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Three Magi


"Three Kings", or "Three Wise Men", redirects here. For other uses, see Three Kings (disambiguation) and Wise men.

The Magi (/ˈmæ/ [1] or /ˈm/; Greek: μάγοι, magoi), also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men or (Three) Kings, were in Christian tradition, a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of Christian tradition.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the only one of the four Canonical gospels to mention the Magi, they were the first religious figures to worship Jesus. It states that "they" came "from the east" to worship the Christ, "born King of the Jews."[2] Although the account does not mention the number of people "they" or "the Magi" refers to, the three gifts has led to the widespread assumption that there were three men.[3][4] In the East, the Magi traditionally number twelve.[4] Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is probably linked to Psalms 72:11, "May all kings fall down before him".[4][5]

Original account

While traditional nativity scenes depict three "kings" visiting the infant Jesus on the night of his birth, in a manger accompanied by the shepherds and angels, the Biblical account simply presents an unnumbered party of unnamed "wise men" visiting much later after his birth, with Jesus described not as a babe but a child, and residing in a house, not a stable, with only "his mother" present. The New Revised Standard Version of Matthew 2:112 describes the visit of the Magi in this manner:

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path.

The star which they followed has traditionally became known as the Star of Bethlehem.

The wise men are mentioned twice shortly thereafter in

Description

The Magi are popularly referred to as wise men and kings. The word magi is the plural of The Living Bible (K. Taylor, 1962-New Testament).

Names

Traditions identify a variety of different names for the Magi. In the Western Christian church they have been commonly known as:

Encyclopædia Britannica[11] states: "according to Western church tradition, Balthasar is often represented as a king of Arabia, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Gaspar as a king of India." These names apparently derive from a Greek manuscript probably composed in Alexandria around 500, and which has been translated into Latin with the title Excerpta Latina Barbari.[9] Another Greek document from the 8th century, of presumed Irish origin and translated into Latin with the title Collectanea et Flores, continues the tradition of three kings and their names and gives additional details.[12][13]

One candidate for the origin of the name Caspar appears in the Acts of Thomas as Gondophares (21 – c. AD 47), i.e., Gudapharasa (from which "Caspar" might derive as corruption of "Gaspar"). This Gondophares declared independence from the Arsacids to become the first Indo-Parthian king, and he was allegedly visited by Thomas the Apostle. According to at least one scholar, his name is perpetuated in the name of the Afghan city Kandahar, which he is said to have founded under the name Gundopharron.[14] Christian legend may have chosen Gondofarr simply because he was an eastern king living in the right (?) time period.

In contrast, the Syrian Christians name the Magi Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas.[15] These names have a far greater likelihood of being originally Persian, though that does not, of course, guarantee their authenticity.

In the Eastern churches, Ethiopian Christianity, for instance, has Hor, Karsudan, and Basanater, while the Armenians have Kagpha, Badadakharida and Badadilma.[16][17] Many Chinese Christians believe that one of the magi came from China.[18]

Country of origin and journey


The phrase from the east (ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν), more literally from the rising [of the sun], is the only information Matthew provides about the region from which they came. Traditionally the view developed that they were Babylonians, Persians, or Jews from Yemen as the kings of Yemen then were Jews, a view held for example by John Chrysostom. There is an Armenian tradition[19][specify] identifying the "Magi of Bethlehem" as Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India. Bible historian Chuck Missler has also written[20] about this tradition. Historian John of Hildesheim[21][specify] relates a tradition in the ancient silk road city of Taxila (near Islamabad in Pakistan) that one of the Magi passed through the city on the way to Bethlehem.

