Talk:Magi

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Copied from talk:Mage[edit]

Majoos reference[edit]

The "Majoos" article reference given in the external links was incorrectly listed as Persian, when it is in fact Urdu. I have corrected this, but there should probably a genuinely Persian link included there as well.

Mage and Magi[edit]

I had always believed that the singular of Magi was Mage. Can anyone confirm or deny this? (Also cross posting to Talk:Magus)

  • Strictly speaking, the singluar of 'magi' is 'magus' (per Latin grammar). The plural of 'mage' is 'mages' (per English grammar). Radiant_* 11:37, Mar 24, 2005 (UTC)

I am wondering if magi/magus should be capitalized when used? Rnyediva 22:05, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Errors?[edit]

[Comment below moved from article, originally by 207.108.246.48 - RedWordSmith 17:09, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)]

(whoever wrote this is wrong. The term Mage is a short version of the word Magius 'In Latin meaning: One connected to the magic.' I myself feel insulted by this writers arrogance. The magic holds this Universe together and the God's only know where we would be without it. Mages are mearly those who have the metality, open-mindedness, and physical capability to weild it to one degree or another. The Four Orders (Darkness: Earth, Light: Water, Nuetriality: Fire, and the Grey: Air) existed many years ago and it is said will rise again. Note that this is only an opinion based on my own experience, knowledge, and being of the Gey myself. Note also that people should not go off a single religous book when there are hundreds out there that are even older then the ones listed in the previous writings. To say that these religouns are wrong, or false, is to be ignorant and saying that the Ancestors (founders of the world, and the most connected to the gods) of this world were wrong. Sorry if I got a little off the subject but I was trying to prove a point that made me feel as starongly as I do.)

(ANOTHER ERROR) Zarathustra was a member of the Magian Order. He redefined his beliefs and created the Zorastrian religion. While the Zorastrian faith is an offshoot of the Magian Order, it is incorrect to say that all Magi were Zorastrians.

(CLARIFICATION) The gifts given by the Magi to the baby Jesus were assosciated with the funerary practices. According to Egyptian beliefs, for the spirit of the dead to affect the mortal plane after death, it had to be able to return to its body to sleep at night, and it could then "go forth by day." For the body to be preserved, five things were needed. The first two are common: natron salt found in natural deposits, and strips of linen. These were easily obtained. However, the remaining three items were expensive and rare. These were myrrh, with which the inner wall of the stomach had to be rubbed, frankincense, for fumigating the body, and a piece of gold that had to be placed within the body. The Magi, believed to be of the Zoroastrian offshoot of the Magian Order, brought to Jesus the three items he would need to be mummified upon his death. As this process was only done for those believed to be the children of, or in direct service to, the gods, they were thus acknowledging his being the son of God.

(CLARIFICATION) Some mistakenly claim that Magi did not use magic, and refer back to the fact that the Magi were openly against the use of Sorcery. However, these people fail to realize that Sorcery is only one form of magic. Sorcery is the practice of bringing about supernatural occurances through assosciation with and employment of demonic entities. The Magi believed very strongly in the idea that, upon death, each person was held fully accountable for all of their actions in life. As a result of this belief, they were opposed to any practice which would subjugate the Magi's will, or allow them to act in an inappropriate way through intermediaries. This resulted in Sorcery being banned by the Magian Order. However, other forms of magic were both accepted and promoted by the Magi. Telepathy, for example, was a common practice amongst the Magi. As the people of the time believed that all thought originated from the heart, they referred to telepathy as reading another's heart rather than their mind. The mind, they believed, was useless matter.

2004 commments[edit]

An anonymous user added what was apparently an external link to a page in Arabic. I set it up in the proper format, but I cannot make head nor tail of it. Can someone verify that this link is pertinent and appropriate? -- Smerdis of Tlön 05:16, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I deleted the irrelevant facts about the video game. The reader does not need to know, and will be confused by telling them the enemy of Magus in some video came is Cyrus. I'm a little skeptical of the video game reference at all but I figure it is better to err on the side of including information. Logicnazi 01:38, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Is this related to the word Mage ?[edit]

I had always believed that the singular of Magi was Mage. Can anyone confirm or deny this? (Also cross posting to Talk:Mage)

It is. Mage seems to be used mostly in fantasy writing and RPGing; magus for historical characters. Smerdis of Tlön 23:59, 12 Apr 2004 (UTC)

"Magus" is the singular. The plural of the fantasy "mage" is "mages." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Themill (talkcontribs) 02:09, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Just how many were there?[edit]

Much of the text in this article is coming from the assumption that there were three wise men - but this idea does not come from the biblical texts (I dare you to try and find it! :-) ). Here's some more info from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09527a.htm:

"The Gospel narrative omits to mention the number of the Magi, and there is no certain tradition in this matter. Some Fathers speak of three Magi; they are very likely influenced by the number of gifts. In the Orient, tradition favours twelve. Early Christian art is no consistent witness:

   * a painting in the cemetery of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus shows two;
   * one in the Lateran Museum, three;
   * one in the cemetery of Domitilla, four;
   * a vase in the Kircher Museum, eight (Marucchi, "Eléments d'archéologie chrétienne", Paris, 1899, I 197)."

Most likely this was an entourage of delegates from the Parthian empire, as travel during the period - especially with the valuables they were carrying - would have been dangerous. The number of visitors and purpose for the visit would be one explanation for Herod's reaction in Matthew chapter 2 (ref. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/index.php?search=matthew%202&version=31).

--RMann 23:53, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Jehovah Witnesses and magi[edit]

The article now says:

Many people think Magus was Daniel of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

Three questions:

  1. Should this read Daniel of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures was a magus.
  2. Or does this Magus have something to do with the Neon Genesis Evangelion stuff right before it?
  3. Do Jehovah's Witnesses really believe that the Wise Men mentioned in the Bible were in fact beguiled to the baby Jesus by Satan?

-- Smerdis of Tlön 00:24, 11 May 2004 (UTC)

Question 3 is partly true. Jehovah's Witnesses believe the Mugus were pagan astologers, not wise men. They also think that Jesus was not baby but child of about two years old when the Mugus came to Him, because Herod killed children less than two years old.(Matt. 2:16) See[1]61.22.157.50
Why would Satan want to lead the Magi to Jesus (either newborn or two years old)?

