Who Were The Wise Men?

[Source Article] “…The earliest Christian witness outside the New Testament is Justin Martyr, who is also situated in Judea. He says that the Wise Men came from Arabia. I therefore began to search for possible candidates from Arabia.

Petra and the Nabateans

This led, of course, to the fabulously wealthy and mysterious kingdom of Nabatea with the ancient city of Petra as its capital. Suffice it to say that once I discovered the Nabateans, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. The politics, economics, religion and culture of the time all combined to make the Nabateans the obvious choice.


The Nabatean monastery ruins in Petra. ( carbo82 / Adobe stock)

Just two details will illustrate the wealth of evidence that combines to strengthen this theory. The finest gold in the ancient world was mined in Western Arabia, and the shrubs from which incense and myrrh are sourced only grow in Eastern Arabia and Northeast Africa, which is all territory controlled by the Nabateans. The gold, frankincense and myrrh were clearly diplomatic gifts (representative of the Nabtean kingdom) from King Aretas IV of Nabatea to honor a grandson or great grandson of his neighbor King Herod.

Secondly, new discoveries by archaeo-astronomers from Spain have shown that the Nabatean temples were aligned to the solstices and constellations, and the archaeological dig at the temple of Khirbet et Tannur, uncovered a stone carved zodiac proving that the Nabatean Magi were star gazers.

These are just two pieces of evidence that direct the quest for the identity of the Wise Men to Nabatea.  It is perfectly probable that there were wise men who had the motive, the means and the method to pay homage to Jesus Christ, just as Matthew recorded.

My findings not only stand the established academic orthodoxy on its head, but they should cause everyone interested in New Testament scholarship, ancient history and the historical veracity of the Gospels to think again.

Like the story of King Arthur, the tale of the Wise Men who visited Bethlehem was embroidered and embellished over many years. But beneath it all there is a foundation of historical truth, which is fascinating and compelling.

The simple facts of the Magi story undermine the assumptions that the nativity narratives are fairy tales made up to make Jesus more special. Instead my findings show that beneath all the mystery, there is history.”

Dwight Longenecker’s book The Mystery of the Magi – The Quest for the True Identity of the Three Wise Men is published by Regnery Press. It is available on Amazon and from his website: dwightlongenecker.com