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Jesus’ Ancestry

Next on the list of biblical contradictions is who is Joseph’s daddy? That is, Joseph the wife of Mary and the acting earthly father of Jesus. The source says this:

Who is the father of Joseph?

MAT 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

LUK 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.

I think this supposed contradiction is hilarious, ¬†because it’s not a contradiction, at all, in any way. There is, however, a problem with the genealogies. It becomes obvious here that Jim Meritt who wrote the list of biblical contradictions didn’t study very hard, or he wouldn’t have made this silly mistake.

The book of Matthew lists 14 ancestors from Abraham to David, and then fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and then 14 after the exile to Jesus. He mentions only very prominent figures in Israel’s history for a very pointed purpose, and skips many generations. This is not a flaw. The intended audience of the book of Matthew would have known this as they heard it, so he was not attempting to fool anyone. This is why Joseph is the son of Joseph and not Heli.

Luke’s book is different. Luke mentions every generation from Adam to Jesus, skipping very few if any. This is because Luke was a historian, in practice if not in profession. The book of Luke is extremely accurate historically in all verifiable accounts. His genealogy is written with the same historical accuracy.

The Actually Problem
The actual problem is found after David. Luke traces the ancestry from David’s son Nathan, while Matthew traces the ancestry from Solomon. From this point the genealogical lines differ. There are possible explanations for this inconstancy, but I don’t claim to know exactly why there is a difference.

Possible Solutions
Scholars believe that Luke had access to Matthew’s gospel when he wrote his, and therefore, his genealogy. This must be noted to know that Luke’s genealogy is intentionally different. Matthew wrote to Jews who were well acquainted with Israel’s history. Perhaps Matthew knowingly wrote an incorrect genealogy to give Jesus a more significant ancestry. Luke would then have written a more accurate version as to keep the integrity of the story, and he also wrote to a different audience that wasn’t so fluent in Jewish history, and therefore would be no advantage to changing the genealogy.
Perhaps a more likely reason is that Matthew was wrong. It’s very possible that Matthew just didn’t know, or didn’t have a good source for the genealogy. Luke did do extensive research, which is apparent when considering his accuracy, and most likely had a good source for the genealogy, possibly even one of Jesus’ brothers and Joseph’s child.
Perhaps there is yet another explanation- one that I favor- maybe they’re both right. It is possible that Luke in his exhaustive work wrote the genealogy of Mary, Jesus’ mother. He says “He [Jesus] was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph”. Of course to me that is not enough to communicate that he was writing the genealogy from the mother, but it does cast doubt on Joseph’s fatherhood, and might to his intended audience, Theophilus, communicate just that. It is a thought worth thinking.

Anyway you look at it, there is a flaw in the genealogies of Jesus. I brought that up, not Jim Meritt. Meritt needs to study and bring real substance to the table. These flaws will not go without response. In my opinion, since Luke intentionally wrote a genealogy that did not agree with Luke’s there was a reason for it, and it was to be as accurate as possible. What exactly was wrong with Matthew’s is not known to me. At the most it casts doubt on Matthew’s accuracy, but only shines a light of integrity on the gospel of Luke.

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  1. August 16, 2011 at 12:12 PM

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