The Greek word 'Magoi'

From: Mr. Timothy T. Dickens (
Date: Wed Nov 06 1996 - 15:45:03 EST

On 11/6/96 Carl W. Conrad wrote:

As no one else has yet attempted to deal with this not-uncomplicated
question, I thought I would give it a stab. It IS a question that readers
of the Greek text of Matthew inevitably would like to ask, whether or not
the answers are ready to hand. After doing a little bit of exploring, the
best info I could come up with is in the condensed version of Pauly
article on "Magoi" there indicates that there's more etymological info in
the above-cited entry from LJS than was obvious: i.e.: the Magoi were a
tribe of the Medes, to the west of the ancient Persians, and described at
some length by Herodotus in Bk 1 of his Histories (1.140) as being a
priestly caste with some distinctive religious practices that aren't
necessarily if at all related to the Persian (who spoke an Indo-European
language, Old Avestan, later Persian, ancestor of the modern Farsi still
used in Iran) Zoroastrians. Says Kleine Pauly (translated): "Aristotle (or
Antisthenes of Rhodes?) could explain in the lost treatise entitled
MAGIKOS, that the Iranian Magi do not know Magic at all.

TTD: Carl, without question the information you've given me is resourceful,
but as I stated earlier, I am interested in knowing if 'Magos' is Greek or
not. If it is not Greek (Indo-European in origin) then what language is the
word magos borrowed from?

Tim Dickens

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