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Author Topic: The Wise Men (or Kings, or Magi) of the Nativity  (Read 1431 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 03, 2012, 07:32:39 PM »

Hey guys, I was wondering if anyone knew anything about the wise men that visited Christ when He was born. I'm supposed to give a lesson to high school/college students about the Nativity this weekend and I chose to focus on them. Anything such as names, where they were from, what their gifts symbolized, the star, how many there were (conventionally people say three, but the Bible never states how many there were) or any information that church tradition has about them would be good. Sources would be great as well.

I would prefer to get the Coptic tradition, however I am also interested in other OO and EO traditions as well.

Thanks!

(BTW, so far I have looked at St. John Chrysostom's Homily on the Gospel of St. Matthew, the suscopts website, and an article by Fr. Matthew Attia. Anything else you guys know or find would be greatly appreciated.)
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2012, 08:59:45 PM »

New Advent.org does an excellent job discussing the Magi here. Although it is a Roman Catholic source, the information presented is true.

I found this article from the Orthodox Research Institute. I think the New Advent article goes a little more in depth, and may provide more of what you are looking for.

I checked a few online Orthodox sources (Coptic and Eastern) and honestly, was rather disappointed in what I found. The only time the Magi were mentioned was in telling the Nativity story, but it didn't go into who they were and such. Just that they brought gold, frankincense, and myrh; nothing more than what you would learn singing the Christmas carol "We three Kings".

Hope this helps.
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2012, 09:23:51 PM »

Although it is a Roman Catholic source, the information presented is true.

First of all, thank you for your reply and your help with this.

Now, I don't mean to discredit your research or your statement, but how do you know this is true? I'm not trying to be difficult, I just want to make sure the information is orthodoxically accurate before I present it. As such, I'm hesitant to use a Catholic source unless I'm sure we hold the same beliefs.
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2012, 09:41:06 PM »

I realize this is from EO tradition, but here are some of the references to the Magi from the liturgical texts of December 24 and 25:

Joseph, tell us, how is it that you are bringing to Bethlehem great with child the Maiden you received from the Holy Place? ‘I have searched the prophets,’ he says, ‘and I have been warned by a Angel, and I am persuaded that Mary will give birth to God in a way beyond explanation. To worship Him Magi will come from the East, honouring Him with precious gifts.’ O Lord, incarnate for our sake, glory to You!

Cave prepare, for the Ewe Lamb comes bearing Christ in her womb; Manger receive Him who with a word has loosed us born of earth from irrational action. Shepherds abiding in the fields, bear witness to a fearful wonder; Magi from Persia, offer the King gold, frankincense and myrrh; for the Lord has appeared from a Virgin mother. Bending over Him like a slave, His Mother worshipped Him and addressed Him as He lay in her arms: How were You sown in me? How have You grown in me, my Redeemer and my God?

Come, believers, let us see where Christ is born. Let us follow where the star guides with the Magi, kings of the East. Angels sing praises there without ceasing. Shepherds abiding in the fields offer a fitting hymn, saying: Glory in the highest to Him who has been born today in a cave from the Virgin and Mother of God, in Bethlehem of Judea.


(Synaxarion at Matins) In those days there was a Seer called Balaam in the country of the Persians who prophesied many things, among which he said: ‘A star will dawn out of Jacob, and will crush the princes of Moab’. The other Seers then, holding this prophecy in succession, taught it to the kings of the Persians. And it came to these men, three in number, and they were keeping watch for when they might see such a star. But being astronomers, when they saw that Christ’s star did not follow a course like the other stars, from east to west, but from north to south, knew that it showed the birth of a great king; and having followed the star, they found Christ the Lord, and falling down they worshipped him and offered him gold, incense and myrrh. And so, on the orders of an Angel, they returned to their country.

Herod, the prince of the Jews, having learned from the Magi that a great king had been born, who was going to subdue the whole world, summoned the Magi secretly and said, ‘Go, inquire diligently about the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and worship him’. He said this to learn where he was and that he might send and kill him. Then, having summoned the Scribes, he asked, ‘Where does Scripture say that the Christ will be born?’ They said, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea’. Then he sent his troops to slaughter the boys in Bethlehem of two years and under. Because of this an Angel was sent from God who said to Joseph, ‘Rise, take the Child and His Mother, and flee into Egypt’. Joseph did so, and taking the Child and His Mother he went away into Egypt.

