The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #173194   Message #4200147
Posted By: Robert B. Waltz
31-Mar-24 - 11:29 AM
Thread Name: Naming in threes
Subject: RE: Naming in threes
henryp wrote: The Three Wise Men; we know them as Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar

I have to nitpick here -- not the original poster's fault, but worth noting. Yes, people say there were three "wise men." But:

1. The gospel of Matthew does not say they were wise men. It says they were magi (μαγοι, singular μαγος). Magi were Babylonian magicians. The main other use of the word Magi in the New Testament is in Acts, for Simon Magus, who was a magician who was guilty of simony (the buying of clerical offices) and was rejected by the apostles as not ready to be a Christian. Tradition made him the great enemy of the apostle Peter in Rome, though that's not Biblical either. But being a magos implicitly meant he was opposed to God.

2. The gospel of Matthew does not say that there were three of them. It just says that they gave three gifts: gold and two others, one of them being described as either frankincense or something from Lebanon and the other being myrrh, or something from Smyrna, or possible something else (both Greek words are obscure; the translations we use are derived from Jerome's Latin Vulgate translation).

3. There is no actual evidence that they came from the east. It was the star that was in the east. It actually makes more sense to assume that they followed the star from the west.

4. There is, of course, absolutely no Biblical warrant for the three names.

That there were three gifts is absolutely legitimate and conforms to the bit about there being three of things.