Biblical Magi

Biblical Magi

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"Three Kings", or "Three Wise Men", redirects here. For other uses, see Three Kings (disambiguation)
Three Kings (disambiguation)
-Film and television:*Three Kings , a war comedy/drama movie set in post-Gulf War Iraq*Les Rois mages, a 2001 French film dubbed The Three Kings in English*Los Reyes Magos , a 2003 animated Spanish film...

 and Wise men
Wise men
Wise men can refer to:* Wisemen * Biblical Magi, the "wise men" who follow the Star of Bethlehem in the New Testament.* Wise Men of Gotham.* A man of Wisdom.* The James Blunt single, Wisemen....

.

The Magi
Magi
Magi is a term, used since at least the 4th century BC, to denote a follower of Zoroaster, or rather, a follower of what the Hellenistic world associated Zoroaster with, which...

(icon;
Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

: μάγοι, magoi), also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men, (Three) Kings, (Three) Astrologers, or Kings from the East, were a group of distinguished foreigners who were said to have visited Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 after his birth, bearing gifts of gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, frankincense
Frankincense
Frankincense, also called olibanum , is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra, B. carteri, B. thurifera, B. frereana, and B. bhaw-dajiana...

 and myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

  celebrations of Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 and are an important part of the Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 tradition.

The Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

, the only one of the four Canonical gospels to mention the Magi, states that they came "from the east" to worship the Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

, "born King of the Jews
Jesus, King of the Jews
In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the King of the Jews both at the beginning of his life and at the end.Both uses of the title lead to dramatic results in the New Testament accounts. In the account of the Nativity of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, the three wise men In the New...

." Although the account does not tell how many they were, the three gifts led to a widespread assumption that they were three as well. In the East, the magi traditionally number twelve. Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is probably linked to Psalms 72:11, “May all kings fall down before him”.

Original account


The New Revised Standard Version
New Revised Standard Version
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible is an English translation of the Bible released in 1989 in the USA. It is a thorough revision of the Revised Standard Version .There are three editions of the NRSV:...

 of Matthew 2:1
Matthew 2:1
Matthew 2:1 is the first verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The previous verse ended with Jesus being named by his father, this verse marks the clear start of a new narrative. This verse deals with the arrival of the Magi at the court of Herod the Great in...

12
Matthew 2:12
Matthew 2:12 is the twelfth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The magi, dispatched by King Herod, have found and paid homage to the Infant Jesus...

 describes the visit of the Magi:

They are mentioned twice shortly thereafter, in reference to their avoidance of Herod after seeing Jesus, and what Herod had learned from their earlier meeting.

Description


The Magi are popularly referred to as wise men and kings. The word magi is the plural of Latin magus, borrowed from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 μάγος magos, as used in the original Greek text of the Gospel of Matthew. Greek magos itself is derived from Old Persian maguŝ from the Avestan magâunô, i.e. the religious caste into which Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

 was born, (see Yasna
Yasna
Yasna is the name of the primary liturgical collection of texts of the Avesta as well as the name of the principal Zoroastrian act of worship at which those verses are recited. The Yasna, or Izeshne, is primarily the name of the ceremony in which the entire book is recited and appropriate...

 33.7: "ýâ sruyê parê magâunô " = " so I can be heard beyond Magi "). The term refers to the priestly caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

. As part of their religion, these priests paid particular attention to the stars, and gained an international reputation for astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

, which was at that time highly regarded as a science. Their religious practices and use of astrology caused derivatives of the term Magi to be applied to the occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

 in general and led to the English term magic. Translated in the King James Version as wise men, the same translation is applied to the wise men led by Daniel
Daniel
Daniel is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, when Daniel was a young man, he was taken into Babylonian captivity where he was educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways...

 of earlier Hebrew Scriptures . The same word is given as sorcerer and sorcery when describing "Elymas
Elymas
Elymas, also known as Bar-Jesus , was a Jewish magician who appears in the New Testament in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 13....

 the sorcerer" in , and Simon Magus
Simon Magus
Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus, was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip the Apostle, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in . The sin of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is...

, considered a heretic
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 by the early Church, in .

Names


Traditions identify a variety of different names for the Magi. In the Western Christian
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 church they have been commonly known as:
  • Melchior
    Melchior
    Melchior is the name given in later legend to one of the Magi appearing in the Gospel of Matthew. It may also refer to:-First name:* Melchior Anderegg , Swiss mountain guide.* Melchior Berri , Swiss architect.* Melchior Broederlam Melchior is the name given in later legend to one of the Magi...

     (Melichior, Melchyor)
  • Caspar
    Casper (name)
    The name Casper and the same sounding name Kasper are derived from Gaspar which in turn is from an ancient Chaldean word, "Gizbar", which according to Strong's Concordance means "Treasurer". The word "Gizbar" appears in the Hebrew version of the Old Testament Book of Ezra . In fact, the modern...

     or Gaspar (and several other Greek or Latin variants such as Gathaspa, Jasper, Jaspas, etc.).
  • Balthasar (Bithisarea, Balthassar).

