Saturday, October 06, 2007

Luke's Genealogy of Jesus

 The argument for Luke's genealogy being that of Mary is very weak.
According to Luke 3:23:
 And when he began his ministry, Jesus himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli,  the son of Matthat, the son of Levi......
Aside from the fact that Mary is not mentioned, there are two possible interpretations: either Joseph was her father or he was her brother. Clearly this is not acceptable. A third would be that Joseph, the son of Eli, was her father and just happened to have the name as the man to whom she was betrothed. But that would seem to be grasping at straws.

The most straightforward interpretation is that Luke had no intention of tracing Mary's genealogy (in which case he would have named her) but that he traces her husband's, from David's son Nathan.

The Matthew descendant list most definitely traces down from David's son, Solomon, to Joseph. Matthew 1:16 reads:
 And to Jacob was born Joseph, the husband of Mary, by whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
 There are two apparent problems. The first is, how to reconcile the two paternal genealogies - which diverge with the sons of David, Solomon and Nathan. The second is, why is any genealogy of Joseph relevant at all, if Joseph had nothing to do with it. If Joseph was not Jesus's physical father, Jesus's messianic heritage is not based on truth but only on appearances, whatever Jesus's divine nature was. 

The second problem is easy, in my mind. We assume that Joseph was not involved in the conception of Jesus in any way. However, a Holy Spirit capable of working a physical conception in Mary is also capable of employing the physical agency of Joseph's seed in this work. 

In our materialistic times we interpret virginity and its loss solely in terms of a physical act, whereas it is really a matter of purity on a much higher level as well. The important thing is that neither Mary nor Joseph was conscious of any union between them (they had not "known" each other). Thus the first gospel's dedication of half its opening chapter to the genealogy of Joseph is quite relevant to Jesus, the Virgin birth notwithstanding. 

There is an answer that creates, to begin with, more problems than it resolves. It is that the two evangelists are relating the births of two entirely different children of two entirely different sets of parents. Except for the names of the parents and the child, and the birthplace in Bethlehem, there is no point in common between the two stories. Matthew and Luke converge in their accounts only thirty years later with the Baptism of Jesus in Jordan. 

Rudolf Steiner offered his explanation of how these accounts begin with two children and then converge with their accounts of the one Jesus of Nazareth. He did not derive his resolution from biblical study or speculation, or from other external documents. In any case, the details are described in Steiner's "The Spiritual Guidance of the Human Being and of Humanity", "The Gospel of St. Luke", and "The Gospel of St. Matthew". Whether or not Rudolf Steiner's methods and explanation are accepted as valid, at least this interpretation resolves the apparent contradictions of the two genealogies while leaving the text intact. As for the passing of one's Jewishness through the mother, this was never an issue with Jesus. No one ever questioned his or Mary's Jewishness. The issue of the genealogies has to do with his paternal line of descent from David, the king. 

- by Gerry Palo

1 comment:

888 said...

"Whenever there is any discrepancy between "biological" father and "legal" father, Luke consistently gives the biological father (Obed was legally the son of Mahlon son of Elimelech, but biologically the son of Boaz: see the book of Ruth; Luke says Obed is of Boaz), so he must mean that Heli is the biological father.

Both genealogies explicitly state they are for Joseph, both consistently give biological fathers rather than legal fathers where the two are known to differ, both pass through Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel while disagreeing about Shealtiel's parentage, and the two differ radically in the interval of time between the Babylonian captivity and the birth of Jesus (Luke's is more realistic in that regards)."