#2──故事──THE STORY

智者的啟示, 主要是由智者以第一人稱敘述, 是一個展開並富有想像力的著作,從伊甸園開始,到智者在使徒多馬手中受洗結束。這些智者是古代神秘秩序的成員,居住在一個半神話的土地,稱為Shir,位於世界最東面,在大洋之岸(今日的連雲港)。《智者的啟示》說,這些人在當地語言中被稱為智者,是因為他們默默地祈禱。這個故事暗示著智者是沉默和/或祈禱的人;但這種暗示在早期基督徒所講的任何最常見語言中都沒有意義。然而,儘管這是一個尚未解開的謎團,這個描述尖銳地區分了這個故事的智者與任何最常見的古代用法的術語 「智者」:這些智者不是魔術師、占星家,甚至伊朗瑣羅亞斯德教的宗教祭司。

這些神秘主義者生活在一個神秘而遙遠的土地上,正如《智者的啟示》所描繪的,是塞特的後裔,塞特是亞當和夏娃的第三個兒子。許多早期的猶太人和基督徒認為塞特是非常虔誠和善良的,所以智者的啟示可以追溯到他們傑出的祖先。智者繼承了塞特的預言。這個預言至高無上: 一顆以難以形容的亮度出現在天空中的星總有一天會出現, 預示著上帝以人類形式誕生。塞特本人從他的父親亞當那裡得知了這個預言,因為這顆星最初盤旋在生命樹上,照亮了伊甸園,在亞當的罪導致這顆星消失之前。

幾千年來,每年每個月智者都會按秩序進行其古老的儀式,期待這顆明亮晨星的到來。他們攀登他們國家最神聖的山──勝利之山,並在隱藏神秘寶藏的洞口默默地祈禱,塞特自己的預言書由智者存放和閱讀。每當一個智者去世時,他的兒子或他的近親就會代替他的位置,他們的秩序會一直延續下去。

所有這些關於智者的起源和他們的預言的傳說已經著書立作,我們從中得知,有一代的智者還活著,見證了伯利恒之星的到來。他們聚集在一起,攀登勝利之山,這是他們的古老習俗,但突然預言的星出現在天空。正如預言所承諾的,這顆星星是難以形容的明亮,如此明亮,相比之下,太陽變得像白天的月亮一樣微弱;然而,因為只有智者一直在守護這個預言, 除了他們,其他任何人並無法看見這顆星。這顆星下到山頂,進入寶藏洞,招智者進來。智者進入洞穴,在這顆星前下拜,其令人難以置信的光線逐漸消散,顯露出一個小小的發光的人!這個星童向智者透露,他是神的兒子,但──有一點至關重要──他從來不用熟悉的名字耶穌或基督來稱呼自己。智者也從來沒有叫他這些名字,這些缺席的指定將為我們提供關於智者啟示的中心資訊之關鍵線索。

星童指示智者跟隨他到耶路撒冷,以便他們能夠見證他的誕生,並參與神為全世界計畫的救恩。智者從山上下來,興奮地討論他們剛剛看到的事。然而,在他們談話過程中,他們發現他們每個人都看到星童的不同異象,每個異象代表基督生活的不同時期!他們準備了一個大篷車和用品開始長途跋涉,感謝這顆明星賜予他們力量, 他們的旅程被證明是真正非凡的。這顆星為他們掃除了所有的障礙,將他們路徑中的山谷和山脈變為平地,使河流可以步行通過,並保護智者免受野生動物的侵害。這顆星星的光也緩解了智者的疲勞並不斷補充他們的食品供應。對智者來說,從世界東部邊緣到猶太地的這段浩瀚旅程似乎只是一眨眼就發生了。

這顆星星帶領智者進入耶路撒冷,那裡的居民對這些異國風情的外國人迷惑不解。因為當地的居民看不見這顆星,他們猜測這些遊客是某些占星家, 因為智者們不斷望著天。智者與希律和耶路撒冷猶太宗教領袖的相遇,與馬太福音的敘述幾乎相同──這是智者的啟示吻合《馬太福音》故事情節的罕見時期之一。

緊接著智者聽到猶太預言的彌賽亞在伯利恒的誕生,星星再次出現在他們頭上,並帶領他們到村莊周圍的一個洞穴。如同在勝利山,星星進入洞穴,招手讓智者進入裡面。在這裡,星星變成了一個發光的、會說話的嬰兒,他的出生伴隨著看不見的天使唱著讚美他的詩歌。在一個冗長的演講中,嬰兒告訴智者,他們的古老預言終於實現了,並委託他們成為他和他的福音的見證人。

