The Dunamis Word 2


Upholding The Light Of Jesus In A Dark World

Do The Genealogies Of Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 Validate Jesus As The Messiah? Pt. 2

As Continued From Pt. 1

 There are a number of differences and problems associated with understanding the genealogy of Luke. The critic would outline them as follows:

  1. The bloodline of Jesus is presented through Nathan instead of Solomon in Matthew’s account. This is an obvious error and discrepancy between genealogies or it is a scribal insertion.
  2. Mary is often said to be the person that Luke’s genealogy explains but Mary’s name is never mentioned once in the genealogical record.
  3. Heli is specifically said to be Joseph’s father. Therefore saying otherwise is only an attempt to make Jesus look like a descendent of David.
  4. Luke’s genealogy is much longer than Matthew’s therefore, this is not only a difference but also another discrepancy.

As noted, the genealogy of Luke presents some rather fascinating conversation pieces and problems. The critic believes that he/she seals the deal against Christ through the examination of this genealogy. Is the deal sealed against Jesus as the Messiah or is it reaffirmed by Luke’s genealogy? Let’s take a look:

 1- The Bloodline Of Jesus Is Presented Through Nathan Instead Of Solomon In Matthew’s Account. This Is An Obvious Error And Discrepancy Between Genealogies, Or It Is A Scribal Insertion.

 This particular critique is an astute observation and one worthy of taking note. As we will see however, this observation only serves to prove that the genealogies after the two characters mentioned are vastly different only to end up right back at Jesus anyway.

The individuals in question? Nathan (Lk. 3:31) and Solomon (Mt. 1:6-7) who were brothers born to King David.

 1 Chron. 3:5 ~ “And these were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shimea, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, four, of Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel:”   

 It is from that point on that the two genealogies differ. Why? Though the answers will be found in looking at the other aspects of the question, it is partially because they are emphasizing the genealogy of 2 different persons as opposed to just one.

The fact is clear, it is impossible for Solomon and Nathan to simultaneously be Joseph’s parental bloodline ancestor at the same time. Therefore, the different emphasis in the genealogies force discovery that there is another genealogy being discussed in Luke which has not been discussed in Matthew. This can be verified partially by looking at names and their order. Although the names and succession until David are similar, afterward, they are “willy-nilly” and names that you think sound like the ones you may be familiar with are out of place. What explains this? Simple, it’s called the use of common names under both genealogical constructs. For example: In both lists we see a Salathiel/Zorobabel combination Mt. 1:12 and Lk. 3:27. We even see them used in the same order or succession.

 In Luke’s list however, Salathiel was the son of Neri and had 19 ancestors after Nathan (Solomon’s brother) NONE of them were named Jechoniah either before or after he appears. In Matthew’s list Jeconiah’s SON was Salathiel. So we are talking about two different people in two different lines of the family all together who named themselves at least in this one place after one another. This is type of study is the bain of any historian, but the facts are that both lists, Mt. and Lk. use names common to the lineage of both families and this fact does not make either list filled with error or filled with discrepancy.

Special Note:  In order to prove that there was a scribal insertion, it must be established that the earliest known manuscript copies didn’t have the verse in question in its original form. There is no suggestion that Nathan’s (Lk. 3:23) name was exchanged for Solomon’s name in any known text. Therefore the claim of a scribal insertion or change is without support.

2- Mary Is Often Said To Be The Person That Luke’s Genealogy Explains But Mary’s Name Is Never Mentioned Once In The Genealogical Record.
 Mary is not listed in the genealogy as one who is “begat” or “begets” anyone. When it comes to Jesus the narrative says simply Lk. 3:23

“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph”

Why is Mary not mentioned in the narrative? There is a simple answer to this question.

Women were not listed as individuals who “begat” seed in ANE genealogy literature.

Although there are 3 women listed in the genealogy account of Matthew (Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth ) yet the birthright and genealogy was always listed through the male of the family and not the female. The Gospel of Luke does more to emphasize women than any other gospel with Mary as a central part of that observation, she yet would not have been named until we see her after all events had been set up as they were…Joseph “was supposed” to have been the father of Jesus. This places emphasis not on Joseph, but on Mary and her lineage. (See I. How Are The Genealogies Of Matthew And Luke Similar And Different?) for further details.

3- Heli Is Specifically Said To Be Joseph’s Father. Therefore Saying Otherwise Is Only An Attempt To Make Jesus Look Like A Descendent Of David.
 This critique often goes hand in hand with critique #2 listed above. We don’t see Mary’s name and the scripture clearly says that Joseph was Heli’s son (v.23) right?

Aside from the evidence already reported there are yet additional very compelling reasons for understanding that Heli was either Mary’s father, grandfather or uncle. There is the testimony of Africanus mentioned at the beginning of the narrative and then there is the testimony of the Ancient Jewish Targums regarding this subject.

