There are 7 thoughts on “A Comet, Christ’s Birth, and Josephus’s Lunar Eclipse”.

  1. Wow! What a tour-de-force of scriptures, astronomy, and logic. I rather love how you explain the light of the night before Christ was born and the new star guiding the Wise Men. This was easily the most elegant and complete explanation of all the celestial phenomena associated with Christ’s birth. Thank you for putting this all together so neatly!

    • Thanks for the kind words.
      Relating to footnote 54
      One of the things that didn’t get into the paper is Ezekiel 43:2 (Mea culpa).
      “And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.”
      Note that with the Nephite night being as bright as day, from space the Earth would appear to have ‘shined’.
      There should have been a comment that the tenth day of the first month is the day the paschal lambs were set apart. Ezekiel saw that the glory of the God of Israel came from the east. That is also what the wise men saw.

  2. Glad to see Charles paper finally make it out to publication. I thought his earlier drafts were even better, but all understand in order to get things published the authors often have to remove things to accommodate editors, even if they are totally wrong. Although I have some differences in view on certain particulars of this paper, I am glad to see a scientific approach to Book of Mormon topics being featured which Charles surely does here. I also reached the conclusion that a CME is involved in the signs and wonders although I differ a bit on the likelihood Bethlehem star as a comet, although it is definitely a good explanation for the Mesoamerican new star. Anyway, I published my paper last year, and it will be incorporated in an upcoming book on Book of Mormon chronology. If any are interested in the draft portion of the book dealing with these topics published last year, it can be found at

  3. As Charles Dike says on page 312, “The Chinese provided one location for the comet,” and that is merely one major impediment to accepting his theory: comets just don’t stay in one place, and that is why astronomers such as Mark Kidger see it as a nova. In this case a galactic supernova in Capricorn (or nearby) known as Williams 52 (W52). Thus, Dike’s disclaimer in note 8 ignores the primary problem: The available Chinese and Korean records must apply to a nova, not a comet. See especially Mark Kidger, “Some Notes on the Visibility of the 5BC Chinese Star,” .

    An even bigger problem presents itself in the 600-year prophecy of Lehi that the Messiah would be born 600 years after Clan Lehi left Jerusalem (I Ne 10:4). Since Lehi left Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, in 597 BC (III Ne superscript, 1:1, 2:8), that leaves only 591.39 solar years from the beginning of that reign until the birth of Jesus in 6 or 5 BC. Since lunar years cannot possibly account for the discrepancy, one must employ the only calendar which can insert 600 years between 597 and 6 or 5 BC, the 360-day Egyptian temple year, Chinese year, and Mesoamerican Long Count system inherited from the Olmec.

    Furthermore, once one has adopted the 360-day year, it will be seen that about 5 days is lost from each year in a pattern of precession in comparison with standard solar years. This means that, the specific 33 years and 3 days of life of Jesus specified in the Book of Mormon loses about 5.5 months, forcing us to accept an autumnal birth for Jesus, since we know that he is crucified at Passover. As it happens, Jewish Rosh Hashana (New Year) is the best time for his birth.

    By the way, contra note 58, Nephi did not learn the title “Christ” in the New World. Christ “Anointed-one” is merely the Greek translation of Hebrew Messiah “Anointed-one,” for which we also have several Egyptian equivalents likely used by Nephi while engraving his plates.

    • Although not stated by Dike, my communications with him indicate he follows the Spackman premise of lunar year count. I am going to address this issue in my upcoming book, here is a draft section that discusses the issue (part of the book will show evidence of a Jubilee calendar in the BOM, so you just have accept that part on faith LOL):