當智者離開伯利恒洞穴時, 他們為他們古老的預言被實現而歡欣鼓舞, 他們遇見了馬利亞和約瑟,這兩個突然出現在現場的人。這個場景變換非常奇特,馬利亞指責他們試圖偷走她的新生兒,但智者減輕了她的擔憂,他們向她解釋這孩子實際上是世界的救世主, 可以同時出現在許多地方。

然後,這些智者開始了他們回到希爾(Shir)的旅程,透過這顆星星的超凡力量,他們的歸程與前往伯利恒的行程一樣快。 星星的光芒比以前更加豐富了他們的食物供應,當他們吃了這些食物時,他們再次以多種不同的形式看到星星給予他們的指南。 當他們到達家園的邊界時,他們的家人和親戚聚集在一起與他們見面,這些親人們驚歎于旅行者的外表和健康狀況。 這位智者講述了他們與那顆明亮的晨星奇跡般相遇的故事,隨後他們與親人們一起踏上歸途。一路上他們向人們講述了他們自己對星童的見證,他們最後與人們分享他們也能經驗體驗星童的存在。智者聲稱,這個星童仍然在他們身邊──因為他實際上遍佈全世界。 智者向人們展示星星為他們預備的大量食物,並邀請他們一同分享。 凡是吃了這些食物的人都看到了天上和地下基督的異象,因此在希爾(Shir)這片土地上的許多人都接受了智者所傳的信仰。

到目前為止,智者的古老預言已經實現:他們與星同行,見證了基督的誕生,向親人們傳揚了他的福音,現在仍然跟隨著基督永恆的存在。 對於本故事而言,這似乎是最合適和最令人滿意的方式,但是我們擁有的《東方三博士的啟示》的唯一副本並沒有到此結束。在一個可能不是原始故事一部分的總結性插曲中(更多有關資訊稍後介紹),使徒多馬在傳教旅程中來到了智者的故鄉──也許是多年後才去的事。 智者聽到他的到來並來見他,告訴他他們對基督降生在這個世上的經歷。 多馬瞭解他們確實與基督接觸過,他也分享他對耶穌事工的回憶。 智者非常高興聽見多馬的分享,他們要求多馬讓他們進入基督徒團契。 當多馬在周日清晨為他們施洗時,天上的基督降臨並管理聖殿,首先是使徒,然後是智者。然後多馬委託智者在全世界宣揚福音,智者的啟示以智者行奇跡和傳福音結束。

摘自《智者的啟示》
承蒙神召會活水堂授權【葡萄樹傳媒】轉載


THE STORY

──Brent Landau

The Revelation of the Magi, mostly narrated by the Magi in the first person, is a sweeping and imaginative work that begins in the Garden of Eden and ends with the Magi being baptized at the
hands of the Apostle Thomas. These Magi are members of an ancient mystical order and reside in a semi-mythical land called Shir, located in the extreme east of the world, at the shore of the Great Ocean. The Revelation of the Magi says these individuals are called “Magi” in the language of their country because they pray in silence. The story implies that the name “Magi is thus a play on the words silence and/or prayer; but that implication does not make sense in any of the most common languages spoken by early Christians. Despite this unsolved mystery, however, this description sharply distinguishes the Magi of this story from any of the most common ancient usages of the term magoi: these Magi are not magicians, astrologers, or even priests of the Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism.

These mystics, who live in a mysterious, far-off land, as the Revelation of the Magi depicts its Magi, are the descendants of Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve. Seth was believed by many early Jews and Christians to be extremely pious and virtuous, so it is very fitting for the Revelation of the Magi to trace the ancestry of the Magi back to such as illustrious founder. The Magi inherited from Seth a prophecy of supreme importance for the word: a star indescribable brightness will someday appear, heralding the birth of God in human form. Seth himself had learned about this prophecy from his father, Adam, since the star originally had hovered over the Tree of Life, illumining all of Eden, before Adam’s sin caused the star to vanish.

Every month of every year, for thousands of years, the order of the Magi has carried out its ancient rituals in expectation of this star’s arrival. They ascent their country’s most sacred mountain, the Mountain of Victories, and pray in silence at the mouth of the Cave of Treasures of Hidden Mysteries, where Seth’s own prophetic books are housed and read by the Magi. Whenever one of the Magi dies, his son or one of his close relatives takes his place, and their order continues through the ages.

