27. The Magi Address the People of Shir
The Magi traveled until they made it to their homeland, led by “glorious signs”. Their community came out to greet them, and there was much rejoicing. The travelers told the stories of their journey; about their visions, their experiences and their blessings. They told how their provisions had remained abundant throughout their trip and that they had brought back more than they had taken.
“And behold, they are sitting filled before your eyes, our vessels overflowing from them, because of the power of his blessings, which settled upon us, and so that they might be proved true for you and you might believe everything – the visions and wonders that we saw – and that you also might be deemed worthy to become believers and chosen ones for him.”
They brought back the stuff !!
“Everyone who wishes, receive without doubt, with a whole heart and true faith, and eat from these provisions, which have come with us.”
So what do you reckon happens when the people eat from the provisions?
28. The People Eat the Magi’s Food
They also began to experience visions. This appears to be one example of induced hallucination, something common in mystical religious practice. The progression of these various disparate visions also tells a story within itself. That progression goes as follows:
1. A great light that has no likeness in the world.
2. God bearing himself in the world as he wished.
3. A star of light that darkened the sun by its light.
4. A human being whose appearance is more unsightly than a man, and he is saving and purifying the world by his blood and by his humble appearance.
5. Something like a lamb hanging upon a tree of life, and by him and his blood redemption takes place for all the creatures of the world.
6. A pillar of light driving down inside the bowels of the earth, and the dead rise to meet it, and they worship and glorify it with great joy.
“And again, day by day, revelations, and visions, and all kinds of powerful manifestations were increased for them… And the faith of salvation increased in the land of the East and in those who heard.”
29. Judas Thomas Arrives in Shir
Landau argues that this last block of text appears to have been a later addition to the story; “in the third or fourth century, the RevMagi underwent a significant redaction. This redaction grafted an episode about Judas Thomas, narrated in the third person and having no independent existence apart from this redaction, onto the pre-existing first-person account of the Magi’s encounter with Christ.”
This seems logical to me. Nowhere has there been any previous identification with any apostle. For any writing to even be considered in Orthodox circles, one would be necessary. There was an Orthodox tradition that Didymus Judas Thomas, Judas the Twin, had traveled as far as India where he had been magically transported back to Jerusalem to witness the Assumption of Mary. Thomas was also revered by Indian Christians as well as some Gnostics, represented by the Nag Hammadi manuscripts. Thomas, like Jesus, was one of the proverbial pushmi-pullyu characters of early Christianity. (Dr. Doolittle fans?) This, I think, may be the key to this document, but I am merely speculating.
Anyhow, Thomas is doing his missionary thing, when he ends up in the land of the Magi. The nobles of the East, the Magi, hooked up with Thomas and told him about their experience, and there was much rejoicing.
30. The Hymn of Judas Thomas
On a Saturday night, Thomas asks the people of the East to “receive the seal of our Lord”, so he took oil and went to a spring. Obviously, this “seal” is to be a Christian baptism. A short hymn was given by Thomas.
31. The Magi Receive the Eucharist and Commission to Preach
“And he baptized them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and when they came up from the water, a certain child of heavenly light appeared to them, who descended from heaven”.
And they were sore afraid. The child turned into a “divine young man” who took “a loaf of bread, gave praise, broke and gave first to the Apostle Judas, and also to each one of them”. Take, praise, break and give, this is the Eucharistic formula. Notice that the bread was first given to Thomas and then to the people.
Thomas then says something interesting. “We glorify your sweet majesty, your singularity in many personifications… And by as many names you have been called, you are not any one of them…And all these forms in which you were clothed and appeared for our sake, that we might know you, were because you loved us with your great mercy that was for us, and everything that the crucifiers brought upon you, you endured for our sake”.
“And while they were delighting greatly in thanksgiving, and prayer and visions of our Lord, a multitude of brethren were added to the faith day by day. And Judas said to them: “Therefore my brethren, let us fulfill the commandment of our Lord, who said to us, ‘Go out into the entire world and preach my Gospel’”.”
32. The Preaching of the Magi
“And they went forth from there to every place and preached in perfect love about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Lord of all, even doing mighty works and healings in the name of our Lord. And they preached the faith of truth, saying and teaching to everyone: “Flee from the darkness and come to the light that does not pass away, so that you may live and have refuge under the wings of our Lord Jesus, our savior and our great refuge on the last day, from the fearsome judgment of fire that will come suddenly to purify the entire earth from error, which has ruled over it in its deceit… And you shall rest forever and ever, amen and amen.”
“The story about the Magi and their gifts has finished.”
We are now back safely home within the ever-loving arms of the Orthodox Christian Church.