WpZurp 02:38, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

To kill Jesus . Herod thought that he was only king of Jews, but pegan astologers said that there was another king in Jews. (Matt.2:2) Then, Herod was angry and said "Go make a careful search for the young child, and when you have found it report back to me, that I too may go and do it obeisance."(Matt.2:8;NW) In fact, he wanted to find Jesus and kill him. So, God gave warning in dream not to return to Herod.(Matt.2:12) After this, Herod killed all the boys in Jerusalem and in all its districts.(Matt.2:16)If God's angel didn't give warning in Joseph's dream, Jesus was killed like other boys. (Matt.2:13) Then Jehovah's Witnesses think that Satan used astologers and Herod to kill Jesus. Rantaro 13:09, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

How do we get from 144,000 to 8-30? How did we pick these numbers?

144,000 come from Revelation 7:4 and 14:1-4. Rantaro 13:09, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The comment that King belteshazzar wrote part of the book of daniel is new to me and hardly an accepted fact I am removing it.george 22:21, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Anime Reference?[edit]

Does this article really need a reference to a popular anime series? Seems like an overly geekly to a completely unrelated subject matter.129.42.208.182 21:27, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

No, perhaps not, but it does certainly need a refernece to Chrono Trigger. Magus was a wizard in a cape that seemed to be thwarting you in the beggining of the game. -Myren 26 May 2005

Accuracy issue[edit]

Does the Gospel of Matthew really say that the three wise men from the east were magi? A tradition says they were magi, but is that actually in the gospel? Michael Hardy 03:30, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Yes; they are called μαγοι in the Greek text of Matthew 2:1. They are not called kings in the Bible, but they are definitely magi. Aland-Black-Martini-Metzger-Wiegren Greek New Testament, ISBN 3438051133 -- Smerdis of Tlön 01:10, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

What it DOESN'T say is that there were three of them, but I think someone already mentioned that.

Moving some remarks[edit]

There are certain points in the article on 'Magus' which need explanation. When writing about the historical references to the story of the The Three Magi or The Three Wise Men of the East, the writer explains that 'since the seventh century in Western Europe', the names of the three magi are believed to be 'Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar' and that 'Syrian Christians call them Larvandad, Hormisdas, and Gushnasaph'. He, then adds 'None of these names is obviously Persian or carries any ascertainable meaning.'

It should be mentioned that many biblical names in the western tradition are complete distorations of the actual names and are influenced not only by translation and typographical mistakes but also by intentional plans to make the religious stories more understandable to certain groups of people. As a result, the best way to decide where these people had come from is to focus on the Syrian names which, in spite of the writer's claims, are obviously Persian.

The first name 'Larvandad' is a combination of 'Lar', which is a region near Tehran, and 'vand' or 'vandad' which is a commoan 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 nams 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 Modern Persian name 'Hormoz' which was 'Hormazd' and 'Hormazda' in Middle Persian. The name refered 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 'Ahooramazda' 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 verile 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'.

I hope these short explanations open new horizons for studies of the historical overtones of the story. It should be added that, at the time, the most important political influences in the region were the Parthians from Iran and Romans from Asia Minor and Italy.

Saeed Reza Talajooy, PhD Candidate, University of Leeds, srtalajooy@hotmail.com

Thanks for this bit of information! this is quite interesting. I have amended the article accordingly, and done some reformatting and linking of your comments. I moved your whole text to talk so that your note could be preserved as written. -- Smerdis of Tlön 02:26, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Popular Culture section at the end[edit]

In the popular culture section at the end (video games/anime/movies), the reference to 'The Mummy' is in error. The Mummy characters are actually members of the 'Medjay', which is a Nubian tribe of warriors absorbed into Egypt (see entry for Medjay).

Why "Three" Wise Men?[edit]

Why does this article repeatedly mentioned "three" wise men from the Bible? The Bible didn't mention three, nor is three the likely number. The better thing is to excise the number from the passage then mention that three is the number likely tradition ascribes to. Mandel 04:50, Mar 4, 2005 (UTC)

duplication[edit]

This page duplicates Three Wise Men extensively. --Wahoofive 22:19, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I merged much of what was here into Three Wise Men, which I agree with Mandel needs to be renamed. - SimonP 22:28, May 14, 2005 (UTC)

Deletion of Reference to The Mummy[edit]

The characters led by Ardeth Bey (actor: Oded Fehr) in The Mummy Returns, not The Mummy as originally quoted in this article, are not actually Magi, but rather Medjai (not sure if that is the correct plural), spelled in Wikipedia as Medjay, tribal leaders. A key here is that Magi were Persian mystics, whereas Medjai/Medjay are Nubians (in real life); in The Mummy Returns itself, this is confirmed by the fact that Ardeth Bey and company speak Arabic, not Persian. Hence the deletion. I have no inclination to add references regarding The Mummy Returns to the Medjay entry, nor reference to the Medjay in Oded Fehr's reference, though someone else is welcome to. --Ted Gellar 6.08 p.m. EDT, 29 May 2005.

He was a "magic-user" priest though, IIRC. That would fit in the article in fiction area, as he was a sorcerer. Mabey a a note on the "Medjay sorcerer" could be fit in. JDR 15:06, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

In search of the birth of Jesus: the real journey of the magi.[edit]

SEE "In Search of the Birth of Jesus: The Real Journey of the Magi" by Paul William Roberts.

Chrono Trigger[edit]

If this article is NOT merged, or even if it is, for now, there should be a link to the character from Chrono Trigger called Magus, neh?

Why the "cleanup" tag[edit]

This article is disorganized, in that the section titled "Magi" starts the whole article over again. It was clearly intended to be the beginning of the article. The two beginnings need to get merged. Michael Hardy 00:08, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

The organization of the article was pretty bad in general. All fixed now! --Tydaj 14:20, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

Removed the Fowles novel reference from "fictional magi" section[edit]

I have removed the following from the "fictional magi" section:

A particularly well-known fictional tale of a magus is the novel The Magus by British author John Fowles, which was later made into a film with Anthony Quinn in the title role.

For the record, I am a huge fan of John Fowles, and The Magus is my favourite book. However, its inclusion in that section is highly misleading. There is actually no magus in The Magus, except in the most abstract sense. The Magus is not about a magus, or about magic at all. It is about self-exploration, understanding life and love; becoming an adult. In any case, there is already a disambig link to The Magus at the beginning of the article; besides being misleading, this section was also redundant. --Ashenai 22:02, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Mage: The Ascension[edit]

Since "Mage" directs to this page, a disambiguation between this page and the WhiteWolf game "Mage: The Ascension" is required, IMHO. TYVM. 198.107.20.174 20:37, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

Ihabitants of Persia[edit]

The Magi were a *Median* tribe and therefore inhabitants of *Media*. It could be said they were at a time inhabitants of the Persian Empire, but that is irrelevant. -----Someone didn't sign their post


  • Actually, the Persians and Medes were Aryan cousins and at that time, there was a lot of intermingling of the two groups. Also, two of the Magi were ethnic Persians, and one was a member of the Empire, but perhaps not ethnically Persian.

http://www.farsinet.com/wisemen/magi.html

http://www.paralumun.com/magi.htm

Of course, the spelling of the names vary, but the Magi have always been Zoroastrian. I have no idea how some have decided to make them Ethiopian, etc. Come on, people! There is no historical evidence for that at all, but plenty for the Zoroastrian Persian Magi. They were "Irooni"/Iranian.

