Matthew 2:1 Magi Variations

This list is ordered by the oldest to youngest publication dates and records which words are used to refer to the magi in Matthew 2:1.

It appears to me that the first use of “wise men” was by Martin Luther when he used the word “weisen”. I think this possibly could translate to “Those who knew/know”. Matthew 2:1 would then read as “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, those who knew (weisen) from the east came to Jerusalem”. I think this lines up more with the idea that the magi were not learned men (or kings) as is reported in this other article.

The complete list of different names for magi contained in the list below is: astromyenes (astronomers), wise men, sages, mages, and “some men who studied the stars”.

The letters are lower case and capitol according to their source.

Based on my preliminary observations, it appears to me that the north maintained the “wise men” idea while the south retained the original, being “magi”. Wycliffe may mean wise men, which would make his translation the first to use that term. That would still fall in line with the northern/southern split.

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382 – Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. magi.

c.1175 – Wessex Gospels. magi.

1382 – John Wycliffe’s Bible. astromyenes.

1455 – Gutenberg Latin Bible. magi.

1522 – Martin Luther’s German Bible. weisen.

1525 – William Tyndale Bible (TYN). wyse me.

1535 – Miles Coverdale Bible (MCB). wyse men.

1537 – Matthew’s Bible. wise men.

1539 – Taverner’s Bible. wysemen.

1539 – Great Bible. wyse men.

1551 – Wyllyam Bonham Bible. wyse men.

1568 – Bishop’s Bible. wise men.

1569 – Immanuele Tremellio’s Bible. mágoi/magi.

1571 – Joanes Leizarraga’s Basque Bible. Çuhurrac. (Wise men?)

1579 – Thomas Sternhold’s Bible. Wisemen. *Footnote says “Wisemen, or Magi, in the Persians & Chaldeans tongue, signify Philosophers, Priests, or Astronomers, …”

1582 – Gregory Martin’s Translation. Sages.

1599 – Geneva Bible (GNV). Wise men.

1599 – Theodore de Beze’s Bible. Wise men.

1609 – Douay-Rheims Bible. wise men.

1611 – King James Version (KJV). wise men.

1649 – Giovanni Diodati’s Italian Bible (GDB). magi.

1764 – Perver (Quaker) Bible. wise Men.

1782 – Robert Aitken’s Bible. wise men.

1808 – Charles Thomson’s Translation. magians.

1833 – Noah Webster’s Bible. wise men.

1841 – Hexapla Bible. mágoi.

1853 – Ferrar Fenton Bible. Magi.

1862 – Young’s Literal Translation (YLT). mages.

1966 – Goods News Translation (GNT). some men who studied the stars.

1978 – NIV. Magi.

1996 – New Living Translation. some wise men.

2001 – English Standard Version. wise men.

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