On finding him, they gave baby Jesus three symbolic gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Warned in a dream that Judean king Herod intended to kill the child, they decided to return home by a different route. This prompted Herod to resort to killing all the young children in Bethlehem, an act called the Massacre of the Innocents, in an attempt to eliminate a rival heir to his throne. Jesus and his family had, however, escaped to Egypt beforehand. Afterward these events passed into obscurity.[22] The story of the nativity in Matthew glorifies Jesus, likens him to Moses, and shows his life as fulfilling prophecy.[23]

After the visit, the Magi leave the narrative by returning another way so as to avoid Herod, and do not reappear. Gregory the Great waxed lyrical on this theme, commenting that having come to know Jesus we are forbidden to return by the way we came. There are many traditional stories about what happened to the Magi after this, with one having them baptised by St. Thomas on his way to India. Another has their remains found by Saint Helena and brought to Constantinople, and eventually making their way to Germany and the Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral.

Sebastian Brock, a historian of Christianity, has said: "It was no doubt among converts from Zoroastrianism that… certain legends were developed around the Magi of the Gospels".[24] And Anders Hutgård concluded that the Gospel story of the Magi was influenced by an Iranian legend concerning magi and a star, which was connected with Persian beliefs in the rise of a star predicting the birth of a ruler and with myths describing the manifestation of a divine figure in fire and light.[25]

A model for the homage of the Magi might have been provided, it has been suggested, by the journey to Rome of King Tiridates I of Armenia, with his magi, to pay homage to the Emperor Nero, which took place in 66 AD, a few years before the date assigned to the composition of the Gospel of Matthew.[26][27]

There was a tradition that the Central Asian Naimans and their Christian Kerait relatives were descended from the Biblical Magi.[28] This heritage passed to the Mongol dynasty of Genghis Khan when Sorghaghtani, niece of the Kerait ruler Toghrul, married Tolui the youngest son of Genghis and became the mother of Möngke Khan and his younger brother and successor, Kublai Khan. Toghrul became identified with the legendary Central Asian Christian king, Prester John, whose Mongol descendants were sought as allies against the Muslims by contemporary European monarchs and popes.[29] Sempad the Constable, elder brother of King Hetoum I of Cilician Armenia, visited the Mongol court in Karakorum in 1247-1250 and in 1254. He wrote a letter to Henry I King of Cyprus and Queen Stephanie (Sempad’s sister) from Samarkand in 1243, in which he said: “Tanchat [Tangut, or Western Xia], which is the land from whence came the Three Kings to Bethlem to worship the Lord Jesus which was born. And know that the power of Christ has been, and is, so great, that the people of that land are Christians; and the whole land of Chata [Khitai, or Kara-Khitai] believes those Three Kings. I have myself been in their churches and have seen pictures of Jesus Christ and the Three Kings, one offering gold, the second frankincense, and the third myrrh. And it is through those Three Kings that they believe in Christ, and that the Chan and his people have now become Christians”.[30] The legendary Christian ruler of Central Asia, Prester John was reportedly a descendant of one of the Magi.[31]

Gestures of respect

The Magi are described as "falling down", "kneeling" or "bowing" in the worship of Jesus.[2] This gesture, together with Luke's birth narrative, had an important effect on Christian religious practices. They were indicative of great respect, and typically used when venerating a king. Inspired by these verses, kneeling and prostration were adopted in the early Church. While prostration is now rarely practised in the West, bar kneeling in front of statues in Catholic worship,[32] it is still relatively common in the Eastern Churches, especially during Lent. Kneeling has remained an important element of Christian worship to this day.

Gifts

Three gifts are explicitly identified in Matthew: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Many different theories of the meaning and symbolism of the gifts have been brought forward. While gold is fairly obviously explained, frankincense, and particularly myrrh, are much more obscure.

The theories generally break down into two groups:

  1. All three gifts are ordinary offerings and gifts given to a king. Myrrh being commonly used as an anointing oil, frankincense as a perfume, and gold as a valuable.
  2. The three gifts had a spiritual meaning : gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.
  • This dates back to Origen in Contra Celsum: "gold, as to a king; myrrh, as to one who was mortal; and incense, as to a God."[33]
  • These interpretations are alluded to in the verses of the popular carol "We Three Kings" in which the magi describe their gifts. The last verse includes a summary of the interpretation: "Glorious now behold Him arise/King and God and sacrifice."
  • Sometimes this is described more generally as gold symbolizing virtue, frankincense symbolizing prayer, and myrrh symbolizing suffering.

