Revelation of the Magi Makes the Heart Soar

Our blogger roundtable on Brent Landau’s Revelation of the Magi continues today with a review by Catholic blogger and Patheos Portal Manager Elizabeth Scalia, of the blog The Anchoress:

In recommending Brent Landau’s Revelation of the Magi (excerpted here) to others, I have referred to it as “a fast read that makes the heart soar,” and the book is certainly that; the illustrations are fascinating and enlightening, and the prose-voice praising God is not just lyrical, it is hypnotically joyful. It is joyful in the language of ancient prophecy, joyful at a depth even the New Testament only glimpses; it is the sort of skin-tingling joyfulness one sometimes experiences in a flash-fleeting instant of prayerful understanding that defies expression, and that makes the tale seem utterly authentic. We want to believe what is being shared in this manuscript, so long languished within the Vatican archives, because we love the light, and–in the image of the (unnamed) Christ as the very Star that Guides–the Revelation of the Magiharkens the reader repeatedly to a first antiphon of Lauds, “in your light, we see light itself.”

Apart from the engaging story and the excellent background provided by Landau, it is for the sheer beauty of this Adoration that I have already returned to this work several times. Landau’s translated text exposes the reader to the depths of a soul whose mystical acquaintance with the All Holy pulls one into the great gift of wide-open wonder. And, as Saint Gregory of Nyssa is credited as saying, “only wonder leads to knowing.”

Perhaps it is because I am a lay Catholic without scholarly credentials in biblical studies of any kind, but I didn’t find the absence of the name of Jesus Christ in the earliest texts to be as provocatively challenging to Christian understanding of itself or its evangelical mission as Landau appears to.

Landau writes:

A second consequence of the Revelation of the Magi’s [seeming news] about Christ’s all-encompassing revelation is that it renders the traditional model of Christian expansion completely pointless . . . why could not Christ himself have been the principal agent of Christian expansion? If Christ existed before Jesus of Nazareth did, (as the first verses of the Gospel of John claim) and could even visit people after his ascension (as Acts of the Apostles claims that he did to the Apostle Paul), then what would prevent Christ from appearing to anyone, at any place, at any time? This appears to have been a question asked by the author of the Revelation of the Magi, and his answer was, “Nothing.” Christ appears to the Magi before he assumed human flesh, and what is more, he apparently felt no need to identify himself as Christ. The author, to be sure, is very concerned that the Christian revelation be spread to all the people of the world, but in his estimation, human missionaries are in no way essential to this task.

Well, of course they’re not. Christ, who is the All-in-All, who Is, Was, and Ever Shall Be has always had the ability to reveal Himself to anyone he wished, but–if scripture is to be believed–he appears to have wanted the formation of a community of believers and the foundation of a church. He could have foregone His crucifixion and death, but He seems to have understood us better than we do ourselves; we needed an event, and a lasting memorial and Presence.

Nor is the absence of the name of Jesus Christ in the earliest part of the text, or its frequent use in the additional writing concerning the arrival of Thomas to the Magi of Shir, particularly tantalizing to me. Again, I’m not a scholar, but people write what they know. The addendum to the Revelation was written decades after the first writing. The writer who did not know the name of this Light–who revealed Itself to so many Magi as so many parts of Jesus of Nazareth–did not name Him. The writer who later learned the name of the One within that Light, did.

Occam’s Razor suggests that the simplest answer is often the correct one. Unencumbered as I am with scholarship in this area, this seems as simple as an explanation can get. God condescends to humanity in astonishing ways, but He nevernames himself. Jesus did not go through His ministry saying, “hey, I’m Jesus…theChrist…” to a humanity incapable of grasping even an infinitesimal sense of what that would mean, God does not give his name to Moses, either. He IS, and as IS, God is not as hung-up on names as the rest of us tend to be which is why, perhaps, He so frequently calls us by name, and then changes it.