These names apparently derive from a Greek manuscript probably composed in Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 around 500 A.D., and which has been translated into Latin with the title Excerpta Latina Barbari. 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.

Caspar is also sometimes given as Gaspar or Jaspar. One candidate for the origin of the name Caspar appears in the Acts of Thomas
Acts of Thomas
The early 3rd century text called Acts of Thomas is one of the New Testament apocrypha, portraying Christ as the "Heavenly Redeemer", independent of and beyond creation, who can free souls from the darkness of the world. References to the work by Epiphanius of Salamis show that it was in...

 as Gondophares (AD 21
21
Year 21 was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Augustus and Caesar...

 – c.AD 47
47
Year 47 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Caesar and Vitellius...

), 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 who was allegedly visited by Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in . He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman...

. His name is perpetuated in the name of the Afghan city Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

, which he founded under the name Gundopharron. Christian legend may have chosen Gondofarr simply because he was an eastern king living in the right time period.

In contrast, the Syrian
Demographics of Syria
Syrians today are an overall indigenous Levantine people. While modern-day Syrians are commonly described as Arabs by virtue of their modern-day language and bonds to Arab culture and history...

 Christians name the Magi Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas
Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazdā is the Avestan name for a divinity of the Old Iranian religion who was proclaimed the uncreated God by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism...

. 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.
Many Chinese Christians believe that one of the magi came from China. This final idea is used by Christopher Moore in his novel Lamb
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal is the sixth novel by absurdist author Christopher Moore, published in 2002. In this work the author seeks to fill in the "lost" years of Jesus through the point of view of Jesus' childhood pal, "Levi bar Alphaeus who is called Biff".The...

.

Bible historian Chuck Missler
Chuck Missler
Charles "Chuck" Missler is an author, evangelical Christian, Bible teacher, former businessman and US Navy officer. He is the founder of the Koinonia House ministry based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.-Biography:...

 mentions an Armenian
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

 tradition identifying the Magi as Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior
Melchior
Melchior is the name given in later legend to one of the Magi appearing in the Gospel of Matthew. It may also refer to:-First name:* Melchior Anderegg , Swiss mountain guide.* Melchior Berri , Swiss architect.* Melchior Broederlam Melchior is the name given in later legend to one of the Magi...

 of Persia and Gasper
Gasper
Gasper may refer to:* Gasper , an Indo-Parthian king, one of the three kings that made up the Biblical Magi that attended the birth of Christ.* George Gasper, mathematician* Gasper, a marijuana cigarette....

 of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

Origin and journey


The phrase from the east, 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
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

, or Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 from Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 as the Makrebs or kings of Yemen then were Jews, a view held for example by John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

. The majority belief was they were from Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, which was the centre of Zurvanism
Zurvanism
Zurvanism is a now-extinct branch of Zoroastrianism that had the divinity Zurvan as its First Principle . Zurvanism is also known as Zurvanite Zoroastrianism....

, and hence astrology, at the time; and may have retained knowledge from the time of their Jewish leadership by Daniel
Daniel
Daniel is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, when Daniel was a young man, he was taken into Babylonian captivity where he was educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways...

.

According to the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

, the Magi found Jesus by 'following' a star, which thus traditionally became known as the Star of Bethlehem
Star of Bethlehem
In Christian tradition, the Star of Bethlehem, also called the Christmas Star, revealed the birth of Jesus to the magi, or "wise men", and later led them to Bethlehem. The star appears in the nativity story of the Gospel of Matthew, where magi "from the east" are inspired by the star to travel to...

. Various theories have been presented as to what this phenomenon refers to, since stars do not visibly move and therefore cannot be followed.

On finding him, they gave him three symbolic gifts: gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, frankincense
Frankincense
Frankincense, also called olibanum , is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra, B. carteri, B. thurifera, B. frereana, and B. bhaw-dajiana...

 and myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

. 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
Massacre of the Innocents
The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great. According to the Gospel of Matthew Herod orders the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth...

, in an attempt to eliminate a rival heir to his throne. Jesus and his family had, however, escaped to Egypt
Flight into Egypt
The flight into Egypt is a biblical event described in the Gospel of Matthew , in which Joseph fled to Egypt with his wife Mary and infant son Jesus after a visit by Magi because they learn that King Herod intends to kill the infants of that area...

 beforehand. After these events they passed into obscurity. The story of the nativity
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

 in Matthew glorifies Jesus, likens him to Moses, and shows his life as fulfilling prophecy.

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
Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in . He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman...

 on his way to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. 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
Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral
The Shrine of the Three Kings is a reliquary said to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. The shrine is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral...

