1- Wise Men or Kings? Who
“With Wondering Awe,
The wise men saw,
The star in heaven springing …
By light of star, they Traveled far,
to seek the lowly manger …”
Hymn 209, edition 1973.
Year in and year out, the biggest celebration is Christmas. Stores begin their displays before Labor Day. Merchants count on Christmas gifts to bring home the bacon. And every Christmas the question is asked, is there a Santa Claus?
Perhaps the tradition of Santa Claus came from Saint Nicholas giving to the children. But his gifts were patterned after the Wise Men who gave gifts. Who were they? What do we know? From where did they come? Where did they go? How does a star shine? Which were lone survivors? Why should Herod care? When was the star, gifts, and travel?
What did they look like? How did they dress? The artistic license for this is noted with pictures throughout this paper featuring Wise men from crèches.
For more examples of Traditions see the End note Wise Men Myths and Speculation.
Recently, a revelation came to change the name of The Book of Mormon by adding “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” to the Title. Another testament refers to an addition to the New and the Old Testaments. Did you know the Book of Mormon fits hand in glove with the New Testament? Even the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the letters of the Apostles guide us in our study of Jesus Christ. This paper associates some events which the several books describe. These events were long ago and far away, but are still as fresh as this morning’s biscuits.
The New Testament is more than a book that was long ago and far away. It is a treasure of knowledge, even a hidden treasure of knowledge. (D&C 89:19). We love to read and quote the New Testament’s verses. It has a partial record of Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry to the Jews. We use the story of Joseph and Mary, the Shepherds and Wise men at Christmas. We recall His trial by Pontius Pilate and celebrate the resurrection at Easter.
However the New Testament is more than a travelogue of Paul’s missions, and more than the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus made the Apostles’ fishers of men. We read the story of Jesus walking on the water and Peter asking to try it also. When Peter becomes frightened, and begins to sink, Peter calls for help. Jesus helps him and advises Peter to be faithful and not to doubt. (Matt. 14:26‑31)
We read this and think, yes, Peter, you should believe and not doubt. But we never ask, would we try the water walk? Would we open our mouths to bear testimony? Would we obey the prophet’s call to garden, and to keep a year’s supply? If we can’t keep a journal, would we walk on the water? When we sink, do we call upon Jesus for help, or do we call the bank for a loan, or the drug store for a pain reliever?
One author described faith problems as the result of limited perspective and slothful study. Better is to keep our eyes on the eternities. We may be too quick to give up our studies of the eternal truths, by assuming they are unanswerable. All of our scriptures are important. Ezekiel wrote how the record of Judah and Ephraim were to become one record in the hands of the people. (Ezek. 37:16) This has been literally fulfilled with the Old and New Testaments bound with the Book of Mormon in these latter days.
As one book, much scholarship comparisons examine portions in the Book of Mormon also from the Old Testament’s Isaiah or Malachi, or the New Testament’s Beatitudes. The Book of Mormon anticipated John the Apostle in vision. Nephi was restrained from writing things he had seen, because John would write them. (1 Ne. 14:19‑27) But there might be more. Let’s sharpen our studies and expand our perspective.
Even Joseph Smith used the New Testament to open up this last and great dispensation of the fullness of time.
It was his study of the New Testament wherein he read, One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism, (Eph. 2:15) which helped him realize that all of the conflicting doctrines of the ministers were not commended of the Lord. If they could not be all correct and teach contrary things, then which one was correct? or were they all wrong together? (JS‑H 1:10) Joseph read, studied, and questioned. Then he knew he could not discern the truth from the error, so he turned again to the New Testament. In James (1:5), he read,
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”
(The quotation marks were not there in 1820, they are a late 19th century addition.) This verse opened Joseph’s heart. The result was the First Vision.
Jos. Smith 1:11, 26. See also “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. James 1:6.”
If the Book of Mormon is the Keystone of our religion, and the Doctrine and Covenants is the Capstone, and the Apostles and Prophets are the Foundation, and Jesus Christ the cornerstone, (Eph. 2:20) what is left? The New Testament must be the Lodestone. The Lodestone guides, directs, and points the way. It pointed Joseph to Jesus, to the Apostles and Prophets, and to the Book of Mormon. The letters of the New Testament Apostles were the Handbook of Instruction for the Church in the meridian of time. In the Latter Days the New Testament is now the Lodestone.
The Book of Mormon mentions a number of situations which left its writers without information. Why would the prophets leave questions on the gold plates? Are the questions to be unanswerable?
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary vol 1, p. 398.
JST. Mark 9:1. “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, and James, and John, who asked him many questions concerning his sayings; and Jesus leadeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them.
At p. 404, How profitable it would be to know the questions asked, the answers given, the truths revealed.”
