Magi

Magi (/ˈmeɪdʒaɪ/; singular magus /ˈmeɪɡəs/; from Latin magus) denotes followers of Zoroastrianism or Zoroaster. The earliest known use of the word Magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great, known as the Behistun Inscription. Old Persian texts, pre-dating the Hellenistic period, refer to a Magus as a Zurvanic, and presumably Zoroastrian, priest.

Pervasive throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia until late antiquity and beyond, mágos was influenced by (and eventually displaced) Greek goēs (γόης), the older word for a practitioner of magic, to include astronomy/astrology, alchemy and other forms of esoteric knowledge. This association was in turn the product of the Hellenistic fascination for (Pseudo‑)Zoroaster, who was perceived by the Greeks to be the Chaldean founder of the Magi and inventor of both astrology and magic, a meaning that still survives in the modern-day words "magic" and "magician".

In Chapter 2 of the Gospel of Matthew, "μάγοι" from the east do homage to the newborn Jesus, and the transliterated plural "magi" entered English from Latin in this context around 1200 (this particular use is also commonly rendered in English as "kings" and more often in recent times as "wise men")[1]. The singular "magus" appears considerably later, when it was borrowed from Old French in the late 14th century with the meaning magician.

Iranian sources

The term only appears twice in Iranian texts from before the 5th century BCE, and only one of these can be dated with precision. This one instance occurs in the trilingual Behistun inscription of Darius the Great, and which can be dated to about 520 BCE. In this trilingual text, certain rebels have 'magian' as an attribute; in the Old Persian portion as maγu- (generally assumed to be a loan word from Median). The meaning of the term in this context is uncertain.

The other instance appears in the texts of the Avesta, i.e. in the sacred literature of Zoroastrianism. In this instance, which is in the Younger Avestan portion, the term appears in the hapax moghu.tbiš, meaning "hostile to the moghu", where moghu does not (as was previously thought) mean "magus", but rather "a member of the tribe"[2] or referred to a particular social class in the proto-Iranian language and then continued to do so in Avestan.[3]

An unrelated term, but previously assumed to be related, appears in the older Gathic Avestan language texts. This word, adjectival magavan meaning "possessing maga-", was once the premise that Avestan maga- and Median (i.e. Old Persian) magu- were co-eval (and also that both these were cognates of Vedic Sanskrit magha-). While "in the Gathas the word seems to mean both the teaching of Zoroaster and the community that accepted that teaching", and it seems that Avestan maga- is related to Sanskrit magha-, "there is no reason to suppose that the western Iranian form magu (Magus) has exactly the same meaning"[4] as well. But it "may be, however", that Avestan moghu (which is not the same as Avestan maga-) "and Medean magu were the same word in origin, a common Iranian term for 'member of the tribe' having developed among the Medes the special sense of 'member of the (priestly) tribe', hence a priest."[2]cf[3]

Greco-Roman sources

Classical Greek

The oldest surviving Greek reference to the magi – from Greek μάγος (mágos, plural: magoi) – might be from 6th century BCE Heraclitus (apud Clemens Protrepticus 12), who curses the magi for their "impious" rites and rituals. A description of the rituals that Heraclitus refers to has not survived, and there is nothing to suggest that Heraclitus was referring to foreigners.

Better preserved are the descriptions of the mid-5th century BCE Herodotus, who in his portrayal of the Iranian expatriates living in Asia minor uses the term "magi" in two different senses. In the first sense (Histories 1.101), Herodotus speaks of the magi as one of the tribes/peoples (ethnous) of the Medes. In another sense (1.132), Herodotus uses the term "magi" to generically refer to a "sacerdotal caste", but "whose ethnic origin is never again so much as mentioned."[4] According to Robert Charles Zaehner, in other accounts, "we hear of Magi not only in Persia, Parthia, Bactria, Chorasmia, Aria, Media, and among the Sakas, but also in non-Iranian lands like Samaria, Ethiopia, and Egypt. Their influence was also widespread throughout Asia Minor. It is, therefore, quite likely that the sacerdotal caste of the Magi was distinct from the Median tribe of the same name."[4]

As early as the 5th century BCE, Greek magos had spawned mageia and magike to describe the activity of a magus, that is, it was his or her art and practice. But almost from the outset the noun for the action and the noun for the actor parted company. Thereafter, mageia was used not for what actual magi did, but for something related to the word 'magic' in the modern sense, i.e. using supernatural means to achieve an effect in the natural world, or the appearance of achieving these effects through trickery or sleight of hand. The early Greek texts typically have the pejorative meaning, which in turn influenced the meaning of magos to denote a conjurer and a charlatan. Already in the mid-5th century BC, Herodotus identifies the magi as interpreters of omens and dreams (Histories 7.19, 7.37, 1.107, 1.108, 1.120, 1.128).

