Reconciling Matthew’s and Luke’s Genealogies: Mission: Impossible?

Some scholars have said they are irreconcilable, while others say reconciling them is not so difficult. I favor plausible harmonization, since the scholars in this post seem to have cracked the “codes.”

This post has the following major sections:

TWO GENEALOGIES IN MATTHEW AND LUKE

FROM ABRAHAM TO DAVID

FROM DAVID TO JESUS

JOSEPH’S IMMEDIATE ANCESTORS

OTHER COMPLICATIONS RESOLVED

CONCLUSION

Let’s begin with a table of two columns, for your convenience:

TWO GENEALOGIES IN MATTHEW AND LUKE

The New International Version is used here. Matthew begins with Abraham and works downwards in time to Jesus, while Luke begins with Jesus and lists names from him all the way back to Adam.

Matthew’s Genealogy (1:1-17)

Luke’s Genealogy (3:23-38)

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,

Perez the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram,

Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse,

and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,

Solomon the father of Rehoboam,

Rehoboam the father of Abijah,

Abijah the father of Asa,

Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,

Jehoram the father of Uzziah,

Uzziah the father of Jotham,

Jotham the father of Ahaz,

Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,

10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,

Manasseh the father of Amon,

Amon the father of Josiah,

11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon:

Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,

Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,

Abihud the father of Eliakim,

Eliakim the father of Azor,

14 Azor the father of Zadok,

Zadok the father of Akim,

Akim the father of Elihud,

15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,

Eleazar the father of Matthan,

Matthan the father of Jacob,

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,

the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat,

the son of Levi, the son of Melki,

the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,

25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos,

the son of Nahum, the son of Esli,

the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath,

the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein,

the son of Josek, the son of Joda,

27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa,

the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,

the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melki,

the son of Addi, the son of Cosam,

the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,

29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer,

the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat,

the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon,

the son of Judah, the son of Joseph,

the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,

31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna,

the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan,

the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse,

the son of Obed, the son of Boaz,

the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,

33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram,

the son of Hezron, the son of Perez,

the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob,

the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham,

the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,

35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu,

the son of Peleg, the son of Eber,

the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan,

the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem,

the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,

37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch,

the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel,

the son of Kenan, 38 the son of Enosh,

the son of Seth, the son of Adam,

the son of God.

The first thing to notice is that Matthew has forty-two names, while Luke has fifty-six, but Matthew’s lineage is clearly based on three sets of fourteen generations, so some generations were omitted. “Father of” and “was the father of” can be rendered “was the ancestor of,” skipping fathers in between one name to the next. And Luke’s list goes back earlier than Abraham, yet Matthew stops at the patriarch.

From Adam to Shem the lineage has been drawn from Gen. 5;

From Shem to Abraham the names are taken from Gen. 11:10-32;

From Abraham to David the names come from 1 Chronicles and Ruth;

Darrell L. Bock (Luke 1:1-9:50. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 1 [Baker, 1994], pp. 352-53

The two lists converge at Zerubbabel (Matt. 1:13 and Luke 3:27). Then Luke says that Zerubbabel’s next descendant is Rhesa, while Matthew says Zerubbabel’s next descendant was Abihud. However, 1 Chron. 3:19 says that Zerubbabel sons were Meshullam and Hananiah.

This is easy to resolve. Matthew and Luke may have skipped generations (Matthew did so to keep his fourteen generations going), and both Matthew and Luke may have had access to other sources, so Zerubbabel may have had other sons or grandsons unnamed in 1 Chron. 3:19. But see the section More Complications Resolved for further explanations.

What about Matthew keeping each section to fourteen names with David being the pivot? David’s name in Hebrew works out to be fourteen (d-w-d, and the vowels were added later).

D = 4

W = 6

D = 4

_________

+ 14

David is the key figure for the Messianic title. So Matthew trims the other names to work out to fourteen names. This is not a farfetched explanation, for Matthew was a Jewish tax collector and worked with numbers. (Yes, I go with traditional authorship.) Other Jewish writings also look at the deeper significance of numbers. (The pursuit of the significance in numbers is called Gematria).

Further, the third set of fourteen names in Matthew’s Gospel actually works out to thirteen names. Reason: D.A. Carson: “And if the third set of fourteen is short one member, perhaps it will suggest to some readers that just as God cuts short the time of distress for the sake of his elect (24:22), so also he mercifully shortens the period from the Exile to Jesus the Messiah” (Matthew: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. Ed. by Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland. Vol. 9. [Zondervan, 2010], p. 69).

