If you visit England and know where to look, you can find the ruins of an ancient settlement on top of a hill in Somerset. It’s called the Cadbury Hill Fort, but for centuries the locals have referred to it as Camelot. It is one of the more likely locations to have been the center of King Arthur’s kingdom.
The historians believe there was a real King Arthur, but all admit that the shards of evidence that support the Arthur legend are scarce and contradictory. Furthermore, the facts about King Arthur and Merlin very quickly grew into legend and the legend developed into myth. The myth continues to be mined as source content for films, television series, musicals, novels, cartoons and comic books. While the experts believe there was a historical Arthur and Merlin, nobody confuses the historical figures with Tennyson’s hero, the characters in T.H. White’s novel, the Broadway musical or Disney’s Sword in the Stone.
A similarly complicated relationship exists between the wise men of Matthew’s gospel and Christmas story as we celebrate it. Our accepted tradition each year is that the wise men were three kings named Balthasar, Melchior and Caspar and that they left their home in Persian, India and Africa to follow a miraculous star, riding camels in an exotic caravan across the distant desert to worship the Christ child in Bethlehem.