Exploration 102 – The Genealogy of Jesus in Matthew and Luke

The Messiah is prophesied to have a virgin birth. Given that, his ancestry would come through his mother’s father or indirectly through his adoptive father. We are given two genealogies, one in Matthew 1 and one in Luke 3. Both of these genealogies appear to come through Joseph, His adoptive father. However, in Luke 3:23 Joseph’s father is Heli, but in Matthew 1:16 Joseph’s father is Jacob. They can’t both be right without some explanation for this variation.

One explanation would be that the Joseph in Matthew 1:16 is not the same Joseph mentioned in Luke 3:23. The best explanation I see at the moment is the Joseph in Matthew is Mary’s father. Mary’s father and her betrothed have the same name.

However, that explanation implies that there is something wrong with the Greek text of Matthew 1:16 from which our translations were made. If the Bible is inerrant it means the word ἄνδρα (husband) is a copying error from some earlier manuscript that could be translated as father. Is there evidence for such an earlier manuscript?

As Nehemia Gordon points out in the video below there are Hebrew manuscripts of the genealogy of Matthew with Joseph being the father, not husband, of Mary.

There are other explanations that could account for this such as Danny Zacharias’ explanation that all names were not included, but his explanation brings up another puzzle that there are only 13 generations between the Babylonian captivity and Mary when 14 were claimed to be there. This count would be resolved if the Joseph mentioned in Matthew were Mary’s father.

Mulberries
Mulberries

Author: Frank Hubeny

I enjoy walking, poetry and short prose as well as taking pictures with my phone.

13 thoughts on “Exploration 102 – The Genealogy of Jesus in Matthew and Luke”

  1. Thanks. The explanations I have read have to do with Luke recording Mary’s genealogy and Matthew recording Joseph’s. Also, one goes back to Abraham and the other Adam.

    Have a blessed day.

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    1. Yes, The footnotes in my Catholic Bible (I quote) “St. Matthew, the genealogy descends from Abraham to Jesus, whereas in St. Luke, it ascends from Jesus to Adam. Both evangelists give the genealogy of St Joseph, but according to different relationships.”
      Also, The Virgin Mary’s parents are St. Anne and St. Joachim.

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      1. I didn’t realize the names of Mary’s parents were known. However, if Joachim is her father’s name, then someone by the name of Joseph could not be Mary’s father unless the two names are similar enough in Hebrew to be the same. Thank you, Myrna!

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    2. That is the view, if I remember correctly, of the Got Questions site as well. Until I ran intro this video, I didn’t even pay attention to these genealogies. Now they intrigue me. Thank you, Michael!

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  2. The Catholic Church believes in Scripture combined with Tradition—tradition being the spoken word of the Apostles passed perennially throughout the generations of the Church.

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    1. I think all churches (and synagogues) have their traditions, even those who claim they are “sola scriptura”. I wonder if it is possible to be sola scriptura? Thank you, Myrna!

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      1. Scripture is a gift but preaching should never be forgotten. Protestants who rely only on scripture miss much. Even the Bible itself teaches that:
        “Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.” [2 Thessalonians 2:14]

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          1. I found it as verse 15. “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” (NASB) There are both traditions and letter (scripture) as you said.

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