Other Greek sources from before the Hellenistic period include the gentleman-soldier Xenophon, who had first-hand experience at the Persian Achaemenid court. In his early 4th century BCE Cyropaedia, Xenophon depicts the magians as authorities for all religious matters (8.3.11), and imagines the magians to be responsible for the education of the emperor-to-be.

Roman period

Once the magi had been associated with "magic"—Greek magikos—it was but a natural progression that the Greeks' image of Zoroaster would metamorphose into a magician too.[5] The first century Pliny the elder names "Zoroaster" as the inventor of magic (Natural History xxx.2.3), but a "principle of the division of labor appears to have spared Zoroaster most of the responsibility for introducing the dark arts to the Greek and Roman worlds. That dubious honor went to another fabulous magus, Ostanes, to whom most of the pseudepigraphic magical literature was attributed."[5] For Pliny, this magic was a "monstrous craft" that gave the Greeks not only a "lust" (aviditatem) for magic, but a downright "madness" (rabiem) for it, and Pliny supposed that Greek philosophers—among them Pythagoras, Empedocles, Democritus, and Plato—traveled abroad to study it, and then returned to teach it (xxx.2.8–10).

"Zoroaster" – or rather what the Greeks supposed him to be – was for the Hellenists the figurehead of the 'magi', and the founder of that order (or what the Greeks considered to be an order). He was further projected as the author of a vast compendium of "Zoroastrian" pseudepigrapha, composed in the main to discredit the texts of rivals. "The Greeks considered the best wisdom to be exotic wisdom" and "what better and more convenient authority than the distant — temporally and geographically — Zoroaster?"[5] The subject of these texts, the authenticity of which was rarely challenged, ranged from treatises on nature to ones on necromancy. But the bulk of these texts dealt with astronomical speculations and magical lore.

One factor for the association with astrology was Zoroaster's name, or rather, what the Greeks made of it. His name was identified at first with star-worshiping (astrothytes "star sacrificer") and, with the Zo-, even as the living star. Later, an even more elaborate mytho-etymology evolved: Zoroaster died by the living (zo-) flux (-ro-) of fire from the star (-astr-) which he himself had invoked, and even, that the stars killed him in revenge for having been restrained by him.[6] The second, and "more serious"[6] factor for the association with astrology was the notion that Zoroaster was a Chaldean. The alternate Greek name for Zoroaster was Zaratas/Zaradas/Zaratos (cf. Agathias 2.23–5, Clement Stromata I.15), which—according to Bidez and Cumont—derived from a Semitic form of his name. The Suda's chapter on astronomia notes that the Babylonians learned their astrology from Zoroaster. Lucian of Samosata (Mennipus 6) decides to journey to Babylon "to ask one of the magi, Zoroaster's disciples and successors", for their opinion.

In Christian tradition

Magi (1)
Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 6th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo.
Adoracao dos magos de Vicente Gil
Conventional post-12th century depiction of the Biblical magi (Adoração dos Magos by Vicente Gil). Balthasar, the youngest magus, bears frankincense and represents Africa. To the left stands Caspar, middle-aged, bearing gold and representing Asia. On his knees is Melchior, oldest, bearing myrrh and representing Europe.

