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Magi, The
(584 words)

[German Version]

According to Matt 2:1–12, μάγοι/mágoi from the East came to the place of Jesus' birth in order to pay homage to the newborn king of the Jews. They appear to represent members of the Median-Persian caste of priests, whom the ancient world believed to be endowed with particular astronomical/astrological and prophetic skills. The account is reminiscent of a Midrash and makes use of elements borrowed from the Balaam tradition (Num 24). Pagan belief in Jesus as the Messiah pre-dated Israel's belief. From the three gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh, Origen (Hom. Gen. 14.3) alr…

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Unterburger, Klaus, “Magi, The”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 09 August 2020 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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