OT: (as will be seen in the photos of some links) I have never understood how (even under some Mongoloid control) the Chinese artists decided to draw/paint Iranians as Asian/oriental looking (eyes more Asian than the typical slightly almond-shaped of Persians, Celts, etc.) . There are some Mongoloids or Mongols to the far East, descendants of slaves in the deep South that have not really intermarried with the ethnic Iranians, and some Arab-Iranians (Arabs living in Iran) to the west. Most Northern and Central Iranians are Aryan, including the so-called Turkish Iranians who are only actually culturally Turkish and ethnically Iranian. I myself have Haplogroup HV2 which is Northern European (H) mixed with Mediterranean (V) - Spanish, French, etc., as are most white Iranians and many of their cousins - Greeks, Macedonians, Germans, Celts Italians, etc. I also found out HV2 is significant in Austria, Germany, Macedonia, and Sardinia, as well as Iran. It only proved what scholars and scientists have discovered about the ethnic diversity in Iran. Most of the HV2 and European Haplogroups in Iran are in the Northern and Central areas. The same goes for Northern India, also cousins to Iranians and Europeans. There will always be mixtures everywhere, but I don't understand why the Iranians were all depicted as Mongols by the hired Chinese artists. I guess the world is the same everywhere. The ruling group will portray history as they see fit. Or, it could be that people just see things differently through their own eyes and what's relative to themselves. Oh well. The art is beautiful, (see the tiny painted figures in ancient Iranian art, especially from the Mongoloid period - some are super tiny!).

Anways, enough rambling. I think Balthasar and Caspar (Gaspar)- see various spellings of all men- these two are the Persians. I think Melchior was Mede, but part of the Iranian empire. In any case, Medes and Persians are ethnic cousins. --CreativeSoul7981 (talk) 03:03, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Modern Usage[edit]

A number of occult organizations use the title Magus. The Church of Satan, Temple of Set, among others. ALso it was claimed by the guy who wrote the Demonic Bible. Should this be included?

Magi/Biblica magi: Proposed merger[edit]

I can't find any explanation of why there is both a "magi" article and a "Biblical Magi" article. I'd like to propose a merger. I suspect most people looking up the word magi are interested in the Star of Bethlehem story. If the issue is article length, at very least the link to "Biblical magi" should be given prominently near the top of the article. In any case, article length should not be a reason to take out the parts of an article that readers are most likely to be interested in.Kauffner 02:13, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

I disagree. The Biblical article has a lot of material that would be completely irrelevant to the historical issue, and vice-versa. I also think you underestimate the amount of people interested in the Magi as a people, rather than as figures from Scripture or Christmas tradition. Anyway, there are, as of this moment, two prominent links to the Biblical account at the beginning of the article. Seems fine to me. Ştefan 14:11, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

boring[edit]

this is really boring —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 203.5.210.250 (talkcontribs) 05:02, 4 December 2006 (UTC).

Your're boring. The fact that you go around vandalizing articles for fun proves it.

Modern Usage?[edit]

Perhaps it should be noted that "Magus" in modern times is used by various groups as a title of high rank. The Church of Satan holds it as their highest degree and the TEmple of Set holds it as their second highest. It was used by groups like the Golden Dawn (along with others that Crowley associated with) and is claimed by people who claim to have great magical knowledge. 64.5.145.74 15:47, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

References[edit]

I couldn't follow a reference, because there was no reference section. I've added a section but there is a problem with some of the references. I think I managed to fix the one with a big lump of crap in the text, but it leaves a few with { { title } } - since I'm not familiar with that format - I'm leaving it for now in the hope someone else is! Mike 11:07, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

OK, where in Herodotus does it mention the magi? Have to look elsewhere! Mike 11:08, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

OK: Herodotus i.101Mike

Occultism[edit]

It is notable that many occult organizations use Magus as a high title, sometimes the highest attainable. Examples are the Hemetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the A.A., Church of Satan, Temple of Set, and a variety of others. This should be included in the article.WerewolfSatanist 01:53, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Questionable sentence[edit]

"It's also believed by some Christians that the Jewish prophet Daniel was rab hartumaya (master of sacred scribes) and entrusted a Messianic vision (to be announced in due time by a "star") to a secret sect of the Magi for its eventual fulfillment (Dan 4:9; Dan 5:11)." The two verses cited have nothing to do with the statement quoted. Unless there's a source supporting it, I think this sentence should be removed. Makerowner (talk) 03:02, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Magi or wisemen.[edit]

Magos is a greek word which by implication means a magician. (see Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. No.3097). Jesus nor the disciples used Greek or Persian. So the Gospel of Matthew was written in Aramiac or Hebrew. In Hebrew the word used is Châkam, meaning to be wise in mind, word and Act. (see Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. No.2449). The same word is used in the same gospel in verses 7:24 and 23:34 but the translation given there is “wise men” and not Magi or Magoi or Magos. This clearly shows that the correct translation is wise men and not magi.Neduvelilmathew (talk) 05:02, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Although this article is a complete mess, to say magos meant "wise men" or (by implication) "magician" is not correct either. The original Greek word for magician is goēs, and though influenced by it, magos is not etymologically related to it.
Magi (singular 'magian', 'mage', 'magus', or archaic 'magusian') is a wanderwort whose meaning has since at least the 4th century BC unambiguously denoted a follower of Zoroaster, and more specifically, a Zoroastrian priest. This degree of precision is not applicable to sources prior to that date, but those sources are not what you are referring to anyway.
English language 'magian', 'mage', 'magus', and 'magusian' derive via Latin from Greek μάγος magos. The Greek word is itself a borrowing, probably via Syriac or one of the other Eastern Aramaic languages, and ultimately from one of the languages spoken by Iranian expatriates residing or trading in pre-historic Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean. Which specific Iranian language those people might have spoken is unknown—not only is not possible to determine which region(s) those Iranians came from (and hence which language they spoke), the word appear in Greek before it does in Iranian sources, and further, Greek magos is influenced by the original Greek word for magician, γοης goēs.
Thus, obviously, it is not possible to reconstruct what was originally understood by the term. But as early as the 5th century BCE, Greek magos had spawned mageia and magike to describe the activity of a magus, that is, it was his art and practice. But almost from the outset the noun for the action and the noun for the actor parted company. Thereafter, mageia was used not for what actual magi did, but for something related to the word 'magic' in the modern sense, i.e. using supernatural means to achieve an effect in the natural world, or the appearance of achieving these effects through trickery or sleight of hand. The early Greek texts typically have the pejorative meaning, which in turn influenced the meaning of magos to denote a conjurer and a charlatan.
Zoroaster—or rather what the Greeks supposed him to be—was for the Hellenists the figurehead of the 'magi', and the putative author of a vast compendium of "Zoroastrian" pseudepigrapha, composed in the main to discredit the texts of wrong-thinking rivals. The subject of these texts—whose authenticity was rarely challenged—ranged from treatises on nature to ones on necromancy, but the bulk of these texts dealt with astronomical speculations and magical lore.
Thus, translating 'Magi' as "wise men" is only half the story. Its not wrong as a transferred meaning (or rather as one of them), but it is not correct either.
-- Fullstop (talk) 23:02, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

