"Three Wise Men" on trial

The Three Wise Men's visit to the baby Jesus is one of Christianity's best-known stories. But now the Church of England is saying it is questionable whether the Magi were a trio, wise - or even men. The church's governing body had approved a new wording for prayers which replaces the words "wise men" with the more accurate "magi", which merely means an official in the Persian court, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The decision by the Church of England General Synod on Monday came because using the term "wise men" as a translation was "to miss the point being made", the Synod's revision committee said in a statement. "Further, while it seems very unlikely that these Persian court officials were female, the possibility that one or more of the magi were female cannot be excluded completely," it said.

"The committee has retained "magi" on the grounds that the visitors were not necessarily wise and not necessarily men." The Bible recounts how the magi were guided by a star to Bethlehem, where they presented the infant Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. According to spokesman Arun Kataria, the newly-approved prayers are among a range available to clergy and are mainly intended to be used for more informal gatherings such as family or youth services, informs &to=http://sify.com' target=_blank>SifyNews

According to &to=http://www.megastar.co.uk' target=_blank>MegaStar there's been an epiphany in the broadsheets today as The Guardian, Times et al yell "Hallelujah" at the revelation the three wise men were probably actually - get this - WOMEN. Meaning Magi could translate into Maggie, Marjorie or...Brenda.

The whole pointless gender debate arose at the meeting of the General Synod in London yesterday, where the committee were making pleas to replace the term "Magi" with "wise men" in a short prayer. "To translate the term into something more universally understood is to miss the point being made," decided the committee.

Last night a spokesman for the Church confirmed the decision of the General Synod in preparing the prayer book, Common Worship. He said the Synod knew there were the three gifts for Jesus of gold, frankincense and myrrh but original scripture did not say whether these were from three or fewer visitors, or from men or women.

"There is a prayer called Epiphany where magi is left in in preference to wise men," the spokesman said.

"We had grown up with three wise men because in scripture translation, it had been an easy jump to take the three gifts to three bearers who must be men," the spokesman said.

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