The word mágos (Greek) and its variants appears in both the Old and New Testaments.[7] Ordinarily this word is translated "magician" or "sorcerer" in the sense of illusionist or fortune-teller, and this is how it is translated in all of its occurrences (e.g. Acts 13:6) except for the Gospel of Matthew, where, depending on translation, it is rendered "wise man" (KJV, RSV) or left untranslated as Magi, typically with an explanatory note (NIV). However, early church fathers, such as St. Justin, Origen, St. Augustine and St. Jerome, did not make an exception for the Gospel, and translated the word in its ordinary sense, i.e. as "magician".[8]

The Gospel of Matthew states that magi visited the infant Jesus to do him homage shortly after his birth (2:1–2:12). The gospel describes how magi from the east were notified of the birth of a king in Judaea by the appearance of his star. Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, they visited King Herod to determine the location of the king of the Jews's birthplace. Herod, disturbed, told them that he had not heard of the child, but informed them of a prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. He then asked the magi to inform him when they find the infant so that Herod may also worship him. Guided by the Star of Bethlehem, the wise men found the baby Jesus in a house; Matthew does not say if the house was in Bethlehem. They worshipped him, and presented him with "gifts of gold and of frankincense and of myrrh." (2.11) In a dream they are warned not to return to Herod, and therefore return to their homes by taking another route. Since its composition in the late 1st century, numerous apocryphal stories have embellished the gospel's account. Matthew 2:16 implies that Herod learned from the wise men that up to two years had passed since the birth, which is why all male children two years or younger were slaughtered.

In addition to the more famous story of Simon Magus found in chapter 8, the Book of Acts (13:6–11) also describes another magus who acted as an advisor of Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul at Paphos on the island of Cyprus. He was a Jew named Bar-Jesus (son of Jesus), or alternatively Elymas. (Another Cypriot magus named Atomos is referenced by Josephus, working at the court of Felix at Caesarea.)

One of the non-canonical Christian sources, the Syriac Infancy Gospel, provides, in its third chapter, a story of the wise men of the East which is very similar to much of the story in Matthew. Unlike Matthew, however, this account cites Zoradascht (Zoroaster) as the source of the prophecy that motivated the wise men to seek the infant Jesus. [9]

In Islamic tradition

In Arabic, "Magians" (majus) is the term for Zoroastrians. The term is mentioned only once in the Quran, in sura 22 verse 17, where the "Magians" are mentioned alongside the Jews, the Sabians and the Christians in a list of religions who will be judged on the Day of Resurrection besides idolaters.

In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party used the term majus during the Iran–Iraq War as a generalization of all modern-day Iranians. "By referring to the Iranians in these documents as majus, the security apparatus [implied] that the Iranians [were] not sincere Muslims, but rather covertly practice their pre-Islamic beliefs. Thus, in their eyes, Iraq's war took on the dimensions of not only a struggle for Arab nationalism, but also a campaign in the name of Islam."[10]

Possible loan into Chinese

巫-bronze
Chinese Bronzeware script for wu 巫 "shaman".

Victor H. Mair (1990) suggested that Chinese (巫 "shaman; witch, wizard; magician") may originate as a loanword from Old Persian *maguš "magician; magi". Mair reconstructs an Old Chinese *myag.[11] The reconstruction of Old Chinese forms is somewhat speculative. The velar final -g in Mair's *myag (巫) is evident in several Old Chinese reconstructions (Dong Tonghe's *mywag, Zhou Fagao's *mjwaγ, and Li Fanggui's *mjag), but not all (Bernhard Karlgren's *mywo and Axel Schuessler's *ma).

Mair adduces the discovery of two figurines with unmistakably Caucasoid or Europoid feature dated to the 8th century BCE, found in a 1980 excavation of a Zhou Dynasty palace in Fufeng County, Shaanxi Province. One of the figurines is marked on the top of its head with an incised graph.[12]

Mair's suggestion is based on a proposal by Jao Tsung-I (1990), which connects the "cross potent" Bronzeware script glyph for wu 巫 with the same shape found in Neolithic West Asia, sspecifically a cross potent carved in the shoulder of a goddess figure of the Halaf period.[13]

See also

  • Anachitis – "stone of necessity" – stone used to call up spirits from water, used by Magi in antiquity.
  • Epiphany (holiday) – a Christian holiday on January 6 marking the epiphany of the infant Jesus to the Magi.
  • Fire temple