The word ‘’wise men’’ is used at least 29 times in the Bible (King James Version). In Genesis 41:8 says magicians and wise men are different. In Exodus 7: 11 says wise men and sorcerers are different. But, only in the gospel according to Matthew chapter 2, some Bible translators (eg. NIV) are using the word Magi instead of wise men. The same gospel writer uses the word ‘wise men’ and not magi, in chapter 23:34. First century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, mentions wise men many times but not Magi. Can some one explain why some of the translators prefer to use the word magi (this word entered in the English language around 1200 AD – see para 3 of the article) only in the gospel according to Matthew Ch. 2?Neduvelilmathew (talk) 21:13, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

"Wise men" and "magi" are neither equatable, nor interchangeable, and neither is a translation of the other.
  • "Wise men" is a semi-literal translation of Greek sophistes, which -- despite the sophos in the word -- has little to do with the modern sense of "wisdom". The sophistes stand in contrast to the philosophers. Unlike the philosophers, the sophistes had practical knowledge of something, for example in rhetoric (hence the English word "sophistry"). The practical skill that the Magi were associated with was astrology, magic and whatnot. There is nothing particularly "wise" about the Magi, who were not necessarily "men" either.
  • The literal translation of magian is "magician", which -- unlike sophistes -- actually means the same thing today as it did when the word was coined. After all, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".
Moral of the story: never confuse true meaning with "true meaning". ;) -- Fullstop (talk) 00:18, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Great introduction -- where's the rest of it?[edit]

The introduction to this article is really compelling, but the rest is disappointing to me for the following reasons:

  • The bulk of the article deals with etymology and naming, rather than how the magi functioned in their cultures (as identified in the introduction) or what belief systems they worked within. We're told (intriguingly) that they were responsible for religious and funerary practices of ancient Iran, and then we're told nothing about what those were, how they carried them out, or how we know this. Ditto for Zoroastrianism and Zurvanism. Mary Boyce is referenced, so such material was available to the Anglophone compilers(s).
  • The point of view in the article is mostly exterior; that is, it assumes we're only interested in the magi because they're in the Christian scriptures, or because they appear in popular culture, or because other people refer to them. At the same time, the article doesn't touch on meaningful questions as to why the Greeks and Romans classified the magi functionally with, for example, the Pythagoreans, Brahmans, druids, or Chaldaeans -- other categories of "ancient wise men."
  • The framing devices of the article point to the astronomical studies of the magi -- and then the article itself never goes into what those are thought to have been, how they related (or not) to the work of the Babylonian astronomers.

It's a good example of the limits of etymology in illuminating a subject. And it's pretty amazing that the article is so devoid of usable content after four years of existence. Cynwolfe (talk) 04:58, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

