Book Club Channel
Revelation of the Magi: Questions for Deeper Reading
6) The Revelation of the Magi is just one of a number of apocryphal Christian writings that have only been discovered or published in recent years; others include the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, and the Gospel of Mary. If you have read any of these other writings, how did the Revelation of the Magi compare to them? Was it easier to understand than the others, or more difficult? As a Christian, did you find any of these writings to be relevant at all to your personal religious or spiritual life? Why and/or why not?
7) Once you have read the Revelation of the Magi, try going back and reading the story from Matthew’s Gospel again. Are there aspects of Matthew’s story that you pay more attention to than you had previously? For example, had you ever wondered about what became of the Magi after they returned home, or how the Magi knew what the Star of Bethlehem meant? Do you think that you will be able to read Matthew’s story “on its own terms,” or is the Revelation of the Magi now intertwined with the canonical story for you? Do you think that the author of Matthew would have approved of the content of the Revelation of the Magi?
8) The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, claims that Christ has existed since the beginning of time. The Book of Acts, Chapter 9, indicated that Christ can appear to people outside the chronological boundaries of his life, death, and resurrection. The Revelation of the Magi agrees with both of these claims, placing the Magi’s experience of Christ before the actual moment of his birth. Do you think the author of John’s Gospel or the author of the Acts of the Apostles would agree with what is presented in the Revelation of the Magi? Why or why not?
9) On pages 21 and 22, Landau suggests that the story of the Apostle Thomas coming to Shir and baptizing the Magi was a later addition to the Revelation of the Magi. Did you find his theory to be persuasive? Do you think you would have noticed the awkwardness of the Thomas episode if you had not read the introduction? Even better, if you did read the translation first, did the Thomas episode stand out to you at all?
10) The revelations of Christ to the Magi, first in the Cave of Treasures (chapter 13) and then in the Bethlehem cave (chapters 19-21), are remarkably similar. Why do you think the author of the Revelation of the Magi might have written it this way? In your opinion, do the Magi learn or experience anything at Bethlehem that deepens their understanding of Christ beyond what they learned from him in the Cave of Treasures?
11) The description of the Magi’s journey from the land of Shir to Bethlehem (chapter 16) is remarkably imaginative, but rather difficult to visualize at some points. How would you describe their journey in your own words? Were they flying? How much time had elapsed -- a few days, a few hours, a few seconds? If such a journey were to be depicted on film, what might it look like?
12) Having read the Revelation of the Magi, what sort of impression has the book made on you as a whole? Do you think it will enrich your celebration of the Christmas holiday, and if so, how? Has it changed the way in which you read and think about the Christmas story? Has your reading of the Revelation of the Magi perhaps even been spiritually significant for you? Has it changed your understanding of Christianity at all, and if so, how?
Join the on-line discussion here, where author Brent Landau will offer responses to your comments.
Return to the Patheos Book Club for more reflections on and reviews of The Revelation of the Magi.