December 8, 2012
Imagining the Magi
Robert Kiely, Commonweal Magazine
In the Gospel of Matthew, “wise men (magi) from the East” come to Jerusalem after the birth of Christ, asking, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star rising in the East and have come to worship him.” (Matt 2:1–2) Matthew goes on to record their dialogue with Herod and arrival in Bethlehem with gifts for the child. But the Gospel says no more about the identities of the Eastern visitors. Who were these strangers who traveled such a long way to see a Jewish baby? What did they make of him?
Matthew says, “They fell down and worshipped him” (2:11). Tradition holds that, as the shepherds were Jews, the magi were the first...
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