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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wise Men: More than Three?

And the rest?    (Public Domain)
Many proclaim that there were Three Wise Men within the biblical account of the Magi.  Nevertheless, many may be wrong.

According to Reader’s Digest, this is just one of many favorite assumptions.  It turns out that Napoleon wasn’t all that short (at 5’6” actually quite tall for his day), and the Bible doesn’t
specify how many Wise Men there were.

Matthew is the only Gospel writer to have even mentioned the Wise Men.  He did say that they came “from the East.”  He did say that they wished to honor the “king of the Jews.”  He
didn’t, however, include a head count.

So where did that number three come from?  Well, there were three gifts.  When readers assume that the Magi bore one gift each, there you have it:  three!

Perhaps, however, a few chipped in for each expensive gift and signed a group card.  That would mean there could be as many as twelve (or more) Magi.  In fact, Syriac churches often speak of twelve Magi.

But what about Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar?  These names, surprisingly, do not appear even once in the New Testament.  They instead arose within Western church tradition centuries later.


Copyright June 25, 2016 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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