Eusebius on the discrepancies between the genealogies of Matthew and Luke
|Genealogy of Jesus according to Luke|
Mary & Joseph
|Genealogy of Jesus according to Matthew|
Judah & Tamar
Salmon & Rahab
Boaz & Ruth
David & Wife of Uriah
Joseph & Mary
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,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...."
"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.''
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]