Wise Men or Sorcerers? The History of the Magi
The story of the three wise men visiting Jesus is a focal point in the Judeo- Christian telling of the birth of the Christ. Their gifts of gold, frankincense, andmyrrh demonstrate reverence for the child through symbolism: Gold symbolized kingship; frankincense was commonly burned in temples and represented the spiritual stature that Jesus would hold; andmyrrh was used in preparing bodies for burial, foreshadowing his eventual crucifixion. While the Magi’s role in the birth of Jesus is well-known, not much is understood about the men themselves and their connection to the baby in the manger. Historically known as Magi, the three“wise men”are known for their study of the stars. The Magi were some of the earliest astrologers. Until the 17th century, astrology and astronomy weren’t separate fields of study. Astrology included both the study of how the stars and planets affect human life and the position andmotion of the cosmic bodies. In the Persian Empire, Magi were known as astrologer-priests, delineating the fate of men they saw written in the stars. But while they are known for interpreting the significance of planetary movements for human life, many historians suggest there could have beenmore to their jobs than astrology.
“Magi”comes from the Greek word“magos,”whichmeans magic. Early interpretations of magos included alchemy and sorcery along with astronomy. Speculations swirl amongmany biblical scholars about the true nature of the Magi, as some tellings portray them as illusionists or fortune-tellers. In a cultural context, the Magi were revered across the Middle East. Along with their knowledge, they had stature and wealth that allowed them to bestow gifts upon those they deemed important. The act of giving presents to a child wasn’t a regular practice for the Magi, and thus the event was significant for the time. While only three Magi are portrayed in the familiar nativity story, the real event would have includedmany servants. As a matter of fact, the Bible never mentions the number of Magi who visited Jesus, leaving interpretations open as to howmany Magi traveled to Bethlehem. In the early seventh century, the Magi were pushed to the outer rims of Africa and India due to the rising popularity of Islam. Since someone could only be considered Magi by birth, it is widely accepted that the line of succession eventually ended, and the Magi faded into history.
Take a Break!
ROAST PRIME RIB
1 bone-in prime rib (6–7 pounds)
4 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups red wine
1. 30 minutes before cooking, remove roast from fridge and let sit until it reaches room temperature. 2. Heat oven to 350 F. 3. Make small slits in prime rib and stuff with slices of garlic. Liberally season with salt and pepper. 4. Place a rack inside a roasting pan and roast prime rib for 2 hours, until medium-rare.
5. To make au jus, place roasting pan with drippings from roast over 2 burners on high. Add wine and scrape pan as liquid reduces. Add beef stock and cook until reduced by half. Finally, sprinkle in thyme. 6. Slice roast and serve topped with au jus.
Recipe courtesy of Food Network
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