#11──結論：《智者的啟示》的意義──CONCLUSION: THE MEANINGS OF THE “REVELATION OF THE MAGI”
我們從《智者的啟示》中學到的最重要的事情是什麼？ 它僅僅是一部豐富多彩而迷人的小說嗎？ 還是它告訴我們有關東方博士和聖誕節的故事，否則我們會不知道嗎？ 這個古老故事的更廣泛意義是什麼？不僅對於專門研究早期基督教的學者，而且對於廣泛的非專業讀者來說，還有什麼意義？
我特別想到兩點。 首先，《智者的啟示》是一個傑出的例子，說明聖經以外的著作對我們的聖經經文、人物和事件的觀念有多大影響。 當然，有些讀者可能會否認他們對聖經的理解是由聖經本身以外的任何事物決定的。 但是，為了說明次經著作如何影響我們對聖經故事的看法，我想問自己一個問題：在聖誕節故事中，馬利亞和約瑟是如何到達伯利恆的？
我可以想像你們中的許多人說他們是騎著驢子去的。 確實，你們中的某些人可能會說得更具體：在約瑟走路時，馬利亞騎著驢。 但是，請看看路加福音 2：1-7，這是聖誕節故事和人口普查故事中最著名的記載，是人口普查把馬利亞和約瑟帶到伯利恆。 那時，奧古斯都皇帝頒佈法令，要求全世界的人進行登記。 這是第一次人口註冊，是 Quirinius 擔任敘利亞州長時採取的措施。 所有人都去了自己的城鎮進行註冊。 約瑟夫妻兩個還從加利利的拿撒勒到猶大，再到名為伯利恆的大衛城，因為他是大衛家族的後代。 他跟馬利亞去註冊，與她訂婚並懷了一個孩子。 當他們在那裡的時候，她分娩了她的孩子。 她生了長子，用布把他包起來，放在洞穴的馬槽內，因為旅館裡沒有地方給他們住。
您在任何地方看到過熟悉的驢子嗎？ 為什麼沒有提及？ 現實情況是，儘管馬利亞和約瑟和一頭驢要去伯利恆已成為常識，但在路加福音或實際上在聖經的其他地方都找不到這種資訊。
著名的驢首先出現在詹姆斯的 Protevangelium 中，這是第二世紀關於嬰兒期福音書的次經。 這段文字說的是：
他 [ 即約瑟 ] 牽上了驢，並把她 [ 即馬利亞 ] 安放在那只驢上。 他的兒子率領一切，約瑟緊隨其後。 （詹姆斯箴言 17：2）
自從在 Protevangelium 首次亮相以來，這只驢就出現在聖誕節故事的其他古代複述中，從那裡到聖誕節選漂亮的賀卡、唱頌歌等等，儘管聖經中從未提及過它！ 像 Protevangelium 一樣，《智者的啟示》是否也具有影響我們對聖誕節故事理解的元素？
據我所知，《智者的啟示》中沒有任何東西可以過濾到我們今天所知道的聖誕節故事中，當然不像驢子那樣。 然而，《智者的啟示》並不總是像現在這樣隱蔽。 實際上，對於中世紀和文藝復興時期的歐洲基督徒來說，這個故事產生了巨大的影響。
古老的敘利亞文學著作《智者的啟示》如何在中世紀和文藝復興時期的歐洲變得如此強大？ 回想一下，在引言中，我提到了在馬太福音的《不完美的作品》中發現的智者的啟示的摘要，這是第五世紀拉丁語中關於馬太福音的注釋。 當我之前討論它時，它的重要性是作為《智者的啟示》的主要見證者，它説明我們瞭解了文本的實際年代。 但是，我簡短地提到不完善的作品並不能說明該文本在其形成之後的幾個世紀中具有多麼大的影響力。
我們不知道誰寫了不完美作品； 我們所能推斷的是它寫於 5 世紀，作者住在君士坦丁堡大城市附近。 但是由於未知的原因，它被錯誤地歸因於聖約翰·金索托姆，他是第四世紀安提阿時期的主要基督教思想家和主教。 由於它被認為是金用鋼筆書寫的，因此不完美的作品在整個中世紀的歐洲繼續被複製和閱讀。
這就意味著它關於智者的傳說也進入了中世紀的基督教世界。這本書中複製了幾幅藝術品，它們顯示了《智者的啟示》無疑產生的影響。考慮一下與 Rogier van der Weyden 和他的學校有關的兩幅畫作，這兩幅畫現在分別位於柏林的 Gemäldegalerie 和紐約的回廊博物館（參見最后一页和第 90 页插图）。在這三者中，三位法師對被稱作基督的孩子表示敬畏，他們顯著地盤旋在我上面，就像星星一樣！正如我在導言中所說，《智者的啟示》是唯一將天文學的基督與伯利恆之星區分開來的古代基督教文字，這幾乎可以肯定，這個傳說就是這些畫作的來源。進一步的細節證實了這一點。智者的身後是他們的神聖之山 — 勝利之山。在回廊畫中，智者再次出現在背景中，沉浸在淨化之泉中。 《智者的啟示》的影響也可以從《人類救贖的鏡子》的手稿和印刷書籍中找到。如下插圖）。
除了對智者的啟發性藝術表現之外，這個傳奇還吸引了像聖托馬斯·阿奎那（Saint Thomas Aquinas）一樣傑出的基督教思想家。 阿奎那在他的最偉大的著作《神學》中以《智者的啟示》為證明伯利恆之星是上帝向人類講述基督誕生的清晰而明確的方式。 即使不是所有人都知道這顆恆星的含義，對智者來說也肯定是這樣，他知道自己是通過賽特的啟示而來的，並正專心地等待著它。
回想一下在引言中我曾問過一個問題：為什麼早期基督教的現代學者如此忽視了《智者的啟示》，以至於直到現在才將其翻譯成英文。 我給出我的答案是，它的不幸之處在於，它被保存為一種鮮為人知的語言，並成為早期基督教文學中被忽視的兩個領域中的一個而不是兩個而被忽視的領域 – 關於耶穌的誕生的故事，以及未包含在新約聖經中的著作。
但是，如果願意的話，一個人可能會願意相信，在這個準確的時間向廣大觀眾介紹《東方博士的啟示》幾乎不是偶然的問題。 正如已經討論過的，《智者的啟示》對世界宗教傳統的起源有非常不同尋常的理解。 像大多數古代基督徒所做的那樣，不是將非基督教宗教視為人類虛榮或惡魔靈感的產物，而是《智者的啟示》認為所有啟示可能都是來自基督本人。 此外，由於星際孩子從未向智者展示自己是基督，因此《智者的啟示》顯然認為，擁有基督的同在經歷比成為基督徒更為重要。
我無處不在，因為我是一束光芒，我天父的威嚴照耀著這個世界，我天父差派我去履行我在整個世界和每一個土地上所講的關於我的一切，這都是難以言喻的奧秘， 我履行了我光榮的天父的誡命，他借著先知以與你同等的方式預言我為你們預備住處，正像你的信仰一樣，向你啟示了我。 （13:10）
CONCLUSION: THE MEANINGS OF THE “REVELATION OF THE MAGI”
What are the most important things we learn from the Revelation of the Magi? Is it merely a colorful and captivating piece of fiction? Or does it tell us anything about the Magi and the Christmas story that we wouldn’t otherwise know? What might be the broader significance of this ancient tale – not just for scholars who specialize in early Christianity, but for a wide range of lay readers as well? Two points especially come to mind. First, the Revelation of the Magi is an outstanding example of how much influence writings outside of the Bible can have on our conceptions of biblical texts, people, and events. Of course, some readers may deny that their understandings of the bible are determined by anything other than the Bible itself. But to illustrate how apocryphal writings can shape our views of biblical stories, I’d like you to ask yourself this question: in the Christmas story, how do Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem?
