From the Teodoro Vidal Collection, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Photo by Art Resource, N.Y.

ON THE COVER: The three kings of Orient sit majestically astride their steeds in this Puerto Rican carving from the late 19th or early 20th century. The wise men who brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the newborn Jesus have become unofficial saints in Puerto Rico, and thus favorite subjects among local santeros, or sculptors of sacred images.

The tradition of the three Magi derives from the Gospel of Matthew (2:1), which alludes simply to “wise men from the East” who follow a star to Bethlehem, where they find the baby Jesus. The extraordinary nature of the adoration story—as well as the conflicting accounts given in the various Gospels—has led some scholars to question many of the most familiar details; the star, the Magi, even the location of Jesus’ birth have come under scrutiny. In “Where Was Jesus Born?” Steve Mason and Jerome Murphy-O’Connor debate the amount of historical information that can—and cannot—be gleaned from the Gospels as well as from extrabiblical evidence.