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An ancient document found in the Vatican archives casts new light on the story of the Nativity and the Three Wise Men who came to offer gifts to the infant Jesus, according to researchers, reports the Times, in an article published in the Australian.
The Revelation of the Magi, reputedly a first-hand account of their journey to pay tribute to the son of God, only now has been translated from ancient Syriac.
Brent Landau, professor of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma, spent two years deciphering the fragile manuscript.
It is an eighth-century copy of a story first written down nearly half a millennium earlier, less than 100 years after the Gospel of Matthew, the original source of the Bible story.
The newly translated tale differs in major respects from Matthew's very brief account.
The Magi of the Bible have long been associated with Persian mystics, but those in The Revelation are from much farther afield - from the semi-mythical land of Shir, now associated with ancient China.
They are said to be the descendants of Seth, the third son of Adam, and to belong to a sect that believed in silent prayer.
Perhaps the biggest divergence from the traditional Nativity story is that according to The Revelation there were "scores" of Magi.
It gives a detailed account of their prayers and rituals.
The story relates that Seth passed down a prophecy that a star would appear that would signal the birth of God in human form. The Magi waited thousands of years until the day the star appeared.
Ancient text brings the Three Wise Men to life (The Australian)
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