Photo by Sonia Halliday and Laura Lushington

ON THE COVER: Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar, the three kings from the east, open their treasures and offer the newborn Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh in this 13th-century stained glass window from the Chapel of the Magi in Cologne Cathedral, Germany. Above the virgin and child shines an eight-pointed star that, according to the Gospel of Matthew, led the magi from the east to the baby. For centuries, people have tried, with little success, to explain this star in terms of astronomical phenomena. How could a star, high above in the heavens, lead the magi to the child? In “What Was the Star that Guided the Magi?” Dale C. Allison, Jr., offers a plausible interpretation.