Who were the Magi?

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, Magi from the East came to Jerusalem,¬†asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

Matthew 2:1-2

In two videos of a talk delivered at UC Irvine on 29 November 2012, Bruce Lincoln examines the evidence for the identification of the Magi, a term strangely bifurcated between somewhat positive and very negative meanings.
“From Ritual Practice to Esoteric Knowledge: The Problem of the Magi”