Magi, Persian Kings, having clearly learnt that the heavenly King had been born on earth, drawn by a bright star arrived in Bethlehem, bringing chosen gifts, gold and incense and myrrh. And falling down they worshipped, for they saw lying in the Cave the Timeless as a babe.

When the Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, Magi came from the East and worshipped God become man. Eagerly opening their treasures, they offered precious gifts, refined gold, as to the King of the ages, and incense, as to the God of all things; while as to one dead for three days, myrrh to the Immortal. Come all you nations, let us worship Him who was born to save our souls.

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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2012, 10:00:53 PM »

Although it is a Roman Catholic source, the information presented is true.

First of all, thank you for your reply and your help with this.

Now, I don't mean to discredit your research or your statement, but how do you know this is true? I'm not trying to be difficult, I just want to make sure the information is orthodoxically accurate before I present it. As such, I'm hesitant to use a Catholic source unless I'm sure we hold the same beliefs.

Have you read the article? Also, New Advent.org is a rather reliable source. Just because it's Catholic, don't assume there is no knowledge to be gained there. (For the record, I know of several Orthodox priests who have gotten their Phd from Catholic universities.)

Also, regarding the Magi, this is something that we share in common with the Catholics. If this was regarding the dogma of Purgatory or the like, I could understand your concern, but this is not a dogmatic issue.
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2012, 11:26:03 PM »

I will admit I did not read the article before I last posted. I was about to leave work and after a 12 hour day I didn't want to stay a minute longer  Grin. After reading the article, and seeing the amount of early church fathers they reference, I must say you were right. I apologize.

I hope you did not misunderstand my skepticism. I have not heard of newadvent.org and I wasn't sure if we agreed with them or not on matters like this. I only wanted to get the orthodox answer so I don't unwittingly lead others astray. Just shows you my own ignorance. I would like to thank you, Handmaiden, for providing good info.
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2012, 11:44:39 PM »

No worries.

As the Gospels reveal little about the Magi, there is conflicting information about them. While often assumed to be three (three gifts = three magi), Encyclopedia Brittanica says some faith traditions in the East claim there were 12. (Unfortunately the good encyclopedia doesn't say who in the East believes this.)

I would suggest reading the Wikipedia article, then looking at the different sources cited.

While Wikipedia isn't "Gospel truth", it can be a good place to start when looking for sources for research.

You also may want to explore why the Magi are celebrated more in the West than the East. In the West, particularly in Italy, January 6 is "Little Christmas," the Feast of the Three Magi. We have no such celebration in the East. The only time they are mentioned is in the Nativity readings.

I am not saying the West is wrong for celebrating them, but it is clear that from the earliest days of Christianity, everything from the number of Magi, to their profession, to their names has been up for dispute. I also don't look at it that one group is right and another is wrong. I think it was just a matter of poor record keeping, and thus different interpretations have lead to different theories as to who they were.

If you want to talk about the conflicting information, it can make for a very interesting presentation. I would emphasize that although there may be conflicting accounts as to who the Magi were, this does not in any way dissuade or effect our belief in Christ being the Word Incarnate.
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2012, 02:29:43 AM »

One of my favorite subjects -

I have a special personal attachment to the Magi (I've always wondered why the Magi aren't emphasized more in our traditions, seeing that they were "of the East" and, logically therefore - to my mind at least, should peculiarly "belong" to our Churches - though, admittedly, the Oriental Orthodox and Catholics do give them more attention).

The Magi are inextricably tied to my earliest recollection of understanding compass directions. Our downstairs neighbors were a childless Greek couple. She had no real charm about her (nor any personality), but her husband, Dr. K, of blessed memory, was a delightful man who was a veritable fount of information generally considered useless, but invaluable to children. He would come upstairs with his compass and he and my Dad would make a great show of calculating East to assure proper direction for the Magi, who were always off to the side - out of sight of the stable until Epiphany, when they would be marched up into place. I was continually amazed that each year East was in the same place  Shocked

"Manger scenes", as they are typically erected, should probably be considered as man's effort to visualize an event about which we have very limited information available, in that they likely compress events into a single scene. (I am no biblical scholar, so please forgive me any mis-statements in what follows)

Luke speaks of the shepherds being informed by the angel that the birth occurred that very day and he says that they found the Baby in a manger. Matthew's account of the circumstances involving the Magi is less precisely fixed. His Gospel only describes the birth, and (by inference from the meeting between them and Herod) the Magi's visit, as occuring during the time of Herod.

