of young grain, and the new sun that was born on the first day of the year.
Sirius burned with intense new life when she rose heliacally, but to do so, Sirius had to die. Stars were like souls. When they disappeared into the daytime sky, they were said to have died. Heliacal rising meant stellar resurrection. All of the stars that kept the calendar and told the time in ancient Egypt were selected because they followed the same pattern of Sirius, their leader….
Once again, we see Sirius as the star in the east—as it rose with the sun, which rises in the east
—serving as the leader, pointing the way, indicating the birth of "her son," the revitalized land surrounding the Nile, deemed to be Horus. As can be seen in Christ in Egypt
, the stories of Horus and Jesus are strikingly similar, and it becomes obvious that numerous motifs from the Horus myth are incorporated in the gospel story, including this motif of the bright star in the east heralding the savior. In the case of Egypt, the savior is Osiris as well as Horus, in their capacity of solar-fertility gods, who were often syncretized to each other and other forms of Horus and Ra. Decans
Krupp (220) also discusses the 70 "decans"—Krupp's word—and their relationship to Sirius and the 70 days it disappears, as well as to the 36 decans, who also die, are purified and resurrect or are reborn periodically. These stars all appear "seventy days later from the eastern horizon in the dawn to live once more." Bird of Rebirth
Krupp (221) stresses that Sirius was so important to the ancient Egyptians that it started their new year, symbolized by the benu
"bird of creation," which also represented Venus, another dramatic entity in the predawn sky that likewise "heralded the coming of the sun." Hence, Venus too is the "star"—as ancients in many places depicted this planet—in the east that heralds the birth of the solar savior.
Speaking of a Heliopolitan myth, Krupp (221) remarks:
When the bird took wing, the newly created sun rose for the first time and brought life and light to the world. This is what Sirius does every year at heliacal rising. When it first takes wing in the morning twilight, it announces the New Year sun. that sunrise is like the first sunrise, and the star of the new year is like the beginning of time.
The salvific role of the sun and Sirius could not be clearer, and its emphasis within Egyptian religion for thousands of years could not have been more evident to the ancients of numerous cultures around the Mediterranean at the time when the gospel story was composed.
Krupp (221-222) next discusses the benu
bird and its similarities and differences with the phoenix tale, concluding that they are both astronomical and represent the "death" and "rebirth" of stars in the manner described here repeatedly. Again, a theme obviously everpresent in the minds of the ancients in many cultures, including those that gave rise to Christianity.
The salvation of Egypt depended not on a single "historical" individual but on the flooding of the Nile, directly affecting hundreds of millions of people over the millennia. This salvational flooding was heralded by Sirius, the brightest star, which rises heliacally in the east, at the precise time when the Nile overflowed its banks. Krupp (224) reiterates this savior's role in providing food and sustenance, and thus survival, for the Egyptians:
Sirius disappears from the sky after its last appearance in the west in the early evening, at about this time in mid-June. When Sirius goes, the rains come. Sirius reappears in the morning sky in July, during the season of the rain. It rises earlier each night but remains a morning star through much of the rainy season. Millet and sorghum are sown first, by mid-June. Rice follows a month later and is harvested a month before the millet.
Again, the very survival of the Egyptians depended on their observation of this brightest star, which appeared to them to be regulated and inhabited by the gods, a logical conclusion in consideration of its importance and regularity. Stellar Sacrifice
Krupp (225) also emphasizes the sacrificial aspect of the bright star/savior:
The parallel between the grain and the companion of Sirius also means that Sirius in some way participates in sacrifice. When the rains come, Sirius withdraws from the sky in a kind of sacrifice. Through such sacrifices—of the star, of the grain, or of the blood—fertility could be restored.
Here we can see the theme of the deity sacrificing itself for the salvation of humanity. Again, the literate and educated composers of the gospels simply could not have been oblivious to these important, enduring and widespread ideas that affected their daily lives.
From this extensive knowledge of ancient religion and mythology provided by a longtime and renowned professional astronomer, it should be obvious that the astrotheological and pagan roots of the Star in the East have not been refuted, debunked or rebutted in any meaningful way, shape or form.