You are quite right is everything you observe except the notion that the introduction to this article is "compelling", unless you mean "compellingly bad."
  • The introduction is absurdly unscientific, and juxtaposes three or four discrete meanings as if they all reflected the same thing. And "citing" Herodotus no less, so not only making it plain that the idiot who added that had no clue what Herodotus was talking about (or what a primary source is), but also contradicting the very first paragraph in the (pseudo-)etymology section, from which it is plain (or should be plain) that Herodotus uses one term for two unrelated concepts, and that the Magi == Median is to be found only in Herodotus (and then only once) and does not appear anywhere else. The Magi == Median cruft reflects 19th century balderdash.
  • There are no "astronomical studies" of the Magi. The identification of the Magi with astrology is -- as far as classical usage goes (and classical usage is of course all that this article can justifiably be about) -- a myth provoked by the Greco-Roman association of the name "Zoroaster" with -astr "star". As far as this usage goes, the relationship to the Babylonian astronomers is limited to the identification of Zoroaster as a Chaldean (or somehow related to them). That—through sycretic influences—Zoroastrianism itself absorbed Babylonian ideas (e.g. the great-year cycles) is not per-se related to the Greco-Roman construct of the "Magi", nor is it restricted to Zurvanite thought (e.g. of "fate").
  • Yes, "Mary Boyce is referenced, so such material was available to the Anglophone compilers." I added the Boyce (and Zaehner and Benveniste and Gershevitch) refs but I'm certainly not a compiler here. This article does not actually have one; its a patchwork of half-truths, coatracks, and outright nonsense in which legitimate information goes under.
  • Yes, of course, the point of view in the article is mostly exterior. But that shouldn't be surprising when the web is a paradise for the esoterically inclined and the prevalent concept of "sources" is defined by what that web can cough up (see "See also" section). This article (and the Biblical Magi article too) is a reflection of that web-centric idiocy. Naturally this article does not of the astrological speculations in the pseudepigrapha. Naturally this article has junk on "Magi in India". Naturally the Magi are muddled with esoterica.
    The Biblical Magi article is no better; there are speculations all over the place, and it repeatedly tries to jam some allusion to Zoroastrianism into the picture. Naturally the Biblical Magi article does not know that the Syriac names it refers to are from the 6th century, or that the Syriac version is loaded with astrological speculations (including for instance, the fact that there are always twelve Magi in Syriac sources), or that the "names" section is -- to a great extent -- a copy of someone's OR dumped on this talk page, and uncritically copied over. Even the names copied over from the Catholic Encyclopedia (which incidentally has a significant typo, but which of course the "translation" knows nothing about) are missing an "etc", so "neatly" rounding down the count to three (including patronyms there are at least 30 names in Syriac sources alone). Note also how the article stupidly links to genuine Iranian concepts, blind to the typo in one name, and the name of a Pope in another. If that list were complete, "Bel" and "Marduk" would no doubt spontaneously morph into "Persian" figures too. Silly rabbits. Note also how Ernst Herzfeld's 1930s (and long discredited) speculation on Gondophares has even been elevated to the status of a "Christian" myth. Cool, huh?
  • Yes, indeed, this article is a perfect example of the limits of etymology in illuminating a subject. What the loanword (if it is that) "Magi" was/is understood to represent has nothing to do with the original term. The original meaning is not even known (nor is, with any certainty, the language from which it comes), and there is no cause for an etymology section at all since -- with the exception of the Pokorny-inspired OR (not that PIE derivation is ever taken seriously in practice) -- the etymology section is actually all about semasiology, and that too preponderantly for loan words. And that Kurdish stuff is patent nonsense (this is also true for most everything else outside the etymology section and for almost everything the Kurdish nationalists wedge in willy-nilly at every chance they get). All these loan word "etymologies" merely demonstrate that borrowings existed in much of the known world; the Zaehner quotation at the top of the section already says precisely that.
This article is a complete and utter mess. With the exception of a sentence here or there, it is without encyclopedic or scientific merit, and, because of all the agendas in play, impossible to fix without battle (I can hear the "removal of 'sourced' content" complaints already). "Disappointing" is too kind. Its policy-violation hell.
</rant>
A real article on the Magi (with due attribution to Emile Benveniste, Albert de Jong, Roger Beck, Michael Stausberg and perhaps Bidez/Cumont) would begin something like this: In post-4th century BCE usage "Magi" is an unamabiguous reference to a Zoroastrian priest. What it meant before that time is uncertain; in the older sources they appear variously as teachers (Xenophon) and/or religious functionaries (Herodotus) and/or impious charlatans (Heraclitus). From the Hellenistic era onwards (4th century BCE onwards) references to the Magi are occasionally skeptical (Pliny) or [[critical thinking|critical]] (these are sometimes -- as in Plutarch and Diogenes Laertius -- genuine reflections of Zoroastrian priests, beliefs or practices), but most often the allusions are fantastic. Post-4th century BCE usage must be understood in the context of the pseudepigrapha that influenced the understanding of the term, and of the Hellenistic fascination for [[Pseudo-Zoroaster|"Zoroaster"]] who the Hellenistic world considered to be the [Chaldean] astrologer-magician-sorcerer-sage "founder" of the Magi. The perhaps best known story of the Magi is ...
On the other hand, perhaps that belongs on another page and this one should simply be turned into a disambig. Its not like there is any shortage of variations of "Magi". -- Fullstop (talk) 22:39, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
I believe you contradict yourself here: first you say that "in post-4th century BCE usage 'Magi' is an unamabiguous reference to a Zoroastrian priest." Then you point out that "From the Hellenistic era onwards (4th century BCE onwards) references to the Magi are occasionally ... genuine reflections of Zoroastrian priests, beliefs or practices, but most often the allusions are fantastic. Post-4th century BCE usage must be understood in the context of the pseudepigrapha that influenced the understanding of the term, and of the Hellenistic fascination for "Zoroaster" who the Hellenistic world considered to be the [Chaldean] astrologer-magician-sorcerer-sage "founder" of the Magi." The term magos or magus in Greek and Roman sources rarely if ever refers unambiguously to Zoroastrian priests. It's like the term "Chaldaean," which for example in Cicero is never a reliable ethnonym, but rather a loose term for what he perceives as an astronomer/astrologer/diviner vaguely "Near Eastern" in origin; when he's in a grumpy, skeptical mood, it can carry the connotation of "fortune-telling quack." Now, you can argue all day about what a Persian magus actually was, or whether such a thing even existed, but we can state rather clearly what the Greek and Roman sources had to say about it. And what we do know is that Latin usage causes a transformation of meaning from whatever was originally meant, to "magician" or "occultist" in medieval and Renaissance texts. What magus originally meant becomes irrelevant to its usage in medieval and Renaissance usage, where the quite historical Nigidius Figulus is called a magus. Surely the purpose of an encyclopedia article is to elucidate a term however it may be encountered: not only an awareness that classical Greek usage represented a Hellenocentric view of Zoroastrianism, but also what the term meant after it lost these associations. When Jerome calls Nigidius a magus, he is certainly not calling him a Zoroastrian priest; the term had lost that association. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:24, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
You are absolutely right. The fundamental problem is that my sources are predominantly from the other side of the fence, ergo with an inappropriate focus, which results in inherent bias. So, if you have the relevant secondary sources, then please, please fix the article. -- Fullstop (talk) 20:35, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

On second though: please fix the beast even if you don't have the secondary sources onhand. The right picture (even if without sources) is more desirable than a skewed picture with sources. -- Fullstop (talk) 20:42, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
I'll keep my eyes open for relevant sources. When I've made corrections to articles based on what I consider "common knowledge" in the discipline, I've found that these are usually reverted or edited away unless I'm meticulous about citation. So when operating in the "common knowledge" sphere, I tend to confine my contributions to talk pages in the hope that someone else will take an interest. And I'm about to enter a period when I'll be away from Wikipedia. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:02, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
You don't need to worry about being edited away here. This talk section is the first on this page that discusses who the Magi were, rather than what Sunday school imagines the three "wise" "men" were. That's the level of "common knowledge" around here. Meaning: apparently nobody but you and I is even aware that the picture is incomplete, ergo they aren't going to object to it being completed.
So no, don't confine your contributions to talk pages. You are not contributing when you write on talk pages, especially at a subject like this one where you would normally have been met with incomprehension. If you don't want to post it yourself, send it to me by mail. Anything to fix the lopsidedness would be appreciated. -- Fullstop (talk) 15:37, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
I see reference to Indian approach to find etymology of this word missing. To my common knowledge, word magi is related to a cult among Hindus called, Margy, meaning "path finder" (to Almighty or supreme knowledge). Later on, they were referred to as Magga in Buddhism. Hope this may help give some sensible direction to correct etymology. Pathare Prabhu (talk) 12:12, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

Herodotus & the Magi[edit]

I removed the biased sentence, "It is, therefore, quite likely that the sacerdotal caste of the Magi was distinct from the Median tribe of the same name." . It isn't likely that the Magis came from non-Iranian lands. There is no concrete proof for this. Two Magi where ethnic Persians, and one Mede. See my comments under the section Inhabitants of Persia. It should be noted that the Zoroastrian Iranians are a very insular group, mixing is a no-no. If there were any Ethiopians in ancient Persia, they were slaves, and not Magis. The customs and traditions of the Magi belonged to the Medo-Iranian people, and other Aryan tribes under the Persian Empire. They were NOT Ethiopian, Chinese, etc. However much China has traded with ancient Iranians, and other Indo-European peoples, they weren't ever part of the Magis. Regardless of the subsequent Mongolian invasions, there is not that much Mongolian blood among the Aryan ethnic Iranians of North and Central Iran. The small admixture, which is also found in parts of Europe, including Russia, is not that much, except for the mostly Mongolian regions to the far east of Iran, etc. It should also be noted that the Iranians hired Chinese artists, and many of these artists drew or painted some Iranian peoples, who were not part of the Mongolian empire, as looking very Chinese. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Chinese put their own interpretive spin on the Magi story.

