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Ancient History ; Who were the Three Wise Men ? (Documentary)

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The Three Wise Men who visit Christ are the most mysterious characters in the Bible. They are the first recorded Christians in history - the first to worship Christ. Each year they appear on thousands of Christmas cards, and hymns about them are sung in cathedrals around the world.WikipediaThe Magi (/ˈmædʒaɪ/ or /ˈmeɪdʒaɪ/; Greek: μάγοι, magoi), also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men, (Three) Kings, or Kings from the East, were in Christian tradition, a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of Christian tradition.The Gospel of Matthew, the only one of the four Canonical gospels to mention the Magi, states that "they" came "from the east" to worship the Christ, "born King of the Jews." Although the account does not mention the number of people "they" or "the Magi" refers to, the three gifts has led to the widespread assumption that there were three men. 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"The Magi are popularly referred to as wise men and kings. The word magi is the plural of Latin magus, borrowed from Greek 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 was born, (see Yasna 33.7: "ýâ sruyê parê magâunô" = "so I can be heard beyond Magi"). The term refers to the priestly caste of Zoroastrianism. As part of their religion, these priests paid particular attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for astrology, 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 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 of earlier Hebrew Scriptures (Daniel 2:48). The same word is given as sorcerer and sorcery when describing "Elymas the sorcerer" in Acts 13:6--11, and Simon Magus, considered a heretic by the early Church, in Acts 8:9--13.Traditions identify a variety of different names for the Magi. In the Western Christian church they have been commonly known as:Melchior (also Melichior), a Persian scholar;Caspar (also Gaspar, Jaspar, Jaspas, Gathaspa, and other variations), an Indian scholar;Balthazar (also Balthasar, Balthassar, and Bithisarea), an Arabian scholar.Encyclopædia Britannica states: "according to Western church tradition, Balthasar is often represented as a king of Arabia, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Gaspar as a king of India." These names apparently derive from a Greek manuscript probably composed in Alexandria around 500, and which has been translated into Latin with the title Excerpta Latina Barbari. 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.One candidate for the origin of the name Caspar appears in the Acts of Thomas as Gondophares (21 -- c. AD 47), i.e., Gudapharasa (from which "Caspar" might derive as corruption of "Gaspar"). This Gondophares declared independence from the Arsacids to become the first Indo-Parthian king, and he was allegedly visited by Thomas the Apostle. According to at least one scholar, his name is perpetuated in the name of the Afghan city Kandahar, which he is said to have founded under the name Gundopharron. Christian legend may have chosen Gondofarr simply because he was an eastern king living in the right (?) time period.In contrast, the Syrian Christians name the Magi Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas. 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 ChinaGiftsThree gifts are explicitly identified in Matthew: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Many different theories of the meaning and symbolism of the gifts have been brought forward. While gold is fairly obviously explained, frankincense, and particularly myrrh, are much more obscure.

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