.

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
Tiridates I of Armenia
Tiridates I was King of Armenia beginning in AD 53 and the founder of the Arshakuni Dynasty, the Armenian line of the Arsacid Dynasty. The dates of his birth and death are unknown. His early reign was marked by a brief interruption towards the end of the year 54 and a much longer one from 58...

 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.

In recent tradition the Magi have been portrayed as three kings, or noble men, of different origin. One from Western
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 (usually Celtic-like from the British Isles or France), another of African Origin (usually Abyssinian, Ethiopian), the last from Asia either from the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 (e.g. Yemen or Oman) or the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

 (usually China). The European is often portrayed with the Gold as the other two gifts were native to Africa and Asia so the Myrrh and Frankincense vary between "King".

There was a tradition that the Central Asian Naimans
Naimans
The Naimans, also Naiman Turks or Naiman Mongols, was a Mongolian name given to a group of people dwelling on the steppe of Central Asia, having diplomatic relations with the Kara-Khitan, and subservient to them until 1177...

 and their Christian Kerait
Kerait
The Kereit tribe was one of the five major tribal confederations in Mongolian plateau in the 12th century, and dominant in the area and, as allies of Genghis Khan, influential in the rise of the Mongol Empire...

 relatives were descended from the Biblical Magi. This heritage passed to the Mongol dynasty of Genghis Khan when Sorghaghtani, niece of the Kerait ruler Toghrul
Wang Khan
Wang Khan, also Ong Khan, was the title given to the Kerait ruler Toghrul by the Jurchen Jin Dynasty of China. Like the rest of their tribe he may have been Nestorian Christian...

, married Tolui
Tolui
Tolui, was the youngest son of Genghis Khan by his chief khatun Börte...

 the youngest son of Genghis and became the mother of Mongke Khan
Möngke Khan
Möngke Khan , born Möngke, , was the fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from July 1, 1251 – August 11, 1259. He was the first Great Khan from the Toluid line, and made significant reforms to improve the administration of the Empire during his reign...

 and his younger brother and successor, Kublai Khan. Toghrul became identified with the legendary Central Asian Christian king, Prester John
Prester John
The legends of Prester John were popular in Europe from the 12th through the 17th centuries, and told of a Christian patriarch and king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient. Written accounts of this kingdom are variegated collections of medieval...

, whose Mongol descendants were sought as allies against the Muslims by contemporary European monarchs and popes.


Gifts


The Magi are described as "falling down", "kneeling" or "bowing" in the worship of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

. This gesture, together with the use of kneeling
Kneeling
Kneeling is a human position in which the weight is distributed on the knees and feet on a surface close to horizontal.The position of kneeling may be assumed for practical reasons and for reasons of social or religious custom.- Practical reasons :...

 in 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
Prostration
Prostration is the placement of the body in a reverentially or submissively prone position. Major world religions employ prostration either as a means of embodying reverence for a noble person, persons or doctrine, or as an act of submissiveness to a supreme being or beings...

 were adopted in the early Church. While prostration is now rarely practiced in the West, it is still relatively common in the Eastern Churches, especially during Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

. Kneeling has remained an important element of Christian worship to this day.

Three gifts are explicitly identified in Matthew: gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, frankincense
Frankincense
Frankincense, also called olibanum , is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra, B. carteri, B. thurifera, B. frereana, and B. bhaw-dajiana...

, and myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

. 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
    Incense
    Incense is composed of aromatic biotic materials, which release fragrant smoke when burned. The term "incense" refers to the substance itself, rather than to the odor that it produces. It is used in religious ceremonies, ritual purification, aromatherapy, meditation, for creating a mood, and for...

    ) as a symbol of priestship, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.
  • Sometimes this is described more generally as gold symbolizing virtue, frankincense symbolizing prayer
    Prayer
    Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

    , and myrrh symbolizing suffering.
  • These interpretations are alluded to in the verses of the popular carol "We Three Kings
    We Three Kings
    "We Three Kings", also known as "We Three Kings of Orient Are" or "The Quest of the Magi", is a Christmas carol written by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who wrote both the lyrics and the music. It is suggested to have been written in 1857 but did not appear in print until his Carols, Hymns...

    " in which the magi describe their gifts.


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".

It has been suggested by scholars that the "gifts" were medicinal rather than precious material for tribute
Tribute
A tribute is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance. Various ancient states, which could be called suzerains, exacted tribute from areas they had conquered or threatened to conquer...

.

The Syrian King Seleucus II Callinicus
Seleucus II Callinicus
Seleucus II Callinicus or Pogon , was a ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, who reigned from 246 to 225 BC...

 is recorded to have offered gold, frankincense and myrrh to Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 in his temple at Miletus
Miletus
Miletus was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia , near the mouth of the Maeander River in ancient Caria...

 in 243 BC, and this may have been the precedent for the mention of these three gifts in Gospel of Matthew (2:11
Matthew 2:11
Matthew 2:11 is the eleventh verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The magi, dispatched by King Herod, have found the infant Jesus and in this verse present him with gifts in an event known as the Adoration of the Magi....