Given that we have no evidence for how long a period elapsed before the Family fled to Egypt, it's not unreasonable to conclude that they may have resided for some period in Bethlehem prior to departing. That period could have been anywhere from the two weeks that, in real time, would account for dating the Magi's visit as having been in January. That it might have been even longer could be inferred from Herod's caution in ordering the killing of all infant boys aged two or younger, to be certain that he covered all possibilities.

The latter suggests that the Magi, in their initial conversation with him, were uncertain as to the actual date on which the Child was born. Not unreasonable - I don't know that anyone has ever firmly established that either the prophecies on which they relied or their actual observation of the Star was tied in time to the Birth itself or was a portent of its future happening - allowing them time to arrive and be present at it. The latter seems unlikely because of the differences between Luke and Matthew in relating the matters of the Birth and the Magi's arrival.

Since one can presume that the Star which guided them was visible from the inception of their journey until its conclusion, I suppose one could look to some of the works that have been written over the years regarding the visibility of various heavenly bodies that have been proposed as the Star of Bethlehem. I would be surprised if none of those treatises have indicated the period of time during which the Star would have been visible. Such might suggest how long the travelers followed it.

The placement of the Magi in the stable or cave scene itself, whether on Christmas Day or Epiphany, is almost certainly a convenience to human understanding. It offers the symbolic statement that Christ's birth was for all mankind, the poor and low-born shepherds and the rich, high-born, and educated Magi, as well as the choirs of Heaven. It would be much more difficult to convey that same understanding if the Magi's arrival were separated entirely from the visualization of Christmas morning.

If you think about it, most of those traveling to Bethlehem for the census likely left shortly after and lodging would have been more readily available. One can surmise that Mary, Joseph, and the Baby had relocated to someplace more hospitable than the cave or stable, as soon as possible after Jesus' Birth.

In essence, we'll never know with complete certainty, as least not in this life, just as we don't know precisely how many the Magi were in number. Caspar/Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar are traditionally named, but folks have put other names to them. The Ethiopians speak of Hor, Basanater, and Karsudan - but put the total number as 13, as I recollect; the Syrians nominate them as Larvandad, Hormisdas, and Gushnasaph; to the Armenians they were, anciently, Kagba, Badadilma, and Melkon.

More diverse than the names are the various numbers of them; they are depicted in various representations and traditions as being as few as 2 and as many as 14. The number 3 is most likely ascribed from the number of gifts they offered.

Many cultures have folktales that tell of someone (other than the expected entourage of guards, servants, etc.) who was supposed to travel with the Magi, but was prevented from doing so, by some circumstance or other, usually with consequences. Such "wannabe" Magi are usually associated thereafter with gift-giving, at either Christmas or Epiphany, in their endless search for the Child.

Along this line, in Italy, one finds "La Befana", a kindly old witch. Legend says that she lived alone in the hills. She noticed a bright star in the night sky; later, 3 richly garbed men stopped and asked directions to Bethlehem. When she said that she didn't know of any such a place, they invited her to join them in their search; she declined, as she was too busy.

After the Magi left, Befana suffered regrets about her choice, remembering her own child, who died very young. She baked cakes and cookies for the Baby, took her broom (to help the Baby's mother clean), and set out to find the caravan. When she became lost and tired, angels appeared and gave her broom the power of flight, to speed her search. She roamed the world, hunting for the Baby and still does. And each year, on the eve of Epiphany, whenever Befana comes to a house where there is a child, she flies down the chimney to see if it might be the One she seeks. It never is, but she leaves a gift anyway.

Henry van Dyke, an early 20th century writer, crafted a short story, "The Other Wise Man", which related another legend. In it, Artaban, a fourth Magi, was late in arriving to meet the others, who had already left. By the time he came to Bethlehem, they and the Holy Family had left to flee Herod's wrath. Artaban wandered the earth for 33 years, searching and using his gifts (jewels) to benefit others. When he encountered Christ, face-to-face, on Golgotha, his fortune was gone and he wasn't able to ransom Him. As Christ died and earth was shaken by a quake, Artaban was struck by a stone falling from a building. As he lay dying, he heard a voice from Heaven, saying, "What you did for each of these, you did for Me."

