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After the downfall of Assyrian and Babylonian power, the religion of the Magi held sway in Persia.

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Strabo (XI, ix, 3) says that the Magian priests formed one of the two councils of the Parthian Empire. Biblical Evidence The word magoi often has the meaning of "magician", in both Old and New Testaments (see Acts 8:9 ; 13:6, 8 ; also the Septuagint of Daniel ; 2:2 , , ; 4:4 ; 5:7 , , ). Justin (Tryph., lxxviii), Origen (Cels., I, lx), St. The Church, indeed, in her liturgy, applies to the Magi the words: "The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents; the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring him gifts: and all the kings of the earth shall adore him" ( Psalm ).

All this evidence rationalists pronounce irrelevant; they class the story of the Magi with the so-called "legends of the childhood of Jesus ", later apocryphal additions to the Gospels. They provided priests for Persia, and, regardless of dynastic vicissitudes, ever kept up their dominating religious influence.

Admitting only internal evidence, they say, this evidence does not stand the test of criticism. To the head of this caste, Nergal Sharezar, Jeremias gives the title Rab-Mag , "Chief Magus" ( Jeremiah 39:3 , , in Hebrew original — Septuagint and Vulgate translations are erroneous here).

The "wise men from the East" who came to adore Jesus in Bethlehem ( Matthew 2 ). Non-Biblical Evidence We may form a conjecture by non-Biblical evidence of a probable meaning to the word magoi .

Rationalists regard the Gospel account as fiction; Catholics insist that it is a narrative of fact, supporting their interpretation with the evidence of all manuscripts and versions, and patristic citations. Herodotus (I, ci) is our authority for supposing that the Magi were the sacred caste of the Medes.