). It was these three gifts, it is thought, which were the chief cause for the number of the Magi becoming fixed eventually at three.

This episode can be linked to and to which report gifts being given by kings, and this has played a central role in the perception of the Magi as kings, rather than as astronomer-priests. In a hymn of the late 4th-century hispanic
Hispanic
Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to Hispania, which is to say the Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain. During the Modern Era, Hispanic sometimes takes on a more limited meaning, particularly in the United States, where the term means a person of ...

 poet Prudentius
Prudentius
Aurelius Prudentius Clemens was a Roman Christian poet, born in the Roman province of Tarraconensis in 348. He probably died in Spain, as well, some time after 405, possibly around 413...

, the three gifts have already gained their medieval interpretation as prophetic emblem
Emblem
An emblem is a pictorial image, abstract or representational, that epitomizes a concept — e.g., a moral truth, or an allegory — or that represents a person, such as a king or saint.-Distinction: emblem and symbol:...

s of Jesus' identity, familiar in the carol "We Three Kings
We Three Kings
"We Three Kings", also known as "We Three Kings of Orient Are" or "The Quest of the Magi", is a Christmas carol written by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who wrote both the lyrics and the music. It is suggested to have been written in 1857 but did not appear in print until his Carols, Hymns...

" by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., 1857.

John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

 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. 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
Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot was, according to the New Testament, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He is best known for his betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver.-Etymology:...

.

In the Monastery of St. Paul of Mount Athos
Mount Athos
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

 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
Mara Brankovic
Mara Branković , also known as Mara Hatun, Despina Hatun, or Amerissa, was the daughter of Serbian monarch Đurađ Branković and Eirene Kantakouzene...

, daughter of the King of Serbia Đurađ Branković, wife to the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 Murat II and godmother to Mehmet II the Conqueror (of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

). 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 AD. After the Athens earthquake of September 9, 1999 they were temporarily displayed in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 in order to strengthen faith and raise money for earthquake victims.

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
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 claimed that he was shown the three tombs of the Magi at Saveh
Saveh
Sāveh is a city in the Markazi Province of Iran. It is located around 100 km southwest of Tehran. As of 2006, the city had a population of 179,009 people.-History:In the 7th century BC it was as stronghold of the Medes...

 south of Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 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.

A Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral
Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral
The Shrine of the Three Kings is a reliquary said to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. The shrine is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral...

, according to tradition, contains the bones of the Three Wise Men. Reputedly they were first discovered by Saint Helena
Helena of Constantinople
Saint Helena also known as Saint Helen, Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople was the consort of Emperor Constantius, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I...

 on her famous pilgrimage to Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 and the Holy Lands. She took the remains to the church of Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

 in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

; they were later moved to Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 (some sources say by the city's bishop, Eustorgius I
Eustorgius I
Eustorgius I was Archbishop of Milan from 343 to about 349. He is honoured as a Saint in the Catholic Church and his feast day is September 18.-Life:...

), before being sent to their current resting place by the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 Frederick I
Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick I Barbarossa was a German Holy Roman Emperor. He was elected King of Germany at Frankfurt on 4 March 1152 and crowned in Aachen on 9 March, crowned King of Italy in Pavia in 1155, and finally crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Adrian IV, on 18 June 1155, and two years later in 1157 the term...

 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
John of Hildesheim
John of Hildesheim was a writer and Carmelite monk from the German town 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
Helena of Constantinople
Saint Helena also known as Saint Helen, Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople was the consort of Emperor Constantius, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I...

, mother of Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 to Jerusalem, where she recovered the True Cross
True Cross
The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.According to post-Nicene historians, Socrates Scholasticus and others, the Empress Helena The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a...

 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
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 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
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

 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
500
Year 500 was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Patricius and Hypatius...

 all commentators adopted the prevalent tradition that the three were kings, and this continued until the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

.

Though the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 omits Matthew's episode of the Magi, it was well known in Arabia. The Muslim encyclopaedist al-Tabari
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari
Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari was a prominent and influential Sunni scholar and exegete of the Qur'an from Persia...

, 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.

Some religious traditions take a critical view of the Magi. Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 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
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

 18:10–11, Leviticus
Leviticus
The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, and the third of five books of the Torah ....

 19:26, and Isaiah
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

 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.
Likewise, as Matthew 2:12
Matthew 2:12
Matthew 2:12 is the twelfth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The magi, dispatched by King Herod, have found and paid homage to the Infant Jesus...

 informs, the Magi were warned by God not to return to the familicide King Herod. Thus, they believe, it seems reasonable to consider that the star, which evidently only the Magi could see (Matthew 2:7
Matthew 2:7
Matthew 2:7 is the seventh verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The magi have informed King Herod that they had seen portents showing the birth of the King of the Jews. Herod has consulted with the leading Jewish religious figures who reported he was to be born...