References

  1. ^ Matthew 2 in Greek
  2. ^ a b Boyce, Mary (1975), A History of Zoroastrianism, Vol. I, Leiden: Brill, pp. 10–11
  3. ^ a b Gershevitch, Ilya (1964), "Zoroaster's Own Contribution", Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 23 (1): 12, doi:10.1086/371754, p. 36.
  4. ^ a b c Zaehner, Robert Charles (1961), The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism, New York: MacMillan, p. 163.
  5. ^ a b c Beck, Roger (2003), "Zoroaster, as perceived by the Greeks", Encyclopaedia Iranica, New York: iranica.com.
  6. ^ a b Beck, Roger (1991), "Thus Spake Not Zarathushtra: Zoroastrian Pseudepigrapha of the Graeco-Roman World", in Boyce, Mary; Grenet, Frantz (eds.), A History of Zoroastrianism, Handbuch der Orientalistik, Abteilung I, Band VIII, Abschnitt 1, 3, Leiden: Brill, pp. 491–565, p. 516.
  7. ^ Gospel of Matthew2:1–12:9; Acts of the Apostles 8:9; 13:6,8; and the Septuagint of Daniel 1:20; 2:2, 2:10, 2:27; 4:4; 5:7, 5:11, 5:15).
  8. ^ Drum, W. (1910), "Magi", The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Company
  9. ^ Hone, William (1890 (4th edit); 1820 (1st edition)). "The Apocryphal Books of the New Testament". Archive.org. Gebbie & Co., Publishers, Philadelphia. Retrieved 20 October 2017. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ Al-Marashi, Ibrahim (2000). "The Mindset of Iraq's Security Apparatus" (PDF). Cambridge University: Centre of International Studies: 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-04-11.
  11. ^ Mair, Victor H. (1990), "Old Sinitic *Myag, Old Persian Maguš and English Magician", Early China, 15: 27–47.
  12. ^ "The recent discovery at an early Chou site of two figurines with unmistakably Caucasoid or Europoid feature is startling prima facie evidence of East-West interaction during the first half of the first millennium Before the Current Era. It is especially interesting that one of the figurines bears on the top of his head the clearly incised graph which identifies him as a wu (< *myag)." Mayr (1990), p. 27.
  13. ^ Ming-pao yueh-kan 25.9 (September 1990). English translation: Questions on the Origin of Writing Raised by the 'Silk Road', Sino-Platonic Papers, 26 (September, 1991).

External links

Adoration of the Magi

The Adoration of the Magi or Adoration of the Kings is the name traditionally given to the subject in the Nativity of Jesus in art in which the three Magi, represented as kings, especially in the West, having found Jesus by following a star, lay before him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and worship him. It is related in the Bible by Matthew 2:11: "On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path".

Christian iconography has considerably expanded the bare account of the Biblical Magi given in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew (2:1–22) and used it to press the point that Jesus was recognized, from his earliest infancy, as king of the earth. The scene was often used to represent the Nativity, one of the most indispensable episodes in cycles of the Life of the Virgin as well as the Life of Christ.

In the church calendar, the event is commemorated in Western Christianity as the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6). The Orthodox Church commemorates the Adoration of the Magi on the Feast of the Nativity (December 25). The term is anglicized from the Vulgate Latin section title for this passage: A Magis adoratur.

Adoration of the Magi (Leonardo)

The Adoration of the Magi is an early painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was given the commission by the Augustinian monks of San Donato a Scopeto in Florence, but he departed for Milan the following year, leaving the painting unfinished. It has been in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence since 1670.

Adoration of the Magi (Rubens, Antwerp)

For other treatments of this subject by the same artist, see Adoration of the Magi (Rubens).The Adoration of the Magi is a 1624 oil on canvas painting by Peter Paul Rubens, measuring 218 cm by 280 cm. It was commissioned by Matthæus Yrsselius, abbot of St. Michael's Abbey, Antwerp, as an altarpiece, and paid for in two instalments of 750 guilders each in 1624 and 1626. The Virgin Mary is thought to have been modelled on Rubens' first wife Isabella Brant. The painting is now in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp.

Biblical Magi

The biblical Magi ( or ; singular: magus), also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men or (Three) Kings, were – in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition – distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of Christian tradition.