Myrrh was used as an embalming ointment and as a penitential incense in funerals and cremations until the 15th century. The "holy oil" traditionally used by the Eastern Orthodox Church for performing the sacraments of chrismation and unction is traditionally scented with myrrh, and receiving either of these sacraments is commonly referred to as "receiving the myrrh". The picture of the Magi on the 7th century valknut over his back, a pagan symbol referring to Death.

It has been suggested by scholars that the "gifts" were medicinal rather than precious material for tribute.[34][35][36]

The Syrian King Seleucus II Callinicus is recorded to have offered gold, frankincense and myrrh (among other items) to Apollo in his temple at Miletus in 243 BC, and this may have been the precedent for the mention of these three gifts in Gospel of Matthew (2:11). It was these three gifts, it is thought, which were the chief cause for the number of the Magi becoming fixed eventually at three.[37]

This episode can be linked to We Three Kings" by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., 1857.


John Chrysostom suggested that the gifts were fit to be given not just to a king but to God, and contrasted them with the Jews' traditional offerings of sheep and calves, and accordingly Chrysostom asserts that the Magi worshiped Jesus as God.

What subsequently happened to these gifts is never mentioned in the scripture, but several traditions have developed.[38] One story has the gold being stolen by the two thieves who were later crucified alongside Jesus. Another tale has it being entrusted to and then misappropriated by Judas. One tradition suggests that Joseph and Mary used the gold to finance their travels when they fled Bethlehem after the magi had warned them about King Herod's plan to kill Jesus. And another story proposes the theory that the myrrh given to them at Jesus' birth was used to anoint Jesus' body after his crucifixion.

In the Monastery of St. Paul of Mount Athos there is a 15th-century golden case containing purportedly the Gift of the Magi. It was donated to the monastery in the 15th century by Mara Branković, daughter of the King of Serbia Đurađ Branković, wife to the Ottoman Sultan Murat II and godmother to Mehmet II the Conqueror (of Constantinople). Apparently they were part of the relics of the Holy Palace of Constantinople and it is claimed they were displayed there since the 4th century. After the Athens earthquake of September 9, 1999 they were temporarily displayed in Athens in order to strengthen faith and raise money for earthquake victims.

Martyrdom traditions

Christian Scriptures record nothing about the Biblical Magi after reporting their going back to their own country. Two separate traditions have surfaced claiming that they were so moved by their encounter with Jesus that they either became Christians on their own or were quick to convert fully upon later encountering an Apostle of Jesus. The traditions claim that they were so strong in their beliefs that they willingly embraced martyrdom.

Chronicon of Dexter

One tradition gained popularity in Spain during the 17th century, it was found in a work called the Chronicon of Dexter. The work was ascribed to Flavius Lucius Dexter the bishop of Barcelona, under Theodosius the Great. The tradition appears in the form of a simple martyrology reading "In Arabia Felix, in the city of Sessania of the Adrumeti, the martyrdom of the holy kings, the three Magi, Gaspar, Balthassar, and Melchior who adored Christ."[39] First appearing in 1610, the Chronicon of Dexter was immensely popular along with the traditions it contained throughout the 17th century - later this was all brought into question when historians and the Catholic hierarchy in Rome declared the work a pious forgery.[40]

Relics at Cologne

A competing tradition asserts that the Biblical Magi "were martyred for the faith, and that their bodies were first venerated at Constantinople; thence they were transferred to Milan. When Barbarossa overthrew Milan, these bodies were taken to the great Dome of Cologne, and there they are venerated today."[39]

Tombs

There are several traditions on where the remains of the Magi are located, although none of the traditions is considered as an established fact or even as particularly likely by secular history.

