At first I wasn’t much interested in Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s new book Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men. I thought I already pretty well knew the subject. I knew about the mythic accumulations that have built up on the story.
Still after seeing some reviews I was intrigued. So I made this one of my Audible picks this month.
While again I knew some of the basic outline regarding what we didn’t know about these men of indeterminate number, I didn’t realize how much we could know about them. In many ways this book is almost like a detective novel. Shifting the facts to see our way forward.
I liked just about everything regarding the presentation of this information. For one it is totally engaging and it takes a deep dive into the information we have from the Gospel of Matthew and uses the tools of history to give us a fuller context. I liked that he allows for multiple interpretations of the information. That while he lays a solid case for where these Magi came from, he is presenting a case and wants to know more himself. This book really lets you see the Magi in a new light and to have a much better historical context.
There was also some coverage regarding various theories regarding the Star of Bethlehem and it does a good job of covering in summary form some of these theories. The only weakness I found in this was a dependence of Herod the Great dying in 4 BC which has been commonly held. This dating is important in regards to various theories based on astronomy. Jimmy Akin has a good article regarding this dating which puts he death a couple years later.
Thoroughly enjoyable read.