Ramblings of Silver Blue

10 Jan

Read on the web.

Over at Punchbuggy’s, he posted this previous Sunday and said According to the Christian calendar, today’s Epiphany Sunday, the day the Wise Men from the East found Jesus in the manger.”

Now, I’ve never been to seminary (while Punchbuggy has), so you’ll have to forgive me in taking liberties here, but I’ve been taught my entire religious life that the Wise Men did NOT find Jesus in a manger, in fact, arriving at a house after Jesus had grown up a bit. I quote the WikiPedia frequently, though the information is also located at various places on the web.

There’s scripture basis for what I was taught, whether or not it was correct. The shepherds found Jesus in a manger. The wise men did not arrive until some time later.  Scripture mentions the Magi* (translated at “Wise Men”) finding Jesus with his family at a house and bestowing gifts to him. It also mentions that King Herod ordered the death of all children under the age of two, which means that it may have taken the Magi up to two years to locate the chosen one.

From the WikiPedia: (actually #6 and #7 in the Wiki)

  1. “Matthew 2:11a “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother…” By the time the magi saw Jesus and Mary, Jesus was no longer lying in an animal’s feeding trough (manger) in the temporary location of the birth. Rather, the magi found them in a house.
  2. Matthew 2:8,11,13,14,20,21 “…they saw the child…” Whereas the shepherds in Luke’s account saw a newborn baby (Luke 2:12,16 Greek brephos Thayer’s Lexicon: “a new-born child, an infant, a babe”), Matthew’s account of the magi uses a different Greek word to indicate the young child (paidion), a word with a broader range of age. Matthew uses the same Greek word to describe Jesus throughout the passage, including when Joseph, Mary and Jesus return from living for a time in Egypt until the death of King Herod. “

Other problems I have with that particular story (no offense, here Punchbuggy!) is that it never says there were THREE wise men. We assume, since there were three gifts that each was presented by one person, and only one person. Regular scripture also never mentions the names given to the Magi: Casper, Melchior and Balthazar. 

Wonder about the names?

Also from the WikiPedia:

“In the Eastern church various names are given for the three, but in the West they settled as Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. Other cultures have different names. In Ethiopian Christianity, for instance, they are Karsudan, Hor and Basanater.

None of these names are obviously Persian or are generally agreed to carry any ascertainable meaning, although Caspar is also sometimes given as Gaspar, a variant of the Persian Jasper – “Master of the Treasure” – from which the name of the mineral jasper is derived. Syrian Christians call them Larvandad, Hormisdas, and Gushnasaph. These names are likely of Persian origin; this does not, of course, guarantee their authenticity.

The first name Larvandad is a combination of Lar, which is a region near Tehran, and vand or vandad which is a common suffix in Middle Persian meaning “related to” or “located in”. Vand is also present in the names of such Iranian locations as Damavand, Nahavand, Alvand, and such names and titles as Varjavand and Vandidad. Alternatively, it might be a combination of Larvand meaning the region of Lar and Dad meaning “given by”. The latter suffix can also be seen in such Iranian names as “Tirdad”, “Mehrdad”, “Bamdad” or such previously Iranian locations as “Bagdad” (“God Given”) presently called Baghdad in Iraq. Thus, the name simply means born in or given by Lar.

The second name, Hormisdas is a variation of the Persian name Hormoz which was Hormazd and Hormazda in Middle Persian. The name referred to the angel of the first day of each month whose name had been given by the supreme God who, in old Persian, was called “Ahuramazda” or “Ormazd”.

The third name Gushnasaph was a common name used in Old and Middle Persian. In Modern Persian, it is Gushnasp or Gushtasp. The name is a combination of Gushn meaning “full of manly qualities” or “full of desire or energy” for something and Asp, Modern Persian Asb, which means horse. As all scholars of Iranian studies know, horses were of great importance for the Iranians and many Iranian names including the presently used Lohrasp, Jamasp, Garshasp, and Gushtasp contain the suffix. As a result, the second name might mean something like “as energetic and virile as a horse” or “full of desire for having horses”. Alternatively, Gushn is also recorded to have meant “many”. Thus, the name might simply mean “the Owner of Many Horses”.

It is interesting to note that the names of the Magi do not appear anywhere in the Gospel accounts nor does it state anywhere that the Magi where three in number. The traditional view that there were three Magi because there were three gifts given to the child does not take into account that there were more gifts given to the child that night. Mathew 2:10 mentions that the treasure the Magi presented included gifts as well as gold, frankincense and myrrh. These last three gifts, because of their price and significance, became worthy of note.”

One Response to “Read on the web.”

  1. 1
    Punchbuggy Says:

    Mea Culpa! 😳 You got me there. I forgot to check my facts against scripture, so in that regard, you’re right. However, as you pointed out indirectly, there are several different traditions regarding the names of the wise men (however many). The tradition is based on one of the prophets (not sitting near a Bible at the moment, sorry) who referenced the gifts, not who brought them. It is entirely possible (not to mention probable) that the story of the wise men was created over time to fit the prophecies of the Old Testament. This is supported by the fact that the story only occurs in Matthew (who was not an eye witness – he used stories spread orally and Mark’s Gospel as sources), and not in any of the other New Testament writings. Still, it’s a nice Christmas hymn. 😆

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