Wise Men HeaderFrequently Asked Questions.

By Rev. Phil Greetham. © Copyright 1996. This Version, 2012.

What are the Wise Men's names?
The Bible does not tell us their names. Later inventors gave various names. Hormizdah, Yazdegerd and Perozdh are mentioned in one account. In another, they have the names, Hor, Basanater and Karsudan. The Western tradition names them Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar.
Click here for more details.
Where did the Wise Men come from?
The Bible doesn't tell us.
Click here for some suggestions.
When did the wisemen visit Jesus?
Nativity plays would have us believe that it was 5 minutes after the shepherds left! If we assume that the star first appeared when Jesus was born then the Magi arrived in Judea about 2 years after Jesus was born. This is because Herod killed the boys in Bethlehem of 2 years and under 'in accordance with the time given to him by the Magi'. Reasons why the Holy Family was still in Bethlehem 2 years after Jesus birth are considered HERE
Could the Star have been Comet Hale-Bopp ?
It could not have been Comet Hale-Bopp because although it will appear again in 2000 years time, it last appeared 4000 years ago, its orbit having been changed between the 2 appearances.
Click here for the theory it could have been a comet.
How did the wise men know about Jewish prophecy ?
We don't know for sure but there were Jewish communities all over the known world at that time. Any scholars could have had access to Jewish writings. These would have given prophecies and beliefs about the relationship between stars and new kings.
Isn't the whole idea of a 'Virgin Birth' based on a mistranslation of the Old Testament ?
Matthew uses Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy of the 'Virgin Birth'. The Hebrew word used in Isaiah is alma  That word refers to a woman of child bearing age but one who has not yet bore a child. It could refer to an unmarried girl or to a young married woman. (The old English 'maid' is an approximate idea.) The supposed problem is that the Greek translation is 'parthenos', which means 'virgin', and that this is a mistranslation and should be 'neanis' (young woman). This argument says that the Greek word 'parthenos' can only be used as a translation of the Hebrew word 'betulâ'.

This, however is not true. Translations are not simply substituting one word from one language with a particular word from another language. When translating a passage, the context of the passage always has a bearing on the word or phrase chosen.
To give an example in Genesis 24:43 "See, I am standing beside this spring; if an (almâ) comes out to draw water and I say to her, "Please let me drink a little water from your jar,"

Here, the word is 'almâ', (meaning a young woman as mentioned above), but the Greek translation like the previous one also says 'parthenos', not 'neanis'. The Greek translator, knowing the context makes it clear that she is a virgin, in order to link it with Genesis 24:16
The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; (betulâ) no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.

So in Genesis 24:43 the translator, saw no reason to render 'almâ', as 'neanis', because the point was being made that she was in fact a virgin from Genesis 24:16, so he used 'parthenos', instead. That was not an error, but a reasoned choice based on the understanding of the passage.

Now the translator of Isaiah 7 by using 'parthenos', was determining from the context of the passage that indeed she was a virgin. You might want to ask why it was understood that she was a virgin? Well it says that the event will be 'a sign', not simply a poetic way of saying 'in 9 months time'. Is a young woman having a child a sign? Hardly when it is happening all the time. So the translator assumes a more precise meaning and uses 'parthenos'. You might want to argue the translator's reasoning here, but it is not an error. There is nothing erroneous about translating 'almâ', as 'parthenos if the context warrants it.

If you have any other questions you may email me from HERE
I would be grateful is people would restrict themselves to genuine questions. I don't mind people pointing out things they disagree with but please be polite about it. Many thanks.