Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Eusebius on the discrepancies between the genealogies of Matthew and Luke

Genealogy of Jesus according to Luke

God
Adam
Seth
Enosh
Cainain
Mahalalel
Jared
Enoch
Methuselah
Lamech
Noah
Shem
Arphaxad
Cainan
Shelah
Eber
Peleg
Reu
Serug
Nahor
Terah
Abraham
Isaac
Jacob
Judah
Pharez
Hezron
Ram
Amminadab
Nahshon
Salmon
Boaz
Obed
Jesse
David
Nathan
Mattatha
Menna
Melea
Eliakim
Jonam
Joseph
Judah
Simeon
Levi
Matthat
Jorim
Eliezer
Joshua
Er
Elmadam
Cosam
Addi
Melchi
Neri
Shealtiel
Zerubbabel
Rhesa
Joanan
Joda
Josech
Semein
Mattathias
Mahath
Naggai
Hesli
Nahum
Amos
Mattathias
Joseph
Jannai
Melchi
Levi
Matthat
Heli
Mary & Joseph
Jesus
Genealogy of Jesus according to Matthew

Abraham
Isaac
Jacob
Judah & Tamar
Pharez
Hezron
Ram
Amminadab
Nahshon
Salmon & Rahab
Boaz & Ruth
Obed
Jesse
David & Wife of Uriah
Solomon
Rehoboam
Abijam
Asa
Jebahdiah
Jehoram
Uzziah
Jotham
Ahaz
Hezekiah
Manasseh
Amon
Josiah
Jeconiah
Shealtiel
Zerubbabel
Abiud
Eliakim
Azor
Zadok
Achim
Eliud
Eleazar
Matthan
Jacob
Joseph & Mary
Jesus

The discrepancies between the genealogy of Jesus given by Luke and the genealogy of Jesus according to Matthew have received various solutions by Scholars. Many modern Scholars believe that Luke's account traces Jesus' genealogy along the line of his mother, Mary, who was the daughter of Heli (Eli); Joseph was Heli's (or Eli's) son-in-law. John Gill quotes a Jewish text in support of this view. He writes:
though it is true indeed that Joseph was the son of Eli, having married his daughter; Mary was the daughter of Eli: and so the Jews speak of one Mary, the daughter of Eli, by whom they seem to design the mother of our Lord: for they tell (b) us of one,

"that saw, מרים בת עלי, "Mary the daughter of Eli" in the shades, hanging by the fibres of her breasts; and there are that say, the gate, or, as elsewhere (c), the bar of the gate of hell is fixed to her ear.''

By the horrible malice, in the words, you may know who is meant: however, this we gain by it, that by their own confession, Mary is the daughter of Eli; which accords with this genealogy of the evangelist, who traces it from Mary, under her husband Joseph; though she is not mentioned, because of a rule with the Jews (d), that

"the family of the mother is not called a family.''
Eusebius of Caesarea (c. AD 263–339), in his Church History, promotes the view of Africanus who in his epistle to Aristides discusses the harmony of the gospel genealogies. According to Africanus, Luke's genealogy is of Joseph (not of Mary), who was the natural son of Jacob, though legally of Eli who was the uterine brother of Jacob. Africanus cites the Jewish tradition according to which "the names of the generations were reckoned in Israel either according to nature or according to law;—according to nature by the succession of legitimate offspring, and according to law whenever another raised up a child to the name of a brother dying childless...."

According to this view, Matthan, a descendant of Solomon, had married Estha by whom he begat Jacob (who was Jesus' grandfather, in the genealogy of Matthew). But, when Matthan died, Melchi, a descendant of Nathan, married Estha and she gave birth to Levi (who was Jesus' grandfather according to the genealogy of Luke). Thus, Jacob and Eli were uterine brothers. Now, when Eli died childless, Jacob married Eli's wife, in accordance to Jewish Law, to raise up seed for his brother, and she gave birth to Joseph. Thus, Joseph was by nature the son of Jacob (as Matthew's genealogy recounts), but according to Law the son of Eli (as Luke's genealogy recounts). Eusebius concludes:
Hence the genealogy traced through him will not be rendered void, which the evangelist Matthew in his enumeration gives thus: ‘Jacob begat Joseph.’ But Luke, on the other hand, says: ‘Who was the son, as was supposed’ (for this he also adds), ‘of Joseph, the son of Eli, the son of Melchi’; for he could not more clearly express the generation according to law. And the expression ‘he begat’ he has omitted in his genealogical table up to the end, tracing the genealogy back to Adam the son of God. This interpretation is neither incapable of proof nor is it an idle conjecture.
To sum it up:
1. Matthan, of Solomon's descent, marries Estha and gives birth to Jacob. [Matthew]
2. Matthan dies. Melchi, of Nathan's descent, marries Estha and gives birth to Eli. [Luke]
3. Jacob and Eli are uterine brothers (same mother but different fathers).
4. Eli marries a wife but dies childless.
5. Keeping Jewish Law in view, Jacob (Eli's brother) marries his brother's wife to raise up seed for him.
6. Joseph is born.
7. Joseph is naturally Jacob's son. [Matthew]
8. But, is, according to Law, Eli's son. [Luke]

2 comments:

mitch said...

why do you keep saying Eli instead of Heli?

Domenic Marbaniang said...

Thanks for the question. The quotations are verbatim. I used Eli to maintain singularity of use, and avoid confusion, due to interchangeability of terms. But, the identity of both Heli and Eli has been indicated at the outset.