January 6th is Epiphany. It so happens that two events in the Gospels are associated with this day in the Christian calendar. One is the arrival of the magi as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. The other is Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Both interest me, for different reasons. I wrote a short story, “We Three Spies of Parthia Are,” offering a subversive account of the visit of the magi and the motives behind it, which you can read for free in AcademFic. John the Baptist is a focus of my current research as I bring my work on the Mandaeans into the picture working on a figure in the New Testament. The Mandaean sources, used critically and with appropriate caution, have something to offer that is of potential historical value, as I hope to demonstrate in my Enoch Seminar conference paper next week.
Elsewhere, Jim Davila drew attention to a Zoom lecture about the Dead Sea Scrolls, the blurb for which mentions John the Baptist. He also drew attention to the insightful and provocative article by Tamás Visi, “John the Baptist – A Jewish Preacher Recast as the Herald of Jesus.”
Also on Epiphany/Magi/John the Baptist:
Despite what Ian Paul says, there are indeed discrepancies and contradictions between Matthew and Luke, rather than mere differences. Here’s something I wrote previously on that topic:
And on Christian baptism:
Finally, here is an incredible Romanian carol about the magi: “Trei Crai,” performed by the Bucharest Madrigal Choir: