One of the three Magi (astronomer/adepts) who followed the star
(the I AM Presence) of the Manchild born to the Virgin Mary. Believed to have
been the King of Ethiopia, Balthazar brought the treasure of his realm, the gift
of frankincense to Christ. the eternal High Priest
The word Magi is a Latinization of the plural of the Greek word magos (μαγος pl. μαγοι), itself from Old Persian maguŝ from the Avestan moγu. The term is a specific occupational title referring to the priestly caste of Zoroastrianism. As part of their religion, these priests paid particular attention to the stars, and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was at that time a highly regarded science. Their religious practices and use of astrological sciences caused derivatives of the term Magi to be applied to the occult in general and led to the English term magic. Translated in the King James Version as wise men, the same word is given as sorcerer and sorcery when describing "Elymas the sorcerer" in Acts 13:6-11, and Simon Magus, considered a heretic by the early Church, in Acts 8:9-13
In the Eastern church a variety of different names are given for the three, but in the West the names have been settled since the 8th century as Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. These derive from an early 6th century Greek manuscript in Alexandria. The Latin text Collectanea et Flores continues the tradition of three kings and their names and gives additional details. This text is said to be from the 8th century, of Irish origin.
One of these names is obviously Persian, although Caspar is also sometimes given as Gaspar or Jasper. One candidate for the origin of the name Caspar appears in the Acts of Thomas as Gondophares (AD 21 – c.AD 47), i.e., Gudapharasa (from which 'Caspar' might derive as corruption of 'Gaspar'). This Gondophares declared independence from the Arsacids to become the first Indo-Parthian king and who was allegedly visited by Thomas the Apostle. Christian legend may have chosen Gondofarr simply because he was an eastern king living in the right time period.
In contrast, the Syrian Christians name the Magi Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas. These names have a far greater likelihood of being originally Persian, though that does not, of course, guarantee their authenticity.
In the Eastern churches, Ethiopian Christianity, for instance, has Hor, Karsudan, and Basanater, while the Armenians have Kagpha, Badadakharida and Badadilma. Many Chinese Christians believe that one of the magi came from China.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, the magi found Jesus by following a star. The Biblical text indicates that they found Jesus around two years after his birth, rather than on the exact day (Matt. 2:7–8, 16). On finding him, they gave him three symbolic gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Warned in a dream that Judean king Herod intended to kill the child, they decided to return home by a different route. This prompted Herod to resort to killing all the young children in Bethlehem, an act called the Massacre of the Innocents, in an attempt to eliminate a rival heir to his throne. Jesus and his family had, however, escaped to Egypt beforehand. After these events they passed into obscurity. The story of the nativity in Matthew glorifies Jesus, likens him to Moses, and shows his life as fulfilling prophecy. Some critics consider this nativity story to be an invention of the author of Matthew.
The phrase from the east is the only information Matthew provides about the region from which they came. Traditionally the view developed that they were Persian or Parthian, a view held for example by John Chrysostom, and Byzantine art generally depicted them in Persian dress. The main support for this is that the first Magi were from Persia and that land still had the largest number of them. Some believe they were from Babylon, which was the centre of Zurvanism, and hence astrology, at the time. Raymond Brown comments that the author of Matthew probably did not have a specific location in mind and the phrase from the east is for literary effect and added exoticism.
After the visit the Magi leave the narrative by returning another way so as to avoid Herod, and do not reappear. Gregory the Great waxed lyrical on this theme, commenting that having come to know Jesus we are forbidden to return by the way we came. There are many traditional stories about what happened to the Magi after this, with one having them baptised by St. Thomas on his way to India. Another has their remains found by Saint Helena and brought to Constantinople, and eventually making their way to Germany and the Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral
 Gifts of the Magi
Byzantine art usually shows the Magi in Persian dress (breeches, capes, and Phrygian caps). Mosaic, ca. 600.Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy - restored.
Upon meeting Jesus, the Magi are described as handing over gifts and "falling down" in joyous praise. The use of the term "falling down" more properly means lying prostrate on the ground, which, together with the use of kneeling in Luke's birth narrative, had an important effect on Christian religious practice. Previously both Jewish and Roman tradition had viewed kneeling and prostration as undignified, reserved in Jewish tradition for epiphanies; although for Persians it was a sign of great respect, often showed to the king. But inspired by these verses, kneeling and prostration were adopted in the early Church; while prostration is now very rarely practiced in the West (still being relatively common in the Eastern Churches, especially during Lent), kneeling has remained an important element of Christian worship to this day.
