The author of a popular new children's book about the Wise Men says much of what passes for facts about the Magi is likely false.
"Everything I thought I knew" about the Wise Men was wrong, said Raymond Arroyo, the author of The Wise Men Who Found Christmas, a 40-page colorful book that tells the story of the men who risked their lives to see Jesus. It was illustrated by Diane Le Feyer and climbed to No. 2 on Amazon's book charts.
Contemporary Christian music artist Tasha Layton recorded a song and released a music video, We Magi of Orient Are, inspired by the book. The video includes the book's illustrations.
"The original [Christmas] song goes, 'We three kings of orient are,'" Arroyo told Christian Headlines. "Well, there were more than three of them. They weren't from the Far East, and they were not kings."
Arroyo studied not only what the Bible says about the Wise Men but also what two first- and second-century Christian leaders – Justin Martyr and Clement of Rome – wrote.
"[The Wise Men] came from Arabia, just on the other side of the Dead Sea, probably in the kingdom of Nabatea. And the three gifts give us hints of where they're from. Those three items, frankincense, gold, and myrrh – that [were] controlled by the kingdom of Nabatea. … Once I knew that, I said, 'I've got to write the story. And I need to tell it for families,'" Arroyo told Christian Headlines. "And it's a retelling that is really more historic and biblical than many of the fanciful recreations we've come to think of as true. So I love that we were able to do it in a beautiful way for families. And just to get them thinking in that first-century, ancient world mindset of why these men went out, what they were seeking, and who they may have been beholden to."
Modern readers can learn much from the Wise Men, Arroyo added.
"These men were risking their lives to get to the Christ child. They were risking their lives by going to Herod, who killed three of his own sons and a wife to protect his throne," Arroyo said. "So the high stakes of faith, light and pursuing love – even during Christmas – remains."
Like the Wise Men, Christians "should all be running toward" Jesus during the Christmas season, he added.
"It's what we're all called to do," he said.
Photo courtesy: ©Sophia Institute Press, used with permission.
Video courtesy: ©Tasha Layton YouTube
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.