Magi from China

by: Mormon Heretic

December 24, 2012

A few years ago, Revelation of the Magi was first translated into English. I’ve wanted to blog about it for a time, but now seems appropriate. According to ABC News,

An ancient text called the “Revelation of the Magi,” has been rediscovered and tells a very different version of the Three Wise Men’s journey to Bethlehem.

“It ends up being the most complex, richest, most strange, the strangest story of the Wise Men to come out of Christian antiquity,” said Brent Landau, an expert in ancient Biblical languages and literature. “Until now, it had never been translated into English.”

Landau said. “So who the Magi are in this text is, they are descendants of Adam and Eve’s third son, Seth. They live in this far eastern land. The text calls the land ‘Shir’ and from other ancient texts, it seems like the place it had in mind is the land of China.”

In the “Revelation of the Magi,” Landau said, the Star of Bethlehem not only led the Wise Men, but actually became the Christ child.

“The cave is filled with light,” Landau said, describing the transcribed text. “They’re kind of hesitant about this, but eventually the star…its light concentrates and reveals the small luminous human being…a star child, if you will…it’s Christ.”

What is most interesting about this gospel is a claim that Christ is the center of all religions.

“Christ tells them, ‘This is one of many occasions on which I have appeared to the peoples of the world,'” Landau said. “So this text may even be saying that there are no non-Christian religions because Christ is the revelation behind everything.”

What popped into my head was a similar idea in the Book of Mormon where Christ claims to have visited the isles of the sea in 2 Nephi 10:21-22.

21 But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the aisles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren.

22 For behold, the Lord God has aled away from time to time from the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure. And now behold, the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off, wherefore he remembereth us also.

I also thought of Moroni 7:21

12 Wherefore, all things which are agood cometh of God;

What do you think of this universalist message?

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6 Responses to Magi from China

  1. Mike S on December 24, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    I think God has spoken to many people throughout the ages of the earth. I have studied a number of religions the past few years – not just reading “about” them – but actually reading their foundational texts, looking at their actual practices, and trying to understand their core. At their heart, and in spite of their almost universal claims of exclusivity, they are very similar in their fundamental message.

    So personally, I believe there is a lot of truth to this idea. I DO think that Christ has spoken to many people throughout time. I do think that all religions were ultimately started by someone touching the same Divine.

    I don’t think this will ever be accepted fully by the Church, however. If it flat out accepts that other religions are divinely inspired, there is little reason for people to join this religion. We can teach that they are wrong because they have changed – but so have we. What we practice today is vasty different on many levels from the church of Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. We claim that our changes have been through inspiration, yet perhaps the other religions have done likewise. With how much we have changed in 150-200 years, it seems likely that the others would do likewise in 2000-3000 years.

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  2. FireTag on December 24, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    I suspect that neither truth nor error is exclusive to any religion touched by mankind. I am convinced that the historical Jesus is a manifestation of the Eternal Christ who I am supposed to follow. I’ll let the Eternal Christ sort out the relationship to any other manifestations.

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  3. Douglas on December 25, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    #1 – I’m looking out my window for airborne swine, because I agree almost word-for-word with your post, Mike. Seriously, there is much evidence that the Savior did indeed minister in the meridian of time in what from a Roman perspective would have been the “ends of the earth” (China, India, Indo-Chine, Afrique, etc…), and not just the geographically-vague visit of the Savior to the Nephites (in fact, we can’t be sure if said visit occurred before His “ascension” some forty days after the Resurrection or afterwards. I believe after, but the BoM is not definitive on that. He did say “and other sheep I have…”.
    There is also evidence that the “Wandering Jew”, that is, the Jewish diaspora, may be far more extensive than historians, both Jew and Gentile, have supposed. And the Lord has declared that the ten “missing” tribes are not missing to Him, for he knows where he has placed them. It’s just the “Gospel according to Doug” and my limited perspective of history that though there may well be intact remnants of pure bloodlines of the House of Israel, that most have dispersed and intermarried throughout the world over the some eighty or so generations that have passed since the Ten Tribes were carried off to Assyria. And that’s JUST via Israel (or, let’s not leave out the Islamic world, Abraham through his other son, Ishmael). Who is to say that Jared and Mahonri-Moriancumer (with a name like that, I’d go as “Brother of Jared” too!) were the ONLY ones, or but a few, of those that remained faithful during the Tower of Babel thing and the subsequent dispersal of humankind?
    Lastly, at times when I view “documentaries” which in effect belittle the Ancients for their supposed lack of innovation or technology (it pleases me to see how ingenious the Ancients have been shown to actually have been), or where they could not have gone. The Roman Emperors, especially during the reign of the “good ones”, regularly exchanged ambassadors, and there is even evidence of a Chinese man who commanded a Roman legion and was at least considered to be the “Magister Militium” – that’s equivalent to today’s US Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, thank you.
    The only thing that I would take issue with, and it’s not terribly contentious, is that finding out that the Gospel has been disseminated to others would NOT dilute our position at all. We need not feel threatened. Certainly the Savior could organize in effect at least two Churches due to the apparent isolation of the peoples. Else Peter, as the “President” of the Church (I can only speculate as to what his title was), would have sent one or more of the Apostles to the Nephites. The issue is NOT whether you’ll find “truth” in “other” faiths, because you will. The issue is Authority. Is President Monson the Prophet? Is the Church of the Jesus Christ, LDS, the Savior’s earthly organization to convey His Gospel today? Whether you believe “yea” or “nay”, act accordingly, and good luck to you.

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  4. Frank Pellett on December 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I’ve occasionally wondered if “Journey to the West” is a distant echo of the journey made by the Magi. I’ve not done enough research into it, but I think it’s cool that China at least was in its golden age, actively establishing trade with the West at the time of Christ. Confucianism was also dominant starting some hundred years before.

    I have no problem associating the teaching of all religions with the same root teachings. I enjoy reading accounts of those who believe Jesus vistised Japan and England. A book I found describing a vision of Jesus that began a nation in Africa I found particularly enligtening. The difference in the LDS church is authority. This is a time for gathering all of the religions back into one, where ever and how ever they have been growing in the vineyard.

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  5. Hedgehog on December 26, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    It makes sense to me that peoples throughout the world would have received divine guidance. Limiting it to a very small group in one small part of the world hardly seems equitable.

    Frank #4: “This is a time for gathering all of the religions back into one, where ever and how ever they have been growing in the vineyard.”

    This sounds lovely, but I am wondering how it might work, as much of the church seems to be leaning somewhat towards the Christian Right at the over the last 20 years or more…

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  6. Douglas on December 26, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    #5 – as an ever-increasing number of Church members are outside the US borders, the political leanings of the members inside the US will become increasingly irrelevant. As it should be.

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