#1──簡介:聖人與星童──INTRODUCTION: THE SAGES AND THE STAR-CHILD

智者在本書中亦稱為馬吉(The Magi)──通常被稱為三位智者或三個王 ──就是最有名出現在耶穌誕生時的訪客,在許多福音故事中都有介紹。無論他/她是否去教會, 幾乎每個人都聽說過他們。他們給稱作基督的那個孩子帶來禮物,從此形成了一個聖誕禮物的傳統,這個傳統永遠把他們與節日禮物的儀式聯繫在一起。儘管他們非常有名,然而,在《新約》中,只有一段短文講述了他們,他們在新約聖經中被稱為博士,而這段講述對他們的人數描述是非常模糊和概括的。

我們發現這段講述出現在馬太福音第 2 章第 1 節至第 12 節,它說:

1 當希律王的時候,耶穌生在猶太的伯利恒。有幾個博士從東方來到耶路撒冷,說,
2 那生下來作猶太人之王的在哪裡?我們在東方看見他的星,特來拜他。
3 希律王聽見了,就心裡不安。耶路撒冷合城的人,也都不安。
4 他就召齊了祭司長和民間的文士,問他們說,基督當生在何處。
5 他們回答說,在猶太的伯利恒。因為有先知記著說,
6 猶大地的伯利恒阿,你在猶大諸城中,並不是最小的。因為將來有一位君王,要從你那裡出來,牧養我以色列民。
7 當下希律暗暗地召了博士來,細問那星是什麼時候出現的。
8 就差他們往伯利恒去,說,你們去仔細尋訪那小孩子。尋到了,就來報信,我也好去拜他。
9 他們聽見王的話,就去了。在東方所看見的那星,忽然在他們前頭行,直行到小孩子的地方,就在上頭停住了。
10 他們看見那星,就大大地歡喜。
11 進了房子,看見小孩子和他母親馬利亞,就俯伏拜那小孩子,揭開寶盒,拿黃金,乳香,沒藥為禮物獻給他。
12 博士因為在夢中被主指示,不要回去見希律,就從別的路回本地去了。

請注意在這個故事中有一個巨大的空間,這是一個有思想的讀者必須嘗試填補的空白。這些智者沒有特定的國籍,也沒有具體的名字和數目,雖然三個是最常見的數字,這是由於三個禮物的緣故(見《三個國王》第 4 頁和 5 頁的 [ 智者 ])。

三位國王(智者)。早期的基督教馬賽克。公元 6 世紀,意大利拉文納的 C.E. S. Apollinare Nuovo。圖片來源:斯卡拉 / 紐約藝術資源

事實上,智者是希臘語 magi 相當糟糕的翻譯。《新約》的其他地方則用明顯負面的詞──魔術師來表達它。同樣令人費解的是這顆智者跟隨到猶太地的星星。馬太福音從未解釋智者怎樣知道這顆星揭示猶太人的王誕生。此外,這顆星本身的行為很奇怪,它再次出現在智者前往伯利恒的路上,引導他們,然後直接停留在耶穌所在的地方。總之,馬太福音中智者的故事是非常離奇的, 許多早期的基督徒努力去理解它。在廣泛的早期基督教對智者的推測中──聖經、詩篇、佈道、莫紮克、木雕和石雕──其中一篇作品特別令人印象深刻,但卻出人意料地不為人知。它被稱為智者的啟示,這是一個漫長的敘述,是關於基督來臨之事的個人見證。雖然這個傳說在整個中世紀的歐洲基督教為眾所周知,但這本書首次呈現了《智者的啟示》的完整英文譯本。

我承認,我一生都對聖誕節假期、耶穌出生和童年的傳統,特別是智者和他們的明亮晨星的故事著迷。小時候,我在亞利桑那州弗拉格斯塔夫的教會從附近的洛威爾請來一位天文學家,我被迷住了。他們在天文臺舉辦基督降臨節,大家討論伯利恒之星的在科學解釋範圍內的可能性。然後,在鳳凰城的耶穌會學校,我在高中教育時期,第一次接觸到《新約》之外有意填補福音書中耶穌成長過程之空白的著作。最後,作為一名在哈佛大學學習早期基督教的博士生,當我在去到義大利的一次學習之旅中,看到智者這個主題是多麼受歡迎時,那些繪畫、祭品和雕塑留給了我深刻的印象。回到劍橋後,我決心盡可能多地學習智者的早期基督教傳說。在這個搜索中,我碰巧看到有一篇文章中提到智者的啟示。我問周圍的人,驚訝地發現,沒有一個同事甚至聽說過它。這樣的文檔真的存在嗎?聽起來像是一個了不起的文本。幾乎立即我決定進一步調查。