A slightly less spiritual explanation says that David should be counted twice, for that’s how Matthew sets up the exemplar king’s importance.

In nay case, Matthew’s genealogy is selective and streamlined, taking a short cut to show Jesus’s connection to David.

FROM ABRAHAM TO DAVID

As noted, the New International Version is used here.

Matthew                                                            Luke (reverse order)

_________________________________________________________

1. Abraham                                                        Abraham

2. Isaac                                                              Isaac

3. Jacob                                                            Jacob

4. Judah                                                            Judah

5. Perez                                                            Perez

6. Hezron                                                          Hezron

7. Ram                                                              Ram

8. Amminadab                                                   Amminadab1

9. Nashon                                                         Nashon

10. Salmon                                                       Salmon2

11. Boaz                                                           Boaz

12. Obed                                                          Obed

13. Jesse                                                         Jesse

14. David                                                         David

1 In Luke’s Gospel, some manuscripts insert “Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni”; other manuscripts vary widely. In this case, Matthew streamlined things and so “Ram was the ancestor of Amminadab” works. Matthew wanted fourteen names in this section.

2 In Luke’s Gospel, some manuscripts have “Sala,” which is just a variation on Salmon. Other manuscripts have “Salmon.”

Therefore, this list of names in this section poses no difficulty in reconciling the two genealogies. They are virtually identical.

One theme we need is biblical culture. They were mainly agrarians or lived in an agrarian society. They lived in towns and villages and knew each other. Think of Boaz and Ruth (no. 11). No dating websites back then! I’ll develop this theme as we go along.

FROM DAVID TO JESUS

From David to Jesus, the two list differs widely. Here is a key reference to clarify issues from David to Jesus:

David reigned in Jerusalem thirty-three years, and these were the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon. These four were by Bathsheba … (1 Chron. 3:4-5, NIV, emphasis added)

Luke 3:31 says that David’s son Nathan begins the lineage down to Jesus, while Matt. 1:6 says David’s son Solomon begins the lineage down to Jesus (Bathsheba is unnamed but called “wife of Uriah,” her first husband). Here’s how this matter of two sons Solomon and Nathan) must surely work out:

Table One

Joseph’s lineage is mainly royal and natural, while Mary lineage is mainly legal but still royal. (Bock, p. 356). This solution is the most streamlined

D.A. Carson says that that Luke aims to give Mary’s genealogy but substitutes Joseph’s name (Luke 3:23), to avoid mentioning a woman. (It is surprising, but Luke does not have one woman in his genealogy.) Mary herself probably does descend from David (see Luke 1:32).

Bock writes that Luke traces the genealogy through Mary’s line; Matthew does this through the line of Joseph. Thus Luke says that Joseph was “thought” to be Jesus’s father, so he was not part of Luke’s genealogy. If he were, then Luke would contradict himself because Jesus was born of the virgin Mary.

Anyone who has done genealogical research (I have) knows that the names descending generationally from two brothers (Solomon and Nathan) can vary greatly, particularly when the men may have married multiple wives. (This is why I placed “generations” in parentheses.) But even if, hypothetically, the men were monogamous, they typically had many children–or more particularly for biblical times–many sons.

Therefore, the two genealogies in this section pose no insurmountable difficulties in reconciling them.

JOSEPH’S IMMEDIATE ANCESTORS

However, readers may not accept the interpretation that Mary herself descends from Nathan and later Heli. After all, Luke 3:23 and Matt. 1:16 say Joseph is the son of Jacob and Heli, not Mary. This problem is also not insurmountable.

Table Two

Bock says that Jacob and Heli are half-brothers. So Heli died childless as the legal, royal heir and is Joseph’s uncle. Joseph is the physical son of Jacob by a sister of Heli, who now carries the line. So Luke’s line is physical through Heli’s sister, who has the legal claim as the nearest relative to Heli. As for Joseph being called the “son” of Heli, the genealogy is merely legal.

Bock further says that Mary is the heiress of Heli, since she had no brothers. Heli adopted Joseph as son upon his marriage to Mary, as in other cases when the father had no biological son (Ezra 2:61; Neh. 7:63; Num. 27:1-11; 1 Chron. 2:34-35). So Luke’s genealogy reflects adoption and his line again becomes legal versus physical.