The questions are answerable. Because if questions were unanswerable, that would not be in harmony with the “Ask and ye shall receive” promise in the New Testament. (Matt. 7:7. The same promise is repeated in Luke 11:9; 3 Nephi 14:7; 27:29; Doctrine and Covenants 4:7; 6:5; 11:5; 12:5; 14:5; 49:26; 66:9; 75:27; 88:63.) [See End note Wise Men Myths and Speculation..]
End note Wise Men Myths and Speculation. Poland
The Twelve Days of Christmas
[Comment – These quotes are provided for context of the Wise Men myth and speculation.]
. The following is the type of tradition that encompasses the Wise men travel story. It was received by ‘email’ from a newspaper reporter: OOPS! Here is the real scoop from snopes: sorry, nice story anyway, 12/15/2005 7:33 . “There is no substantive evidence to demonstrate that the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was created or used as a secret means of preserving tenets of the Catholic faith, or that this claim is anything but a fanciful modern day speculation, similar to the many apocryphal “hidden meanings” of various nursery rhymes. Moreover, several flaws in the explanation argue compellingly against it Apocryphal stories, no matter how earnestly cited, don’t constitute evidence either. With no real proof that “catechism-songs” existed in the first place, McKellar’s elaborate explanation of the song’s possible symbolism is nothing more than unfounded speculation.
“What we do know is that the twelve days of Christmas in the song are the twelve days between the birth of Christ ([traditionally] Christmas, December 25) and the coming of the Magi (([traditionally] Epiphany, January 6). Although the specific origins of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” are not known, it possibly began as a Twelfth Night “memory-and-forfeits” game in which the leader recited a verse, each of the players repeated the verse, the leader added another verse, and so on until one of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred having to pay a penalty, such as a offering up a kiss or a sweet. This is how the song was presented in its earliest known printed version, in the 1780 children’s book Mirth Without Mischief.
(The song is apparently much older than this printed version, but we do not currently know how much older.) Textual evidence indicates that the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was not English in origin, but French. Three French versions of the song are known, and items mentioned in the song itself (the partridge, for example, which was not introduced to England from France until the late 1770s) are indicative of a French origin.
It is possible that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” has been confused with (or is a transformation of) a song called “A New Dial” (also known as “In Those Twelve Days”), which dates to at least 1625 [AD] and assigns religious meanings to each of the twelve days of Christmas (but not for the purposes of teaching a catechism). In a manner somewhat similar to the memory-and-forfeits performance of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the song “A New Dial” was recited in a question-and-answer format:
[Editor’s comments – others have disagreed with the entire premise of these numbers and significance. But, if anything, this is yet another example that everyone wants to mix in the speculation.]
We three kings from orient are,
Bearing gifts we travel a far,
Thru field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.
So starts a classic Christmas song. Wise men raised to ‘king’ status. East lengthened to the ‘orient’. Seeing a ‘star’ morphed to ‘following’ a star. The song
Star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
West ward leading, still preceding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
Wikipedia lists John Hopkins as composer in 1857.
Gaspard – Born a King on Bethlehem plain,
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King for ever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.
Three gifts get three kings and three kings get three names.
Melchior – Frankincense to offer have I,
Incense owns a Deity nigh,
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him God on High.
Incense was valuable and could be sold by the family for the trip to Egypt.
Balthaza – Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume,
Breathes a life of gathering gloom,
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
This was a depressing verse, hardly the joy for a new baby. Wikipedia describes myrrh as a natural resin used for perfume and medicine.
Wise Men in Media.
Three Godfathers, a John Wayne Western 1948.
3 outlaws on the run in the Arizona desert find a dying woman and her newborn baby in the desert, and vow to save the child, reading the story of the Nativity from the Bible, which good outlaws always carry with their water and guns, while staggering through the Arizona raw and craggy mountain wilderness. They become the wisemen to help the family on the frontier.
Wise Men Still Seek Him. Three modern-day wise men show us that the greatest gift we can give Jesus Christ is the will of our hearts. (3:31)). Lds.org.
The 3 Wise Men. 2003
The three wise men are in a movie. A bright star guides Melchior, Gaspar, and Baltasar. 2014
The Fourth Wise Man. (1985)
The story of Artaban, the fourth Magi, who spends his life looking for Jesus his King.
The Story of the Other Wise Man is a short novel by Henry Van Dyke.
- 1895. Wikipedia. A 4th wise man? Named Artaban. The story has been dramatized as a play. A television adaptation was presented on the Hallmark Hall of Fame show in 1953, and Kraft Television Theatre in 1957, and on G.E. True Theater in 1960, and a full length (73 minutes) TV movie, titled “The Fourth Wise Man” in1985.
Three Wise Men Christmas Cards from Cardsdirect.com
Next – 2. Wise Men? What
A wonderful Story
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