Although not a Catholic I enjoy studying history and the Bible.
The Catholic Encyclopedia [newadvent] is one of my favorite sources for such things, and its take on the Magi is somewhat different from yours. [In my digital copy it’s in vol. 9, pp. 1342 ff.]
What do you think?
First, the Greek texts show “magoi”; CathEn adds, “pl. of L. magus”. My OED and other sources go on to show that it was first a loanword from Old Persian.
CathEn disagrees with “magician” as a good definition, while admitting that Justin, Origen and Jerome used it. For many Christians it is a ‘heat’ word; I’m interested in light, so I won’t use it.
CathEn shows that “wise men” [NJB] is apt, because of their great learning. It cites Herodotus [ca. 460 BCE] one of the few quality sources that far back, in saying that this learning was acquired in their role of “provid[ing] priests for Persia” and “ever [keeping] up their dominating religious influence.” As part of their practice they ‘read the stars’. This would be long before Alexander’s Persian victories ca. 330 BCE.
Why is this relevant? Because God’s Law to his people, 1513 BCE, forbade any contact with other religions and their practices. Cf. De 18:10-12, which ends, “For anyone who does these things is detestable to Yahweh your God”. Ibid.
Is it possible that Yahweh would entrust any part of the Messiah’s arrival to these men? And yet there they are in the record! Is the common belief that they are to be emulated true? Or is it another lesson that Matthew is giving us?
Guth explained that there were problems with Big Bang cosmology. For one, the Universe is mysteriously uniform in all directions. If you position telescopes at the North and South poles, and point each of them at a dark patch of sky, you can catch light from opposite ends of the Universe. If you measure the temperature of light from these regions, all the way out to eight digits, you’ll see the same number. This is mysterious because the two regions are separated by more than 20 billion light years, too far to have ever interacted in a way that would lead to such extraordinary equilibrium. It’s possible to generate a uniform universe such as ours within the standard Big Bang framework, but you have to carefully calibrate its initial conditions. You have to ‘fine-tune’ it.