Why do some call the magi "wise men," and how many attended Jesus' birth?

Why would Zoroastrian priests who practiced astrology and illusions be called "wise men"? How many Magi supposedly came to Bethlehem? (Matthew 2:1-2:12)

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  • Favorite Answer

    1) You would have to ask those people.

    2) The Bible doesn't indicate how many came - only the number of gifts that were brought.

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  • 7 years ago

    .

    Magi - From old Persian language, a priest of Zarathustra (Zoroaster). The Bible gives us the direction, East and the legend states that the wise men were from Persia (Iran) - Balthasar, Melchior, Caspar - thus being priests of Zarathustra religion, the mages. Obviously the pilgrimage had some religious significance for these men, otherwise they would not have taken the trouble and risk of travelling so far. But what was it? An astrological phenomenon, the Star?

    Matthew 2:1 - "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem." (* Footnote: Traditionally Wise Men). Matthew 2:7 - Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. Matthew 2:16 - When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

    Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, was erected in 329 by Queen Helena in the area it was believed to be where Jesus was born. In 614, The Church was saved from destruction by the Persian rampage because of the mosaic of the Magi dressed in Persian Garb on the floor of this church.

    Magi, priestly caste in ancient Persia. They are thought to have been followers of Zoroaster, the Persian teacher and prophet, and they professed the doctrines of Zoroastrianism. By the 1st century AD, the magi were identified with wise men and soothsayers. Encarta Concise Encyclopedia - Religion & Philosophy.

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  • 7 years ago

    From Strong's Concordance:

    1) a magus

    a) the name given by the Babylonians (Chaldeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to the wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers, sorcerers etc.

    The term is translated in the KJV (and others) as "wise men" because the Magi were the most educated people in their cultures. In the same way that modern chemistry is the direct result of the intelligence of late-Medieval alchemists. Their wisdom eventually gave us what we know to be right, even though we know they were mostly wrong.

    In effect, a magus was a scientist before science existed.

    The Bible doesn't say how many there were, but it must be more than one, since the word used is a plural. Christian tradition says there were three, because they gave three gifts. In reality, the author may have intended it to be anywhere from two to a couple dozen.

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  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    1) Why do some call the magi "wise men,"

    It's the traditional English translation of the word "magi" found in The Gospel of Matthew. The more scholarly modern translations use the term "magi".

    The word "magi" was consistently translated "wise men" in English Bible versions of the 1500s and 1600s - that is, from Tyndale (the first print English New Testament) up to and including the King James Version, including even the use of "sages" in the Catholic Rheims New Testament.

    It's interesting that older versions do not translate it so, the Latin Vulgate using "magus" and Wyclif's Bible (the earliest English Bible, hand-copied not printed) using "astronomers".

    I don't think that this is slavish copying of Tyndale (given the appearance of "sages" in the Catholic Bible). I suspect that "wise men" was considered to be the standard English translation of "magi" in the 16th and 17th centuries, and that's why it appears in Bibles of that period.

    Tyndale (1525)

    http://www.studylight.org/desk/?l=en&query=Matthew...

    - Jim, http://www.bible-reviews.com/

    P.S. The number who came to Judaea following "the star of Bethlehem" is not given in the Bible. Centuries-later tradition claimed that there were three.

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  • 7 years ago

    Your right, they practiced illusion.....hence magi (magic). No one knows how many came to bethlehem. 3 is a popular answer but just because there were 3 gifts does not mean there was 3 magi. Could of been 3, could of been a hundred, who knows. I'm guessing they were called wise because of their illusions people probably thought they had a connection to knowledge that few had. Just my opinion.

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  • 7 years ago

    Magus (plural= Magi) is a persian word. if one translates it into ENGLISH it comes out magician or wizard. Translating it into a form tha tis compatible with old testament broacriptions on magic would make the Greek word magus translate into Latin as wise man or wise men. Xso the unchangeable word of god somehow got changed from Zoroastrian priests to wise men. What I remember (Ain't digging out a bible) 4 departed but only 3 arrived. And NONE were actually at the birth, but arrived on the 12th day of christmas.

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  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    How would zoroastrian magi exist in the time of Mithraian parthians? - common sense 3:69

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  • 7 years ago

    1) the greek word means highly educated people in the sciences of that day with a lot of wisdom

    thus they were called wise men

    097 magos pronounced mag'-os of foreign origin (7248); a Magian, i.e. Oriental scientist; by implication, a magician:--sorcerer, wise man

    2) no exact number is given

    three are supposed by the three gifts given to jesus

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  • 7 years ago

    Iran was known in those days as a Mecca for science. Similiar to how the Middle east was for most of the Dark and Middle ages and Asia is today. Since priest in those days were usualy the most educated peopl in a culture its not understandable that it may have just been a title. Most likely a secular one that has been missinturpreted through the ages.

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  • 7 years ago

    They are wise men not because of what you mention, which is irrelevant but because to undertake great efforts to find the promised of God is wisdom.

    We don't know how many, the conjectures are based on the gifts.

    Astrology was the astronomy of that day, you misuse words here. 'Illusions' -- what the Hell is that supposed to mean ? Is this just rank bigotry on your part. You don't approve Zoroastrian priests so every single one is bad !!! The Pharisees killed Jesus but there were very holy Pharisees.

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  • 7 years ago

    It seems only Mary and Joseph attended Jesus birth. The wise men came much later. Kings in that time used astrologers to advise them. Apparently what they did worked, or kings wouldn't have used them. They were wise, because they were trained to see things clearly, be well informed, and understand what was happening.

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