Revelation of the Magi

Revelatio Magorum

Standard abbreviation: Rev. Magi.

Other titles: Syriac Revelation of the Magi, Story of the Magi, Chronicle of Zuqnin, Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

Clavis numbers: none

Category: Infancy Gospels

Related literature: Acts of Thomas, Book about the Birth of the Savior, Cave of Treasures

Compiled by: Brent Landau, University of Texas in Austin (

Citing this resource (using Chicago Manual of Style): Landau, Brent. “Revelation of the Magi.” e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR.

Posted June, 2016.


The story is told from the perspective of the Magi, who are described much differently than in the canonical account of their journey. Here there are twelve Magi (perhaps more), they hail from a mythological eastern land named Shir, and the name “Magi,” it is said, derives etymologically from their practice of praying in silence. They knew to follow the star to Bethlehem because they are descendants of Seth, the third child of Adam and Eve, who passed on to them a prophecy told to him by his father Adam. The star appears to the Magi in the Cave of Treasures on the Mountain of Victories. There it transforms into a small, luminous being (clearly Christ, but his precise identity is never explicitly revealed) and instructs them about its origins and their mission. The Magi follow the star to Bethlehem, where it transforms into the infant Jesus. Upon returning to their land, the Magi instruct their people about the star-child. In an epilogue likely secondary to the text, Judas Thomas arrives in Shir, baptizes the Magi and commissions them to preach throughout the world.


“Christmas on Drugs.” Talk Gnosis. Interview with Brent Landau on the Revelation of the Magi.


3.1 Manuscripts and Editions

3.1.1 Latin

Opus Imperfectum in Matthaeum (a Latin commentary on the Gospel of Matthew with a summary of Rev. Magi).

Migne, J.-P. “Liber apocryphus nomine Seth.” Columns 637–638 in volume 56 of Patrologia Graeca. 162 volumes. Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1857–86.

Toepel, Alexander. “The Apocryphon of Seth.” Pages 33-39 in vol. 1 of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures. Edited by Richard Bauckham, James R. Davila, and Alexander Panayotov. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013.

3.1.2 Syriac

ma-bulletVatican, Biblioteca apostolica, Syr. 162: contains the Chronicle of Zuqnin (eighth-century Syriac world chronicle); Rev. Magi appears on folios 17r-25r.

online-bulletLandau, Brent C. “The Sages and the Star-Child: An Introduction to the Revelation of the Magi, An Ancient Christian Apocryphon.” Th. D. diss., Harvard Divinity School, 2008.

Chabot, J.-B. Chronicon anonymum Pseudo-Dionysianum vulgo dictum, I. CSCO SS, 3:1. Paris: E Typographeo Reipublicae, 1927.

Tullberg, O.F. Dionysii Telmahharensis Chronici liber primus. Textum e codice ms. Syriaco Bibliothecae Vaticanae. Uppsala: Regiae Academiae Typographi, 1850.


3.2 Modern Translations

3.2.1 English

Landau, Brent C. “Revelation of the Magi.” Pages 17-36 in vol. 1 of New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures. Edited by Tony Burke and Brent Landau. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016.

Landau, Brent C. Revelation of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men’s Journey to Bethlehem. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2010.

3.2.2 Polish

Witakowski, Witold. “Syryjska Opowieść o Magach (OpMag).” Pages 352–83 in vol. 1 of Apokryfy Nowego Testamentu. Edited by Marek Starowieyski. 3 vols. Krakow: Wydawnistwo WAM, 2003–2008.

3.3 General Works

Hultgard, Anders. “The Magi and the Star: The Persian Background in Texts and Iconography.” Pages 215–25 in “Being Religious and Living through the Eyes”: Studies in Religious Iconography and Iconology. Edited by Peter Schalk and Michael Stausberg. Uppsala: Uppsala University Library, 1998.

Kaestli, Jean-Daniel. “Mapping an Unexplored Second Century Apocryphal Gospel: The Liber de Nativitate Salvatoris (CANT 53).” Pages 506–33 in Infancy Gospels: Stories and Identities. Edited by Claire Clivaz et al. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011.

Landau, Brent C. “‘One Drop of Salvation from the House of Majesty’: Universal Revelation, Human Mission and Mythical Geography in the Syriac Revelation of the Magi.” Pages 83–103 in The Levant: Crossroads of Late Antiquity. Edited by Ellen B. Aitken and John M. Fossey. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Monneret de Villard, Ugo. Le leggende orientali sui Magi evangelici. Studi e Testi 163. Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1952.

Witakowski, Witold. “The Magi in Syriac Tradition.” Pages 809–43 in Malphono w-Rabo d-Malphone: Studies in Honor of Sebastian P. Brock. Edited by George Kiraz. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2008.