What about the Magi?

Apostle John Series covers of 5 books

Re-posted – due to overwriting the original.

Biblical scholars sometimes amaze me. Not always in a pleasant way. Sometimes, it seems they take their information from paintings and writings of the Middle Ages, not the Bible. The story of the Magi is a good example.

Painting of adoration of Magi
Adorazione dei Magi by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c. 1655 (Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio —Google Art Project.jpg – Wikimedia commons

A recent newsletter I received said much about the three Magi, and yet said nothing.

The writer of the newsletter admitted they were a mystery.

During the course of writing the Apostle John Series of fiction books, I did a vast amount of research. Although the books are fiction, I wanted the time setting and background information to be as accurate as it is possible to be about happenings in the 1st Century AD.

However, distractions into this period are all too easy for me to follow. When researching something, if something interesting turns up, I chase up that information – for my own interest.

Were there only three Magi?

It seems because there were three gifts given to Christ, that is a usual assumption. However, other reports suggest that there were more than three people. Bringing three significant gifts.

On checking a Greek/English Interlinear translation of Matthew 2:1 It does not mention how many ‘wise men’ there were.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.

The next common belief is that they came to Mary and Joseph soon after the birth of Christ.

How old was Jesus when the Magi came?

Turning again to the Greek/English Interlinear…

According to Matthew 2: 2 Jesus had already been born when the Magi went to Herod.

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

According to the next few verses – Herod… and all Jerusalem was troubled. So there was time to spread the news.

Then, Herod called for information…

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

Did they have to consult the writings? If so, more time passed.When the information was given, Herod went back to the ‘wise men’ and asked when the star had appeared.

When the information was given, Herod went back to the ‘wise men’ and asked when the star had appeared.

Only then, did Herod send the ‘wise men’ or Magi – to search.

Jesus Christ had been born before the Magi went to Herod. A period of time is suggested while they traveled, sought information, and given an answer and instructions.

The Greek word used to describe Christ when the Magi came before Him is ‘paidou’ which translates as ‘young child’.

Moreover, when Herod ordered what is called ‘the slaughter – or massacre – of the innocents’ he ordered that babies up to two years old be killed.

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Matt 2: 16

Painting of the Slaughter of the Innocents

I prefer to receive my information from the Bible rather than from someone’s interpretation (imagination) of what might have happened.

Just saying.

Susan

Apostle John Series covers of 5 books

Santa Claus credited with giving the gifts… why?

Santa cartoon imageWhy do parents, ordinary mothers and fathers, give Santa Claus, a ‘made-up’ figure the credit for providing the gifts on the 25th December?

In many cases, these gifts have been a financial burden for them to provide, but parents have a tendency to sacrifice many of their wants… no, sometimes needs… to see the happy smiles of their children.
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Most people know that December 25 has nothing to do with Christ, and they do not care. They like the tradition of Christmas, Western style.

Why is the Santa Claus figure credited as the one who brings gifts?

Why do parents, who teach their young children about ‘stranger danger’ – once a year plonk their children on the knees of some strange man to have their pictures taken?

“Never take sweets from a stranger” is another parental protection… or used to be. Yet just the other day, in my small local shopping centre, a man dressed up in a ‘Santa’ costume with a bag of ‘goodies’ (sweets of some sort – that’s lollies for Australians and candies for Americans) – and proceeded to hand them out to migrant children who were delighted. Their mother looked on bemused.

A good article on the origins of this ‘fantasy’ figure is here…

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131219-santa-claus-origin-history-christmas-facts-st-nicholas/

Now that I am old, I can look at all this and wonder – why?

  • Why do we lie to our children and give this made-up figure credit for what we have bought?
  • Why do we warn children about strangers – and then encourage them to sit on a stranger’s knee and smile for the camera?
  • Why allow them to take edible treats from someone dressed up in a Santa costume when we warn them not to take sweets from strangers? And a thought – is this a ‘bona fide’ trained Santa figure, or someone who has noticed that this suit breaks down the barriers of suspicion if they approach young children?
  • Why do we lie to our children? They find out as they grow that none of it is true.

