Ever since I started teaching digital astronomy classes because that Christian students, anywhere I travel and also speak on the subject of astronomy, I accomplish several world who asking me what ns think about “God’s original names for the constellations.”
Now, come someone who isn’t familiar, that can sound prefer a nonsense question, therefore a small background is needed.
You are watching: God named the stars
Could it be that God Himself offered us the names for the stars and constellations in ~ the beginning of time?
The Gospel in the Stars
The theory of “the gospel in the stars” is that God actually called the brightest stars and significant constellations long, long ago, earlier in the more quickly generations that humanity. the did this to tell an important story: stringing this constellations together, lock foretell the message of the gospel.
A similar alternative concept is that God communicated his plan of redemption come the earliest people (to human being like Adam or Seth) and they named the stars as a witness to this plan.
For instance…Virgo to represent the virgin who would provide birth come the promised Messiah.Capricornus to represent the goat that atonement, slain for the redeemed.Orion to represent Christ, the heavenly light of the world.Leo is the lion the the people of Judah.
…and for this reason on.
Under this theory, early human cultures construed these original photos in the sky, however then part time after ~ the Flood, together sinful human being beings spread all over the world, lock attached their very own names come the stars, and thus the pagan practices of astrology began.
This theory became popular in the so late 1800s. Ms. Frances Rolleston’s book, Mazzaroth, released in the 1860s, to be the very first to propose this theory. Joseph Seiss’s book, The Gospel in the Stars, come out about twenty years later. E.W. Bullinger’s book, The Witness of the Stars, came out the last decade of the 19th century. The theory also has a number of contemporary proponents, most likely the most famed being Dr. D. James Kennedy.
Problems with the Theory
The primary problem with the concept is the we just cannot go back far sufficient in any type of historical document to find the “original” names of any type of stars or constellations.
From whereby does the theory originate, then?
Seiss and also Bullinger credit Frances Rolleston’s book, Mazzaroth, as containing the original research for the theory. Unfortunately, Rolleston was no a very careful scholar when citing or scrutinizing she sources. She likewise makes some really bold and fully unprovable assumptions in she book, make it tough to substantiate she claims.She assumes Hebrew (the language of many of the Old Testament) is the the next language to that of Adam (which, the course, us don’t know). Based top top this assumption, Rolleston looked at Latin star and also constellation surname (assuming Hebrew is the ancient origin for the Latin language), and also then searched the Hebrew language because that similar-sounding words (homophones) to find what the “original” names could have been.Rolleston cites very few of she sources, make it hard to map her steps, and when she does cite her sources, her citations room often vague and imprecise.She regularly ignores evidence that provides easier or alternate explanations behind details star and constellation names. She picks and also chooses from proof that will ideal fit she theory.
Testing the Theory: Orion
The example of Orion—a an extremely well known constellation—provides a an excellent litmus test because that “the gospel in the stars” theory. Let’s look in ~ how Frances Rolleston (and rather who followed her) interpreted this constellation.
Orion is a constellation quickly visible in the evening in December, January, February, and March. It consists of some of the brightest stars in the night sky, and for this reason, countless cultures around the world have stories connected with this stars.
The constellation Orion
First, Rolleston claims the Latin name “Orion” is based on this constellation’s Akkadian name, which means “Light of Heaven.” (This, in fact, may be accurate.) Rolleston uses this together a communication to case Orion was initially meant to be a price of the promised Messiah, based upon Matthew 4:16 (“the civilization dwelling in darkness have viewed a great light…”).
Second, Rolleston claims that while most Greek stories of Orion speak that his foot relaxing on a rabbit, in one ancient Indian star chart, Orion’s foot is stepping ~ above a snake. Based on this, Rolleston claims this additional confirms this constellation is a snapshot of Christ, who was prophesied in Genesis to it is in the one that would come to crush the head the the Satanic serpent (Genesis 3:15).
Third, Rolleston says, in details mythologies, Orion is i stabbed it on the foot through a scorpion, bringing about his death, additional confirming this constellation’s connect to Genesis 3:15, where God says to the serpent, “you chandelier bruise his heel.”