All of this lore about the origins of the Magi and their prophecy has been narrated, we are told, by the generation of the Magi that was alive to witness the coming of the star. They have gathered together to ascent the Mountain of Victories, as was their ancient custom, but suddenly the foretold star appears in the heaves. As promised, the star is indescribably bright, so bright that the sun becomes as faint as the daytime moon; yet because the Magi alone are worthy of guarding this prophecy, the star can be seen by no one but them. The star descends to the peak of the mountain and entered the Cave of Treasures, bidding the Magi to come inside. The Magi enter the cave and bows before the star, whose incredible light gradually dissipates to reveal a small, luminous human! This “star-child” reveals to the Magi that he is the Son of God, but – and this is of crucial importance – never calls himself by the familiar names Jesus or Christ. Nor do the Magi themselves ever call him by these names, and the absence of these designations will provide us with a critical clue about the central message of the Revelation of the Magi.

The star child instructs the Magi to follow it to Jerusalem so that they may witness its birth and participate in the salvation God has planned for the entire world. The Magi descend from the mountain, discussing excitedly what they have just seen. In the course of their conversation, however, they learn that each of them saw the star-child in a different form, with each vision representing a different time in the life of Christ! They prepare a caravan and supplies for the lengthy trek, but thanks to the overwhelming power of the star, their journey proves to be truly extraordinary. The star removes any and all obstacles from their path, leveling valleys and mountains making rivers passable on foot, and protecting the Magi from wild animals. The star’s light also relieves the Magi of their fatigue and continuously refills their food supplies. For the Magi, this vast journey from the eastern edge of the world to the land of Judea seems to have transpired in the mere blink of an eye.

The star leads the Magi into Jerusalem, where the city’s inhabitants puzzle at these exotic foreigners. Because the star is invisible to the inhabitants, they presume these visitors to be astrologers of some kind, since some these visitors to be astrologers of some kind, since the Magi keep looking up at the heavens. The Magi’s encounter with Herod and the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem unfolds almost identically to the narrative of Matthew’s Gospel – one of the rare times that the Revelation of the Magi closely follows the story line of Matthew.

Immediately after the Magi hear the Jewish prophecy about the birth of the Messiah at Bethlehem, the star reappears to the them and leads them to a cave in the environs of the village. Just as upon the Mountain of Victories, the star enters the cave and beckons the Magi inside. Here the star transforms into a luminous, talking infant, whose “birth” is accompanies by unseen angels singing his praises. In a lengthy speech, the infant tells the Magi that their ancient mysteries have at last been fulfilled and commissions them to become witnesses to him and his Gospel for the people of their homeland. As the Magi exit the Bethlehem cave, rejoicing at the fulfillment of their ancient prophecy, they are met by Mary and Joseph, who have suddenly appeared on the scene. In a very odd exchange, Mary accuses them of trying to steal her newborn infant, but the Magi assuage her concern by explaining that the child is actually the savior of the world and can be in many places simultaneously.

The Magi then begin their journey back to Shir, a trip that, through the awesome power of the star, transpires for the as quickly as did their travel to Bethlehem. The star’s light refills their food supplies even more abundantly than before, and when the Magi eat of these provisions, they again see their guide in a multitude of different forms. When they reach the borders of their homeland, crowds of their family members and kinspeople come out to meet them, marveling at the appearance and health of the travelers. The Magi relate the story of their miraculous encounter with the star and subsequent journey to the people of Shir. They conclude their story by revealing to the people that they, too, can come to experience the presence of the star-child, whom the Magi claim is still with them – since he is, in fact, present throughout the entire world. The Magi present the people with the overflowing bags of food that the star has produced for them and invite them to partake. Those people who eat immediately see visions of the heavenly and earthly Christ, and thus many in the land of Shir accept the faith proclaimed by the Magi.

Thus far, the Magi’s age-old prophecy has been fulfilled: they have journeyed with the star, witnessed the birth of Christ, preached his Gospel to their kinspeople, and now remain in the light of Christ’s eternal presence. This would seem like a most fitting and fulfilling way for this story to conclude, yet the only copy of the Revelation of the Magi that we possess does not end here. In a concluding episode that may not have been part of the original story (more on the reasons for this later), the Apostle Thomas comes to the homeland of the Magi on a missionary journey – presumably after many year have passed. The Magi hear of his arrival and come to meet him, telling him of their experience of Christ’s coming. Thomas recognizes that they have indeed had contact with Christ, and he relates to them his own memories of the ministry of Jesus. The Magi rejoice at what Thomas has said, and they ask him to initiate them into the Christian fellowship. When Thomas baptizes them early on Sunday morning, the heavenly Christ descends and administers the Eucharist, first to the apostle and then to the Magi. Thomas then commissions the Magi to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world, and the Revelation of the Magi ends with the Magi performing miracles and preaching.

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