Yesterday was Epiphany, the day that Christians celebrate the arrival of the magi to Bethlehem. The magi, or wise men, feature in most nativity plays. But few realize that they only appears in Matthew's gospel and that we have no clue how many of them there were (traditionally three based on the three gifts). In reality, the New Testament tells us very little about these individuals.
A recently studied document written in Syriac, however, adds a number of additions to the story. For instance, the magi are from China, there were twelve magi, not three, and the star of Bethlehem was actually the divine light of Jesus.
Brent Landau of Oklahoma University translated the 8th century document and wrote the book Revelation of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men's Journey to Bethlehem (HarperOne, 2010). Below is a short interview with Brent about the story.
HT: Jim Davila