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The Other Wise Man

otherwisemanstcityThe Story of the Other Wise Man

The Story of the Other Wise Man is a wonderful book by Henry van Dyke. It is a story (legend) of a fourth wise man. Artaban is his name. Artaban, a scholar as the three wise men (OK, the Bible doesn’t say there were 3 exactly, that’s tradition), also studied the prophesies and the stars and determined that a new king was coming. The Preface of the Other Wise Man is as follows:

You know the story of the Three Wise Men of the East, and how they traveled from far away to offer their gifts at the manger-cradle in Bethlehem. But have you ever heard the story of the Other Wise Man, who also saw the star in its rising, and set out to follow it, yet did not arrive with his brethren in the presence of the young child Jesus? Of the great desire of this fourth pilgrim, and how it was denied, yet accomplished in the denial; of his many wanderings and the probations of his soul; of the long way of his seeking, and the strange way of his finding, the One whom he sought—I would tell the tale as I have heard fragments of it in the Hall of Dreams, in the palace of the Heart of Man.

Book Online and (free) Kindle

I encourage you to read this remarkable little book.

Click here for the Gutenberg.org page. Kindle, HTML, and plain text are available free. It is great story to read aloud.

The physical book (initially published in 1895 and has been reprinted many times) is available in many forms (including used) online (or you can borrow it from me).

5 Chapters

  1. The Sign in the Sky – In this chapter, Artaban meets with his friends (scholars/religious men) to tells them of the prophesies and his planned trip to Jerusalem. (It is one of the longer chapters and has less action than the rest of the book.)
  2. By the Waters of Babylon – Artaban and his trusty horse ride to the meeting point to meet the 3 wise men (but something happens).
  3. For the Sake of a Little Child – Artaban is in Bethlehem.
  4. In the Hidden Way of Sorrow – Artaban’s further searches for Jesus.
  5. A Pearl of Great Price – The end of the story of the other wise man.

Audio Reading

Click here for the Librivox.org page. The reading is in two parts (total of about 53 minutes).

*Part 1 is Chapters 1 and 2 (30:38).
*Part 2 is Chapters 3, 4, and 5 (22:10).

Henry van Dykehenry_van_dyke

Henry van Dyke (1852 – 1933) was an American author, educator, and clergyman. He was quite influential. Van Dyke was a friend of Helen Keller. President Woodrow Wilson, a friend and former classmate of van Dyke, appointed van Dyke as Minister to the Netherlands and Luxembourg in 1913. He wrote the lyrics to the popular hymn, “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” (1907), which is sung to the tune of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” more

Family Reading

 When our kids were small we started a family tradition of reading the The Story of the Other Wise Man. The first time we read the story was actually before Diane was born. We read it with Bill and Irma Owen (Marilyn’s parents) at their ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska, in 1989. When we lived in Ft. Collins we read it with my parents, Walt and Ruth Olsen, and Ray and Marlene Weed and their son, Christian (Christian and Diane were born within a month of each other). In Macomb, we’ve read it many times, typically having a family over for supper. We usually read it in three parts (three readings of about 25 minutes each). It is always a special evening. In 2010 we read the story with Lukas Wandelt, our exchange student from Germany, and Ed and Molly Baker.

Christmas Box 2016

I have a tradition of using old (used) Christmas cards and folding them into Christmas boxes and giving them away with something inside. In 2016 it was The Pearl of the Other Wise man. Artaban had three jewels, a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl which he intended to give to the Christ Child. The Pearl, is the final of the three jewels. In Chapter 5 of the book you will learn what ultimately happens to the Pearl.

I found some bulk pearls online, for a reasonable price, and I’m giving them away in Christmas boxes with the wish than people will read The Story of the Other Wise Man with their loved ones.


Artaban sees the star and ponders the three jewels he’ll take to the new king.

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Artaban on his horse Vasda.

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Artaban entering the city.

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Page by Jim Olsen.

Shortcut to this page: http://bit.ly/OtherWiseMan