Herodotus lived under the Persian Empire. I see no reference to the Magi being of any other origin. Herodotus describes many Iranian customs in his writings. I have no idea why anyone would think the Magi were Ethiopian. Are you kidding? Iranians have treasured the Magi stories for centuries. I can assure you they weren't Ethiopian. The Zoroastrian Magi were an extremely tight-knit and insular group. Not just anyone could be a Magi.A lot of this information comes from Afro-centrist today. Even though the Iranian people came from the Caucus Steppes and displaced the inhabitants of the Iranian plateau. They were pushed into Iraq and further out. --CreativeSoul7981 (talk) 02:27, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

I should also point out that the Scythians are also related to the Persian people and were mentioned by Herodotus in his writings. --CreativeSoul7981 (talk) 02:33, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

There is no concrete proof that the Median tribe and the caste were completely identical. "Two Magi where ethnic Persians, and one Mede."...? This article is about the magi in general, not just the three magi. Zoroastrian Iranians are an insular group now because they are a minority that hasn't had it easy for some time. They were the dominant religion at one point, and Persia tended to expand and travel. What you removed said nothing about the Magi's custom's being originally non-Persian, it just started from Herodotus's observation of non-Persian Magi, that this logically means that the Magi were prone to inducting non-Persians who adopted the customs of the Magi, and concluded that the term Magi, by the time of Herodotus, refered to a caste instead of a tribe, which is why Herodotus refers to them as a caste and not as a tribe. As a caste, they wouldn't be bound to any particular tribe. Just because a source disagrees with your personal cosmology, your personal world history, and your views about racial purity does not make that source biased. Ian.thomson (talk) 02:50, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

The part I deleted was a biased phrase "likely". It isn't "likely". It's actually UN-likely. Biased sources are not to be used on Wikipedia. And there are no other sources or research by scholars to support this. The Zoroastrian Magi believed (as do Zoroastrians) in a Messiah. They followed the star (they were well-versed in astronomy as well) to the infant Jesus. I don't know what the problem is. I only removed the biased phrase.--CreativeSoul7981 (talk) 02:54, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

Do you have a source that indicates that it is unlikely that the caste and tribe overlapped but were not completely identical? And again, the article is about all the Magi, not just the few that visited Jesus. They aren't worth discussing any more than bringing up the Pope when discussing the racial make up of the Catholic church - most of Catholics, or even Catholic priests, or even Popes, aren't German. Also, what bias is present in the source? Bias would mean that the author is pushing an agenda, like racial purity, or a strong identification between a culture and a genetic makeup. Ian.thomson (talk) 02:59, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

The biased phrase is "it is likely". That should be removed. Because it isn't likely. I'm not going to change an author's quote, therefore I deleted that one phrase. It is misleading. The Zoroastrian people are very insular. There are tons of books on the Zoroastrians. But I can tell you, as a person of Zoroastrian descent. In Iranian history, especially in ancient times, marriage or relations between Iranians and non-Aryan peoples was not accepted. It's not even accepted today. And it's no secret that Iranians had slaves. Slaves would not be permitted to be Magi. It isn't likely that the Magi - the term comes from a Persian word- were anything but Medo-Persian or those of the Iranian tribe/empire. Read the information I provided under the Inhabitants of Persia section. Other groups of people may have had priests, but Magis, and their customs are completely different. They have a distinct culture on their own that is even a bit secretive among other Zoroastrians. This has been part of my people's heritage for centuries. The Greeks, who are very close to Persian people, greatly respected us. Herodotus's writings are on the Persian people and their cousins the Medes and Scythians. He does not write about Ethiopian Magi. That is the 1961 author's supposition. There is no other scholarly research to show the Magi as being Ethiopian, etc. And again, I only deleted the one phrase which is biased. One author's work should not color a whole article with the phrase "it is likely" as if to say it's very probably. And you can't misquote an author and say "there is a possibility". Therefore, I think the phrase, and ONLY that phrase should be deleted. I left the rest of the quote as is.--CreativeSoul7981 (talk) 03:10, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

Where does the author say the Magi were specifically Ethiopian? The author does not, you are taking things in a black and white fashion that simply doesn't work in studying cultures and races. The author writes that there were some Magi who were non-Persian, including some Ethiopians. Your personal experiance from being descended from Zoroastrians is not scholarly research. If you have scholarly research, put it as a reference right after the quote's reference with a comment explaining that that is why that part of the quote was removed. Of the two sources you provide in the "Ihabitants of Persia" section, one is a new age website (not scholarly), the other is only concerned with the the few magi that visited Jesus (and the earliest source used is Marco Polo). At best, those establish that the majority of Magi were Persian and Median. It does nothing to prove that there were Magi from other nations. If Herodotus refers to the Magi as a caste instead of a tribe, and refers to some non-Aryan magi in addition to Aryan Magi, the magi were likely a caste, not a tribe (although the culture of that caste would have apparently come from that tribe and most of the members of that caste would have been members of that tribe, but this isn't all-or-nothing). Ian.thomson (talk) 03:24, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
Herodotus lived with Persian people under their empire, not with Ethiopians. This is historical fact. Greeks and Persians have a lot of history and they often wrote about each other, as can be seen throughout historical writings. The Greek scholar wrote about Medo-Persians and Scythians, etc. He wrote about the Persians, NOT Ethiopians. The tradition continues today. The pages I linked to were not sources but just a place to get a background information. Here are some scholarly (history department of universities) links: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/herodotus-persians.html and http://courses.wcupa.edu/jones/his101/web/01herod.htm http://www.parstimes.com/history/herodotus/persian_wars/clio.html