, 8
Matthew 2:8
Matthew 2:8 is the eighth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The magi have informed King Herod that they had seen portents showing the birth of the King of the Jews. After consulting with the leading Jewish religious figures Herod sends the magi to find the...

), was the product of God's archenemy designed to perform an unholy act upon an innocent young child, Jesus.

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
Twelve Days of Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas are the festive days beginning Christmas Day . This period is also known as Christmastide and Twelvetide. The Twelfth Night of Christmas is always on the evening of 5 January, but the Twelfth Day can either precede or follow the Twelfth Night according to which...

, 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 magically bring them gifts on the night before Epiphany. In Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, 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
Orient
The Orient means "the East." It is a traditional designation for anything that belongs to the Eastern world or the Far East, in relation to Europe. In English it is a metonym that means various parts of Asia.- Derivation :...

 on their camel
Camel
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as humps on its back. There are two species of camels: the dromedary or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the bactrian has two humps. Dromedaries are native to the dry desert areas of West Asia,...

s to visit the houses of all the children; much like Santa Claus
Santa Claus
Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to 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
    Spain
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

    , Argentina
    Argentina
    Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

    , México
    Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

     and Uruguay
    Uruguay
    Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

     there is a long tradition for having the children receive their Christmas presents by the three "Reyes Magos" (the figure of Santa Claus
    Santa Claus
    Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to Santa Claus...

     only appeared in recent years) on the night of January 5 (Epiphany Eve). Almost every Spanish city or town organises cabalgata
    Cavalcade of Magi
    The Cavalcade of Magi is a typical parade of coaches practically in all the Spanish cities and also some cities and towns in Mexico. The Magi ride through the streets, as their page boys throw candies to children.It is celebrated every January 5 in the evening...

    s
    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
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    , the concept of the Three Kings (Filipino
    Filipino language
    This move has drawn much criticism from other regional groups.In 1987, a new constitution introduced many provisions for the language.Article XIV, Section 6, omits any mention of Tagalog as the basis for Filipino, and states that:...

    : Tatlóng Harìng Mágo, lit. "Three Kings Magi"; 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
    Cavalcade of Magi
    The Cavalcade of Magi is a typical parade of coaches practically in all the Spanish cities and also some cities and towns in Mexico. The Magi ride through the streets, as their page boys throw candies to children.It is celebrated every January 5 in the evening...

    is today done in only some areas, such as the old city of Intramuros
    Intramuros
    Intramuros is the oldest district in the present day city of Manila, the capital of the Republic of the Philippines. Nicknamed the "Walled City", Intramuros is the historic fortified city of Manila, the seat ot the government during the Spanish Colonial Period. Its name in Latin, intramuros,...

     in Manila
    Manila
    Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

    , and the island of Marinduque
    Marinduque
    In 1945, combined American and Philippine Commonwealth troops attacked from the Japanese Troops liberated to the Battle of Marinduque in the Second World War.-Archaeology:...

    . 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 5. 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
    Santa Claus
    Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to Santa Claus...

    , and they survive in the greeting "Happy Three Kings!" and the surname Tatlóngharì.

  • In Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

     and the Dominican Republic
    Dominican Republic
    The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

    , 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).

Central Europe and Germanic


  • A tradition in most of Central Europe
    Central Europe
    Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

     and in Germanic areas involves writing the initials of the three kings' names, with the year number split around them, above the main door of the home in chalk, to confer blessings on the occupants for the New Year. For example, 20 * C + M + B * 12 would be written for 2012. The writing is done at some point between Christmas and Epiphany. The initials may also represent "Christus mansionem benedicat" (Christ this abode bless).

  • In Catholic parts of Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     and in Austria
    Austria
    Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

    , 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 carol
    Christmas carol
    A Christmas carol is a carol whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas or the winter season in general and which are traditionally sung in the period before Christmas.-History:...

    s. 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. 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
    Racism
    Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

     blackface
    Blackface
    Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows, and later vaudeville, in which performers create a stereotyped caricature of a black person. The practice gained popularity during the 19th century and contributed to the proliferation of stereotypes such as the "happy-go-lucky darky...

     performance, as it does not portray any stereotypes about African people apart from the skin colour.

Roscón de Reyes



  • In Spain and in Portugal
    Portugal
    Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

     (where it is called Bolo-rei), the cake, which is ring-shaped, is most commonly bought, not baked, and it contains both a small figurine
    Figurine
    A figurine is a statuette that represents a human, deity or animal. Figurines may be realistic or iconic, depending on the skill and intention of the creator. The earliest were made of stone or clay...