Bock adds that a levirate marriage may be in view. Luke traces the “legal” or royal line and levirate marriages (Deut. 25:5-10), while Matthew traces the physical or blood line. Matthan died and his wife (Estha) married Melchi (Luke 3:24), who had a son, Heli (Luke 3:23). Heli died without children and his half-brother Jacob took his wife by levirate marriage, so that Jacob’s sons were tied to Heli.

Commentators Walter L. Liefeld and David W. Pao agree that a levirate marriage probably happened and explain how this worked: “The widow of a childless man could marry his brother so that a child of the second marriage could legally be considered as the son of the deceased man in order to perpetuate his name. In a genealogy, the child could be listed as the son of Heli in Luke but as the son of Jacob in Matthew. On the levirate marriage theory, Heli and Jacob may have been half brothers, with the same mother, but fathers of different names. Perhaps Heli died and Jacob married his widow” (Luke. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. [Zondervan, 2007], p. 97).

Next, Carson also says that Luke provides Joseph’s real or biological genealogy and Matthew offers the throne succession. That explains why Luke works backwards in time, and Matthew forward from Abraham to David and then to Jesus. Joseph’s real father was Heli, to his father Matthat and back to Nathan and David. However, Matthew says the father of Joseph was Jacob. To solve this problem scholars postulate a levirate marriage (a brother dies without an heir), and the brothers marries his widow), so Heli died, and Jacob took over. But the problem is if the whole purpose is to raise up a child for the deceased brother, why does Luke provide the name of his actual father? Answer: this was Luke’s way to honor the deceased brother.

Here’s a solution summarized by Carson, from J. Gresham Machen. Matt. 1:15 says that Eleazar is the great-grandfather of Joseph, while Luke 324 says Levi is the great grandfather. To understand the next explanation, here is the image:

Table Three

 

If we assume that Matthat and Matthan are not the same person, there is no need to appeal to levirate marriage. The difficulty regarding the father of Matthat and the father of Matthan disappears. Yet their respective sons Heli and Jacob may have been so closely related (e.g. if Heli was heirless only son whose sister married Jacob or Joseph) that if Heli died, Jacob’s son Joseph became his heir (Carson, p. 65).

Then Carson continues with the explanation from older generation scholar Machen. Let’s set it up first with another table.

Table Four

Recall what a Levirate marriage is. Either Eleazar or Levi died childless and the living brother (either Eleazar or Levi) married the widow and had Matthan / Matthat, who is the same person. Now here’s the rest of the explanation:

Alternatively, if Matthan and Matthat are the same person (presupposing a levirate marriage one generation earlier), we “need only suppose that Jacob dies without issue, so that his nephew, the son of his brother Heli [Joseph’s father according to Luke] would become his heir [who is Joseph]” … (Carson, p. 65).

This interpretation spots the similarities between the names Matthat and Matthan. It is reasonable to conclude that they were the same person. Then Joseph would become the named heir, if Jacob died and Joseph was Heli’s son. This solution about Jacob and Heli and Joseph is also reasonable.

Bock agrees with this analysis: Luke gives the physical descent, while Matthew the royal lineage. After all, ancient Judaism noted multiple lines for David. So Matthew’s Jacob and Luke’s Heli were brothers, and their father was Matthat / Matthan (Luke 3:24 and Matt. 1:15, respectively). And if the fathers are the same person, then levirate marriage must be proposed because they have two fathers: Eleazar (Matt. 1:15) and Levi (Luke 3:24).

For Bock, see vol. 1, pp. 918-23, for more discussion of all these issues.

Each of these explanations is plausible (to me), because of the small towns and villages, like Nazareth and Bethlehem. People knew each other and families were close in these farming communities. They celebrated Passover and other commanded festivals together, which celebrated the harvest or deliverance from Egypt.

Therefore Tables Two-Four are not far-fetched; There may have been a levirate marriage because people died young back then–even married couples. Or perhaps Jacob and Heli were half-brothers or brothers, and Jacob inherited the legacy after Heli died, or Heli inherited the legacy after Jacob died. Then the surviving brother passed it on to Joseph.

However, if all of these solutions seem artificial to the skeptical reader, as if they are protecting the hypothesis (harmonization) at all costs, then the next section provides plausibility. The Jacob-Heli-Joseph and Matthan-Matthat (etc.) complications have biblical precedence. Parallels exist in the Old Testament.

OTHER COMPLICATIONS RESOLVED

Or at least the complications are explained. However, if you believe harmonization has been achieved in the previous two sections, then scroll down to the Conclusion.