There room several major problems through Rolleston’s evidence:
1. Rolleston provides a remarkable leap in evidence, arguing that the Akkadian surname for Orion must reflect the name God or Adam or some various other primordial person provided the constellation. Why single out the Akkadian name among all various other languages? Why i think the Akkadian name is based on a primordial Hebrew name—and then more assume the it is God that inspired this name?
2. Rolleston cherrypicks the story that ideal fit her theory. She ignores the various other mythological story of Orion’s death that don’t heat up with Christ imagery. She dismisses the stories around Orion’s stepping ~ above a rabbit without any kind of warrant.
3. She unjustifiably mixes imagery. Likening Orion’s fatality by scorpion sting is fixed the exact same thing as being harmed by a serpent. Linking these two is a stretch at best.
4. Most importantly, she interpretation fully runs contrary to both the Bible and Jewish tradition. The constellation Orion is mentioned in the scriptures at least 3 time (Job 9:9, 38:31; Amos 5:8), using the Hebrew surname Kesil (כְּסִיל) an interpretation “Fool.” This is acquired from the exact same word offered in Proverbs practically 50 times to define a foolish person. This aligns nicely v the Babylonian tradition that identify the constellation Orion v the character Nimrod (Genesis 10:8), the godless founder of Babel (v.9-10). In various other words, if there to be a primordial, divine name because that Orion, not just do the scriptures not mention this name, they assign a fully different surname to it—the Fool—a name very unbecoming because that the Messiah.
For a an ext thorough explanation (and refutation) the Frances Rolleston’s theories, check out “A further Examination the the Gospel in the Stars” by Dr. Danny R. Faulkner indigenous Answers in Genesis.
Is there a case for Christian Constellations?
The theory of “the gospel in the stars” is attractive to many Christians today. It can serve together an interesting alternative for those who want to distance themselves indigenous the pagan mythologies linked with the stars.
I, because that one, yes, really enjoy learning what how different cultures assigned different definitions to the constellations. In my online courses, ns teach children not just the much more familiar mythologies of the Greeks and also Romans, but additionally many indigenous world groups from anywhere the world.
Still, some would favor constellations have actually Christian meanings—and this is one idea the goes ago many century in church. In the 8 hours century, the English monk, Venerable Bede, attempted come assign each that the twelve signs of the zodiac to the twelve apostles. During the improvement in Europe, there to be a movement to rename every the constellations follow to biblical themes. One Italian scholar, Ambrosius Fraccus, attempted this in the mid-1500s. A German lawyer and monk, Julius Schiller, published a star atlas in the 1620s dubbed Christian Starry Heavens, where he changed a lot of of classic constellation called with Christian names. One more champion the this idea was the new England Puritan minister cotton Mather.
Of course, these renamed Christian constellations to be not based upon any claimed “original” names however were rather Christianized symbols. Orion came to be Joseph, dad of Jesus. The Argo ended up being Noah’s Ark. Andromeda ended up being the tomb of Christ. Hercules came to be the 3 Magi. Etc.
There is, that course, nothing wrong with Christians assigning new names come the constellations. Every society on planet has done this, and there’s nothing wrong v Christian cultures assigning name to teams of stars that reflect our own cherished traditions and also stories. If there to be a national union of Christian astronomers that wanted to gain together and also rename constellation teams for the objective of share our Christian heritage, i think this is a noble idea.
I doubt, however, the these brand-new names would ever catch in the society at large, especially because the present names of the constellations are now globally recognized.
How Should Christians execute Astronomy?
Instead of just trying come “Christianize” the sky, ns would lot rather believer devote your energies to examining the heavens because that the factors God gave us the heavenly lights (Genesis 1:1,14-15):To provide us the rate of day and also night (studying the increasing and setup of the sun and its positions in the sky)To give us indications for navigating (studying just how to use the skies for finding ours location and giving direction)To note the seasons of the year (studying just how the moon phases and seasonal constellations assist us to recognize the rhythms of the year)To help us make calendars, marking days and also years (studying exactly how the sun, moon, and stars aid us to create calendars come organize ours lives and also do history)To give light top top the planet (studying what the heavenly lights are and how they create energy that sustains ours lives)To glorify God (studying the grandeur of the universe in a means that mirrors the power and glory the God)
All of these topics and a entirety lot more are covered in mine astronomy classes because that homeschoolers.
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