Are we teaching them to distrust us, their parents?

Maybe.

Yet the traditions will continue because people like them. In the matter of Santa – let’s protect our children and tell them the truth – at their level of understanding.

Let’s teach them to trust us. It might be important one day!

Quote: Don't lie to me unless you're absolutely sure that I will never find the TRUTH

Pondering,

Susan MB Preston, authorSusan

(Blog republished due to the database being overwritten.)

 

Dementia… Alzheimer’s Disease, a cruel condition

Sometimes thoughts flutter in like a bird, other times there are flocks. I prefer the one at a time variety… there are so many associated memories to sift through. Mostly, I can make sense of mine – people with Dementia cannot.

Thoughts about this condition were what came gently flying into my mind the other morning Dementia – or Alzheimer’s disease. It is a cruel condition, where families mourn the living.

When I was training as a nurse, I did stints in psychogeriatric wards. Back then, it was called Dementia, usually Senile Dementia.  Alzheimer’s disease referred to early onset dementia.

image saying dementia umbrellaStill whatever it was named, or is named currently, living with it is not easy.

Most times our thoughts are with the person who cares for the ‘sufferer’… and it is no easy task. Simple things need to be explained over and over again. And it is hard to remind someone every few minutes of how to do what you asked them to do.

But…

Have you ever seen the look on the face of someone suffering this debilitating condition when you lose patience with him or her?

It could be fear, or panic, or puzzled hurt.

Let’s imagine it is a mother. You asked her to turn on the dishwasher – ten times.

Ten times, you have told her how to do it.

Then, when you come back from sorting out the washing you find her standing there trying to remember what you told her to do.

She’s in a twilight zone… lost in her mind.

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Before you yell at her… think.

Dishwashers were not a part of her life when she was your age.

Remember when you were a child, a very young child.

  • Was this puzzled, confused woman the one who day after day, patiently taught you to tie the laces on your school shoes?
  • Did she sit night after night telling you the same bedtime story – because it was the one you asked for, over and over again?
  • What about toilet-training? You probably do not remember it, but consider, how long that might have taken.

As our lives become faster and busier, it is all too easy to be less patient.

A hurried instruction is not only confusing; it can be frightening to someone who has memory problems.

I read a short story published in a writer’s group publication while in Texas. The writer had memory problems and described a scene. He was walking through a fog and came to a bridge. After crossing the bridge, he looked back. The fog had closed around it and it was no longer there. That is how he described his memory.

signpost saying 'confused', 'lost', 'disoriented', 'bewildered', 'unclear','perplexed'What is it like in the mind of those who have dementia or associated memory problems? I can only guess that, as the sign says… Confused, lost, unsure – all the others mentioned – and perhaps frightened should be added to the list.

One of the first things I had to learn as a student nurse in a psychogeriatric ward was to treat the patients with respect. Yes, even when I had to bath the old lady who had soiled herself. That old lady had lived a life and survived a war, had been headmistress of a school, raised a family and now needed care.

If you know someone who is caring for a relative in ‘the twilight zone’ perhaps sending him or her a card, making a phone call. Simply giving some of your time and listening to the caregiver would be a kindness you could do. Being a caregiver can be a lonely position.

Think on this… the caregiver in such a situation is mourning the living. The sufferer might also be mourning the losses. No one with any form of dementia wakes up one morning and has no memory. That is a different condition. No, dementia in all its guises sneaks up, frightening the sufferer.

This is a quote from a wife… it could have been my neighbor, but it was not. Perhaps it is all the wives, or husbands whose ‘other half’ is missing, not dead.

“He was here, sleeping in the same bed, eating at the same table, — a living, breathing presence, if not a fully present one. His mind was not working so well, but the familiar body was fine, and his heart still tried to be what he had been. Until one day, he could not…”
LILLIAN B. RUBIN

And from me, a rose for you whether you are a carer or a sufferer

Susan