Matthew is the only of the four canonical gospels to mention the Magi. Matthew reports that they came "from the east" to worship the "king of the Jews". The gospel never mentions the number of Magi, but most western Christian denominations have traditionally assumed them to have been three in number, based on the statement that they brought three gifts. In Eastern Christianity, especially the Syriac churches, the Magi often number twelve. Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is probably linked to Psalm 72:11, "May all kings fall down before him".

Cavalcade of Magi

The Cavalcade of Magi is a traditional parade of kings coaches, practically in all Spanish cities and also in some cities and towns in Mexico. The Magi (of which tradition holds there were three: Melchior, Gaspar, and Baltasar) ride through the streets, as their page boys throw candies to children.

It is celebrated every January 5 (the day preceding the feast of Epiphany) in the evening. When the night comes the children must go to bed early after cleaning their shoes and the following morning they have the gifts of the Magi that they have requested before in a letter. According to this tradition, the children who have behaved badly during the previous year receive coal rather than candy, though (as in the case of Santa Claus) this is not a frequent occurrence. They might get coal candy, though.

The great cavalcade of Madrid is retransmitted live on TVE 1 (the public Spanish broadcaster) every year. The cavalcade of Alcoy is the oldest in the world and is a major draw of international tourism for Spain.

In Poland the first Cavalcade took place in 2008 in Warsaw. In 2016, the parade took place in over 450 Polish cities.

Epiphany (holiday)

Epiphany ( i-PIF-ə-nee), also Theophany, Denha, Little Christmas, or Three Kings' Day, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, and thus Jesus' physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Moreover, the feast of the Epiphany, in some Western Christian denominations, also initiates the liturgical season of Epiphanytide. Eastern Christians, on the other hand, commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. Qasr el Yahud in the West Bank, and Al-Maghtas in Jordan on the east bank, is considered to be the original site of the baptism of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist.The traditional date for the feast is January 6. However, since 1970, the celebration is held in some countries on the Sunday after January 1. Eastern Churches following the Julian calendar observe the feast on what for most countries is January 19 because of the 13-day difference today between that calendar and the generally used Gregorian calendar. In many Western Christian Churches, the eve of the feast is celebrated as Twelfth Night. The Monday after Epiphany is known as Plough Monday.Popular Epiphany customs include Epiphany singing, chalking the door, having one's house blessed, consuming Three Kings Cake, winter swimming, as well as attending church services. It is customary for Christians in many localities to remove their Christmas decorations on Epiphany Eve (Twelfth Night), although those in other Christian countries historically remove them on Candlemas, the conclusion of Epiphanytide. According to the first tradition, those who fail to remember to remove their Christmas decorations on Epiphany Eve must leave them untouched until Candlemas, the second opportunity to remove them; failure to observe this custom is considered inauspicious.

Holy Magi Syro-Malabar Forane Church, Muvattupuzha

The Holy Magi Syro-Malabar Catholic Forane Church is situated in the center of Muvattupuzha, Kerala, India. The church is under eparchy of Kothamangalam. The current vicar of church is Fr.Paul Nedumpurath.

Magi Chapel

The Magi Chapel is a chapel in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi of Florence, Italy. Its walls are almost entirely covered by a famous cycle of frescoes by the Renaissance master Benozzo Gozzoli, painted around 1459 for the Medici family, the effective rulers of Florence.

Maximiliano Óscar Rodríguez Magi

Maximiliano Óscar Rodríguez Magi (born March 1, 1988) is an athlete from Spain who competes in short distance races. He represented Spain at the 2008 Summer Paralympics and the 2012 Summer Paralympics but did not medal at either event. He has medalled in national competitions, where he represents Galicia.

Mägi-Kurdla

Mägi-Kurdla is a village in Saaremaa Parish, Saare County in western Estonia.Before the administrative reform in 2017, the village was in Laimjala Parish.

Nativity of Jesus in art

The Nativity of Jesus has been a major subject of Christian art since the 4th century.

The artistic depictions of the Nativity or birth of Jesus, celebrated at Christmas, are based on the narratives in the Bible, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and further elaborated by written, oral and artistic tradition. Christian art includes a great many representations of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child. Such works are generally referred to as the "Madonna and Child" or "Virgin and Child". They are not usually representations of the Nativity specifically, but are often devotional objects representing a particular aspect or attribute of the Virgin Mary, or Jesus. Nativity pictures, on the other hand, are specifically illustrative, and include many narrative details; they are a normal component of the sequences illustrating both the Life of Christ and the Life of the Virgin.

