On the topic of "Matthew's motives, if it does not exceed the boundaries
of this list, I am curious about the _magoi_, the "Wise Men" of Matthew 2.
I have seen many reasons given for the use of the tale, including the view
that Matthew intended to show the "occult" practitioners of the East
giving up their astrology, etc., at the appearance of the Christ.
It seems to me quite the opposite. _Magoi_ can with reason be translated
into English as "astrologers," though that does not give the title its
full significance. Nonetheless, it seems that Matthew fully endorses the
concept of astrology. Not only do the magi know of the birth of Christ
from the appearance of a star in the East, but they also correctly
interpret its significance and determine the location of the birth. Also,
King Herod adopts their interpretation without question. In addition, the
Magi are presented as sympathetic characters who deliberately evade the
wiles of Herod to protect the newborn Christ (though of course they have
caused all the trouble by bringing the topic to his attention, which leads
to the slaughter of the innocents).
So, is astrology sympathetically presented in Matthew, and its efficacy
taken for granted? I recall that a horoscope of significance was found at
Qumran. Perhaps the attitude toward astrology was not as condemnatory in
early Christianity as it later became?