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No Wise Men were at the birth of Jesus

Published 03/01/2011

Before Christmas, Nativity scenes appeared in homes, in shop windows and under public Christmas trees.

But how many are aware that the Wise Men were not present at the birth of Jesus? Yet, these Nativity scenes certainly give the impression that they were.

If we refer to the Biblical text, the Wise Men appeared much later than the shepherds, when Mary and Joseph were in a 'house', not in a stable, and the infant Jesus is described as a 'young child', not a baby (Matthew 2:9-10). He may have been two or three years old, it is not certain; but he was not a baby.

This means the Nativity scenes and plays misinform about the true facts of the Gospel accounts. The Scriptures also do not say 'three wise men', only 'wise men from the east', so there could have been any number - 10, 50 or 100, who knows - for an event as momentous as this. They did bear three kinds of gift, gold, frankincense and myrrh, which leads people to conclude that there were three people.

COLIN NEVIN

Bangor, Co Down

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