FWK Muller managed the materials discovered by the German expeditions to western China at the turn of the last century. Among the thousands of pages of material discovered in Chinese caves in the Tarim basin was a Uighur text on the Adoration of the Magi [Wushi de Chongbai]. This fragment seems to have been copied or influenced from the Testament of Adam and perhaps the Gospel of James. These latter texts reference the Magi and help us to understand the brief mention of the Magi in the canonical Gospels. Muller published the Uighur texts but they remained obscure and relatively unavailable to scholarship due to the historic chaos in Germany during the 20th century. The texts were shipped back to Germany from China in wooden crates and packed in glass to protect individual sheets of text. Because of the shortage of glass in Germany after WWI and II the crates were opened and the glass was stolen or confiscated. It is a miracle any of these manuscripts survived. They now reside in a museum in Berlin.
The Magi texts offer new additions to the story of the magi. The one fragment tells of how a star led the magi from the Persian territories, which included what we now know as western China, to Bethlehem. The magi offered gifts to Jesus and Jesus in return gave them a stone. This gift was so heavy that the magi carried it with great difficulty. They cast it into a well and it produced fire. What was this stone? It very well could have been a meterorite containing rare metals that cause fire when in contact with water. Even phosphorus will heat up when in contact with water. Whatever chemistry the stone contained it created a sense of awe and wonder among the Magi. On the other hand, this story functions on the level of metaphor. When Jesus gives us a gift we should not throw it away as it will burn and harm us.
This manuscript is a gift as it adds further evidence that the magi could have come from China. The Book of the Bee tells us that there were 12 magi. These Magi are named and the place of their origin is identified. It is clear that some are from western China. It is also clear that they are Zoroastrians who practiced their religion in China as early as the 6th century BCE.
Zarwândâd, the son of Artabân.
Hôrmîzdâd, the son of Sîtârûk (Santarôk).
Gûshnâsâph (Gushnasp), the son of Gûndaphar.
Arshakh, the son of Mîhârôk.
These four brought gold.
Zarwândâd, the son of Wârzwâd.
Îryâhô, the son of Kesro (Khusrau).
Artahshesht, the son of Holîtî.
Ashtôn`âbôdân, the son of Shîshrôn.
These four brought myrrh.
Mehârôk, the son of Hûhâm.
Ahshiresh, the son of Hasbân.
Sardâlâh, the son of Baladân.
Merôdâch, the son of Beldarân.
These four brought frankincense.
Book of the Bee chapter 39