The term Magi is used to refer to Persian Zoroastrian priests. "Magi" comes from a Persian word. Also, the gifts the Magi brought to Jesus come from the East. The Zoroastrians believed in The Messiah and were waiting for his coming. They were astronomers who could read the stars. They followed the star (also a word that has Persian roots) to the infant Jesus - The Messiah. And it is not my own experience, but FACT about Zoroastrians that they are very insular people. Please do some reading on Zoroastrianism. The author is not a researcher or a scholar. While there may be priests in other countries, Magi are Medo-Persian and of Persian people. Every historical evidence points to the Magi as coming from the Medo-Persian empire. And again, Africans were slaves, nothing else. At best, they may have been messenger in times of war, but were kept separate from Persian peoples. This author is not a reputed scholar, and that phrase is very misleading and a distortion of history. Biased information does not belong on an article page. This is not a page for holy people from around the world, but on Magis. There is no such thing as an African Magi. Magi were Zoroastrian priests from the Persian empire and a Persian people. The customs/culture of the Magi refer to Zoroastrians, and not priests from other countries or continents. The race/culture debate is moot. There is no support for Magi coming from Ethiopia or anywhere else other than the Eurasian region.--CreativeSoul7981 (talk) 04:13, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

The word empire comes from a Latin word, so are you Roman? Of course not, elements of culture spread outside of their racial origins if any part of that culture is to survive. I have done reading into Zoroastrianism, I was going to be a religious studies major before I switched to English for steadier pay. You keep talking about historical evidence for your points, but you have not shown anything (a new-age site is not a scholarly source, and citing a website that goes on about Marco Polo's writings about the three Magi is like trying to point at the current Pope to prove all Catholic priests are German). The Zoroastrians are insular today, but that doesn't mean that was always so (it is pretty much impossible to maintain any sort of empire and be insular). As for Zaehner, it's absolutely amazing that Oxford would choose someone who wasn't a scholar to be their spalding professor of eastern religions and ethics. You have not presented any sort of credentials or evidence. Biased lack of information does not belong on an article page. Zaehner demonstrates with Herodotus's writings that the job of Magi (not just any ol' holy person, but specifically Zoroastrian ones) eventually found its way outside of a single tribe. At no point does it say that the Magi were from Africa. The race/culture debate is moot, because race =/= culture, and you are limiting culture to race. You are being blinded by your personal desire for some sort of racially and culturally pure Iran, a vision that simply doesn't occur in any historical culture without that race and culture dying off from the inside. Ian.thomson (talk) 13:07, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

What on earth are you talking about? The Zoroastrian culture IS very insular and has always bene so, even more so in the past. You obviously no nothing on Iranian culture or history, otherwise you would know that Africans were slaves and not part of Persian culture. And I provided links on university websites. One author's theory should not color a whole article. I presented the fact that the source should remain, but the inflammatory sentence should be deleted. Because it isn't "highly likely", meaning it's true, that the Magi were Ethiopian. Have you read Herodotus? Then you would know that he wrote about the Persians. It's unfortunate that you don't understand that Persian peoples race/culture for the most part is one and the same. I'm talking about ethnic Persians, not non-Persians living in Iran. Most of Iran is Indo-European, save for the Arabs in certain areas and the descendants of slaves in the South and Mongolians to the East. Have you seen documentaries on the Magi by Oxford scholars, watched The History Channel? Persians are in the Bible, too. I have no idea why you think this phrase isn't inflammatory. It is. Biased information does not belong in an article. Not to mention the fact that you have this informatino placed in the Greek section on Herodotus. The Greek scholars writings on Persians is legendary. There is no other reliable source to coroborate that phrase. In any case, Christianity and historical sources attribute The Magi to the Persian Zoroastrians, and not Ethiopians. I'm going to propose a discussion on this and possibly a mediator. --CreativeSoul7981 (talk) 20:07, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

You are showing time and again that you do not give a damn about reasonable discussion. Noone at any point said that the Magi were an Ethiopian group. No person at any point. Quit harping on about it. If Oxford scholars are acceptable sources, then Zaehner (the author of the sentence you keep removing) is an acceptable source.
Trying to show off by bragging about how you know the Persians are in the Bible like noone on the planet knows is just bragging about common knowledge. I bow to your amazing scholarly abilities, it is obvious that your word about Persian culture cannot be denied because you know that the Persians are in the Bible.
Your POV bias towards a romantic view of Persian culture, a view that ties genetics and culture together in unrealistic ways, has blinded you from sources you would otherwise accept. That sort of bias is actually quite frightening to someone who has studied history, particularly early 20th century Germany. Ian.thomson (talk) 20:20, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
As a third party, I feel you both are treading too close to personal attacks and should calm down a bit. Perhaps CreativeSoul is right, and some scholars do believe the magi were always synonymous with the Medes. That is still not a good reason for removing the Zaehner cite, rather it is an argument for adding other valid sources to better balance things. From my own understanding the subject I don't think the Zaehner view is atypical. There is an entire book, for instance, titled Les mages hellenise (The Hellenized Mages) discussing the Greek and Aramaic speaking Zoroastrians of Anatolia. This group was the central conduit of ideas between the Greeks and the Zoroastrians, and has been much studied. - SimonP (talk) 20:50, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

Thank you SimonP (talk) for your contribution. Nice swearing Ian.thomson (talk). I see that you snapped at SimonP (talk), as well. I am not harping about anything, only pointing out the dangers of keeping an inflammatory phrase in this article. And Zaehner is one author, and not the end all of scholars, or the only Oxford scholar. Who is bragging about Persians in the Bible. Sorry if it came across like that, but I only made a mention of it. There weren't any flags raised or trumpets sounding last time I checked. And it is common knowledge about Zoroastrians. Persian culture being denied? Are you trying to admit to something. So what if I love my culture, you can say the same thing about the Irish, Scottish, French, Russian, and even American (which I am as well - a proud Southern Texan in fact). So what? The thing about Zoroastrians is that their genetics and culture are tied! That is the whole point. They are insular. I have studied history and anthropology as well, and you definitely don't know what you are talking about. From stalking me on another article page, you obviously don't know about the significance of oppressed ethnic Iranians, the differences between Iranian peoples and other ethnic races in Iran, or about the Revolution either. If you would calm down, you would realize that I never mentioned deleting the source from this page. Only that the one phrase be taken out since it was inflammatory and doesn't belong on this page. There also doesn't seem to be enough information about Herodotus's writings on Persians and the Magi in that section of the article anyways. It's good, then, that I have asked others to step in. --CreativeSoul7981 (talk) 19:01, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

