The Gospel Coalition reached out a few weeks ago to ask if I’d like to do a brief post on the ‘three wise men.’ Thousands of words later, I found myself trying to cut to the marrow in order to say something helpful and thorough on the subject. Throughout the process the classic hymn “We Three Kings of Orient Are” keeps popping in my head (almost as if it knew I was undermining nearly every word in the title).
The resulting post is available here: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/three-kings-orient-arent/.
This is now the third post I’ve had at TGC in the general vein of dealing with common misconceptions (or, as a student said, “destroying sacred cows”). I’m not trying to make that my ‘thing.’ It just keeps working out that way.
It was an enjoyable short project to work on, and if nothing else it was an experiment in how many references to Philo, Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Septuagint I could pull off in a post directed at the TGC audience. At any rate, I hope it is helpful.
For those who want a longer form of this (TGC did some trimming, with my permission), you can find the original here. It includes more details and specific references to extra-biblical sources, for those interested in tracking them down.
Side note: By sheer providence, I drew the exact same passage (Matt 2:1-12) as a sermon text in our Christmas series at church. Here’s a link to that message: riveroakschurch.com/sermons/sermon/2017-12-17/-a-king-youd-least-expect