Infancy Gospel of the Savior, Circa 300-600 AD
The Magi and Zarathustra are
also mentioned in the non-canonical Arabic Gospel of the
Infancy of The Savior (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0806.htm)
in section 7 of this early gospel it reads:
7. And it came to pass, when the Lord Jesus was
born at Bethlehem of Judea, in the time of King Herod,
behold, magi came from the east to Jerusalem, as
Zeraduscht (Zoroaster) had predicted; and there were with
them gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And they
adored Him, and presented to Him their gifts. Then the
Lady Mary took one of the swaddling-bands, and, on account
of the smallness of her means, gave it to them; and they
received it from her with the greatest marks of honor."
The Magian Fellowship
Around Christmas, we hear about the "Wise Men of
the East," also known as the Magi or Magians, who followed a
star to Bethlehem to pay their respects to infant Jesus.
They brought with them gold, frankincense, and myrrh as
look up the dictionary. "Magus, plural Magi, [Latin from
Greek Magos -- more at magic] 1 a: a member of a hereditary
priestly class among the ancient Medes and Persians b: often
capital: one of the traditionally three wise men from the
East paying homage to the infant Jesus 2: Magician,
sorcerer" (Webster New College Dictionary). An encyclopedia
has more: " followers of Zoroaster, the Persian teacher and
prophet. Gradually, the religion of the magi incorporated
Babylonian elements, including astrology, demonology, and
magic." (Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, 1983)
The word "Magi" is, therefore, linked with Zoroastrianism.
"Maga" in the Zoroastrian scripture. "Maga" in Avesta and
"magha" in Sanskrit is derived from "maz/mah" meaning "to be
great, magnanimous, liberal, generous." Maga/magha means
"greatness, magnanimity, generosity." The adjective is
magavan/maghavan, "great, liberal, generous, magnanimous."
The Sanskrit adjective is used mostly in honor of Indira,
the Rigvedic god of clouds and rains, who was "generous" in
bringing riches to the Vedic Aryans by driving drought away.
Zarathushtra uses Maga for the "Fellowship" he founded
through his existential philosophy and "Magavan" for
every member of the "Magnanimity." The two words -- Maga and
Magavan -- are mentioned for eight times in the Gathas
(Maga: Songs 2:11, 11:14, 16:11, 16:16, 17.7 (twice), and
Magavan: 6:7, 16:15). Zarathushtra calls his Maga as "maz,
great" in two Gathic stanzas -- Maz Maga, the Great
Magnanimity, Great Fellowship (2:11 and 11:14).
The gist of these
stanzas is that the Great Fellowship is based on its
smallest unit – family - forming unity in "weal and woe."
The units make up the entire living world. It teaches
radiant happiness that reaches all. A person who consults
righteousness, uses his/her good mind, and lives a life of
progressive peace, qualifies to be a member of the
the beginning Zarathushtra prays to Ahura Mazda (the name
means Wise Lord) to lead him to expand his newly founded
Fellowship. Later, he is joined by King Vishtaspa and his
sagacious team, and the work to promote the "Great
Fellowship" gains a great momentum. Zarathushtra's "best
wishes" come true when he watches the Fellowship grow far
the west, the professional priests of Median "nation" were
clever enough to retain their caste ("tribe" in the words of
Herodotus), and at the same time call themselves Magu, the
Median/Old Persian pronunciation of Magava(n). Magu (Magush
as nominative singular masculine) was Greek into Magos with
Magi as its plural.
The word "magic" and other
cognates, derived from Magu, show how highly learned and
advanced were the Magi in their knowledge and crafts. They
made non-Iranians wonder and imagine that they were
watching "sorcerers" at work. This could happen to any
backward people if they see modern scientific implements
used by the advanced. We have many stories how people
looked first at wireless, telephone, locomotive engine,
train, and other inventions and imagined them to be magic
and "products of the Devil." Some still do!
With the Magi's name and fame in mind, all the priests of
the Babylonian and Assyrian priests of other creeds, all
serving within the great Persian Empire for centuries,
took the name "Magi" for themselves. It is simple to
understand the rest of events, even the Three Wise Men who
are said to have visited and paid their respects to the
newborn Jesus. Every Magus in what we call Middle East was
not Zoroastrian. He was just a "priest."
