When astrology addict Tiberius (42 BC – 37 AD) retired to Rhodes in 6 BC he consulted many astrologers about his future prospects. He had them murdered just after they had predicted his fortune! When the astrologer Thrasyllus examined his charts and suggested that Tiberius had a glorious future, Tiberius manoevered him to the edge of a perilous cliff and menacingly asked him: “And what do you see for yourself in the stars?” Thrasyllus replied “I am in terrible danger.” Tiberius was impressed and spared the astrologer and later when he became the Emperor continually relied on Thrasyllus for advice.

Tiberius’ story makes for a fascinating contrast between pagan faith and Christian faith. Tiberius believed passionately that Fate ruled everything and that the stars and planets determined every event. He simply couldn’t help himself as he abused countless children and tortured people before throwing them off cliffs in Capri. What a contrast to Jesus who went around proclaiming God’s kingdom, healing the sick and casting out demons…

Tiberius’ story is a great way of talking about Christian faith. Here are some questions to ponder:

  1. Why is astrology bad for you?
  2. Why did Tiberius consult astrologers?
  3. How does Christian faith challenge belief in fate?
Mark Roques

Mark Roques

For eleven years Mark taught Philosophy and Religious Studies at Prior Park College, Bath. As Director of RealityBites since 2005, he has developed a rich range of resources for teachers and is a popular speaker at educational conferences in the UK, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Mark is the author of three books, including the Religious Education textbook The Good, The Bad and The Misled, and his innovative approach has led him to appear on television (Channel 4) and radio.