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Author Topic: The Magi expecting Christ  (Read 1160 times) Average Rating: 0
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ROCORthodox
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« on: July 04, 2006, 10:00:53 AM »

Greetings,
I was hoping to gather some comments on a topic which I have been pondering for a while now concerning the Magi. First some background.

We know that the Magi knew where to find the expected Christ by plotting the stars. One obvious question. How could non-Hebrews be expecting Christ? Well, on researching the Magi I found comments that these people were Persians. Following on from there I came across a post by an Harvard educated Orthodox convert who said that Zoroastrianism actually lead her to Christianity based on the Persian influence on both Jewish and Greek thought. Also early Christian writers like Irenaeus, Clement and Justin who she felt had displayed quite a bit of Persian theology. After reading the NT in Greek she says she realized in all of this was that Jesus Christ was indeed the true Rathu spoken of in the Ahunavar. Her Iranian Studies professor insisted on a translation of the Ahunavar which essentially stated that the Rathu was to be worshipped by the people because He Was Asha incarnate. She further stated that in the concepts of Asha and Vohumana is the Christian Logos. In Kshasthra Vairya is the Greek Dynamis - a title which was also attributed to Christ by the Early Church Fathers. She also found Christian understanding of the Holy Trinity in Armaiti, Havurtat and Amerdat as well as the Holy Spirit in SpentaMainyu.

Now I am no Harvard scholar but I was wondering these questions (taking for granted this person is correct in her assertions):

1. Could the above information about Zoroastrian doctrine be the
reason why the Magi were expecting Christ?

2. If so, then how does this effect the exclusivity of the Hebrew
YHWH in that the Zoroastrians did not worship YHWH yet the Magi
expected Christ and evidently knew of the Logos?

3. Could God have simply revealed Himself to Persians in their own
cultural context before the fullness of Christianity came about?

I think I remember reading somewhere in the Holy fathers that the Gentiles also had the Truth (I think St. Seraphim of Sarov).

Any comments on this perplexing topic would be greatly appreciated as I have always wondered how the non-Hebrew Magi were actually expecting Christ!

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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2006, 10:22:58 AM »

It was with a large measure of surprise that I recently learned that the biblical Samarians (Samaritans) still exist - about 600 survivors living together in Lebanon (I think). I was shocked to see that the are essentially Hebrew in the beliefs and practise - with the Torah and much else - yet are not Hebrew. It would seem that the 'God of the Hebrews' was not ONLY the God of the Hebrews but of others as well.
Hence, IMHO, 1) possible;
2) Who said anything about exclusivity except the Hebrews?
3) Perhaps partially.

My quick and non-supported reaction, of course.
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2006, 01:44:37 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9431.msg126644#msg126644 date=1152022978]
It was with a large measure of surprise that I recently learned that the biblical Samarians (Samaritans) still exist - about 600 survivors living together in Lebanon (I think). I was shocked to see that the are essentially Hebrew in the beliefs and practise - with the Torah and much else - yet are not Hebrew. It would seem that the 'God of the Hebrews' was not ONLY the God of the Hebrews but of others as well.
Hence, IMHO, 1) possible;
2) Who said anything about exclusivity except the Hebrews?
3) Perhaps partially.

My quick and non-supported reaction, of course.
[/quote]

The deal with the Samaritans is are they are descended from the people who the Assyrians put in place of the Northern Israelites who were taken captive (2 Kings 17:24).  The Bible says how the replacements got the Torah is this: Wild animals were attacking the new settlers and the exiled Israelites said it was because the Torah was not being followed in the Holy Land.  Israelite priests were sent by the Assyrians to teach the replacements the "law of the land".  Today some of these people survive as you point out.

Your second point is a good one.  The Old Testament, after all, was written through the Hebrews.  Christ (as Melchizedek?) appeared to Abraham (Jhn 8:56) so we know that Christ was present before the Israelites wrote the OT.   Perhaps He also appeared to the Persians as Melchizedek.

I will hope to have more to add soon.  I have this same question on a few other places and really hope I get some good responses.  I have been racking my brain over this mystery for quite a while!
« Last Edit: July 04, 2006, 01:46:12 PM by ROCORthodox » Logged
Thomas
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2006, 12:39:57 AM »

One must also be aware of the fact that in teh first diaspora in which Israel was taken to Sumaria (Persia) many thousands of Jews were in Babylon and even when allowed to return to Palestine, many stayed there where their property and jobs were.  Their teachings and scribes  would undoubtedly have some impact upon persian and Zorastarianism by their influence.  The Magi would not have been ignorant about the belief systems around them, indeed were very likely to have incorporated some of tehir beliefs into their own system.

Thomas
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2010, 07:15:39 PM »

There's a new book out now, the first full English translation of Revelation of the Magi (RotM), by Brent Landau. In his commentary, he makes a few interesting points:

1. RotM explains the word "magi" to mean "silent prayer", rather than "astrologer" or "magician". Such an explanation of "magi" would not be consistent with a Zoroastrian-priest-theory of who the magi were. [And, I would argue, it would be consistent with an Indian-theory of who the magi were, India containing holy-men called "muni", "silent sages"; one of the Buddha's titles was "Shakyamuni", the silent sage of the Shakya people.]

2. The RotM said that the magi are descendants of Seth. The magi inherited from Seth a prophecy that a very bright star would appear one day, announcing the birth of the Son of God. Such a star had been previously hovering over the Tree of Life in the Garden, but Adam's sin caused it to vanish. [Muslims argue that the Garden of Eden existed in Sri Lanka, an island just south of India. Such an idea (if also found within ancient Christian sources) would also be consistent with an Indian-theory of who the magi were.]

3. The RotM relates that, in later years, after the ascension, the Apostle Thomas journeys to the land of the magi, the magi greet him and tell him of their experiences, and ask to be baptized, which Thomas duly does.

4. The RotM states that the magi came from the far-east land of "Shir" (which is unique in Christian writings, most of which say the magi came from Persia, Babylon, or Arabia).

5. The RotM equates the star of Bethlehem with Christ himself, again, something that no other early Christian text states.

The only known copy of the RotM is at the Vatican, written in Syriac, in 8th-century Turkey. The RotM, from internal evidence, is dated to, at the latest, the 4th century, likely even to around 300 CE.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 07:16:59 PM by Jetavan » Logged

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