Off the Shelf 50 – Father Dwight Longenecker
Whether you call them the the Three Wise Men ,The Magi or astronomers the three travelers from the East mentioned ever-so-briefly in the gospel of Matthew are shrouded in mystery. On the episode of Off the Shelf, Father Dwight Longenecker and I unravel the mystery and discuss his fantastic new book Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men. Part mystery, part treasure hunt Father lays out a few theories on the Magi in this gripping book that will certainly hold your attention while providing a very compelling case on who these men were and what their origins may have been.
Read my full review of Mystery of the Magi here.
Listen to Off the Shelf Episode 050 exclusively on Breadbox Media below.
From the publisher Regnery History
Modern biblical scholars tend to dismiss the Christmas story of the “wise men from the East” as pious legend. Matthew’s gospel offers few details, but imaginative Christians filled out the story early on, giving us the three kings guided by a magical star who join the adoring shepherds in every Christmas crèche.
For many scholars, then, there is no reason to take the gospel story seriously.
But are they right? Are the wise men no more than a poetic fancy?
In an astonishing feat of detective work, Dwight Longenecker makes a powerful case that the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem really happened. Piecing together the evidence from biblical studies, history, archeology, and astronomy, he goes further, uncovering where they came from, why they came, and what might have happened to them after eluding the murderous King Herod.
In the process, he provides a new and fascinating view of the time and place in which Jesus Christ chose to enter the world.
The evidence is clear and compelling. The mysterious Magi from the East were in all likelihood astrologers and counselors from the court of the Nabatean king at Petra, where the Hebrew messianic prophecies were well known. The “star” that inspired their journey was a particular planetary alignment—confirmed by computer models—that in the astrological lore of the time portended the birth of a Jewish king.
The visitors whose arrival troubled Herod “and all Jerusalem with him” may not have been the turbaned oriental kings of the Christmas carol, but they were real, and by demonstrating that the wise men were no fairy tale, Mystery of the Magi demands a new level of respect for the historical claims of the gospel.
Father Dwight Longenecker was raised an Evangelical and graduated from Bob Jones University. While there he became an Anglican and after graduation went to Oxford to train as an Anglican priest. After serving for ten years as an Anglican priest he realized he and the Anglican faith were as he calls in “on divergent paths” so in 1995 he converted to the Catholic faith with his wife and family. Eventually he returned to the United States to be ordained as a Catholic priest under the special provision from Rome for married former Anglican clergy.
Father Dwight has written over twenty books on Catholic spirituality, apologetics and prayer. He has authored hundreds of articles which have been published in newspapers, magazines, websites and journals in the USA and the UK. His popular blog is called Standing on My Head and can be found at his website.
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