Marco Polo claimed that he was shown the three tombs of the Magi at Saveh south of Tehran in the 1270s:

In Persia is the city of Saba, from which the Three Magi set out and in this city they are buried, in three very large and beautiful monuments, side by side. And above them there is a square building, beautifully kept. The bodies are still entire, with hair and beard remaining.
—Marco Polo, Polo, Marco, The Book of the Million, book i.

A Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral, according to tradition, contains the bones of the Three Wise Men. Reputedly they were first discovered by Saint Helena on her famous pilgrimage to Palestine and the Holy Lands. She took the remains to the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; they were later moved to Milan (some sources say by the city's bishop, Eustorgius I[41]), before being sent to their current resting place by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I in AD 1164. The Milanese celebrate their part in the tradition by holding a medieval costume parade every 6 January.

A version of the detailed elaboration familiar to us is laid out by the 14th century cleric John of Hildesheim's Historia Trium Regum ("History of the Three Kings"). In accounting for the presence in Cologne of their mummified relics, he begins with the journey of Helena, mother of Constantine I to Jerusalem, where she recovered the True Cross and other relics:

Queen Helen… began to think greatly of the bodies of these three kings, and she arrayed herself, and accompanied by many attendants, went into the Land of Ind… after she had found the bodies of Melchior, Balthazar, and Gaspar, Queen Helen put them into one chest and ornamented it with great riches, and she brought them into Constantinople... and laid them in a church that is called Saint Sophia.


Religious significance

The visit of the Magi is commemorated in most Western Christian churches by the observance of Epiphany, 6 January. The Eastern Orthodox celebrate the visit of the Magi on 25 December.

The identification of the Magi as kings is linked to Old Testament prophesies that have the Messiah being worshipped by kings in Isaiah 60:3, Psalm 72:10, and Psalm 68:29. Early readers reinterpreted Matthew in light of these prophecies and elevated the Magi to kings. By AD 500 all commentators adopted the prevalent tradition that the three were kings, and this continued until the Protestant Reformation.[42]

Though the Qur'an omits Matthew's episode of the Magi, it was well known in Arabia. The Muslim encyclopaedist al-Tabari, writing in the 9th century, gives the familiar symbolism of the gifts of the Magi. Al-Tabari gave his source for the information to be the later 7th century writer Wahb ibn Munabbih.[43]

Some religious traditions take a critical view of the Magi. Jehovah's Witnesses[44] do not see the arrival of the Magi as something to be celebrated, but instead stress the Biblical condemnation of sorcery and astrology in such texts as Deuteronomy 18:10–11, Leviticus 19:26, and Isaiah 47:13–14. They also point to the fact that the star seen by the Magi led them first to a hostile enemy of Jesus, and only then to the child's location — the argument being that if this was an event from God, it makes no sense for them to be led to a ruler with intentions to kill the child before taking them to Jesus.[45] Likewise, as Matthew 2:12 informs, the Magi were warned by God not to return to the familicide King Herod.

Traditions

Holidays celebrating the arrival of the Magi traditionally recognise a distinction between the date of their arrival and the date of Jesus' birth. The account given in the Gospel of Matthew does not state that they were present on the night of the birth; in the Gospel of Luke, Joseph and Mary remain in Bethlehem until it is time for Jesus' dedication, in Jerusalem, and then return to their home in Nazareth.

Spanish customs


Western Christianity celebrates the Magi on the day of Epiphany, January 6, the day immediately following the twelve days of Christmas, particularly in the Spanish-speaking parts of the world. In these areas, the Three Kings ("los Reyes Magos de Oriente", also "Los Tres Reyes Magos" and "Los Reyes Magos") receive letters from children and so bring them gifts on the night before Epiphany. In Spain, each one of the Magi is supposed to represent one different continent, Europe (Melchior), Asia (Caspar) and Africa (Balthasar). According to the tradition, the Magi come from the Orient on their camels to visit the houses of all the children; much like Santa Claus with his reindeer, they visit everyone in one night. In some areas, children prepare a drink for each of the Magi. It is also traditional to prepare food and drink for the camels, because this is the only night of the year when they eat.