The Targums were Aramaic paraphrases and interpretations of Hebrew scriptures. Targums dated from about 100 BC and appearing about 500 AD in written form. They were a source of extra-biblical verification in finding out how the Rabbi’s of that day taught certain material facts from scripture. They were interpretations and paraphrases of certain texts into the common language.

“In this case Mary, as declared in the Targums {Babylonian Talmud(Chaghigha’ 77 4)}, was the daughter of Heli, and Heli was the grandfather of Jesus. (As stated in #1 of this section) Mary’s name was omitted because “ancient sentiment did not comport with the mention of the mother as the genealogical link.” So we often find in the Old Testament the grandson called the son. This view has this greatly in its favor, that it shows that Jesus was not merely the legal but the actual descendant of David; and it would be very strange that in the gospel accounts, where so much is made of Jesus being the son and heir of David and of his kingdom, his real descent from David should not be given.—Ed.)” ~ William Smith; revised and edited by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet, Smith’s Bible dictionary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997 (Added in parenthesis) 

As previously stated, this gives a better understanding that Mary was more than likely the physical daughter, granddaughter or at the very least the niece of Heli and that Jesus was born the “seed of a woman” through David’s son Nathan’s lineage which would have easily qualified him to be the Messiah after the flesh or physically also. Although there is debate over this, the “legal right” would also seem to have been settled through the inheritance of his adoptive father Joseph and the natural or physical rights settled in Mary’s lineage. In addition, this would also fulfill Gen. 3:15, which promised that it would be “the seed of the woman” which would crush the serpent’s head, a mission that Jesus obviously accomplished this upon the cross, of all places.

4. Luke’s Genealogy Is Much Longer Than Matthew’s Therefore, This Is Not Only A Difference But Also Another Discrepancy.
 In the genealogies set forth in the New Testament we find that there are differing objectives for each writer. For instance Matthew was primarily speaking to a Jewish audience who’s primary concern was the Messiah as he related and pertained to Israel. Therefore his narrative focused on the nation of Israel and it’s history from it chief patriarch to it’s highest point of King David until its restoration through the savior, not only of Israel but also of the world. This is the essential point of the narrative. To speak to Israel and highlight God’s plan upon the nation and the earth.

Luke on the other hand had a more broad focus and spectrum to his writing. This is partially tempered by the fact that Luke and Acts were originally one book that sought to tell the whole story to what would be primarily a Greek speaking audience. This audience was certainly no less sophisticated but the focus of information had to be better suited to meet their psychological needs. Therefore, Luke gives an account that takes the genealogy back to the beginning of time and the first man ever created and eventually to God himself. Remember, it would have been perfectly in order for the Greek to wonder about God’s (or multiple gods) relationship to humanity and that’s what we find in Luke’s genealogy. Ultimately, we have more individuals on the back side of the genealogy, whereas Matthew cuts off at Abraham, the father of the Judaism.

Another difference are the number of individuals highlighted from Nathan to Heli. This is partially contained in Luke’s reasons for setting forth the story from the beginning.

Luke 1:3-4 ~ “3-It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4- That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou has been instructed.”

The purpose was to document certain events and persons and specifically the family line of Nathan. The genealogy also would have been different because a different line of family history is recorded in Luke than in Matthew. Remember that Luke records Nathan’s genealogy which could have been more expansive than his brother Solomon’s and certainly was not cursed as the line came to be in Jeconiah.

The genealogy would have been more detailed. In this case Luke would have provided as many names as was possible without confusing the story with additional details such as the levirite exercise that Africanus mentions in his breakdown of the details.

Why would Luke leave out levirite transitions? More than likely because his audience wouldn’t have cared. As Greeks they would have merely wanted the “skinny” and as much information on the story as possible. As Jews, especially those who were religious and closer in proximity to events, certain information would have been much more easy to obtain if it were not already known when the narrative were retold. For example, if the levirite portions of the narrative were circulating among the relatives of James, then it more than likely also was circulated by James and other of the Apostles. This is speculative, but it seems to have been the case. It does not appear that such a narrative and information pertinent to understanding the twists and turns of the genealogy was made up of “whole cloth”.

In short, the length of Luke’s genealogy is different than Matthews but does not provide a discrepancy.

 Summary, Conclusion & Popular Pushbacks

As we have noted the genealogies in Matthew and Luke are quite different but they are also quite similar in places that we would expect them to be. Neither of the genealogies contradict one another and each of them on their own right seem to bring the Messiah to light emphasizing the human right of office that Jesus claimed.

 Do The Genealogies Validate Jesus’ Claim To Be The Messiah?