      The primary reason driving the prior researchers (except for Spackman) to difficult contorted conclusions regarding Lehi’s departure (i.e. proposing changes to the known and established names of Biblical kings), is to have the researcher’s requirement that the departure of the Lehites initiating the 600 year prophecy be in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah because the preface to 3rd Nephi indicates that Lehi “came out” of Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah. The Nephite Jubilee calendar forces the conclusion that this cannot be the case. It supports the conclusion that the language that Lehi “came out” refers to his first exit from Jerusalem that started his ministry, not the departure of the full Lehite party.
      Spackman initially (1998, 59) asserts that the 3rd Nephi preface is an “inaccuracy” and an “error” when written by Mormon as he was far removed in time and place from the original records. Spackman later (2014) indicates that this preface statement is an “inadvertent error” and discusses the possible alternative interpretation that this is referring to the first instance of Lehi coming out of Jerusalem so would not be an inaccuracy or error. Spackman states that the use of the terms “coming out” in other parts of the Book of Mormon indicate there is a departure with no return and that other similar or identical language is sometimes used when referring to the later Lehite departure (1 Nephi 17:20, 2 Nephi 25:4, 2 Nephi 30:4, Omni 1:15, Alma 10:3, Helaman 5:6, 7:7) and Spackman states that any assertion that the 3rd Nephi preface refers to the initial Lehi departure faces “the rational hurdle of textual inconsistency.” Spackman offers that it may not have been Mormon’s unique error per se, but an error of prior record-keepers in the conflation of the two departure events. Spackman’s method is careful and measured with the sole objection to the interpretation being textual, so a careful look at the text is warranted.
      (large detailed section of the Textual Analysis of the incident of the final Lehite Departure to be included here)
      When looking at textual comparisons with regards to the 3 Nephi preface, one has to be careful about textual comparisons between the portion of the Book of Mormon constituted by the small plates and that of Mormon’s abridgement, as the original source language of the small plates is Egyptian, where Mormon’s abridgement is in reformed Egyptian. Care must also be taken even within Mormon’s abridgement, because there are portions that are inclusions of sermons from prior persons some 400 years or more prior to Mormon which may have been written in an earlier form of reformed Egyptian or in the modified Hebrew or possibly some other native language.
      Textual analysis provides an indication that the 3rd Nephi Preface can reasonably be interpreted as the initial Lehi exit and does not require the accepting of the 3rd Nephi preface as an inaccuracy and thus overcomes Spackman’s “rational hurdle.” It is noted that there does not appear to be any other reference to Lehi’s initial departure other than in 1 Nephi, and potentially in the 3rd Nephi Preface, so the approach that is needed is to evaluate all instances referring to the departures and determine if there is any unique language for the later Lehite departure.
      Anyway, I will have a long discussion on this in the book, but it will also resolve the issue that you raise on the length of Christ’s life as well.

    • Astronomer Mark Kidger opted for a nova but considered the possibility of a comet, physicist Colin Humphreys opted for a comet. The term ‘hui-hsing’ is a ‘broom star’ and is usually considered to be a tailed comet as per footnote 4. The eye-witnesses observed the apparition for over 70 days so I tend to favor their description.

      As to the question as to which calendar the Nephites used: since the Nephites throughout the Book of Mormon insisted they were following the Law of Moses, that seems to limit them to a calendar in some way tied to lunar cycles. This probably means they did not use a schematic calendar (360-day year) for their prophesies. One would expect that, Christ being the fulfilment of the Law, his life events would be closely tied to the Law of Moses events. The Nephites would not likely have expected Christ to be born in the fall because their calendar would have begun in the month of Abib (now Nisan). Christ, as the Lamb would be born with the lambs. The new year in the fall appears to have come from the Babylonian captivity of the Jews.

      In 2 Nephi 10:3 Jacob states, “Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ – for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name – should come among the Jews, . . .” I observe that Nephi never used that name (title) until after Jacob used it. I understand that ‘Christ’ is the equivalent of ‘Messiah’ but I must follow the Book of Mormon statement. Nephi does use the term ‘Messiah’ in 1 Nephi 12:18. That is something to be investigated – I think there is a history around that word being in 1 Nephi 12:18 in the original translation. As I recall Joseph Smith changed that word from ‘Christ’ to ‘Messiah’ after he translated 2 Nephi 10:3.

  4. I enjoyed reading (listening to) your article. I’m not very smart about the science involved–but according to my limited lights your theory seems to hold together nicely; it’s quite elegant.

    And I very much appreciate the typological connections you make between the astronomical phenomena and the cultural/religious expectations of the time. Those elements take your theory beyond pure science and place it within a religious and historical context that grounds it in the real world–as they saw it in the those days.

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