  • In Spain, Argentina, México, Paraguay and Uruguay, there is a long tradition for having the children receive presents by the three "Reyes Magos" on the night of January 5 (Epiphany Eve) or morning of January 6. Almost every Spanish city or town organises cabalgatas in the evening, in which the kings and their servants parade and throw sweets to the children (and parents) in attendance. The cavalcade of the three kings in Alcoy claims to be the oldest in the world, having started in 1886. The Mystery Play of the Three Magic Kings is also presented on Epiphany Eve. There is also a "Roscón" (Spain) or "Rosca de Reyes" (Mexico) as explained below.
  • In the Philippines, the concept of the Three Kings (Filipino: Tatlóng Harìng Mágo, lit. "Three Magi Kings"; shortened to Tatlóng Harì or Spanish Tres Reyes) follows Hispanic influence, with the Feast of the Epiphany is considered by many Filipinos to be the traditional end of the long local Christmas season. The tradition of the Three Kings' cabalgata is today done in only some areas, such as the old city of Intramuros in Manila, and the island of Marinduque. Another dying custom is to have children leave shoes out on Epiphany Eve to receive sweets and money from the Three Kings, much in the same fashion as European children do for St. Nicholas on December 25. With the arrival of American culture in the early 20th century, the Three Kings as gift-givers have been largely replaced in urban areas by Santa Claus, and they survive in the greeting "Happy Three Kings!" and the surname Tatlóngharì.
  • In Paraguay, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, children cut grass or greenery on January 5 and put it in a box under their bed for the Kings' camels. Children receive gifts on January 6, which is called Día de Reyes, and is traditionally the day in which the Magi arrived bearing gifts for the Christ child. Christmas starts in December and ends in January after Epiphany, although in Puerto Rico there are eight more days of celebration (las octavitas).

Campaign for a real black Balthazar in Spain

In Spain there has been a growing concern over the fact that Balthazar is commonly played by a white person in blackface.[46][47]

Central Europe and Germanic


  • A tradition in most of Central Europe and in Germanic areas involves writing the initials of the three kings' names (C+M+B or C M B, or K+M+B in those areas where Caspar is spelled Kaspar), above the main door of the home in chalk, to confer blessings on the occupants for the New Year. The writing is done at some point between Christmas and Epiphany. However, the initials also represent "Christus mansionem benedicat" ("May/Let Christ Bless This House")[48]
  • In Catholic parts of Germany and in Austria, this is done by so-called Sternsinger (star singers), groups of three elementary school age children (nowadays of both sexes), dressed up as the Magi, carrying the star and singing Christmas carols. They are chaperoned by an adult or an older teenager who will stay in the background. In exchange for writing the initials, they collect money for a specific charity project in the third-world designated by the Catholic Church, which is the same throughout the country in any given year.[citation needed] It is part of the Sternsinger tradition that one of the three children will blacken his or her face with soot, in memory of the legend that one of the Magi was of African origin. This is not considered a racist blackface performance, as it does not portray any stereotypes about African people apart from the skin colour.[citation needed]
  • In Poland, celebrations with biblical costuming occur throughout the country.[citation needed] * For example, in Warsaw there are processions from Plac Zamkowy down Krakowskie Przedmieście to Plac Piłsudskiego.[citation needed][49]