     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
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     and Belgium
    Belgium
    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

    , 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. 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 take it to the local church and buy tamales for the Candelaria feast on February 2.

  • In New Orleans, Louisiana
    Louisiana
    Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

    , parts of southern Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

    , and surrounding regions, a similar ring-shaped cake known as a "King Cake
    King cake
    A king cake is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with the pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras / Carnival...

    " traditionally becomes available in bakeries from Epiphany to Mardi Gras
    New Orleans Mardi Gras
    Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana, is a Carnival celebration well-known throughout the world.The New Orleans Carnival season, with roots in preparing for the start of the Christian season of Lent, starts after Twelfth Night, on Epiphany . It is a season of parades, balls , and king cake parties...

    . 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 doubloon
    Doubloon
    The doubloon , was a two-escudo or 32-reales gold coin, weighing 6.77 grams . Doubloons were minted in Spain, Mexico, Peru, and Nueva Granada...

    s may be included as well.

Adoration of the Magi in art




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
Literary topos
Topos , in Latin locus , referred in the context of classical Greek rhetoric to a standardised method of constructing or treating an argument. See topos in classical rhetoric...

, 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 cap
Phrygian cap
The Phrygian cap is a soft conical cap with the top pulled forward, associated in antiquity with the inhabitants of Phrygia, a region of central Anatolia. In the western provinces of the Roman Empire it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty, perhaps through a confusion with the pileus,...

s. Crown appear from the 10th century. Medieval artists also allegorised
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 the theme to represent the three ages of man
Ages of Man
The Ages of Man are the stages of human existence on the Earth according to Greek mythology. Two classical authors in particular offer accounts of the successive ages of mankind, which tend to progress from an original, long-gone age in which humans enjoyed a nearly divine existence to the current...

. 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
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 and Caspar may be depicted with distinctive Oriental features.

An early Anglo-Saxon picture survives on the Franks Casket
Franks Casket
The Franks Casket is a small Anglo-Saxon whalebone chest from the seventh century, now in the British Museum. The casket is densely decorated with knife-cut narrative scenes in flat two-dimensional low-relief and with inscriptions mostly in Anglo-Saxon runes...

, 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. 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
Fylgja
In Norse mythology, a fylgja is a supernatural being or creature which accompanies a person in connection to their fate or fortune...

 (a protecting spirit, and shapeshifter
ShapeShifter
ShapeShifter is an Application Enhancer plugin for Mac OS X developed by Unsanity that allows the user to make system-wide modifications to the appearance of the operating system's graphical interface by applying GUI skins through “injection” into running code and without modifying system files,...

).

Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein
Gottfried Helnwein
Gottfried Helnwein is an Austrian-Irish fine artist, painter, photographer, installation and performance artist.-Work:Helnwein studied at the University of Visual Art in Vienna...

 depicted a more controversial tableau in his painting, Epiphany I: Adoration of the Magi (1996). Intended to represent the "many connections between the Third Reich and the Christian churches in Austria and Germany", Nazi officers in uniform stand around an Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

 woman, a Madonna. The Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 toddler who stands on Mary's lap resembles Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

.

More generally they appear in popular Nativity scene
Nativity scene
A nativity scene, manger scene, krippe, crèche, or crib, is a depiction of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke...

s and other Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 decorations that have their origins in the Neapolitan variety of the Italian presepio or Nativity crèche.

Representation in other art forms

  • Italian composer Ottorino Respighi
    Ottorino Respighi
    Ottorino Respighi was an Italian composer, musicologist and conductor. He is best known for his orchestral "Roman trilogy": Fountains of Rome ; Pines of Rome ; and Roman Festivals...

     wrote a composition called Trittico Botticielliano , based on three paintings by Botticelli, and one of the movements is called Adoration of the Magi.
  • "The Gift of the Magi
    The Gift of the Magi
    "The Gift of the Magi" is a short story written by O. Henry , about a young married couple and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money...

    " 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
    Gian Carlo Menotti
    Gian Carlo Menotti was an Italian-American composer and librettist. Although he often referred to himself as an American composer, he kept his Italian citizenship. He wrote the classic Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, among about two dozen other operas intended to appeal to popular...

    's opera Amahl and the Night Visitors
    Amahl and the Night Visitors
    Amahl and the Night Visitors is an opera in one act by Gian Carlo Menotti with an original English libretto by the composer. It was commissioned by NBC and first performed by the NBC Opera Theatre on December 24, 1951, in New York City at NBC studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, where it was broadcast...

    , and in several Christmas carol
    Christmas carol
    A Christmas carol is a carol whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas or the winter season in general and which are traditionally sung in the period before Christmas.-History:...

    s, of which the best-known English one is "We Three Kings
    We Three Kings
    "We Three Kings", also known as "We Three Kings of Orient Are" or "The Quest of the Magi", is a Christmas carol written by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who wrote both the lyrics and the music. It is suggested to have been written in 1857 but did not appear in print until his Carols, Hymns...