Babushka, an elderly Russian folklore character, appears in two variants of such tales. One mirrors the Italian tale of the initially selfish and later repentant La Befana; the other is a variant on van Dyke's story, except that Babushka reaches the stable, sorrowing that she has given away all her gifts and is consoled to find that what she did for others, she did for the Baby.

Among both the "Saint Thomas Christians" of India (Malabarese and Malankarese Catholics and Orthodox) and the Chaldeans and Assyrians (where the Magi likely had their roots), legend has the Magi encounter the Apostle Thomas some forty years later, when he arrived in their lands to evangelize. According to tradition, the three, then elderly, were converted and ordained, dying shortly afterwards.

The feasts of Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar are kept in the Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Chaldean, Assyrian, Malabarese, and Malakarese Churches on January 1, 6, and 11, respectively.

The relics of the Magi are believed to be enshrined in the magnificent Cathedral of Cologne, which was constructed specifically to provide a suitable repository for them.

The Troparion of Christmas in the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, used in Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine Rite and in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, reads in part:

Quote
Your birth, O Christ our God, has shed upon the world the light of knowledge; for through it those who worshipped the stars have learned from a star to worship You, the Sun of Justice, and to recognize You as the Orient From On High. Glory be to You, O Lord!

I had the privilege as a college student of briefly knowing Father Francis X. Weiser, SJ, of blessed memory.

Father was, among other things (e.g., chaplain to the von Trapp family), an Austrian-American Jesuit and a renowned student of Christian folklore and customs. In one of his writings about Christmas customs, this is what he had to offer about the Magi:

Quote
The Magi -- The name "magi" is not a Hebrew word but of Indo-Germanic origin, meaning "great, illustrious." St. Matthew mentions the term without explanation because it was well known to the people of Palestine. The Magi originated in Media (Persia) and their caste later spread to other oriental countries. They were a highly esteemed class of priestly scholars, devoting themselves not only to religion but also to the study of natural sciences, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and astrology. In several countries they were members of the king's council.

Quite early in the Christian era a popular tradition conferred on the Magi of Bethlehem the title of kings. This tradition became universal at the end of the sixth century. It was based on Biblical prophecies which described the conversion of the pagans and, although not referring to the Magi, was applied to their visit, as, for instance, in the following texts:

"The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents: the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts."--Psalm 71,10.

"The kings shall walk in the brightness of thy rising....They all shall come from Saba, bringing gold and frankincense." --Isaias 60, 3-6.

Where did the Magi come from? St. Matthew gives a general answer: "Wise men from the East." Was it Persia or Arabia? Speaking in modern terms, it could have been any one of the countries of Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or India. It has never been exactly determined from which of these countries they came.

Neither has their exact number ever been established. The Gospel does not tell us how many they were. The Christians in the Orient had a tradition of twelve Magi. In early paintings and mosaics they are represented as two, three, four and even more. In the occidental church a slowly spreading tradition put their number at three. This tradition became universal in the sixth century. It does not seem to have any historical foundation but was probably based on the fact of the threefold presents which the Magi offered. Another reason for the number three was the early legend that they were representing all humanity in the three great races of Sem, Cham, and Japhet. This particular legend is also the reason for picturing one of the three as a member of the black race.

The book "Collectanea et Flores," ascribed to St. Bede the Venerable (735), records an early legend of their names and appearance: "The first was called Melchior; he was an old man, with white hair and long beard; he offered gold to the Lord as to his king. The second, Gaspar by name, young, beardless, of ruddy hue, offered to Jesus his gift of incense, the homage due to Divinity. The third, of black complexion, with heavy beard, was called Baltasar; the myrrh he held in his hands prefigured the death of the Son of man."[8]

There is an old legend that when many years had passed the Magi were visited by St. Thomas the Apostle, who after instructing them in Christianity, baptized them. They were then ordained to the priesthood and later made bishops. It is said that once more the star of Bethlehem appeared to them--reunited them toward the end of their lives. "The city of Sewa in the Orient" is given as the place of their burial.[9] The legendary relics of the Magi were brought to Constantinople in the fifth century; one hundred years later they were transferred to Milan, and in 1164 to Cologne under Emperor Barbarossa (1190). Their shrine in Cologne was, and still is, the center of many pilgrimages

endnotes:

8. "Sanctus Beda Venerabilis De Collectaneis" (Collected Notes). J. P. Migne, "Patrologia Latina," vol. XCIV, col. 541.