在介紹的稍後部分,我將討論這篇著作是從哪裡來的,為什麼今天沒有為人所知,以及為什麼它可能是一篇非常重要的著作。我會從故事本身的內容開始,最終我發現它隱藏在梵蒂岡圖書館。

摘自《智者的啟示》
承蒙神召會活水堂授權【葡萄樹傳媒】轉載


INTRODUCTION: THE SAGES AND THE STAR-CHILD

──Brent Landau

The Magi──usually known as the “Three Wise Men” or “Three Kings” ──are easily the most famous of the visitors who appear at Jesus’s birth in the Gospel accounts of the Christmas story. Whether or not one is a churchgoer, practically everyone has heard of them. Their bringing of gifts to the Christ child began a tradition that has linked them forever with the rite of holiday gift giving. Despite their great fame, however, there is only one short passage in the New Testament that tells of the Magi, and this account is remarkably vague about these figures. Found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, verses 1 through 12, it says this:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time they star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Notice the enormous gaps in this story, gaps that a thoughtful reader must attempt to fill in. The wise men have no specific country of origin. No number of names are given for the wise men, though three was destined to become the most common number because of the three gifts (See The Three Kings [Wise Men] on pages 4 and 5).

In fact, “wise men” itself is a rather poor translation of the Greek word magoi, which elsewhere in the New Testament means “magicians” in a clearly negative sense. Equally problematic──if not altogether disturbing──is the puzzling nature of this “star” that the Magi have followed to Judea. The Gospel of Matthew never explains how to Magi came to know that this star revealed the birth of the King of the Jews. Moreover, the star itself behaves very strangely, reappearing to the Magi on their way to Bethlehem and then coming to rest directly over the place where the child Jesus was. All in all, the story of the Magi from Matthew’s Gospel is a very bizarre one, and many early Christians struggled to make sense of it.

The Three Kings (Wise Men). Early Christian mosaic. 6th century C.E. S. Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy. Photo Credit : Scala / Art Resource, NY

Amid a wide range of early Christian speculation on the Magi – apocryphal Gospels, hymns, sermons, mosaics, wood carvings, and sculptures on sarcophagi – one composition is particularly impressive and yet surprisingly unknown. Called the Revelation of the Magi, it is a lengthy narrative that claims to be the personal testimony of the Magi themselves on the events of Christ’s coming. Though versions of this legend were well known in Christian Europe throughout the Middle Ages, this book presents the first-ever complete English translation of the Revelation of the Magi.

I confess that I have had a lifelong fascination with the Christmas holiday, with the traditions of Jesus’s birth and childhood, and with the story of the Magi and their star in particular. As a young child, I was captivated when my church in Flagstaff, Arizona, brought in an astronomer from the nearby Lowell Observatory one Advent season to discuss the range of possible scientific explanations for the Star of Bethlehem. Then, during my high school education at a Jesuit school in Phoenix, I first learned about the existence of writings outside the New Testament that purported to fill in gaps in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s upbringing. Finally, as a doctoral student studying early Christianity at Harvard University, I was deeply impressed during a study trip to Italy when I saw how popular a subject the Magi were in paintings, altarpieces, and sculptures. Upon my return to Cambridge, I resolved to learn as much as I could about early Christian legends of the Magi. In this search, I happened upon an article that mentioned the Revelation of the Magi. I asked around and was surprised to find that none of my colleagues had even heard of it. Did such a document really exist? It sounded like such a remarkable text that almost immediately I decided to investigate further.

Later in this introduction, I will discuss where this text came from, why it is so little known today, and why it may be a writing of great importance. But I’ll start with the contents of the story itself, which I eventually discovered hidden away in the Vatican Library.

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