The visits of the magi and shepherds.

Matthew 2.1-12; Luke 2.8-20  (John 7.40-52).

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Notes and quotes.

§ Ignatius to the Ephesians 19.1-3:

Και ελαθεν τον αρχοντα του αιωνος τουτου η παρθενια Μαριας και ο τοκετος αυτης, ομοιως και ο θανατος του κυριου· τρια μυστηρια κραυγης, ατινα εν ησυχια θεου επραχθη. πως ουν εφανερωθη τοις αιωσιν; αστηρ εν ουρανω ελαμψεν υπερ παντας τους αστερας, και το φως αυτου ανεκλαλητον ην, και ξενισμον παρειχεν η καινοτης αυτου· τα δε λοιπα παντα αστρα αμα ηλιω και σεληνη χορος εγενετο τω αστερι, αυτος δε ην υπερβαλλων το φως αυτου υπερ παντα· ταραχη τε ην ποθεν η καινοτης η ανομοιος αυτοις. οθεν ελυετο πασα μαγεια και πας δεσμος ηφανιζετο, κακιας αγνοια καθηρειτο, παλαια βασιλεια διεφθειρετο, θεου ανθρωπινως φανερουμενου εις καινοτητα αιδιου ζωης· αρχην δε ελαμβανεν το παρα θεω απηρτισμενον. ενθεν τα παντα συνεκινειτο δια το μελετασθαι θανατου καταλυσιν.

And the virginity of Mary, along with her offspring, was hidden from the prince of this world, likewise also the death of the Lord; three mysteries of renown, which were brought about in the silence of God. How therefore was he manifested to the ages? A star shone in heaven over all the stars, and its light was uncallable, and its novelty held out astonishment. And all the remaining stars, together with the sun and the moon, became a chorus for the star, and its light was surpassing over all things. And there was trouble among them as to whence the novelty or unlawfulness came. Hence every magic was loosened and every bond disappeared, the ignorance of evil was taken away, the ancient kingdom was destroyed, God himself being made apparent in manly form for the renewal of eternal life. And now that which had been prepared by God took a beginning. Henceforth all things were in a state of motion, on account that he attended to the abolition of death.

§ Jerome, commentary on Matthew 2.5, writing of the gospel according to the Hebrews:

In Bethleem Iudaeae: Librariorum hic error est. putamus enim ab evangelista primum editum sicut in ipso Hebraico legimus, Iudae, non Iudaeae.

In Bethlehem of Judea: This is an error of the scribes. We suppose indeed that it was first published from the evangelist as we read in the Hebraic [gospel], of Judah, not of Judea.

Sedulius Scotus, commentary on Matthew:

Ita nanque refert evangelium quod secundum Ebraos praetitulatur:

For thus the gospel which is entitled according to the Hebrews reports:

Intuitus Ioseph oculis vidit turbam viatorum comitantium venientium ad speluncam et dixit: Surgam et procedam foras inobviam eis. cum autem processisset, dixit ad Simonem Ioseph: Sic mihi videnture isti qui veniunt augures esse. ecce enim omni momento respiciunt in caelum et inter se disputant. sed et peregrini videntur esse, quoniam et habitus eorum differt ab habitu nostro. nam vestis eorum amplissima est, et color fuscus est eorum densius, et pilea habent in capitibus suis et molles mihi videntur vestes eorum et in pedibus eorum sunt saraballae. et ecce steterunt et intendunt in me, et ecce iterum coeperunt huc venientes ambulare.

When Joseph looked out with his eyes, he saw a crowd of pilgrims who were coming in company to the cave, and he said: I will arise and go out to meet them. And, when Joseph went out, he said to Simon: It seems to me as if those coming were soothsayers, for lo, every moment they look up to heaven and confer with one another. But they seem also to be strangers, for their appearance differs from ours; for their dress is very rich and their complexion quite dark; they have caps on their heads and their garments seem to me to be silky, and they have breeches on their legs. And lo, they have halted and are looking at me, and lo, they have again set themselves in motion and are coming here.