Roscón de Reyes

Main article: Roscón de Reyes
  • In Spain and in Portugal (where it is called Bolo-rei[50]), the cake, which is ring-shaped, is most commonly bought, not baked, and it contains both a small figurine of the baby Jesus (or another surprise depending on the region) and an actual dry broad bean. The one who gets the figurine is crowned, but whoever gets the bean has to pay the value of the cake to the person who originally bought it.
  • In France and Belgium, a cake containing a small figure of the baby Jesus, known as the "broad bean", is shared within the family. Whoever gets the bean is crowned king for the remainder of the holiday and wears a cardboard crown purchased with the cake. A similar practice is common in many areas of Switzerland, but the figurine is a miniature king. The practice is known as tirer les Rois (Drawing the Kings). A queen is sometimes also chosen.
  • In México they also have the same ring-shaped cake Rosca de Reyes (Kings Bagel or Thread) with figurines inside it. Whoever gets a figurine is supposed to organize and be the host of the family celebration for the Candelaria feast on February 2.
  • In New Orleans, Louisiana, parts of southern Texas, and surrounding regions, a similar ring-shaped cake known as a "King Cake" traditionally becomes available in bakeries from Epiphany to Mardi Gras. The baby Jesus figurine is inserted into the cake from underneath, and the person who gets the slice with the figurine is expected to buy or bake the next King Cake. There is wide variation among the types of pastry that may be called a King Cake, but most are a baked cinnamon-flavoured twisted dough with thin frosting and additional sugar on top in the traditional Mardi Gras colours of gold, green and purple. To prevent accidental injury or choking, the baby Jesus figurine is frequently not inserted into the cake at the bakery, but included in the packaging for optional use by the buyer to insert it themselves. Mardi Gras-style beads and doubloons may be included as well.

In art

Main article: Adoration of the Magi


The Magi most frequently appear in European art in the Adoration of the Magi; less often The Journey of the Magi has been a popular topos, and other scenes such as the Magi before Herod and the Dream of the Magi also appear in the Middle Ages. In Byzantine art they are depicted as Persians, wearing trousers and phrygian caps. Crown appear from the 10th century. Medieval artists also allegorised the theme to represent the three ages of man. Beginning in the 12th century, and very often by the 15th, the Kings also represent the three parts of the known (pre-Columbian) world in Western art, especially in Northern Europe. Balthasar is thus represented as a young African or Moor and Caspar may be depicted with distinctly Oriental features.

An early Anglo-Saxon picture survives on the Franks Casket, probably a non-Christian king's hoard-box (early 7th century, whalebone carving); or rather the hoard-box survived Christian attacks on non-Christian art and sculpture because of that picture.[51] In its composition it follows the oriental style, which renders a courtly scene, with the Virgin and Christ facing the spectator, while the Magi devoutly approach from the (left) side. Even amongst non-Christians who had heard of the Christian story of the Magi, the motif was quite popular, since the Magi had endured a long journey and were generous. Instead of an angel, the picture places a swan, interpretable as the hero's fylgja (a protecting spirit, and shapeshifter).

Austrian artist

More generally they appear in popular Nativity scenes and other Christmas decorations that have their origins in the Neapolitan variety of the Italian presepio or Nativity crèche.