9. "Divine Office," Proprium of the Archdiocese of Cologne, Feast of the Translation of the Magi (July 23rd), second Nocturn.


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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2012, 03:18:21 AM »

Here is some information from Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq's book The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church:

Jesus' birth was welcomed and glorified by the shepherds. He was praised by a multitude of heavenly hosts and worshiped by the three Wise Men (Magi).

The Bible correctly recognized the Wise Men as they came from the east to worship Christ. There is no clear identity, however, as to what part of the east they came from. The Bible contains the truth and is the word of God. (Of course, it is an inspired book and a guide for man, but, as a collection of writing by men who were inspired, it needs to be interpreted for clear understanding.)

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the King, behold wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is He who was born King of the Jews?’ for we have seen his star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (St. Matthew 2:1) They were well informed through the prophets and through the Scriptures that some great king would arise in Judea. Besides, they were moved by divine guidance. They received special direction from Heaven leading them to follow the star and to inquire at Jerusalem.

Archaeologists and historians have tried to discover the origin of the Magi. One modern write, Prof. A.V. Gutschmidt, tried to place the wise men as coming from Persian provinces but admitted that he was not quite sure. Many other commentator vaguely state that these wise men were “from the east.” Hans Holzer in his book Star of the East states that one of the magi was emperor of Ethiopia. He also named them Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar- Caspar as king of Afghanistan, Melchior as a ruler in the Near East, and Balthasar as King of Ethiopia. An article written by William Leo Hansbury and E. Harper Johnson concerning the wise men identified them as Caspar, king of Ethiopia, Melchior, king of Nubia, and Balthazar, king of Saba. There is a contradiction between Hans Holzer and these other two writers. However, Holzer, who believes the name Bazan gradually became Balthazar (Balthasar), seems closer to the truth. Aleqa Taye, an Ethiopian historian, writes, “King Bazan ruled Ethiopia for 17 years, eight years before and nine years after Christ.”

Prof. August Dillman, a philologist, in his book Royal Ethiopia lists Ethiopian rulers from the time of the queen of Sheba to the last period of King Bazan. He also states that during the eight years of the reign of Bazan, Christ was born.  

The archaeologist Littmann discovered the tomb and relics of King Bazan and his family in Axum in 1904. From this he concluded that Bazan lived in the first century A.D. The inscription on the tomb was in Sabaean. Thus the king who worshiped Christ was Bazan, emperor of Ethiopia. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of 68:31, “Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hands unto God.”

Another suggestion regarding the identity of the three wise men is presented thus:

“When the line of King Menelik I of Ethiopia (Son of Queen Makeda and King Solomon) had sat upon the Throne for thirty generations, one of the Royal line, cousin to the King then reigning and a famed student of Wisdom of the Stars, by name Gazpor (in northern lands called Gaspard), beheld the shining of the strange star in the East, and on his dromedary, with his two magi brethren, Melchior and Balthazar, came to Bethlehem to find the Saviour of the World.” [P. Wheeler, The Golden Legend of Ethiopia]

From this point of view it is not impossible to believe that all three wise men had come from one jurisdiction. History also recorded that during the time Christ was born, Ethiopia was inhabited by a powerful race of warriors who had also managed to bring parts of southern Arabia and Asia under its control.

When Herod heard of the visit of the wise men, he summoned them privately and inquired diligently as to the time of the star’s appearance. His main reason was to pinpoint the age of the child. He pretended he wished for an opportunity to worship Him also, but he really wanted to kill Him. He expected the Magi to return by way of Jerusalem, but they had special directions from God to keep away from Herod.

According to Matthew’s account, the arrival of the wise men was later than the birth of Christ. It was probably after the purification, which took place forty days after His birth. The flight into Egypt took place soon after the Magi’s departure, and the purification also took place before the flight into Egypt.

It has been suggested by most writers that Caspar brought gold, Melchior brought frankincense, and Balthazar’s gift was myrrh. Why should the king of Ethiopia bring a gift of myrrh to Christ when he could without any problem bring gold unless there may have been an arrangement as to what gift each should bring for the occasion? It was traditional for Ethiopian emperors to send gold with their gifts. When the queen of Sheba visited Solomon, she took gold along with other gifts with her to Palestine. It is also possible that all three gifts had come from the jurisdiction of Ethiopia, since Ethiopia dominated several countries at that time, including Nubia and South Arabia. Therefore, in this regard, Hansbury and Harper Johnson also may be right.


