Myths about Christmas - the three wise men

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Wednesday 24 December 2008

Every Christmas we hear stories and sing songs about the three wise men. They came from the east to Jerusalem. They visited baby Jesus in Bethlehem. They wore pointy hats and walked in single file and best of all came bearing gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Now while I’m sure you all have a picture in your heads (as I do), the bible doesn’t actually portray it this way. In fact the bible doesn’t portray it in any way, but simply talks about the ‘Magi’ from the east, which has traditionally been translated as the three wise men.

But interestingly enough there is no evidence to suggest that there were three, or only three (the basis for this assumption is that because there were three gifts there must have been three people). There is no evidence that they were wise, and in fact in my view it doesn’t seem too bright to go wandering around Israel, at night, following a star that’s not moving. And there’s no evidence that they were men (although it’s assumed as they had been consulting King Herod they must have been men).

So as sad as it is for me to label it as thus, without any further evidence I have no choice: the three wise men are most probably a myth.


Erin said...

They didn't arrive that particular night either. Chances are it was about a year later. I think they went to Herod first. Then after they didn't return to report back to Herod he ordered that all boys under 2 be killed. So we know he was less than 2 when they visited, but not exactly how old he was.
And incidently, that is one of my favourite farsides.

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