The Nativity has been depicted in many different media, both pictorial and sculptural. Pictorial forms include murals, panel paintings, manuscript illuminations, stained glass windows and oil paintings. The subject of the Nativity is often used for altarpieces, many of these combining both painted and sculptural elements. Other sculptural representations of the Nativity include ivory miniatures, carved stone sarcophagi, architectural features such as capitals and door lintels, and free standing sculptures.

Free-standing sculptures may be grouped into a Nativity scene (crib, creche or presepe) within or outside a church, home, public place or natural setting. The scale of the figures may range from miniature to life-sized. These Nativity scenes probably derived from acted tableau vivants in Rome, although Saint Francis of Assisi gave the tradition a great boost. This tradition continues to this day, with small versions made of porcelain, plaster, plastic or cardboard sold for display in the home. The acted scenes evolved into the Nativity play.

Negima! Magister Negi Magi

Negima! Magister Negi Magi, known in Japan as Magical Teacher Negima! (Japanese: 魔法先生ネギま!, Hepburn: Mahō Sensei Negima!), is a manga series written and illustrated by Ken Akamatsu, known for his best-selling title Love Hina. It was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine from 2003 to 2012, with the chapters collected into 38 tankōbon volumes by Kodansha.

Negima! has been adapted into two anime television series, the first created by Xebec (now Sunrise Beyond) aired in the first half of 2005 and followed the manga, while the second is an alternate retelling of the series by Shaft titled Negima!?. In addition to four different sets of original video animations and an animated movie, a live-action television series has also been produced. The manga was being translated into English and published by Del Rey Manga in the United States and Canada until Kodansha established a U.S. division in 2010 and finished the release, while the series is licensed for distribution in the United Kingdom by Tanoshimi. Both anime and the second OVAs were licensed and dubbed in English by Funimation in North America. Sentai Filmworks has now licensed the series.Akamatsu collaborated with an artist named Yui to write the spin-off Negiho in 2010. In 2013, Akamatsu began a sequel/spin off titled UQ Holder! that focuses on Negi's grandson, Tōta Konoe, and follows a more science fiction-/action-oriented plot.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ, Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magika, "Magical Girl Madoka Magica"), commonly referred to as simply Madoka Magica, is a Japanese anime television series that was produced by Shaft and Aniplex. It was directed by Akiyuki Shinbo and written by Gen Urobuchi, with original character designs by Ume Aoki, character design adaptation by Takahiro Kishida, and music by Yuki Kajiura. The story follows a group of female middle school students who choose to become magical girls and must battle surreal enemies called witches. They consequently learn of the anguish and perils associated with their new roles.

The first ten episodes of the series aired in Japan on TBS and MBS between January and March 2011, while the final two episodes were delayed until April 2011 due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. A manga adaptation of the series and various spin-off manga series have been published by Houbunsha and licensed in North America by Yen Press. A novelization by Nitroplus was released in August 2011, and a dedicated magazine titled Manga Time Kirara Magica was launched by Houbunsha in June 2012. A video game for the PlayStation Portable was released in March 2012 and another for PlayStation Vita was released in December 2013. A film series has also been produced; it consists of two films recapping the anime series and released in October 2012. A third film featuring an original story was released on October 26, 2013, and a concept film acting as a trailer for a new project was screened in December 2015. A smartphone game, Magia Record, launched in August 2017, and an anime adaptation will be released in 2019.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica has received widespread critical acclaim; critics praised the writing, visuals, and soundtrack of the series as well as its unconventional approach to the magical girl subgenre. It became a commercial success; each Blu-ray Disc volume sold more than 50,000 copies. The series garnered a variety of awards, such as the Television Award at the 16th Animation Kobe Awards, as well as 12 Newtype Anime Awards and the Grand Prize for animation in the 2011 Japan Media Arts awards.