Representation in other art forms

  • Following Yonder Star (written by Martin Gibbs) describes the journey of Balthazar, Melchior, and Jaspar. It is based upon the Historia Trium Regum. It is considered historical fiction.
  • Italian composer Ottorino Respighi wrote a composition called Trittico Botticelliano, based on three paintings by Botticelli, and one of the movements is called Adoration of the Magi.
  • The Other Wise Man is a story by Henry van Dyke, published in 1896. It describes a fourth wise man who sets off with the other three, but turns aside along the way to perform acts of charity and arrives in Bethlehem too late to see the Christ Child.[54] The story has been adapted numerous times for television, theater, and opera.
  • "The Gift of the Magi" is a short story written by O. Henry (a pen name for William Sydney Porter), about a young married couple and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money.
  • The Magi are featured in Menotti's opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, and in several Christmas carols, of which the best-known English one is "We Three Kings".
  • In the film Donovan's Reef, a Christmas play is held in French Polynesia. However, instead of the traditional correspondence of Magi to continents, the version for Polynesian Catholics features the king of Polynesia, the king of America, and the king of China.
  • Further sentimental narrative detail was added in the novel and movie Ben-Hur, where Balthasar (Finlay Currie) appears as an old man, who goes back to Palestine to see the former child Jesus become an adult.
  • T. S. Eliot's poem The Journey of the Magi (1927) re-tells the story with a foreshadowing of the crucifixion, as does the poem Visit of the Wise Men by Timothy Dudley-Smith.[55]
  • In Michael Ende's children books Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver and Jim Button and the Wild 13, one of the Three Kings plays a major role in one of the main character's background.
  • Salley Vickers's Miss Garnet's Angel links the Epiphany story, and arrival of the Magi, with the ancient Zoroastrian elements in the Book Of Tobit, a Biblical book in the Deuterocanon.
  • The Biblical Magi were the subject of the 1980 novel Gaspard, Melchior and Balthasar by the French author Michel Tournier.
  • The Magi are shown in a painting of prophecy in the game God of War II.
  • The names of the Biblical Magi are used in characters related to ancient and almost-lost knowledge in the videogames Chrono Trigger and Xenogears.
  • The Magi are the subject of Norah Lofts' novel How Far To Bethlehem? (1965)
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion (both in the manga and the anime), the three massive supercomputers are collectively known as the Magi, and indeed are named after each of them.
  • The Spanish 2003 animation film Los Reyes Magos (Antonio Navarro)
  • In David Morrell's 2008 novella "The Spy Who Came for Christmas", the Magi were intelligence agents sent to destabilize Herod's government.
  • James Taylor's 1988 song "Home By Another Way" discusses the Magi's visit to Jesus and, specifically, their decision to avoid seeing Herod on their way home.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the Three Wise Men appear to the crew of the Red Sprite, order them to follow the will of God and allow themselves to be enslaved by an angel's song. Should the protagonist follow the Law path, they will continue to appear to provide advice.
  • Christopher Moore explores the idea that one of the three kings was of Chinese origin in his novel Lamb.
  • In the manga and anime Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, the four Magi are magicians loved by the Rukh whose role is to choose a king candidate. There are typically only three Magi, however, the main character Aladdin is the fourth.
  • The three wise men, and in particular Balthazar, play major roles in the Seth Grahame-Smith novel, Unholy Night (2012).

See also

Notes

General references

  • Albright, W. F. and C. S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  • Becker, Alfred: Franks Casket. Zu den Bildern und Inschriften des Runenkästchens von Auzon (Regensburg, 1973) pp. 125–142, Ikonographie der Magierbilder, Inschriften.
  • Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. London: G. Chapman, 1977.
  • Clarke, Howard W. The Gospel of Matthew and its Readers: A Historical Introduction to the First Gospel. Bloomington.
  • Chrysostom, John "Homilies on Matthew: Homily VI". c. 4th century.
  • France, R. T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  • Gundry, Robert H. Matthew a Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.
  • Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
  • Lambert, John Chisholm, A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels. Page 97 - 101.
  • Levine, Amy-Jill. "Matthew." Women's Bible Commentary. Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe, eds. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998.
  • Molnar, Michael R., ISBN 0-8135-2701-5
  • Powell, Mark Allan. "The Magi as Wise Men: Re-examining a Basic Supposition." New Testament Studies. Vol. 46, 2000.
  • Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975.
  • Trexler, Richard C. Journey of the Magi: Meanings in History of a Christian Story. Princeton University Press, 1997.
  • Watson, Richard, A Biblical and Theological Dictionary, Page 608–611.

External links

  • Mark Rose, "The Three Kings & the Star": the Cologne reliquary and the BBC popular documentary
  • Alfred Becker, Franks Casket
  • Caroline Stone, "We Three Kings of Orient Were"
  • Catholic Encyclopedia
  • "Procession of the Three Kings in Valencia"
  • Auto de los Reyes Magos (drama in Spanish)
Adoration of the Wise Men
Preceded by
Star of Bethlehem
New Testament
Events
Succeeded by
Flight into Egypt
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