I would imagine that many of you said that they used a donkey. Indeed, some of you may have been more specific: that Mary rode the donkey while Joseph walked. But take a look at Luke 2:1-7, the most famous account of the Christmas story and of the census that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the two of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in hands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Do you see the familiar donkey mentioned anywhere? Why isn’t it mentioned? The reality is that although it has become common knowledge that Mary and Joseph and a donkey to get to Bethlehem, this information isn’t found anywhere in Luke or, in fact, in the rest of the Bible.
The famous donkey first appears in the Protevangelium of James, a second-century apocryphal Infancy Gospel. Here is what that writing says:
He [i.e., Joseph] saddled the donkey and seated her [i.e., Mary] on it; and his son led it along, while Joseph followed behind. (Protevangelium of James 17:2)
From its debut in the Protevangelium, the donkey appeared in other ancient retellings of the Christ-mas story, and from there to Christmas pageants, greeting cards, carols, and so forth – despite its never being mentioned at all in the Bible! Might the Revelation of the Magi, like the Protevangelium, also have elements that have influenced our understanding of the Christmas story?
To my knowledge, there is nothing in the Revelation of the Magi that has filtered into the version of the Christmas story that we know today, certainly not like the donkey has. Yet the Revelation of the Magi has not always been as invisible as it is now. In fact, for European Christians in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, this story had an immense influence.
How did the Revelation of the Magi, an ancient Syriac writing, become such a powerful influence in medieval and Renaissance Europe? Recall that in the introduction, I mentioned a summary of the Revelation of the Magi found in the Opus Imperfectum in Matthaeum, a fifth-century Latin commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. When I discussed it before, its significance was as a key witness to the Revelation of the Magi, helping us to learn how old the text actually might be. But my very brief mention of the Opus Imperfectum does not do justice to how influential this text became in the centuries after which it was composed.
We don’t know who wrote the Opus Imperfectum; all we can infer is that it was written in the fifth century and that the author lived somewhere close to the great city of Constantinople. But for reasons unknown, it became incorrectly attributed to Saint John Chrysostom, a major Christian thinker and bishop in fourth century Antioch. Because it was believed to have been penned by Chrysostom, the Opus Imperfectum continued to be copied and read throughout medieval Europe.
