The Journey of the Magi

The Truth About the "Three Kings" and the Historical Jesus

Hans Holzer, Ph.D.

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ISBN: 1-57733-161-3, 212 pp., 6 x 9, paperback, $16.95

Who were the Three Kings and why were they traveling together? What was the "star" they followed? Where were they coming from?

As a student of archeology and ancient history, with a Master's Degree in comparative religion besides a Ph.D., Hans Holzer is just the person to answer these questions. He also called on the exacting scholarship of the University of Chicago and The Interlinear Translation of the New Testament and his knowledge of ancient numismatics, especially pertaining to the coins of the first century A.D. issued in Kabul and Petra.

Pinpointing the real date of the birth of Jesus, Holzer concludes that the experience of the shepherds and of the Three Kings was separated by an interval of two years. He became convinced that the Journey of the Kings took a long time and that they came a long way. The Journey of the Magi takes you along on his quest to uncover and understand the evidence that reveals the journey of the Three Kings and the journey of humankind to follow the Light that will lead them out of darkness.

Table of Contents

1: The Adoration of the Shepherds
2: The Journey of the Magi
3: Who Were the Three Kings?
4: The Gifts of the Magi
5: What Is in the Stars?
6: St. Thomas and the Oldest Christian Coins
7: The Identities of Melchior and Balthasar
8: Christianity, the Religion
9: Christmas, and Traditions
10: The Historical Jesus and the American Fantasy Jesus
11: The "Holy" Family Moves


In the case of the Wisemen tradition, we have preciously little to go on, but what we have is clearly stated and there is actually no confusion or contradiction between various versions. The story is always told the same, whether by Western or Eastern people.

Strangely enough, the tradition of the Epiphany is not so strong in the country of its origin as it is elsewhere. This may be due to the confusing amalgamation of the celebration of the once-pagan solstice with the birthday of Jesus. In Palestine, there is no such pre-Christian tradition, since the Celtic-Germanic solstice did not have a counterpart among the Semitic people then inhabiting the Holy Land.

In Austria, children dress up as the Holy Kings, sing carols, and collect their somewhat enforced rewards at the door in the form of fruit and cake platters. Instead of bringing gifts as did their ancient counterparts, the Central European children receive them. It is interesting to note that one of the three must always wear black face, as in paintings of the arrival of the Kings. All of these have a dark king among them, a tradition of such early origin that it appears to have been already well established in the period of the Ravenna mosaics, in the sixth century.

In the villages of Central Europe, it is still customary to chalk the letters K+M+B on the door, but one must make sure one does this very early in the morning, or Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar will pass you by and fail to bless your house. Tradition has it that the Holy Kings rode during the day.

Matthew speaks of magoi or wisemen, not of kings. Marguerite Steedman and others assume the three men were astrologers from Mesopotamia, a view which completely ignores the tradition of "three Kings," one of them black. Astrologers served at the Courts of ancient kings, most of whom relied on astrology for their self-preservation. It is most unlikely, however, that there were three astrologers who rose to the throne to be the three Kings!

Somewhere between Matthew and the medieval art schools, the magoi or Wisemen turned into royalty. It must be borne in mind, however, that Matthew, unaccustomed to strangely dressed visitors possessed of superior knowledge, might have thought of them as wisemen first.

In any event, it was much safer in those days to be a simple traveler, even an astrologer, than to admit to being a king, for ransom jails awaited the unwary king traveling without protection. Were the trio royal, they certainly would not have broadcast their true status, especially as the reputation of their prospective host was a most unsavory one.

Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2006

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