    ".
  • In the film Donovan's Reef
    Donovan's Reef
    Donovan's Reef is a 1963 American film starring John Wayne. It was directed John Ford and filmed on location on Kauai, Hawaii.The cast included Elizabeth Allen, Lee Marvin, Dorothy Lamour, and Cesar Romero. The film marked the last time Ford and Wayne ever worked together on a...

    , a Christmas play
    Nativity play
    A Nativity play or Christmas pageant is a play which recounts the story of the Nativity of Jesus. It is usually performed at Christmas, the feast of the Nativity.-Liturgical:...

     is held in French Polynesia
    French Polynesia
    French Polynesia is an overseas country of the French Republic . It is made up of several groups of Polynesian islands, the most famous island being Tahiti in the Society Islands group, which is also the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the territory...

    . However, instead of the traditional correspondence of Magi to continents, the version for Polynesian Catholics
    Inculturation
    Inculturation is a term used in Christianity, especially in the Roman Catholic Church, referring to the adaptation of the way Church teachings are presented to non-Christian cultures, and to the influence of those cultures on the evolution of these teachings....

     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
    Ben-Hur (1959 film)
    Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston in the title role, the third film adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The screenplay was written by Karl Tunberg, Gore Vidal, and Christopher Fry. The score was composed by...

    , where Balthasar ( Finlay Currie
    Finlay Currie
    Finlay Jefferson Currie was a Scottish actor of stage, screen and television.Currie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1878. His acting career began on the stage. He and his wife Maude Courtney did a song and dance act in the US in the 1890s. He made his first film in 1931...

     ) appears as an old man, who goes back to Palestine to see the former child Jesus become an adult.
  • T. S. Eliot
    T. S. Eliot
    Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

    's poem The Journey of the Magi
    The Journey of the Magi
    The Journey of the Magi is a poem by T. S. Eliot on the subject of the magi who travelled to Palestine to visit the newborn Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew...

    (1927) re-tells the story with a foreshadowing of the crucifixion
    Crucifixion of Jesus
    The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

    , as does the poem Visit of the Wise Men by Timothy Dudley-Smith
    Timothy Dudley-Smith
    Timothy Dudley-Smith OBE is an English hymnwriter and a retired bishop of the Church of England.Born in Manchester, England, he was educated at Tonbridge School and Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was ordained deacon in 1950 and priest in 1951. He served as Archdeacon of Norwich 1973-81 and ...

    .
  • In Michael Ende
    Michael Ende
    Michael Andreas Helmuth Ende was a German author of fantasy and children's literature. He is best known for his epic fantasy work The Neverending Story; other famous works include Momo and Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver...

    's children books Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver
    Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver
    Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver is a German children's novel written by Michael Ende. Published in 1960, it became one of the most successful German children's books in the postwar era after having first been rejected by a dozen publishers...

    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
    Salley Vickers
    Salley Vickers is an English novelist whose works include the word-of-mouth bestseller Miss Garnet's Angel, Mr. Golightly's Holiday, The Other Side of You and Where Three Roads Meet, a retelling of the Oedipus myth to Sigmund Freud in the last months of his life...

    's Miss Garnet's Angel links the Epiphany story, and arrival of the Magi, with the ancient Zoroastrian
    Zoroastrianism
    Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

     elements in the Book Of Tobit
    Book of Tobit
    The Book of Tobit is a book of scripture that is part of the Catholic and Orthodox biblical canon, pronounced canonical by the Council of Carthage of 397 and confirmed for Roman Catholics by the Council of Trent...

    , a Biblical book in the Deuterocanon.
  • The Biblical Magi were the subject of the 1980 novel Gaspard, Melchior and Balthasar by the French
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     author Michel Tournier
    Michel Tournier
    Michel Tournier is a French writer.His works are highly considered and have won important awards such as the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1967 for Friday, or, The Other Island and the Prix Goncourt for The Erl-King in 1970...

    .
  • The Magi are shown in a painting of prophecy in the game God of War II
    God of War II
    God of War II is an action-adventure video game released for the PlayStation 2 by Sony Computer Entertainment's Santa Monica division in March, 2007....

  • The names of the Biblical Magi are used in characters related to ancient and almost-lost knowledge in the videogames
    VideoGames
    VideoGames may refer to:*VideoGames, a mid-1990s magazine about video games.*Video games in general....

     Chrono Trigger
    Chrono Trigger
    is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1995. Chrono Triggers development team included three designers that Square dubbed the "Dream Team": Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Square's Final Fantasy series; Yuji Horii, a...

    and Xenogears
    Xenogears
    is a science-fiction console role-playing game developed and published by Square for Sony's PlayStation. It was released on February 11, 1998 in Japan and on October 20, 1998 in North America. The game was never released in PAL territories...

