Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

The Star-Child and his Star Food: Fragments of Visionary Experience in the Syriac Revelation of the Magi

Thu, October 17, 2013 | Texas Union, Asian Culture Room (4.224)

5:15 PM

The Star-Child and his Star Food: Fragments of Visionary Experience in the Syriac Revelation of the Magi

Workshop on Late Antiquity presents a lecture by Brent Landau, University of Texas at Austin  

This lecture examines the Revelation of the Magi, an apocryphal Christian text preserved in Syriac and ostensibly narrated by the Magi of Matthew's Gospel, with a focus on understanding better the unusual phenomena described in this document. After providing a brief overview of this little-known text, it will assess how likely it is that the visionary experiences of the Magi in this writing actually represent the lived experiences of some early Christians, a methodological challenge familiar to interpreters of pseudepigraphical Jewish and Christian literature. 

Landau argues that there is indeed sufficient evidence to regard these textualized events as derivatives of "real world" religious experience. It will then consider in more detail several of the stranger and more distinctive practices and experiences in the Revelation of the Magi: the Magi's practice of silent prayer; their ingesting of a substance that leads to polymorphic visions of Christ; and Christ's manifestation to them as both a star and a small luminous human being.  

Brent Landau is Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.  He received his Doctor of Theology degree in 2008 from Harvard in the study of the New Testament and Early Christianity. His research focus is on early Christian traditions about the birth and childhood of Jesus, with a special interest in the Magi, better known as the "three wise men." His forthcoming first book is a translation of the Revelation of the Magi, an ancient Christian text purporting to be the Magi's own account of Christ's coming.

Sponsored by: The Workshop on Late Antiquity is co-sponsored by Middle Eastern Studies, the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of Classics, and the Department of Religious Studies.

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