Infancy: The Wise Men

Extra-Biblical legends often include characters who are named in the Bible (as you have seen already with Salome, Annas, etc.), and the legends often include special objects that are found in the Biblical text, giving a "back story" for the object. So, for example, in this story, you will learn more about that alabaster box which will appear in the account of Jesus's life in the Biblical gospels; see Wikipedia for details about this alabaster box.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Infancy Gospels unit. Story source: The Lost Books of the Bible, edited by Rutherford H. Platt, Jr. (1926): The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ.



AND when the time of his circumcision was come, namely, the eighth day, on which the law commanded the child to be circumcised, they circumcised him in the cave.

And the old Hebrew woman took the foreskin (others say she took the navel-string) and preserved it in an alabaster-box of old oil of spikenard. And she had a son who was a druggist, to whom she said, "Take heed thou sell not this alabaster box of spikenard-ointment, although thou shouldst be offered three hundred pence for it." Now this is that alabaster-box which Mary the sinner procured, and poured forth the ointment out of it upon the head and the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, and wiped it off with the I hairs of her head.

Then after ten days they brought him to Jerusalem, and on the fortieth day from his birth they presented him in the temple before the Lord, making the proper offerings for him, according to the requirement of the law of Moses: namely, that every male which opens the womb shall be called holy unto God.

At that time old Simeon saw him shining as a pillar of light when St. Mary the Virgin, his mother, carried him in her arms and was filled with the greatest pleasure at the sight. And the angels stood around him, adoring him, as a king's guards stand around him.

Then Simeon, going near to St. Mary and stretching forth his hands towards her, said to the Lord Christ, "Now, O my Lord, thy servant shall depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy mercy, which thou hast prepared for the salvation of all nations; a light to all people, and the glory of thy people Israel."

Hannah the prophetess was also present, and drawing near, she gave praises to God, and celebrated the happiness of Mary.

AND it came to pass, when the Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem, a city of Judaea, in the time of Herod the King; the wise men came from the East to Jerusalem, according to the prophecy of Zoradascht, and brought with them offerings: namely, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and worshipped him, and offered to him their gifts.

Then the Lady Mary took one of his swaddling clothes in which the infant was wrapped, and gave it to them instead of a blessing, which they received from her as a most noble present.

And at the same time there appeared to them an angel in the form of that star which had before been their guide in their journey; the light of which they followed till they returned into their own country.

On their return their kings and princes came to them inquiring, "What they had seen and done? What sort of journey and return they had? What company they had on the road?"

But they produced the swaddling cloth which St. Mary had given to them, on account whereof they kept a feast. And having, according to the custom of their country, made a fire, they worshipped it. And casting the swaddling cloth into it, the fire took it, and kept it. And when the fire was put out, they took forth the swaddling cloth unhurt, as much as if the fire had not touched it.

Then they began to kiss it, and put it upon their heads and their eyes, saying, "This is certainly an undoubted truth, and it is really surprising that the fire could not burn it, and consume it." Then they took it, and with the greatest respect laid it up among their treasures.


(600 words)

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