Quibus verbis liquide ostenditur non tres tantum viros sed turbam viatorum venisse ad dominum, quamvis iuxta quosdam eiusdem turbae praecipui magistri certis nominibus Melchus, Caspar, Phadizarda nuncupentur.

From these words it is clear that not merely three men but a crowd of pilgrims came to the Lord, even if according to some the foremost leaders of this crowd were named with the definite names Melchus, Caspar, and Phadizarda.

§ Justin Martyr, Dialogue 77.4:

Αμα γαρ τω γεννηθηναι αυτον μαγοι απο Αρραβιας παραγενομενοι προσεκυνησαν αυτω, προτερον ελθοντες προς Ηρωδην τον εν τη γη υμων τοτε βασιλευοντα, ον ο λογος καλει βασιλεα Ασσυριων δια την αθεον και ανομον αυτου γνωμην. επιστασθε γαρ τοιαυτα, εφην, εν παραβολαις και ομοιωσεσι πολλακις λαλουν το αγιον πνευμα, οιον πεποιηκε και προς τον λαον απαντα τον εν Ιεροσολυμοις, πολλακις φησαν προς αυτους· Ο πατηρ σου Αμορραιος και η μητηρ σου Χετταια.

For together with his birth magi who came from Arabia worshipped him, having come first to Herod, who was then king in your land, whom the word calls king of Assyria on account of his godless and lawless character. For you are aware, I said, that the holy spirit often speaks of such things in parables and similitudes, as much as he also did toward all the people in Jerusalem, and often said to them: Your father is an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.

Dialogue 78.1-7:

Και γαρ ουτος ο βασιλευς Ηρωδης, μαθων παρα των πρεσβυτερων του λαου υμων, τοτε ελθοντων προς αυτον των απο Αρραβιας μαγων και ειποντων εξ αστερος του εν τω ουρανω φανεντος εγνωκεναι οτι βασιλευς γεγεννηται εν τη χωρα υμων, και ηλθομεν προσκυνησαι αυτον, και εν Βηθλεεμ των πρεσβυτερων ειποντων, οτι γεγραπται εν τω προφητη ουτως· Και συ, Βηθλεεμ, γη Ιουδα, ουδαμως ελαχιστη ει εν τοις ηγεμοσιν Ιουδα· εκ σου γαρ εξελευσεται ηγουμενος οστις ποιμανει τον λαον μου.

And this king Herod, at the time when the magi came to him from Arabia and said they knew from a star that appeared in heaven that a king had been born in your country, and that they had come to worship him, learned from the elders of your people that it was written in the prophet thus: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are in no way least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall go forth the leader who shall shepherd my people.

Των απο Αρραβιας ουν μαγων ελθοντων εις Βηθλεεμ και προσκυνησαντων το παιδιον και προσενεγκαντων αυτω δωρα, χρυσον και λεβανον και σμυρναν, επειτα κατ αποκαλυψιν μετα το προσκυνησαι τον παιδα εν Βηθλεεμ, εκελευσθησαν μη επανελθειν προς τον Ηρωδην.

After the magi from Arabia came to Bethlehem, then, and worshipped the child and bore him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh, they were then commanded not to go back to Herod after worshipping the child in Bethlehem.

Και Ιωσηφ δε, ο την Μαριαν μεμνηστευμενος, βουληθεις προτερον εκβαλειν την μνηστην αυτω Μαριαμ, νομιζων εγκυμονειν αυτην απο συνουσιας ανδρος, τουτεστιν απο πορνειας, δι οραματος κεκελευστο μη εκβαλειν την γυναικα αυτου, ειποντος αυτω του φανεντος αγγελου οτι εκ πνευματος αγιου ο εχει κατα γαστρος εστι.