Even the very word "priest," shortened from "presbyteros,"
literally "elder," was originally applied to "a member of
the governing body of an early Christian Church." Today
most of the religious orders, including Traditionalist
Zoroastrians, have "priests" for themselves. We have a few
more examples in Guru, Yogi, and Mogul. Arabic
"Maja»s" occurs in the Quran. It says: "Lo! Those
who believe [Muslims], and those who are Jews, Sabeans,
Christians, and the Magians [all four counted placed
together as the People of Book], and those who are
polytheists -- Lo! Allah will decide between them on the
Day of Resurrection (22:17)."
Click Here For More from
Dr. Jafarey & The Zarathustrian Assembly
Other Ancient Texts in Zoroastrianism
What about Fire?
Contrary to popular myth,
Zarathushtrians do not "worship" fire.
is a picture of the sacred fire at the Dar-e-Meher in San Jose
how shiny everything is - to better reflect the light.
Fire is sacred
because it separates humans from animals.
Both people and animals can think, reason and make
But only human beings can control fire.
Zarathushtrians believe in advancing
Fire was technology
given to us. It is a symbol - but not God.
It's like the wood of crucifix.
Christians do not worship the wood.
Could the Magi have met
Jesus at the Temple at Age 12 ??
UPDATE DECEMBER, 2013
- Luke 2:41-51
This is only a speculation of
mine, but there is one other possible time the Magi COULD
have visited Jesus. It is in Luke's gospel when he was
twelve years old and amazed the elders in the temple with
his knowledge. This is a more likely time for the magi to
have met Jesus - when he was twelve rather than as an
The Jewish priest and the Magi had very
cordial relations at this time. Many priests and magi would
have known each other and their families going back to
Babylon and Persia. It would be very natural for a Jewish
priest to tell a magi about a remarkable boy who was wise
beyond his years. Any magi would have wanted to visit such a
Jesus is said to have spent three days in the
temple speaking with the elders. This story would be more
understandable and acceptable to Zoroastrians today and in
earlier centuries. The idea of magi visiting an infant has
always sounded unlikely to most Zoroastrians. HOWEVER, it is
very likely the magi would have wanted to meet a bright
young Jewish student. However, Luke never mentions the magi.
He was writing to a Greek audience who was long at war with
Persia. The magi would not have been as respected to the
Greeks as to the Jews. Different Gospels were written to
different audiences with slight differences to make Jesus
more popular with that ethnic group.
Persia and Israel were allies at this time.
Each religion places a strong emphasis on monotheism,
ethical behavior and the education of youth. It is not hard
to imagine temple priests proudly introducing Jesus to magi
during his three day visit to the temple. It is very
possible that the magi would have given Mary gifts after
meeting her bright son in the temple. I offer the idea here
only because the story of the magi could be essentially
true. The young Jesus would have attracted favorable
attention in the temple and introduced to the magi by the
"The episode is only described in Luke
. Jesus at the age of twelve accompanies Mary
and a large group of their
relatives and friends to Jerusalem
on pilgrimage, following
"the custom of the feast" (NKJV
) - that is, Passover
. On the day of their return,
Jesus "lingered" in the Temple, but Mary and Joseph thought
that he was among their group. Mary and Joseph headed back
home and after a day of travel realized Jesus was missing, so
they returned to Jerusalem, finding Jesus three days later.
He was found in the Temple
in discussion with
the elders who were amazed at his learning, especially given
his young age."
Pictures of My Acceptance Ceremony
January 2005 I had the honor of being accepted in the
Zarathustrian community. Below is a link to photographs
of my ceremony which was held at the
Dar-e-Meher Fire Temple in San Jose California. It was a
beautiful occasion with many people attending.
The purpose of this
page is to spread awareness of
the contributions of
ancient Persia (modern Iran)
May there be peace on earth
and good will towards all.
Email Stephen Williamson
More Stories By Steve
I am indebted to many Zoroastrian scholars who have provided
me their research and good thoughts. In particular, Ali
Jafarey, Dina McIntyre, Rebecca Cann, Ron Delavega and
everyone at Dar-e-Meher Fire Temple in San Jose, California
have been good friends and teachers to me .... Stephen
Williamson, © 2007