Science fantasy

Science fantasy is a mixed genre within the umbrella of speculative fiction which simultaneously draws upon or combines tropes and elements from both science fiction and fantasy. In a science-fiction story, the world is scientifically possible, while a science-fantasy world contains elements which violate the scientific laws of the real world. Nevertheless the world of science fantasy is logical and often is supplied with science-like explanations of these violations.During the Golden Age of Science Fiction, the fanciful science-fantasy stories were seen in sharp contrast to the terse, scientifically plausible material that came to dominate mainstream science fiction typified by the magazine Astounding Stories. Although at this time, science-fantasy stories were often relegated to the status of children's entertainment, their freedom of imagination and romance proved to be an early major influence on the "New Wave" writers of the 1960s, who became exasperated by the limitations of "hard" SF.Eric R. Williams lists the following "microgenres" which can belong to science fantasy: Discovery, Dying Earth, ET Relations, Mad Scientist, Space Opera, Sword and Planet. Carl D. Malmgren classifies science fantasy by the type of the violation of science and distinguishes the following main types: the time-loop motif, the alternate-present world, the counterscientific world, and the hybridized world.Distinguishing between science fiction and fantasy, Rod Serling claimed that the former was "the improbable made possible" while the latter was "the impossible made probable". As a combination of the two, science fantasy gives a scientific veneer of realism to things that simply could not happen in the real world under any circumstances. Where science fiction does not permit the existence of fantasy or supernatural elements, science fantasy explicitly relies upon them.

In explaining the intrigue of science fantasy Carl D. Malmgren provides an intro in regards to C.S. Lewis speculation on the emotional needs at work in the subgenre: "In the counternatural worlds of science fantasy, the imaginary and the actual, the magical and the prosaic, the mythical and the scientific, meet and interanimate. In so doing, these worlds inspire us with new sensations and experiences, with [quoting C.S. Lewis] 'such beauty, awe, or terror as the actual world does not supply', with the stuff of desires, dreams, and dread."

Star of Bethlehem

The Star of Bethlehem, or Christmas Star, appears only in the nativity story of the Gospel of Matthew, where "wise men from the East" (Magi) are inspired by the star to travel to Jerusalem. There they meet King Herod of Judea, and ask, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We have come to pay homage to the newborn king of the Jews." Herod calls his scribes and priests who quote to him that a verse from the Book of Micah interpreted as a prophecy, states that the Jewish Messiah would be born in Bethlehem to the south of Jerusalem. Secretly intending to find and kill the Messiah in order to preserve his own kingship, Herod invites the wise men to return to him on their way home.

The star leads them to Jesus' home in the town, where they worship him and give him gifts. The wise men are then given a divine warning not to return to Herod, so they return home by a different route.Many Christians believe the star was a miraculous sign. Some theologians claimed that the star fulfilled a prophecy, known as the Star Prophecy. Astronomers have made several attempts to link the star to unusual celestial events, such as a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, a comet, or a supernova.Some modern scholars do not consider the story to be describing a historical event but a pious fiction created by the author of the Gospel of Matthew.The subject is a favorite at planetarium shows during the Christmas season, although the account describes Jesus with a broader Greek word παιδίου, which can mean either "infant" or "child" (paidion), rather than the more specific word for infant (brephos), possibly implying that some time has passed since the birth. The visit is traditionally celebrated on Epiphany (January 6) in Western Christianity.

The Gift of the Magi

"The Gift of the Magi" is a short story by O. Henry first published in 1905. The story tells of a young husband and wife and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money. As a sentimental story with a moral lesson about gift-giving, it has been popular for adaptation, especially for presentation at Christmas time. The plot and its twist ending are well-known, and the ending is generally considered an example of comic irony. It was allegedly written at Pete's Tavern on Irving Place in New York City.

The story was initially published in The New York Sunday World under the title "Gifts of the Magi" on December 10, 1905. It was first published in book form in the O. Henry Anthology The Four Million in April 1906.

We Three Kings

"We Three Kings", original title "Three Kings of Orient", also known as "We Three Kings of Orient Are" or "The Quest of the Magi", is a Christmas carol that was written by John Henry Hopkins Jr. in 1857. At the time of composing the carol, Hopkins served as the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and he wrote the carol for a Christmas pageant in New York City. Many versions of this song have been composed and it remains a popular Christmas carol.

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