There is a wonderful little exchange in the recently published book Light of the World. In this conversation between Pope Benedict XVI and journalist Peter Seewald, the pontiff is asked about a controversial petition for the conversion of the Jews, which is prayed specifically within the Good Friday liturgy of the “old” Mass. Benedict explains that he altered the text in such a way “. . .as to express our faith that Christ is the Savior for all, that there are not two channels of salvation . . . [the new formulation] shifts the focus from a direct petition for the conversion of the Jews in a missionary sense, to a plea that the Lord might bring about the hour of history when we all may be united.”

This speaks in a small way to Landau’s excitement in discovering Christ’s prerogative. Benedict succinctly states the mystery as fact without niggling: Christ is the Savior for all. As God, Creator of All, He can be nothing else.

Landau is fascinated by the notion that the unstuck-in-time Christ of the Revelation of the Magi potentially renders Christian evangelism irrelevant, but the truth is Christ does not need us; He wants us, and he uses each of us to continually draw us to Himself, as he draws all things. When spun down to its logical conclusion, that truth holds through the whole pageant of God’s interactions with humanity, until we arrive back at Eden, where God didn’t need to, but most confoundingly Willed us forth.

And how funny and right, then, that the Magi’s most ancient gleanings begin with Adam’s words to Seth, right outside of Paradise.

You can read more and more about this fascinating book here, where it is being discussed in depth by much better–undoubtedly fresher–minds than mine. You’ll want to check it out!

For more resources about Revelation of the Magi, including discussion questions and a book excerpt, visit the Patheos Book Club here.

  • http://diabeticsuppliescanada.mladiuakciji.com/2011/12/06/if-you-have-diabetes-a-diabetic-diet-can-surely-help/ Rashida Pratcher

    I believe most people would agree with your post. I am going to bookmark this web site so I can come back and read more posts. Keep up the great work!

  • http://virtuvesbaldai.onsugar.com/Virtuves-baldai-Azuolas-20215533 virtuves baldai išsimokėtinai

    Another thing I have noticed is the fact for many people, below-average credit is the consequence of circumstances past their control. Such as they may are already saddled with illness so that they have large bills for collections. It could be due to a job loss or maybe the inability to go to work. Sometimes divorce or separation can send the finances in an opposite direction. Thanks for sharing your opinions on this blog.

  • http://www.blogcatalog.com/discuss/entry/top-4-best-selling-high-ranking-sound-bars-home-theater-systems-1 Breanne Ostertag

    I am constantly thought about this, thanks for posting .

  • http://www.jobnorththailand.com/board/index.php?action=profile;u=308125 Danita Strope

    This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post. Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!

  • http://www.myhitrecord.com/kneepainx1230/blog.php Imogene Wintjen

    hello there and thank you for your info – I have certainly picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise some technical issues using this web site, as I experienced to reload the site a lot of times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and could damage your high-quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I am adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of your respective exciting content. Make sure you update this again very soon..

  • http://www.darkstarzproductionz.com/xavierraymon216/blog.php DUI Attorney Akron

    Delighted I stumbled on your posting. I can actually express that I experienced something new right now. Maybe I will have similar good fortune next time I stop by your site.

  • http://article-directory.cashway.com/index.php?page=article&article_id=312117 Franklin Delrio

    you are really a just right webmaster. The site loading speed is amazing. It kind of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick. Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you have done a great task on this subject!

  • http://techbloggers.org/ android tablet

    This blog is definitely cool as well as factual. I have chosen a lot of useful tips out of this source. I’d love to visit it every once in a while. Thanks!

  • http://techbloggers.org/ android tablet

    This awesome blog is no doubt cool additionally amusing. I have discovered a lot of helpful things out of this amazing blog. I’d love to return over and over again. Thanks!

  • http://ictwiki.org/index.php?title=User:Temekahorman736 panic attack treatment

    If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  • http://www.eweb.medycyna24.info.pl/kolagen/1762/ kolagen platinium

    Try it on kalogen naturalny This is effective


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X