Most certainly. In fact there is no other individual who can ever make the unique claim that Jesus made and certainly no one who can demonstrate such both with a sinless life, miracles and a resurrection. Jesus stands at the fulcrum of history alone as the only possible Messiah of Israel. Unless one can demonstrate that the lineage of Solomon yet exists or that the lineage of Nathan yet exists and is leading to another sinless deliverer born of a virgin, one is best served by looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith as he has demonstrated the power over sin and death.

Is The Historical Jesus Threatened By The Genealogies?
 Not in the least bit. The historical Jesus stands as a result of the genealogies. In fact through the genealogies we see God preserving and weaving the scenes of history to fit the purpose of the Messiah. How could a line be cursed but yet there still be a Messiah produced? Only God can orchestrate that. Yes he was the one doing the cursing upon the lineage of Jeconiah but the mind of man fails to understand how he orchestrates all things for HIS purpose.
Pushback 1
I think Joseph was a fictional figure. I think the genealogy is fictional as well. 

There are two statements posed here. The 1st is regarding Joseph and his relationship to the genealogy and the second is regarding the genealogy itself.

First, on what basis is Joseph thought of as being a mythical figure? There is certainly no more or less information on him than any other figure of antiquity. There is no evidence countering the existence of Joseph. To simply say that he didn’t live because he doesn’t fit the “view” is a case of special pleading saying that evidence for the existence of Joseph should be greater than evidence of other figures contained within the narrative itself. Therefore, anyone can say anything but there is no support for the “no Joseph” theory. This type of objection would usually hold that the entire Old Testament is also myth and all the characters within the genealogy are fictitious also. That’s another bad argument but one that many critic make unsuccessfully.

So far as the genealogy itself is concerned, we should ask the question what myth has a genealogy that can be traced to actual physical and historical persons within their lifetimes, creating people willing to give their life for a myth that is easily refuted by individuals still yet alive? I mean this observation begs the question and does not fit the data in the least bit. The existence of these characters has only been questioned since the last 2 centuries. This is the same time that a host of criticism have arisen. The question is, why do we not see any of these types of questions arise in the early stages of Christianity from sources hostile to it? We do however see critics criticizing the events but never calling into question the occurrence of events. This is quite telling.

Myths simply don’t have tangible genealogies as we see with the biblical narrative. Further, insertions of individuals into the record are easily stoked out by those maintaining the accuracy of the texts and history themselves.

Additionally, the genealogy myth theory does not account for all non-biblical claims such as the Targums, and extra-biblical sources of criticism, which certainly would not have been used to be sympathetic in perpetuating Christian dogma or myths. In short the genealogical myth thesis doesn’t attempt to account for the evidence and creates more problems for the perpetuators of the thesis than it answers. This is one objection that makes entirely no sense.

 Pushback 2

 This really doesn’t matter all I need to do is trust and believe God and his word, what’s in a genealogy?

 Aside from the fact that God through scripture has called us to diligent study of the word and the and also called us to communicate that word to a world that may not know about him, every Christian should know that if there was no descent of the 100% God and 100% man named Jesus, there can be no salvation. IF Jesus was not born of a virgin then his birth is like everyone else’s and he has no greater ability than any other human to deliver us from both sin and it’s product death.

The Christian has a call of God to research and know how God has preserved the bloodline down through humanity’s existence through Jesus Christ and chosen a family and individual out of which the whole earth would be blessed. This is your faith, know it, exercise it and explain it because someone is lost, weak or would simply like to know!

For the Jew the genealogy provides compelling evidence that Jesus is the promised messiah of Israel and places the burden upon them to rethink their tradition and look again at who could fulfill the promise of God. None other Jesus stands at that point and he is worthy of all praise not as a man but as God in the flesh redeeming the world unto himself


5 Responses

  1. Neil Z says:

    Thanks for the information provided by your article, it has provided illumination for me. There seems to be a couple of typos, though, that you may want to look at. On Part 2, item 2, you state “Women were not listed as individuals who “begat” seed in ANE genealogy literature” – do you mean ANY rather than ANE? Also, under item 3, immediately after the quote from William Smith, the next sentence says “As previously stated, this gives a better understanding that Jesus was more than likely the physical daughter…” I would assume you meant that Mary was more than likely the physical daughter…

    • dunamis2 says:

      Neil Z,

      Thanks for the looking out. I have corrected the one in part 3 where I referred to Jesus as the “physical daughter” as opposed to Mary.

      So far as the other, I did mean ANE as opposed to “any”. ANE stands for Ancient Near East(ern)


  2. Clay Berry says:

    One issue that is not mentioned is that genealogies were listed in the temple. That both of these lines could be verified through the temple records. The fact is that these genealogies confirmed that Jesus was the Messiah since he was the son of David and rightful heir.

  3. Dave I says:

    I’m so glad to have found this! I’d long wondered about the differences and never seen the full detailed explanation before. I agree 100% that a Christian has the call of God to know these facts as we need to be ready to defend our faith and point out where these criticisms are wrong.

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