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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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In the OT there are traces of the survival of a dawn myth of which we have reminiscences in Job 3:9, where ‘the eyelids of the dawn’ (עַפְעַפֵי־שָׁחַר; Septuagint ἑωσφόρον ἀνατέλλοντα) glance over the mountain-tops to behold the sleeping earth. The morning or day-star is the son of the dawn, as in the great ode on the overthrow of the king of Babylon (הַילֵל בֶּן־שָׁחַר; Septuagint ἑωσφόρος ὁ πρωῒ ἀνατέλλων; Authorized Version ‘Lucifer, son of the morning’; but Revised Version ‘day star’ [Isaiah 14:12]). From this came the metaphor. But in the NT the physical associations of the figure are entirely lost, and the word ‘day-star’ has become the equivalent of harbinger or forerunner-some joyful event or appearance foretelling the end of the night of distress and sorrow, and the dawning of a new and better day. ‘This species of symbolism was employed freely, as every reader knows, in the Gospels.… John the Baptist was the Forerunner, the Morning Star. Christ was the Sun, the Light of the World.… The usage persisted as it had been originated’ (W. M. Ramsay, Luke the Physician, p. 230f.).

The word ‘day-star’ occurs in the NT only in 2 Peter 1:19 -καὶ φωσφόρος ἀνατείλῃ ἑν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν-‘and the day-star arise in your hearts’ (Authorized Version and Revised Version ). The thought, however, is fairly common (cf. such expressions as ‘the dayspring [ἀνατολή] from on high,’ Luke 1:78; ‘his marvellous light’ [φῶς], 1 Peter 2:9; and specially ‘I will give him the morning star’ [τὸν ἀστέρα τόν πρωϊνόν], Revelation 2:28; ‘the bright, the morning star’ [ὁ ἀστὴρ ὁ λαμπρὸς ὁ πρωϊνός], Revelation 22:16). In the Apocalypse, it should be noted, the usage (Revelation 2:28, Revelation 22:16) is different. While in the Gospels ‘an earlier age and another style of thought’ (Ramsay, op. cit. p. 234) had called Christ not a Star but the Sun and the Light of the World, in Revelation Christ calls Himself the Morning-Star as ‘the herald and introducer of a new era,’ and the gift of the Morning-Star means ‘the dawn of a brighter day and a new career.’ In 2 Peter 1:19 the writer, discussing the effect produced by the Transfiguration of Jesus, says that by it ‘we have the word of prophecy made more sure’ (Revised Version ). The glorification of Christ on the Mount was not only a partial fulfilment of Messianic prediction, but was in itself the earnest of a complete glorification. In the squalid place of the world (Revised Version margin ἐν αὐχμηρῷ τόπῳ-the adj. occurs only here in the NT), where the Christian’s lot is cast, the prophecies, even with their partial fulfilment, are a lamp shining.

The new day heralded by the day-star may be the Second Advent (Bennett, Century Bible, in loc.); but there is more to be said for Plumptre’s view (Cambridge Bible), that the rising of the day-star points to a direct manifestation of Christ in the soul of the believer (ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν). It is the revelation and confirmation in the heart of the Christian of what had been foreshadowed both by the prophetic word and the earthly manifestation of God’s Son. Christ in the heart is the gleam, the light, the Day-star, which the believer follows, and to which he moves. He has therefore the testimony in himself that he follows, not wandering fires, but a star.

Witsius (Trench, Epp. to the Seven Churches3, London, 1867, p. 155) sums up the import of the morning-star as follows: (1) a closer communion with Christ, the fountain of light; (2) an increase of light and spiritual knowledge; (3) glorious and unspeakable joy, which is often compared with light. Such hopes 2 Peter holds before Christians in the squalidness of a world where God is not known. But they know, for the day-star shines in their hearts.

‘Nor would I vex my heart with grief or strife

Though friend and lover Thou hast put afar,

If I could see, through my worn tent of life

The stedfast shining of Thy morning star’

(Louise Chandler Moulton).

For the same thought in the hymnology of the Church reference may be made to the Advent Hymns, ‘Light of the lonely pilgrim’s heart, Star of the coming day,’ also ‘Come, O come, Immanuel.’

Literature.-W. M. Ramsay, Luke the Physician, London, 1908, pp. 230-234. For the morning-star in the symbolism of the NT, see G. Mackinlay, The Magi: How they recognized Christ’s Star, do. 1907.

W. M. Grant.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Day-Star'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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