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The Genealogies of Jesus

Postby Bidderman » Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:26 pm

How do Christians explain the twp different accounts of Jesus' genealogy in the Gospel?

This is a genuine question. I ask this as a Christian who would like to understand more about how this is accounted for.
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Re: The Genealogies of Jesus

Postby jimwalton » Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:36 pm

It's intriguing that the Church Fathers, some of whom knew the apostles, and all of whom were obviously a lot closer to when Jesus was around than we are, never seem to have a problem with the 2 accounts. They don't consider them to be contradictory. They must have known something we don't, because the explanation eludes us.

Genealogies in the ancient world were different from how we look at them in our modern world. We want to include every generation and show the whole thread. For them that was not the case at all. Genealogies were often to show a person's social relationships (accurate but telescoped) for the sake of royalty, inheritance, or the priesthood.

Matthew has an ascending list (from Abraham to Jesus), and Luke's is descending (from Jesus to Adam). Both lists are partial to teach a theological truth (very common in the ancient world). The lists are virtually identical from Abraham to David, and it's after David they diverge. We are left to propose why. At least 7 solutions have been proposed:

1. Matthew gives Joseph's line and Luke Mary’s.
2. Matthew gives Mary’s line and Luke Joseph's (though both gospels claim they are listing Joseph’s line: Mt. 1.16; Lk. 3.23)
3. Matthew follows Jesus's natural descent and Luke his legal descent.
4. One is the royal line and one the "common man's" line, both leading to Joseph.
5. Jacob died, and so his brother Heli married Joseph's mother
6. Matthew’s genealogy is through Joseph's mother, and Luke’s is through Joseph’s father.
7. Matthew's genealogy traces through the royal line of Solomon, which is how the monarchy progressed; Luke's bypasses the technical royal line (because of Jeremiah's curse, Jer. 22.24-30; 36.30), traces the line through another heir of David (Nathan), and still ends up at Joseph.

As I mentioned, the Church Fathers have no problem with it. It must have been common knowledge to them though it is lost to us. We hope to come on more information some time that will help us sort it out. Regardless, however, any of the 7 options is a legitimate way to do the genealogy, and they all bring us from David to Jesus, no matter what line they're tracing (though we would sure love to know).
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Re: The Genealogies of Jesus

Postby Bidderman » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:55 pm

Thank you for your detailed response.


Last bumped by Anonymous on Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:55 pm.
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