Saturday 5 December 2020

Mystery of the Magi - Father Dwight Longenecker - The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men

Mystery of the Magi
The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men
Father Dwight Longenecker
ISBN 9781621576297
eISBN 9781621576563

I have followed Father Longenecker on social media since I started blogging 15 years ago. I have picked up a few books that he has written, and a few that he has contributed to. I became aware of this volume after reading From Afar by Roger Thomas. And though that volume is fiction and this one non-fiction they are great compliments to each other. I picked this book up based on the title and author. I did not even read the description. When I started reading I thought ‘wow this is some great history and research’ and then I realized the whole book is history. It was an absolutely fascinating book to read. Once I got going, I could hardly put it down. I read it over 4 days because things were busy at work. And now a week later I am still thinking about it often. The chapters in the volume are:

The Three Wise Men: Facts or Fairy Tale?
Is the Bible True?
Matthew: Man of History
Fantastic Flights of Fantasy
Sages and Stargazers
The Riddle of the Nabateans
The Middle Eastern Melting Pot
Prophecies or Predictions?
The Herod Connection
The Three Treasures
The Star of Bethlehem
Wise Men from the East
What Happened to the Wise Men?
Why Does It Matter?

This is one of those books that I was blessed to have read. And one that I cannot stop talking about. I have recommended it to about 2 dozen people through email, live chats, or calls. And if it were not 2020, and I wasn’t working from home that number would be tripled. 

The book examines prejudices on both sides of the field. And then goes into a deep dive on historical sources, pilling the threads and string until a tapestry is revealed that leads to only one real possible conclusion of who the Magi really were. 

This book is a mix of theology, history, archeology, and to be honest pure genius. This volume would be an excellent read during Advent over Christmastide, or to be honest at any time. I read it just before Advent and it has really help set the tone going into that season this year for me. There was not anything to non like in this volume. The information is presented in an engaging manner. It goes deep into the history and politics of the region and time. This book will help you see the Magi in a new light, and you will likely consider them in a new way going forward. 

Another great aspect of this work is the examination of different theories regarding the star of Bethlehem. Longenecker presents a number of theories that might account for these events. And he presents both pros and cons of the theories. 

This book is masterfully researched. It was written as part of a personal quest to understand, and to know. Longenecker really wanted to know and he dug and dug until he found what might have been. Stripping away the fantastical latter addons to the story and looking at the account from Matthew and using it as a basis for the research he has written a book that is both well researched and easily accessible. It is a volume that high school students could engage with. And the older you are and more you have read the deeper you will be able to go with this material.

This is an excellent read. And one I am certain will bless any reader. I would encourage you to give this a read and see where it leads you.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Father Longenecker:
A Sudden Certainty: Priest Poems
Adventures in Orthodoxy
An Answer Not An Argument: Essays on Apologetics
Catholicism Pure and Simple
Challenging Catholics: A Catholic Evangelical Dialogue
Christianity Pure and Simple
How to be an Ordinary Hero
Immortal Combat
Is Anybody There?: The Question of God
Letters on Liturgy
Listen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers
Mary: A Catholic-Evangelical Debate
More Christianity: Finding the Fullness of the Faith
Mystery of the Magi
Our Lady?: A Catholic-Evangelical Debate
Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing
Praying the Rosary for Spiritual Warfare
Saint Benedict for Busy Parents
Slubgrip Instructs
St. Benedict and St. Therese: The Little Rule & the Little Way
The Gargoyle Code
The Great Battle: Living by Faith
The Path to Rome
The Quest for the Creed
The Romance of Religion
The Vicar of Great Snoring
Why Do You Believe That?: A Protestant-Catholic Conversation

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