Let’s look farther back in time, but after David. Recall that the two lines between David and Jesus converged at Zerubbabel (Matt. 1:13 and Luke 3:27). Then things get a little more complicated, just Zerubbabel and afterwards. Prof. James Bejon sees biblical precedence for the complications (and resolutions) in Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies. That is, there is nothing unusual about it since the Old Testament has similar complications and resolutions.

First let me set up part of the problem. Who was Jehoiakim?

He does not appear in Jesus’s genealogy, though the Bible says he is the son of Josiah (1 Chron. 3:15-16). Why was he skipped over? He shredded and burned the prophet Jeremiah’s scroll (Jer. 36:23), so God cursed him (Jer. 36:30) and would not allow the Messiah to come through his line; Jechoniah (Jehoiachin) was grafted into Josiah’s direct line, bypassing Jehoiakim. Jehoiachin adopted his kinsman Shealtiel. So just as Jehoiakim excised sections of Jeremiah’s prophecy, Jehoiakim was himself excised from the line of the Messiah. God watches out for his prophecy.

And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. (Jer. 36:23, NIV)

Here are the consequences:

Therefore this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night. (Jer. 36:30, NIV)

It is a bad idea to destroy God’s Word.

Of course, Prof. Bejon answers many more questions. His article is long, but I urge readers to click on the link below to find his wonderful and clear lineage charts.

First, in the summary, Bejon states the problem and quickly reviews the standard (and inadequate) solutions, but then states his hypothesis that needs to be proven:

Jesus’ genealogies in Matthew and Luke are frequently dismissed as ‘irreconciliable’. Such claims, however, like certain defences of Jesus’ genealogies, are too quick. Matthew and Luke differ from one another, not because they are poor historians, nor because one of them provides Joseph’s genealogy while the other provides Mary’s, nor even because they provide ‘theological genealogies’ (whatever a theological genealogy might be), but because two individuals in Joseph’s ancestry (viz. Shealtiel and Matthan-aka-Matthat) chose to be grafted into different lineages within their clan.

His hypothesis: “Two individuals in Joseph’s ancestry (viz. Shealtiel and Matthan-aka-Matthat chose to be grafted into different lineages within their clans.”

Can he prove his hypothesis? Let’s see.

Second, Bejon informs us that a grandson of Josiah was placed in the royal lineage, and not in the line of accursed Jehoiakim:

And Jehoiachin was able to reign in Judah (contra the prima facie implication of Jeremiah’s prophecy) because he was removed from Jehoiakim’s (accursed) line and grafted directly into Josiah’s. Hence, true to Jeremiah’s word … Jehoiakim’s line came to a untimely end. The Messiah would not arise from Jehoiakim’s line (per the diagram below),… [click on the link, below, to see the diagram]

The reason the Messiah would not arise through Jehoiakim’s line is that it was cursed, so Jehoiachin was grafted in directly into Josiah’s line, since Jehoiachin was Josiah’s grandson. Jehoiakim had cut up large portions of prophecy (Jer. 36:23), so God bypassed him.

Third, Bejon notes the similarities in v. 2 and v. 11 in Matthew’s version: “and his brothers.” He writes:

Also important to note is the parallel between v. 2 (‘Judah and his brothers’) and v. 11 (‘Jehoiachin and his brothers’). In both verses, Matthew chooses to mention not just a single ruler, but a ruler together with his brothers. Why? Because just as Judah is promoted to a position beyond his biological entitlement (insofar as he functions as their leader due to Reuben’s fall: (cp. 1 Chr. 5.1–2), so too is Jehoiachin, as Matthew is well aware.

In other words, Matthew did not miss the parallel. Judah is elevated to a position beyond his biology because of Reuben’s failure, and so was Jehoiachin, centuries later.

Third, Jehoiachin himself seemed to come under a curse, and he would not raise up a biological son to succeed him. While in Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar forgave him and Jehoiachin adopted one of his kinsman. Bejon notes:

While in exile, God pardoned Jehoiachin and allowed him to adopt (one of his kinsmen named) Shealtiel, who was hence grafted into God’s line of promise. True to Jeremiah’s word, then, Jehoiachin’s biological ‘seed’ (cp. 22.30) did not inherit David’s throne, nor did it survive the exile. Yet, by means of the adoption of Shealtiel, God allowed Jehoiachin’s name / line to continue and hence made it possible for the Messiah to arise from Judah’s royal line.