Three of the gifts are explicitly identified in Matthew — gold, frankincense and myrrh; It has been suggested by scholars that the "gifts" were in fact medicinal rather than precious material for tribute.)
This episode can be linked to Isaiah 60 and to Psalm 72 which report gifts being given by kings, and this has played a central role in the perception of the Magi as kings, rather than as astronomer-priests. In a hymn of the late 4th-century hispanic poet Prudentius, the three gifts have already gained their medieval interpretation as prophetic emblems of kings.
Balthazar (also spelled Balthasar or Balthassar), is the name commonly attributed to one of the Three Wise Men, at least in the west. Though no names are given in the Gospel of Matthew, this was one of the names the Western church settled on in the 8th century, though other names were used by Eastern churches (for more information see Biblical Magi). It is an alternate form of the Babylonian king Belshazzar, mentioned in the Book of Daniel.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Pharaoh, prophet, and high priest in the
period of the New Kingdom c. 1460 B.C., who expanded the Egyptian kingdom to
include most of the Middle East. His most decisive victory was on a battlefield
near Mt. Carmel where he led the entire army single file through narrow Megiddo
Pass to surprise and defeat an alliance of 330 rebellious Asian princes--a
daring maneuver protested by the pharaoh's terrified officers. Thutmose alone
was assured of his plan and rode ahead holding aloft the image of AmenRa, the
Sun God who had promised him the victory.
Greek philosopher of the sixth century B.C., the "fair-haired Samian" who was regarded as the son of Apollo. As a youth, Pythagoras conferred freely with priests and scholars, eagerly seeking scientific proof of the inner law revealed to him in meditation upon Demeter, the Mother of the Earth. His quest for the great synthesis of truth led him to Palestine, Arabia, India, and finally to the temples of Egypt where he won the confidence of the priests of Memphis and was gradually accepted into the mysteries of Isis at Thebes.
When Asian conqueror Cambyses launched a savage invasion of Egypt c. 529 B.C., Pythagoras was exiled to Babylon where the prophet Daniel still served as king's minister. Here rabbis revealed to him the inner teachings of the I AM THAT I AM given to Moses, and here Zoroastrian magi tutored him in music, astronomy, and the sacred science of invocation.
After twelve years, Pythagoras left Babylon and founded a brotherhood of initiates at Crotona, a busy Dorian seaport in southern Italy. His "city of the elect" was a mystery school of the Great White Brotherhood where carefully selected men and women pursued a philosophy based upon the mathematical expression of universal law, illustrated in music and in the rhythm and harmony of a highly disciplined way of life. After a five-year probation of strict silence, Pythagorean "mathematicians" progressed through a series of initiations, developing the intuitive faculties of the heart whereby the son or daughter of God may become, as Pythagoras' Golden Verses state, "a deathless God divine, mortal no more."
At Crotona, Pythagoras delivered his lectures from behind a screen in a veiled language which could be fully comprehended only by the most advanced initiates. The most significant phase of his instruction concerned the fundamental concept that number is both the form and the essence of creation. He formulated the essential parts of Euclid's geometry and advanced astronomical ideas which led to Copernicus' hypotheses. It is recorded that two thousand citizens of Crotona gave up their customary lifestyle and assembled together in the Pythagorean community under the wise administration of the Council of Three Hundred; a governmental, scientific, and religious order who later exercised great political influence throughout Magna Grecia.
Pythagoras, the "indefatigable adept," was ninety when Cylon, a rejected candidate of the mystery school, incited a violent persecution. Standing in the courtyard of Crotona, he read aloud from a secret book of Pythagoras, Hieros Logos (Holy Word), distorting and ridiculing the teaching. When Pythagoras and forty of the leading members of the Order were assembled, Cylon set fire to the building and all but two of the council members were killed. As a result, the community was destroyed and much of the original teaching was lost. Nevertheless, "The Master" has influenced many great philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Francis Bacon.