Magi by Daniel L. Gilbert
I received Magi right after Christmas. What a lovely gift! The timing couldn't have been more perfect and I finished it on the Feast of Epiphany. How perfect.
Many times we see the magi/the wisemen as an afterthought, I think; flat, two dimensional characters dressed in kingly robes, bringing gifts that contrast with the rude and humble stable where our Savior was born.
Western tradition teaches three wisemen, Balthazar, Gaspar, and Melchior; Eastern tradition teaches twelve. Gilbert brings to life the magi, and not just three, but many Parthian men who were priests and astronomers, well versed in the prophecies, not just of their own peoples, but in the prophecies of the countries surrounding them.
The central character is Ramates, a young and impulsive magi who is motivated by pride. Ramates is the discoverer of the star, Al Sisiosh, in his language. The astronomers know this is the star that heralds the Deliverer, the One who will free the people burdened by injustice. They know they must go to seek Him and do Him homage. Can the imperfect, impulsive Ramates lead them?
That we know "the end of the story," the wisemen kneeling before the infant, Jesus/Yeshua, in no way makes this a dull tale. The real story is in the journey, the dangerous, difficult, dirty, and long tale that lead the magi to, not the manger scene, but to the more likely scene of Jesus in a home as perhaps a twelve to eighteen month old child. The magi prepare themselves as best they can for an audience with the King, but the road weary men who prostrate themselves before the Child are not the pristine men of the manger scenes.
The story of the magi is our story, too; they were the first gentiles to recognize and worship the Son of God. Our journey is long and hard, sometimes we face uglieness to get there. Will you bow, with Ramates and the other magi, before the King of Kings?
Magi is on my reading list for theWinter Reading Challenge. I'm really glad that I read it.