Fourth, Bejon writes a summary paragraph that explains a lot (so far):

That, I submit, is why the text of 1 Chr. 3.17–18 is able to credit Jehoiachin with children and is why it singles out the sonship of Shealtiel. That is why the text divides Jehoiachin’s descendants into two groups, namely those who were born under God’s judgment prior to the exile, whose line came to a premature end (3.16), and those who, like Shealtiel, were grafted into the redeemed Jehoiachin’s line (3.17ff.), who would carry God’s promise forward in the post-exilic world (per the focus of Matt. 1.11–12). And that is why b. Sanhedrin  38a associates Shealtiel with the removal of God’s curse and is able to expect the Messiah to arise from the line of Zerubbabel.

Fifth, Bejon continues with the explainable differences between Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies:

Of course, if our hypothesis is correct—that is to say, if Shealtiel was in fact adopted into Jehoiachin’s line—, then it is possible to attribute two distinct genealogies to Shealtiel (namely a biological one and a legal / adopted one), which is precisely what we find in Matthew and Luke.

Sixth, Bejon provides a short genealogical table (so click on the link below). He continues to explain the differences between Matthew and Luke:

Matthew provides us with Shealtiel’s legal / adopted genealogy, which traces Shealtiel’s ancestry back to David by way of Judah’s kings, while Luke provides us with Shealtiel’s biological genealogy, which descends from David’s son Nathan. Consequently, Matthew’s genealogy is the shorter of the two. Matthew wants to highlight Shealtiel’s connection with Judah’s royal line—a line exhaustively documented elsewhere, which Matthew does not, therefore, need to reproduce in full—, while Luke wants to document a lesser known family tree, i.e., a more or less continuous chain of father and son relationships. (For Luke, Shealtiel is the 21st generation from David, which seems about right since Shealtiel and David are separated by c. 450 years).

So Bejon provides a plausible answer to the puzzles from David to Zerubbabel and Matthew’s and Luke’s purposes.

Seventh, Bejon has one more issue to clarify, if he can. Now what about Joseph’s father and grandfathers? Why is Joseph’s ancestry insecure? Does Matthew write about people’s doubts? Yes. In Matt. 13:55, Joseph is referred to as merely a carpenter. Where is the royal lineage? In John’s Gospel, Jesus isn’t recognized as having an exalted linage (John 7:41-42, 52), How did Joseph’s lineage get obscured?

Eighth, here is how Bejon answers this challenge about Joseph’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Bejon gives two options:

The relationship between Matthew and Luke’s genealogies can then be conceived of in one of two ways. The first option is to assume the names ‘Heli’ and ‘Jacob’ refer to one and the same person, as shown below [Bejon has a short lineage table side by side with Matthew and Luke]:

The second is to assume the names ‘Heli’ and ‘Jacob’ represent different generations [Bejon has another short table between Matthew and Luke].

Here’s the payoff on the two options, as Bejon explains the differences between Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies:

Either way, Matthew and Luke’s genealogies are consistent with our proffered hypothesis, namely that an unusual event occurred in Joseph’s past which resulted in the adoption of Joseph’s grandfather into a new family tree. Luke’s genealogy must, therefore, represent Joseph’s biological line, where the names of Joseph and his immediate family are at home, while Matthew’s represents Joseph’s legal / adopted line, which would explain (for the same reason as before) why Luke’s genealogy is the longer of the two. I therefore take Luke’s genealogy to represent a lesser known branch of Shealtiel’s ancestry which settled in Nazareth at some point, and Matthew’s to represent a higher profile line (perhaps the line of the firstborns: cp. 1 Chr. 3.17–19).The bottom line, however, remains the same: Joseph isn’t widely recognized as a descendant of David or a Bethlehemite in the Gospels, and the patterns attested in Matthew and Luke’s genealogies provide a plausible reason why.

I like how Bejon mentions the small villages of Nazareth and Bethlehem. People back then did not go on social media and find distant partners they had never heard of before. Just the opposite. They knew each other and their families. In any case, as adoption happened in the OT from David to Zerubbabel, Luke’s Gospel is Joseph’s biological line, and Matthew’s genealogy covers the legal / adoption lineage. Luke and Matthew are simply following Old Testament precedence.

