We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Friday, December 16, 2016

About the Genealogies of Jesus

Christmas is the time for false claims against Scripture by atheists, claims of paganism by legalistic Christians, and really claims against just about anything you can imagine in regards to the Faith.  

I’ve written articles about Christmas in the past: 1) debunking the claim that Jeremiah 10:2-5 is about Christmas trees, 2) that we can “plunder the Egyptians” for the good, and 3) examining evidence for the date of Jesus’ birth.  This time I want to answer the claim that the two genealogies of Jesus, in Matthew and Luke, are contradictory.

Throughout my Christian life I had always heard that Matthew gives Joseph’s genealogy while Luke gives Mary’s.  Over the recent years I’ve read other contrived explanations, including that Matthew gives a royal or legal genealogy while Luke gives a biological genealogy.  The problem with all this is that it doesn’t work — Matthew and Luke are both genealogies of Joseph. 

The modern hoops theologians go through to fix an apparent contradiction in the genealogies overlook the real case that Eusebius explained 1700 years ago!

Heli and Jacob, who are both called Joseph’s father, were half brothers with the same mother, Estha. 

Matthan (descended from Solomon and named in Matthew’s list) was Estha’s first husband and they had Jacob.  Melchi (descended from Nathan, and named in Luke’s list) was her second husband and they had Heli.

According to the information Eusebius found in his research, Heli died childless and, under the Levirate marriage laws, Jacob took Heli’s wife and had Joseph. Ergo, Joseph was the biological son of Jacob, but the legal son of Heli.  

Notice that Matthew uses the term “begot” for Joseph’s physical descent. Luke doesn’t use that term, rather he just says “the son of.”

Eusebius cited historical information for these details.  This chart, from Dr. Paul L. Maier’s translation of Eusebius’ Church History, gives a visual presentation of the relationships between the parties:
So forget all the ideas of men who never read Eusebius and are just trying to figure it all out — trust the first Church historian and the research he provided.  There is absolutely no contradiction in the genealogies of Jesus.

Merry Christmas!


Steve Bricker said...

Glenn, I like this explanation. It supports the interworking of the text and known practice.

Doug Evans said...

Thank you for this post! I've heard so many contradicting explanations that made little sense when I compared them to the gospels. This shows both a legal and a biological connection between Jesus and the throne of David

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

What gets me is all the hoops modern theologians go through when the question was answered over 1700 years ago! Eusebius quotes writings from an early believer who even noted that current members of Jesus' family continued handing down that "tradition" about the levirate marriage. Don't these people read Eusebius any more?!?!?