But Joseph, the one betrothed to Mary, who wished at first to cast out his betrothed Mary, supposing her to be pregnant from being with a man, that is, from fornication, was commanded through a vision not to cast the woman out, the angel who appeared to him having said to him that what she had in the womb was of the holy spirit.

Φοβηθεις ουν ουχ εκβεβληκεν αυτην, αλλα, απογραφης ουσης εν τη Ιουδαια τοτε πρωτης επι Κυρηνιου ανεληλυθει απο Ναζαρετ, ενθα ωκει, εις Βηθλεεμ, οθεν ην, απογραψασθαι· απο γαρ της κατοικουσης την γην εκεινην φυλης Ιουδα το γενος ην. και αυτος αμα τη Μαρια κελευεται εξελθειν εις Αιγυπτον και ειναι εκει αμα τω παιδιω αχρις αν αυτοις παλιν αποκαλυφθη επανελθειν εις την Ιουδαιαν.

He was therefore afraid and did not cast her out, but rather, when the first census which was taken in Judea under Cyrenius happened, went up from Nazareth, where he housed, unto Bethlehem, from which he was, to take part in the census; for his gens was of the tribe of Judah, which housed in that land. And together with Mary he is ordered to go out into Egypt and be there with the child until it be revealed to them again to go back into Judea.

Γεννηθεντος δε τοτε του παιδου εν Βηθλεεμ, επειδη Ιωσηφ ουχ ειχεν εν τη κωμη εκεινη που καταλυσαι, εν σπηλαιω τινι συνεγγυς της κωμης κατελυσε· και τοτε, αυτων οντων εκει, ετετοκει η Μαρια τον Χριστον και εν φατνη αυτον ετεθεικει, οπου ελθοντες οι απο Αρραβιας μαγοι ευρον αυτον.

But when the child was born in Bethlehem, since Joseph did not have where to stay in that village, he stayed in a certain cave near the village; and then, while they were there, Mary bore forth the Christ and placed him in a manger, where the magi who came from Arabia found him.

Οτι δε Ησαιας και περι του συμβολου του κατα το σπηλαιον προεκεκηρυχει, ανιστορησα υμιν, εφην, και δι αυτους δε τους σημερον συν υμιν ελθοντας παλιν της περικοπης επιμνησθησομαι, ειπον. και ανιστορησα ην και προεγραψα απο του Ησαιου περικοπην, ειπων δια τους λογους εκεινους τους τα Μιθρα μυστηρια παραδιδοντας, εν τοπω επικαλουμενω παρ αυτοις σπηλαιω μυεισθαι υπ αυτων, υπο του διαβολου ενεργηθηναι ειπειν.

But I have already recounted to you, I said, what Isaiah said about the symbol which foreshadowed the cave, but on account of those also who have come with us today I will again remind you of the pericope. And I recounted the pericope from Isaiah which I had also written beforehand, saying that through those words those who delivered the mysteries of Mithras were energized by the devil to say that in a place called a cave among them they were initiated by them.

Και ο Ηρωδης, μη επανελθοντων προς αυτον των απο Αρραβιας μαγων ως ηξιωσεν αυτους ποιησαι, αλλα κατα τα κελευσθεντα αυτοις δι αλλης οδου εις την χωραν αυτων απαλλαγεντων, και του Ιωσηφ αμα τη Μαρια και τω παιδιω, ως και αυτοις αποκεκαλυπτο, ηδη εξελθοντων εις Αιγυπτον, ου γινωσκων τον παιδα ον εληλυθεισαν προσκυνησαι οι μαγοι, παντας απλως τους παιδας τους εν Βηθλεεμ εκελευσεν αναιρεθηναι.

And Herod, when the magi from Arabia did not go back to him as he had requested them to do, but rather had departed on another road to their own country according to the one commanding them, and when Joseph together with Mary and the child had already gone into Egypt, as it was revealed to them also, as he did not know the child whom the magi had gone to worship, commanded simply that all the children in Bethlehem be destroyed.