Ninth, here is Bejon’s summary, namely, that Mathew’s and Luke’s genealogies are able to sustain close scrutiny, even though they incorporate lineages that existed over 1500 years:

Matthew and Luke’s genealogies are able to withstand sustained critical scrutiny. At first blush, they simply look like confused accounts of history. But, on closer inspection, they can be shown to be guided by coherent patterns and principles. Matthew and Luke’s genealogies differ because two of Joseph’s ancestors (Shealtiel and Matthan / Matthat) were grafted into new family lines. And, while Matthew and Luke’s genealogies may not be able to answer all the questions we might like to ask of them, they are nonetheless plausible accounts of history. Indeed, they exhibit the same kind of complexity as many OT genealogies do, and are characterized by exactly the kind of knottiness one would expect  to find in a genealogy which spans over 1,500 years.

So Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies are deliberately modeled on Old Testament complexities; the paralleled precedence is real, and the attempt at harmonization is plausible.

I urge all readers to click on the next links, because they show easy-to-follow lineage charts, side-by-side. His explaining his own solutions is much better than my secondhand summary of it!

https://www.academia.edu/41135348/Jesus_Genealogies (if this link goes dead, do a key word search, or click on the link and video, next.

Simpler access here, where Mr. Bejon was a guest writer:

The NT Birth Narratives: Suspicious Omissions or Deliberate Exclusions?

I don’t know how to eliminate the description box, but that’s okay because it shows what high quality his post is.

If you want a nice video summary (not by me), please click on this link, produced by an apologist who provides and excellent summary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BL0y0eW2tUU

Please see this video, not by me, for another angle, produced by a scholar:

Excellent!

CONCLUSION

Some may object that Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies are hopelessly irreconcilable, so Jesus’ descent from David, for example, is shaky. However, with minor adjustments, the two genealogies can be reconciled.

First, from Abraham to David, the list is virtually identical.

From David to Jesus, the many generations coming in between pose no problems. Anyone who has done genealogical research (I have) knows that different lines can lead back to various common ancestors to a prominent one (in Jesus’s case King David).

Next, in the section, Joseph’s Immediate Ancestors, I especially like the explanation that Jacob and Heli were half-brothers, and one of them died childless. Carson’s solution via J. Gresham Machen, with Bock’s assessment, is also strong.

As noted throughout this post, people lived in close-knit societies and entire families knew each other intimately in biblical times. I had a roommate who knew his sixth cousins in a county in Iowa, an agricultural state. They were all farmers and did not go far from home. He had never seen the ocean before moving to California, and his grandparents never left the home county. To state the obvious, social media and dating websites did not exist in biblical times. Arranged marriages happened. Bethlehem was a small village. So was Nazareth. These were farming communities or an agrarian society surrounded these towns and villages. They celebrated Passover and other commanded festivals that celebrated agricultural life. It is not farfetched to believe in the close relationships between the men in Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies, particularly as we get closer to Joseph’s immediate ancestors. Jacob and Heli probably were closely related, and they were related to Joseph, likely as father and uncle, establishing biological and legal lineages. And it is not outlandish to believe in a levirate marriage. People died young back then–even married people. Early mortality prompted the Levirate marriage law in the first place.

But the simplest one of all is Image One. Luke gives Mary’s lineage, while Matthew offers Joseph’s linage.

And Bejon’s solutions from David to Zerubabbel and afterwards seem right to me. The knottiness in Luke and Matthew appear in various genealogies in the OT. Let’s not apply unequal weights and measures to Luke and Matthew, when they have biblical precedence.

However, let’s imagine, for the sake of argument, that with the available information we are unable to reconcile Luke’s and Matthew’s genealogies. In that case, we must stop the foolishness of a brittle position on Scripture. “If there are disagreements or differences, then the brittle Bible breaks into pieces, and so does my brittle faith! I quit!” No. Focus on the main point, beyond the list or many names

The main point: Jesus is the son of David and belongs to the bigger story of God’s salvation and redemption; he is in fact the final culmination or ultimate fulfillment of biblical salvation and redemption.

Most importantly, the Messianic implications are huge. Luke and Matthew will later point out that Jesus actually surpasses David (Matt, 22:41-46; Luke 20:41-44). Those verses ask how Jesus could be the son of David, when David calls him Lord (Psalm 110:1). Jesus is greater than David.

Bottom line: objecting to the Messiahship of Jesus because of the (supposed) irreconcilability of the two genealogies is not as strong as it first appeared. There is not protecting the hypothesis of harmonization at all costs. The two genealogies can be reasonably reconciled, even at the stage of Joseph’s immediate ancestors.

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