For millennia, the star of Bethlehem has been shrouded in mystery. What was it? What prompted the magi to follow it? How did it lead them to Jesus? Drawing on cutting-edge astronomical research and key documents from antiquity, Nicholl's beautifully illustrated study explores the remarkable celestial event that took place around the time of Christ's birth. 480 pages, hardcover from Crossway.
Colin R. Nicholl (PhD, University of Cambridge) taught at the University of Cambridge and was a professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary before devoting himself to biblical research. His book From Hope to Despair in Thessalonica was published by Cambridge University Press, and his articles have appeared in publications such as The Journal of Theological Studies and The Times (London).
I am simply in awe of this book. The Great Christ Comet is an absolutely astonishing triumph of interdisciplinary scholarship so rarely seen and so tremendously illuminating as to merit bright comparison with the very celestial phenomenon it describes. Both lead us to the manger and to the Great Poet within, whose syllables are the moon and sun and stars.
New York Times best-selling author
The Great Christ Comet is a stunning book. Colin R. Nicholl develops a convincing case for what exactly the Star of Bethlehem was. The book reads like a detective novel, and while it is full of evidence, information, and argumentation, it is accessible and enjoyable to read. This work is now the definitive treatment of the subject. I highly recommend it.
-J. P. Moreland,
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
In every respect this volume is a remarkable achievement. I regard it as the most important book ever published on the Star of Bethlehem and enthusiastically commend it.
author, Cometography; Consultant, American Meteor Society
The most comprehensive interdisciplinary synthesis of biblical and astronomical data yet produced. It is a remarkable feat that a biblical scholar has been able to master the scientific data at such a level of erudition. No discussion of the historicity of the Star of Bethlehem can afford to ignore this book.
Senior Lecturer in New Testament, University of Cambridge
In this erudite, engrossing, and compelling book, Colin R. Nicholl painstakingly develops a new solution for the enduring mystery of the Star of Bethlehem, bringing together the biblical story and ancient descriptions of the sky with modern understandings of astronomy. Nicholl's argument - that the celestial visitor was actually a phenomenal comet that passed perilously close by Earth in 6 BC - is certain to be discussed and debated for years to come.
Visiting Astronomer, Armagh Observatory; Visiting Professor, University of Buckingham
This is an amazing study. It reads like an absorbing detective story. Nicholl starts with a detailed reading of Matthew's account of the visit of the Magi. He makes the case, based on ancient and modern astronomy, that the star of Bethlehem was a great comet whose behavior in the sky would have been interpreted by ancient astrologers as announcing the birth of a Jewish Messiah. The depth and breadth of learning that Nicholl displays is prodigious and persuasive, and all future studies will have to take its proposals most seriously.
Adjunct Professor of Old Testament, Trinity College, Bristol
This is an outstanding book, quite breathtaking in the range of its scholarship, yet a page-turner in terms of its accessibility. Colin R. Nicholl is eminently followable, using detective skills to assess the biblical, historical, and astronomical evidence that lead him to conclude that the 'star' of Bethlehem was a comet. A real tour de force that I recommend unreservedly to a broad readership.
Professor of Mathematics, University of Oxford
Readers of this book will learn a lot of astronomy, history, and theology. Nicholl has produced a remarkable and fascinating book that combines the best of recent scientific scholarship with the best biblical scholarship. The Great Christ Comet is a model of the integration of science and Scripture, and presents a tightly reasoned and highly plausible argument that the Star was a comet. A terrific read!
-Donald A. Hagner,
George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary
Nicholl breaks important new ground in the quest for the historical Star of Bethlehem. Not only does he develop a formidable case for identifying the Star as a great comet; he also proposes a fresh explanation as to what it may have done to so impress the Magi. Nicholl has a clear understanding of the relevant areas of modern astronomy, and especially of the nature, evolution, and orbital dynamics of comets as currently understood. This work will be of great interest to astronomers, theologians, historians of science, and the general public, and will hopefully stimulate important new lines of scientific enquiry.
Director, Armagh Observatory; coauthor, The Origin of Comets
The Great Christ Comet is a significant new contribution to the long-running debate over the nature of the Star of Bethlehem. One of the book's many strengths is its critique of earlier, widely discussed hypotheses proposed to explain the Star. The book also explains the relevant astronomy very clearly at a level the general reader should have no trouble following. The case Nicholl makes for the Star being a great comet is certainly worthy of serious consideration.
Department of Astronomy, University of California at Santa Cruz
It is a real pleasure to commend The Great Christ Comet to everyone who has ever wondered what could possibly account for the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem. Few have expended as much earnest research, or written as clearly, on the astronomical basis for this special event as has Colin R. Nicholl. When you're reading this book, the pages turn rapidly - similar to the way the pages fly when you're engrossed in a mystery novel. All readers will be richly rewarded!
-Walter C. Kaiser Jr.,
Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary