The Star Of Bethlehem And The Magi -- By: William Notz

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:292 (Oct 1916)
Article: The Star Of Bethlehem And The Magi
Author: William Notz

The Star Of Bethlehem And The Magi

William Notz, Ph.D.

Annually when Christmas comes round with its message of the Nativity of Christ, a renewed interest takes hold of us in the romantic account of the “wise men from the East,” who followed the Star of Bethlehem from their distant homes to Judaea, there to worship the newborn king of the Jews, lying in a manger in Bethlehem. Ever since our childhood days this wonderful star that crowns our Christmas tree, and the dusky Magi with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, have added a touch of the romantic to the festival, that to Christendom brings a message of peace on earth and good will toward men.

How often has not our curiosity centered around these strange visitors of the Christ child, trying to penetrate the mystery that surrounds them! Throughout the history of the Christian church attempts at explaining this event have been made, and a whole library might be gathered of all the books and treatises that have been written on this subject. Nevertheless, up to the present day this mysterious problem does not seem to have lost any of its fascination, for quite recently it has again occupied the minds of scientists, and this time their efforts seem to have been crowned with some degree of success. For the problem of satisfactorily solving this interesting phenomenon has been advanced considerably with the

help of our present knowledge of the life and culture of the Ancient Orient, such as the pick and spade of archaeologists and the scientific investigations of philologists have revealed to us.

In the early centuries of the Christian church the Star of Bethlehem and the Magi were surrounded with all kinds of legendary embellishment. The meager Biblical account of this remarkable event was not curious enough to satisfy the faith of the pious. To their minds it did not possess enough of the miraculous element. Additional miracles were therefore added to it, until the plain and simple account of Matthew was virtually buried beneath a heap of childish fables.

A second view is that of the liberal theologians. At all times they held that the account as we find it in Matt. 2 did not contain any historical facts, but was merely mythical. Adherents of the modern school of comparative study of religion hold a somewhat modified view. They have adduced parallel mythical accounts from all parts of the world in their attempt to show that the Biblical story represents but the Christianized form of some ancient myth, of which other and similar versions, they say, are to be found among people of other countries.

A third view is that of a great many who hol...

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