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Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Kasper, Melchior, and Balthazar. These three gifts and names are familiar enough. We see images of the three kings who visited Jesus in almost every nativity scene, even if Biblically inaccurate. It is a marvelous and beautiful scene to contemplate: Jesus honored as the King He is for the first time; and honored by pagans no less, foreshadowing both the rejection of the Messiah by the chosen people and the universal message of Christ. Though marvelous it is all too familiar. And the familiar often loses a certain luster which can be regained through the imaginative admixture of the unfamiliar. The Story of the Other Wise Man is one of those unfamiliar creations that helps restore to the imagination the weight and wonder proper to the narrative.
In this beautiful and charming little story, Henry van Dyke tells the tale of Artaban, the Other Wise Man, who was accidentally left behind when the famous three set out and who spent the rest of his days seeking the new King whose birth the stars foretold. Van Dyke says in his introduction that he has always felt the story not to be his own although not written in any other book. “I do not know where it came from—out of the air, perhaps… It was sent to me; and it seemed as if I knew the Giver.” Van Dyke describes himself in a hall of dreams, from where he witnesses the unfolding of the story.
Artaban - Gifts - Child - Cloak - Sapphire
Artaban carries his gifts for the Child under his cloak: a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl. Over the course of the story he finds himself in difficult situations and his gifts provide the means required to remedy them. Since he was delayed by helping a sick man on the side of the road, Artaban...
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