The Other Wise Man

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First edition (publ. Harper & Brothers)

The Story of the Other Wise Man is a short novel or long short story by Henry van Dyke. It was initially published in 1895[1][2] and has been reprinted many times since then, including a "centennial edition" published in 1996 by Ballantyne Books.[3]


The story is an addition and expansion of the account of the Biblical Magi, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament.[4] It tells about a "fourth" wise man (assuming the tradition that the Magi numbered three to be true), a priest of the Magi named Artaban, one of the Medes from Persia. Like the other Magi, he sees signs in the heavens proclaiming that a King had been born among the Jews. Like them, he sets out to see the newborn ruler, carrying treasures to give as gifts to the child - a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl of great price. However, he stops along the way to help a dying man, which makes him late to meet with the caravan of the other three wise men. Since he missed the caravan, and he can't cross the desert with only a horse, he is forced to sell one of his treasures in order to buy the camels and supplies necessary for the trip. He then commences his journey but arrives in Bethlehem too late to see the child, whose parents have fled to Egypt. He saves the life of a child at the price of another of his treasures. He then travels to Egypt and to many other countries, searching for Jesus for many years and performing acts of charity along the way. After thirty-three years, Artaban is still a pilgrim, and a seeker after light. Artaban arrives in Jerusalem just in time for the crucifixion of Jesus. He spends his last treasure, the pearl, to ransom a young woman from being sold into slavery. He is then struck in the temple by a falling roof tile and is about to die, having failed in his quest to find Jesus, but having done much good through charitable works. A voice tells him "Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me."(Matthew 25:40)[5] He dies in a calm radiance of wonder and joy. His treasures were accepted, and the Other Wise Man found his King.

Other versions[edit]



  1. ^ Van Dyke, Henry (1896). The Story of the Other Wise Man. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers. 
  2. ^ “The Story of the Other Wise Man” Rare Antique Religious Book c.1895 / Author: Henry Van Dyke (Religious Books) at InSpirit Antiques
  3. ^ a b Van Dyke, Henry (1996). The Story of the Other Wise Man: 100th anniversary edition. Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0345406958. 
  4. ^ Matthew 2: 1-12, King James version,
  5. ^ "Matthew 25:40". King James Version. Bible Gateway. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  6. ^ Phelps, Pauline (1951). The Other Wise Man: A Play in One Act. Wetmore Declamation Bureau. 
  7. ^ Sliker, Harold G. (1952). The Other Wise Man: A Dramatization of Henry Van Dyke's Short Story. Row, Peterson, and Company. 
  8. ^ Radford, Everett G. (1956). The Other Wise Man: Pageant Play in Five Scenes. Theatre House. 
  9. ^ Crozier, M. Percy; Bruce, Margaret (1963). The Other Wise Man: A Christmas Play in One Act. Oliver and Boyd. 
  10. ^ "The Other Wise Man (1953)". IMDB. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  11. ^ "The Other Wise Man". Kraft Theatre. IMDB. December 25, 1957. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  12. ^ "The Other Wise Man". G.E. True Theater. IMDB. December 25, 1960. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "The Fourth Wise Man". syndicated TV feature-length movie. March 30, 1985. 
  14. ^ Bingham, Susan Hulsman (2000). "Liturgical opera: The Other Wise Man". Children's and Liturgical Opera Company, LLC. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Taylor, M. Ryan (December 23, 2006). "The Other Wise Man". Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  16. ^ "The Other Wise Man". Opera America. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  17. ^ Van Dyke, Henry; Barrett, Robert (October 1, 2007). The Other Wise Man. Ideals Publications. ISBN 978-0824955656. 
  18. ^ "Peter Howson art features on Alex Salmond's Christmas card". BBC News. December 4, 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  19. ^ Alden, Henry Mills (December 1895 – May 1896). "Literary Notes". Harper's New Monthly Magazine 92 (1): 3. 
  20. ^ Wheeler, Joe L. (2007). Christmas in My Heart. p. 12. ISBN 978-0828020299. 

External links[edit]

Complete text of the story via Project Gutenberg