The names of the Magi: A historical-religious investigation

Panaino, Antonio. 2020. I nomi dei magi evangelici. Un’indagine storico-religiosa. Con contributi di Andrea Gariboldi, Jeffrey Kotyk, Paolo Ognibene e Alessia Zubani. Milano: Mimesis.

Although the proper names of the Magi do not appear at all in Matthew 2,1-12, the apocryphal traditions have established three names in particular, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. However, they are by no means the only ones, as the number of the Magi was never indicated in the Gospels, the same applies to their names, which range from three to twelve. The present essay proposes a preliminary investigation into the history of the origins of this complex onomastic tradition attested in different languages and cultures, between East and West, in the Late Ancient and Medieval world, on the traces of intricate paths of ancient spirituality and Christian propaganda, which thanks to the figure of the evangelical Magi was able to develop an important means of dialogue and intercultural promotion. The text is accompanied by synoptic tables (edited by A. Zubani) and an appendix on the Ossetian text of Matthew 2,1-12 (P. Ognibene), as well as two short essays, one on the Indo-Parthian coinage of the Gondofaridi (A. Gariboldi), whose history is linked to the figure of Gaspar, the other on the image of the Evangelical Magi in the Chinese reception (J. Kotyk).

Table of Contents

  • Antonio Panaino: I nomi dei Magi Evangelici
  • Alessia Zubani: Nomina nuda tenemus. L’onomastica dei Magi Evangelici
  • Andrea Gariboldi, Le monete indo-partiche di Gondophares
  • Jeffrey Kotyk: La nascita di Cristo e i portatori di doni persiani nelle fonti cinesi medievali
  • Paolo Ognibene: Mt. 2,1-12 in osseto