Novak (novak) wrote,

Theology Notebook: Email on Gospel Genealogy Differences

I just got a random email from someone on AOL....

I did a member directory search for anyone's profile containing the word "theologian". You came up. I am searching for someone who can explain to me why the genealogies of Jesus are different in Matthew's Gospel and in Luke's Gospel. Can you shed any light on this? Thank You.

And I says...

What it comes down to is that there's no clear answer. A common apologetic tack has been (since the third century at least, I think) to say that Matthew's is the genealogy of Joseph and Luke's of Mary, since Luke puts in the qualification that Jesus was the son, "so it was thought," of Joseph. That would allow them to be reconciled, after a fashion. If you don't have a theological commitment (like such a strict theology of the inspiration of scripture that allows for no human contribution to the composition) that requires such a strong reconciliation, and you aren't convinced by the first possibility, then you might argue that the two genealogies represent attempted reconstructions on the parts of the authors. Their main concern is probably Jesus' Davidic lineage, I would think, although both make it all the way back to Abraham, showing Jesus to be a Jew among Jews. But my guess is that an attempt to show Jesus' descent from David is the most important thing here, given that the Messiah is expected to be a descendant of David's.
Tags: biblical studies, gospels, jesus, theological notebook

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