We don't remove cited sources because the are "inflamatory" to certain users. If there is an ongoing controversy about this matter, we should include sources presenting both sides of the debate. We have a good source for one side in Zaehner. If you present some good sources that follow your view, they should also be included. - SimonP (talk) 02:49, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
I didn't say remove the cited source or even the whole quote. Only consider removing the one phrase, because "likely" is a very strong word and implies factual information with no room for disagreement. That's biased. I think I backed up what I argued with the above sources from universities. And Zaehner can't be the only Oxford scholar. I don't think if something is a theory, that words like "definitely", "likely", "always", etc. should be used, even if they are quotes. I'm not removing anything, but I welcome others to join the discussion. Thanks again for your input.--CreativeSoul7981 (talk) 05:19, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
I just found that the "Magi" entry in the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Religion covers this exact issue. Here is a direct quote from there:
"This wide range of sources notwithstanding, it is difficult to specify what these priests really were or did ... One piece of evidence from Herodotos has often been adduced as a possible solution to this problem: he mentions magi as a name of one of the six tribes of the Medes (Histories 1.101). This passage has been invoked many times to suggest that the magi were "originally" a priestly clan among the Medes, and this suggestion has opened the floodgates for a large number of speculations, most of which attribute many of the aspects of Zoroastrianism that seemed difficult to understand to the pernicious influence of these Median magi. This simple trick allowed scholars to shape for themselves a pristine Zoroastrian theology, going back to the prophet Zarathushtra, which had been perverted by later generations and especially by the Median magi. However, Herodotos's testimony is much too weak to support this type of reconstruction."
The article was written by this fellow, who certainly seems to be a credible source. It seems that scholars have in the past taken Herodotus on face value, but that some today do not. - SimonP (talk) 06:04, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree that there are different interpretations. However, as far as I know, Greeks themselves see the scholars writings to be about the Persians. Our people have such history together, even to this day. After all those great wars, our people are the best of friends today. A Greek will always be first to defend a Persian, and vice versa. A little ironic. I should also mention that earliest depictions of the Three Magi were always dressed in Persian/Zoroastrian garb. The German writer Manfred Barthel writes that, is the Church of the Nativity in Jerusalem, which was spared from destruction by Persian invaders in A.D. 614 because the church had a fresco of the Three Kings dressed in Persian dress. It was only later, that some Europeans created the image of the Coming of the Nations to Christ by depicting one Magi as Oriental, one as Ethiopian, and another sometimes European (not Indo-European/Iranian). As a Catholic of Zoroastrian descent and who's discussed this with historians and priests, there is a strong correlation between Zoroastrianism and Christianity. The Church considers Zoroaster as the first prophet. Also, this was pulled from some Zoroastrian resources and discussed with my priest (not supposed to be official, just mentioning it) as well as professors: In Zoroastrian writings and culture, the three kings, represent the Threefold Path of "Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds." Many other Zoroastrian symbols also follow this threefold symbolism, such as the three steps to the ancient Achaemenian fire-altar. The connection to Christianity is that the the three kings symbolize the Holy Trinity, one to adore each Person of the Trinity. In addition to Christians identifying frankincense as a gift to honor to Christ's divinity, it is also part of Zoroastrian worship: known as loban; frankincense is sprinkled on the Sacred Fire embers as homage to Ahura Mazda.

More historical research to come. There are a couple of documentaries that come to mind, some airing soon on television. The only question is whether to put a portion of the transcript up or to just cite the interviewee/historian, credentials, and program information. I guess I'll just have to wait and see. I think I have finally found some 1950s Oxford sources, as well as one from the 1970s and around 1998. Those should be good.--CreativeSoul7981 (talk) 06:46, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

How to edit, how not to edit[edit]

Hi CreativeSoul (and others)! You wrote:

I removed the biased sentence, "It is, therefore, quite likely that the sacerdotal caste of the Magi was distinct from the Median tribe of the same name." . It isn't likely that the Magis came from non-Iranian lands. ...

and this started an argument. May I offer some thoughts on how to resolve this? The problem is really one of "how to edit" a wikipedia article, daft as that sounds.

Firstly, CreativeSoul, you reckon that "it is... quite likely" is biased, and you say that you think different. But this isn't the right type of objection. We don't do original research here; we just quote other people. Now, *I* don't like the first phrase either, but for a different reason. Surely Wikipedia should not have an opinion on whether something is likely? It should just state facts -- things which everyone agrees are facts. So in this case, if "it is ... quite likely" is someone's opinion, then we need it to read like:

Professor xxx says, "It is, therefore, quite likely that..."[1]

with a reference. That is a fact -- that professor xxx says this. It doesn't mean it is true! And if it is not true, the correct way to edit this is to add something like:

Professor yyy however has said that, "Few modern scholars now believe that ..." [2]

and ALSO with a reference.

That way we don't actually express any opinion in Wikipedia. We just find what the scholars say, and we give it. If most scholars say that Zoroaster was Elvis (daft, I know), then we don't say "Most scholars think Zoroaster was Elvis." It might be true, but WIKIPEDIA must not express that opinion. We say "Professor zzz says that most scholars think Zoroaster was Elvis."

These are just my thoughts, but I think this is how we can resolve issues like this. We make each statement a quote, or else a summary of a quote (with the full quote in the footnote). Of course it requires people to read the scholars, and so is harder work! Roger Pearse (talk) 20:45, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Cite error[edit]

There is a cite error in ref 3, ref name="Gershevitch"Megistias (talk) 23:08, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Move discussion in progress[edit]

There is a move discussion in progress which affects this page. Please participate at Talk:Biblical Magi - Requested move and not in this talk page section. Thank you. —RM bot 16:20, 10 December 2011 (UTC)

Another interpretation of the Gifts of the Magi?[edit]

The embedded image has Frankincense represents Africa, Gold represents Asia, and Myrrh and represents Europe. At school, like 50 years ago, I learnt differently: gold is a gift for a king, frankincense a gift for a priest, and myrrh a gift for a dead man. How does this interpretation stand the test of time? Old_Wombat (talk) 09:42, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

4th century BC separation?[edit]

What is the cause/event(s) for the separation from the pre/post 4th century BC separation? (Not for editing or anything, I just want to know for personal knowledge). — Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.173.139.200 (talk) 09:26, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

where did the magus link dissapear to? it is referenced in darius the 1st, and now has been merged, and gone, and changed[edit]

where did the magus link dissapear to? it is referenced in darius the 1st, and now has been merged, and gone, and changed magi is different from magus — Preceding unsigned comment added by Docdemort (talkcontribs) 11:39, 14 January 2015 (UTC)