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.
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