And this meant that its legend about the Magi also entered the world of medieval Christianity. Several pieces of artwork are reproduced in this book that show unquestionable influence from the Revelation of the Magi. Consider the two paintings associated with Rogier van der Weyden and his school, which today reside in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin and the Cloisters Museum in New York, respectively (see frontispiece and page 51). In each of these, the three Magi stand in awe of the Christ child, who prominently hovers above them I the form of a star! As I said in the introduction, the Revelation of the Magi is the only ancient Christian text to identify the Star of Bethlehem with the celestial Christ himself, which makes it virtually certain that this legend is the source of these paintings. Further details confirm this. Behind the Magi stands their sacred mountain, the Mountain of Victories. And in the Cloisters painting, the Magi again appear in the background, immersing themselves in their Spring of Purification. The influence of the Revelation of the Magi is also evident in the depictions of the Magi found in manuscripts and printed books of the Speculum Humanae Salvationis (Mirror of Human Salvation), an immensely popular devotional writing of the fourteenth century (see Speculum Humanae Salvationis belows).
Apart from inspiring artistic representations of the Magi, this legend also captivated Christian thinkers as distinguished as Saint Thomas Aquinas. In the Summa Theologica, his greatest work, Aquinas uses the Revelation of the Magi as evidence that the Star of Bethlehem was a clear and unmistakable way for God to tell human beings about the birth of Christ. Even if the meaning of the star wasn’t obvious to everyone, it certainly was to the Magi, who knew about its coming through Seth’s books of revelation and were waiting attentively for it.
The Revelation of the Magi even influenced the way explorers of the New World understood the indigenous cultures they encountered (see Adoration of the Magi belows). Two examples will suffice. First, there is the seventeenth-century Augustinian monk Antonio de la Calancha, who studied the Incan culture of Peru. He was impressed by the similarities between Andean traditional religion and Christianity, and he believed that the Apostle Thomas and the Magi must have missionized the region together, just as the Opus Imperfectum indicated. Second, the Franciscan missionary and historian Juan de Torquemada described the belief among some of the Aztecs that the conquistador Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl with recourse to this legend. Just as the Magi had stood atop the Mountain of Victories awaiting the fulfillment of their prophecy, Torquemada notes, so, too, did the Aztecs anxiously await the foretold return of Quetzalcoatl, and were all too willing to accept Cortes as the returned Quetzalcoatl when Spanish ships appeared off the Mexican coast.
So the legend found in the Revelation of the Magi was demonstrably important for Christians in Europe half a millennium ago. And it is a powerful example of the way that an apocryphal writing can strongly influence understandings of biblical events, even if it does not figure into the portrayal of the “Wise Men” in the Christmas story as we know it today.
But as my second and final remark, I want to suggest a different reason that the Revelation of the Magi may be especially relevant for today’s world. Speaking for a moment as a theologian rather than a historian, I think that the most important thing about the Revelation of the Magi may not be what it stays about the Magi, but what it says about Christ.
Recall that in the introduction I asked the question of why the Revelation of the Magi has been so neglected by modern scholars of early Christianity that it has only now been translated into English. The answer I gave there was that it had the misfortune of being preserved in a language few scholars knew, and of being part of not one but two neglected spheres of early Christian literature – stories about Jesus’s birth, and writings that were not included in the New Testament.
But one might as willingly believe, if so inclined, that the introduction of the Revelation of the Magi to a wide audience at this precise moment in time is hardly a matter of chance. As already discussed, the Revelation of the Magi has a very unusual understanding of the origins of the world’s religious traditions. Instead of seeing non-Christian religions as products of human vanity or demonic inspiration, as most ancient Christians did, the Revelation of the Magi sees potentially all revelations as coming from Christ himself. Moreover, because the star-child never reveals himself to the Magi as Christ, the Revelation of the Magi apparently believes that having an experience of Christ’s presence is much more important than being a Christian.
Taking this radical viewpoint, the Revelation of the Magi practically stands along among early Christian writings in its positive appraisal of religious pluralism. So, another way of answering the question of why the Revelation of the Magi is now beginning to be studied more closely is that such a text could be fully appreciated only in a moment such as today. Now more than ever before, religious diversity is a fact of life in many parts of the world. And this religious diversity has given birth, in recent decades, to a great deal of theological reflection on the place of Christianity among the world’s religious traditions. It has become more intellectually challenging to insist on the obvious and exclusive truth of one’s religion when one lives and works in close proximity to other people who cherish their own religious tradition just as much. Are those who did not share our religious beliefs foolishly misguided? According to the Revelation of the Magi, the answer of Christ to the Magi appears to be no:
And I am everywhere, because I am a ray of light whose light has shone in this world from the majesty of my Father, who has sent me to fulfill everything that was spoken about me in the entire world and in every land by unspeakable mysteries, and to accomplish the commandment of my glorious Father, who by the prophets preached about me to the contentious house, in the same way as for you, as befits your faith, it was revealed to you about me. (13:10)
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