    .
  • The Magi are the subject of Norah Lofts
    Norah Lofts
    Norah Lofts, née Norah Robinson, was a 20th century best-selling British author. She wrote more than fifty books specialising in historical fiction, but she also wrote non-fiction and short stories...

    ' novel "How Far To Bethlehem?" (1965)
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion
    Neon Genesis Evangelion
    , commonly referred to as Evangelion, is a commercially and critically successful Japanese anime series that began airing in October 1995. The series was highly influential, and launched the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. It garnered several major animation awards...

     (anime and manga), 3 massive supercomputers are collectively known as the Magi.
  • The Spanish 2003 animation film Los Reyes Magos (Antonio Navarro
    Antonio Navarro
    Antonio Navarro can refer to:* Antonio Navarro Wolff, a Colombian politician* Antonio Navarro , a Mexican Olympic fencer...

    )
  • In David Morrell
    David Morrell
    David Morrell is a Canadian-American novelist, best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become the successful Rambo film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. He has written 28 novels, and his work has been translated into 26 languages...

    's 2008 novella "The Spy Who Came for Christmas", the Magi were intelligence agents sent to destabilize Herod's government.
  • James Taylor
    James Taylor
    James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000....

    '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
    Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
    is a role-playing video game developed by Atlus and Lancarse for the Nintendo DS. It is a title within the Megami Tensei series of video games, and was released in Japan on October 8, 2009 and in North America on March 23, 2010...

    , the Three Wise Men appear to the crew of the Red Sprite, ordering 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.

See also



  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Astronomy
    Astronomy
    Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

  • Astrology
    Astrology
    Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

  • Christianity and astrology
    Christianity and astrology
    Christianity and astrology are seen as incompatible by modern orthodox Christian doctrine. Additionally, astrology stands juxtaposed against the roots of modern scientific reasoning...

  • Epiphany (holiday)
  • History of astrology
    History of astrology
    Astrology, the belief in a connection between the cosmos and terrestrial matters has played an important part in human history.Regional branches of astrology include Western astrology, Indian astrology, and Chinese or East Asian astrology.-Early origins:...

  • List of names for the Biblical nameless
  • Magi
    Magi
    Magi is a term, used since at least the 4th century BC, to denote a follower of Zoroaster, or rather, a follower of what the Hellenistic world associated Zoroaster with, which...

  • Mystery play
    Mystery play
    Mystery plays and miracle plays are among the earliest formally developed plays in medieval Europe. Medieval mystery plays focused on the representation of Bible stories in churches as tableaux with accompanying antiphonal song...

  • Mystery Play of the Three Magic Kings (Auto de los Reyes Magos, Renaissance
    Renaissance
    The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

     drama
    Drama
    Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

    )
  • Saint Nicholas
    Saint Nicholas
    Saint Nicholas , also called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra . Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker...

  • Simon Magus
    Simon Magus
    Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus, was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip the Apostle, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in . The sin of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is...

  • Zoroastrianism
    Zoroastrianism
    Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...


General references

  • Albright, W. F.
    William F. Albright
    William Foxwell Albright was an American archaeologist, biblical scholar, philologist and expert on ceramics. From the early twentieth century until his death, he was the dean of biblical archaeologists and the universally acknowledged founder of the Biblical archaeology movement...

     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.
    Raymond E. Brown
    The Reverend Raymond Edward Brown, S.S. , was an American Roman Catholic priest, a member of the Sulpician Fathers and a major Biblical scholar of his era...

     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
    John Chrysostom
    John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

     "Homilies on Matthew: Homily VI". circa fourth century.
  • France, R. T.
    R. T. France
    Richard Thomas France is a New Testament scholar and Anglican cleric. He was Principal of Wycliffe Hall Oxford from 1989 to 1995. He has also worked for the London School of Theology.-Biography:...

     The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  • Gundry, Robert H.
    Robert H. Gundry
    Robert Horton Gundry is a Biblical scholar. He received a B.A. and a B.D. degree from the Los Angeles Baptist College and Seminary, and his Ph.D. from Manchester University in Manchester, England in 1961 and has taught for several decades at Westmont College in California...

     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., The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi. Rutgers University Press, 1999. 187 pages. 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
    Eduard Schweizer
    Eduard Schweizer was a Swiss New Testament scholar who taught at the University of Zurich for an extended period. He won the Burkitt Medal for Biblical Studies in 1996....

    . 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


Adoration of the Wise Men
Life of Jesus
Gospel harmony
A Gospel harmony is an attempt to merge or harmonize the canonical gospels of the Four Evangelists into a single gospel account, the earliest known example being the Diatesseron by Tatian in the 2nd century. A gospel harmony may also establish a chronology for the events of the life of Jesus...

: The Nativity
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....


Events