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The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible: It's In There (Magi Edition)
But these are simply corrections to popular images of the nativity. More important for our understanding of the text is another question, who exactly were the Magi anyway?
Turning to The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible entry on Magi I found a number of interesting details about these elusive men from the East.
Did you know that Magi were originally a Median tribe who gained great religious power and became an important hereditary priesthood in the Babylonian, Persian, and Parthian empires?
Or, that their religion was based on animal sacrifice, the primacy of the four elements, and an opposition to certain unclean forms of life - with Zoroastrian theology eventually tacked on?
Ever imagine that Daniel’s contemporaries were the same sort of Magi that came to visit Jesus? The Magi were powerful advisors and diviners for the ancient kings, just as Daniel and his opponents in the royal court were. In fact, the Magi had so much power that at times they even conspired to elect or overthrow monarchs based on their own political aspirations.
There is much more to be said about the Magi, but even these few details added much to my framing of what was happening when these men arrived before Jesus with three gifts. To learn more pick up The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible and read away.
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