Thursday, January 7, 2016

An Epiphany of the Epiphany and Storytelling

    In the Christian Bible, there's a story about magi coming from the East to pay homage to the newborn Christ. It's an interesting story in that it doesn't appear to fit into the narrative. There's no mention of why they know about the Christ and what happens to them afterwards. It's like what I feel when I hear the term Deus ex Machina, meaning that the event just happens and there's no set up for it (the phrase means "God from the Machine" as it was a device used in plays, but it also has a reputation for lazy storytelling). In fact, I've heard some Biblical scholars claim the events never happened and is more a myth leading to the verses "As it was foretold by the prophet...".  That would make sense, but I actually have a theory.
    The Old Testament books are focused primarily on the tribes of Israel. Occasionally, there are snippits of text that mention about blessings for the world, but they are very few. How can a religion that is very exclusive have people from other nations know about its prophecies? The answer is the Babylonian Exile. One storytelling technique employed here is the idea of Providence where something seemingly bad happens but it's the requirement for something great to happen. Exile and destruction of their homes was bad, but the exile allowed this exclusive nation to communicate with the world. If the idea was for the world to receive redemption, this is a crucial event.
    If you read through the Old Testament, there is one person during the Exile who is ranked important to all the nations: Daniel. Daniel is a Jew who gains favor for his Wisdom and Faith among the kings of Babylon and Persia. In fact, he is said to have been placed in charge of all the magicians and that they should worship Daniel's God. Another name for magicians? Magi.
    So there actually is a setup for the Epiphany story, but it's hidden/ignored. However, once you see the connection, can you ever not see it? Doesn't it actually appear to be fantastic storytelling? I don't think I can pull this off with Neostriker, but I do think this was amazing and I just had to share it. What do you think? Doesn't it put the Story of Epiphany in a new light?

J. D. Nyle

Update: I forgot to mention this detail to help explain to those who don't know who Daniel was. Daniel was a prophet who interpreted dreams and also the famous "Writing on the Wall" which meant doom. The Book of Daniel contains prophecies about the Christ, one of which is number of days which scholars have calculated to correspond to when it was expected Christ to have died. So since Daniel was a prophet and influential to all of the magi (a term for wise men), it is likely that there are some who followed his teaching and model and therefore received the prophecy about the Christ. For all we know, Daniel could have told them, "A certain Star will appear when he is born. Follow it and you will see the Light of the World." Actually, I think that would make a neat story, too bad I already have too many story ideas in my head.

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