[From The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church: "The Wise Men and the Nativity of Christ" p. 9-11]



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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2012, 03:23:03 AM »

Very interesting.

The following is not in the Synaxarion, so perhaps my recollection is in error, and I know that the Magi are depicted in the Nativity of Christ Icon and are mentioned in the Apolytikion, but I have a recollection that there is an Eastern Orthodox teaching that the Magi arrived two years after Christ's birth.  Has anyone ever heard/read anything like this or something similar?
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2012, 03:30:24 AM »

Very interesting.

The following is not in the Synaxarion, so perhaps my recollection is in error, but I have a recollection that there is an Orthodox teaching that the Magi arrived two years after Christ's birth.  Has anyone ever heard/read anything like this or something similar?

This would be most odd, as the liturgical texts clearly place the arrival of the Magi and the star to Bethlehem at a point very close to Christ's birth. Your recollection might have something to do with Herod's decree that all male children of two years and under be slaughtered, in order to kill the new King.
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2012, 04:25:28 AM »

Very interesting.

The following is not in the Synaxarion, so perhaps my recollection is in error, but I have a recollection that there is an Orthodox teaching that the Magi arrived two years after Christ's birth.  Has anyone ever heard/read anything like this or something similar?

This would be most odd, as the liturgical texts clearly place the arrival of the Magi and the star to Bethlehem at a point very close to Christ's birth. Your recollection might have something to do with Herod's decree that all male children of two years and under be slaughtered, in order to kill the new King.


Abuna Yesehaq states:

"According to Matthew’s account, the arrival of the wise men was later than the birth of Christ. It was probably after the purification, which took place forty days after His birth. The flight into Egypt took place soon after the Magi’s departure, and the purification also took place before the flight into Egypt."


Selam
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2012, 12:21:08 PM »

so far, what i have heard in the coptic tradition matches the information in the Orthodox Research Institute article and some of the New Advent.org article, but i am also interested in the other traditions.

i have also heard that a burial place of the magi was found in persia (iran), which would suggest their conversion to Christianity or judaism, as the zoroastrians did not bury their dead, but left the bodies on 'holy ground' to be eaten by vultures.
i haven't found a source for that, sorry.
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« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2012, 12:26:40 PM »

According to the local tradition in India; one of the wise men was from a town called Piravam. After the wise man (king) returned back from Bethlehem, he built a temple to worship Infant Jesus. Later on when Apostle St. Thomas brought the Gospel of Christ to India; and the Church in India started to have formal relationship with the Church in the Middle East (Antioch / Edessa). At that time the Piravam Church was called the Church of the Kings (Rajakkalude Palli). However the Syriac fathers thought that the Kings (Magi) never listened to the Gospel of Christ and were never baptized as Christians; so it was inappropriate to name a Christian Church with the Kings as the patron saints. So under the instructions of the Syriac fathers, the name of the Church was formally changed to St. Mary's Church, Piravam.  The original structure of the church was rebuilt and this church still survives. Though the official name of the Church is St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church; the local people including the Hindus still refer to this church in Malayalam as Rajakkalude Palli (Church of the Kings). It is interesting to note that the Malayalam word for 'birth' is Piravi and the very name of the town Piravom comes from Piravi which means birth. (ie birth of Christ).
Unfortunately most records and books from the pre 1599 period were burned at the Synod of Diamper (Udayamperur). So there are no written records to substantiate any of the above.

I realize this may not be something that you were looking for; but thought it was interesting to share.
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« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2012, 12:30:06 PM »

very interesting.
maybe the tradition that one was indian, one was persian and one was ethiopian has some truth!
maybe they met each other on the journey and decided to travel on to jerusalem together.
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« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2012, 10:06:26 AM »

When i was at a protestant "seminary" the idea was brought up comparing the magi with the "kingmakers" they often traveled with a caravan of goods and treasures. It was explained that this is a main reason Herod was concerned knowing of the prophecy and seeing the "Kingmakers" travel by he became concerned for his throne. I would love some input from others as to this theory!
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« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2012, 06:12:41 PM »

yeah we are taught in the coptic church he was definitely worried about loosing his throne.
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