Sunday, 16 December 2012

Which Genealogy Of Jesus?

If you're trying to convince yourself that the Christian Bible is somehow the infallible word of God, Matthew (once again) and Luke bowl you a curve ball with their attempts to construct a genealogy for Jesus. It is quite simply impossible to reconcile the two different versions. At least one of them must be wrong. To get past this and still believe the Bible is inerrant, you have no option but to knowingly lie to yourself and pretend two mutually exclusive things are both right - things like people having two different fathers.

So, the next time you come across someone telling you the Bible is the infallible word of an omniscient god, you can be sure of one of two things:
  1. They have lied to themselves and are lying to you.
  2. They haven't read the Bible.
I'll go through the two genealogies in a moment but first, there is the traditional excuse offered up by Christian apologists - that one genealogy is for Joseph and the other for Mary. Unfortunately, the authors of Matthew and Luke have to be ignored to get away with that one.

And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Matthew 1:15-16



And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph.

Luke 3:23-24

So, neither of the authors of these two different genealogies had any doubt they were writing about Jesus's genealogy through Joseph - which is itself strange, since they are both at pains to stress that Joseph wasn't Jesus's father, God was.

The first problem we see here is that Joseph appears to have had two different fathers - Jacob (Matthew) and Heli (Luke) - which should raise at least a suspicion or two that something is amiss.

Let's press on and see what a muddle the Bible is in (time for you to stop reading if you're a wanabee Bible literalist. It gets even more frightening).

First, Matthew's attempt (I'll count the generations. We'll see why in a moment):

VersesComment
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king;...

Matthew 1:1-6
So, that's Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judas, Phares, Esrom, Aram, Aminadab, Naason, Salmon, Booz, Obed, Jesse and David.

14 generations in all from Abraham to King David.

Why does the author of Matthew start with Abraham? As we saw in Christmas! Which Christmas? Matthew is keen to stress the Jewishness of Jesus and how he fulfilled the Jewish prophecies. For Matthew, Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, plain and simple, so he has to be a descendant of the first Jew, Abraham, otherwise his credentials would be less than impeccable.
...and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

Matthew 1:6-11
That's Solomon, Roboam, Abia, Asa, Josaphat, Joram, Ozias, Joatham, Achaz, Ezekias, Manasses, Amon, Josias and Jechonias.

14 more generations from King David to the Babylonian exile.
And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Matthew 1:12-16
Salathiel, Zorobabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Sadoc, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, Joseph, Jesus.

13 Generations.
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Matthew 1:17
Eh? Er... no Matthew. That's two fourteens and a thirteen.

Not clear what point the author of Matthew is trying to make here but obviously counting isn't one of his strong points. Surely he wasn't hoping no one would check, was he?

So, the author of Matthew has tried to make some obscure point about the number fourteen and has messed up. I wonder what other mistakes he made. Fortunately, it's easy to check his source to see where he went wrong. It's the Bible itself.

Let's see:

Now these were the sons of David, which were born unto him in Hebron; the firstborn Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; the second Daniel, of Abigail the Carmelitess: The third, Absalom the son of Maachah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur: the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith: The fifth, Shephatiah of Abital: the sixth, Ithream by Eglah his wife.

These six were born unto him in Hebron; and there he reigned seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years.

And these were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shimea, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, four, of Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel: Ibhar also, and Elishama, and Eliphelet, And Nogah, and Nepheg, and Japhia, And Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphelet, nine.

These were all the sons of David, beside the sons of the concubines, and Tamar their sister.

And Solomon's son was Rehoboam, Abia his son, Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son, Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Amaziah his son, Azariah his son, Jotham his son, Ahaz his son, Hezekiah his son, Manasseh his son, Amon his son, Josiah his son.

And the sons of Josiah were, the firstborn Johanan, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum. And the sons of Jehoiakim: Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son. And the sons of Jeconiah; Assir, Salathiel his son, Malchiram also, and Pedaiah, and Shenazar, Jecamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah. And the sons of Pedaiah were, Zerubbabel, and Shimei: and the sons of Zerubbabel; Meshullam, and Hananiah, and Shelomith their sister: And Hashubah, and Ohel, and Berechiah, and Hasadiah, Jushabhesed, five.

And the sons of Hananiah; Pelatiah, and Jesaiah: the sons of Rephaiah, the sons of Arnan, the sons of Obadiah, the sons of Shechaniah. And the sons of Shechaniah; Shemaiah: and the sons of Shemaiah; Hattush, and Igeal, and Bariah, and Neariah, and Shaphat, six. And the sons of Neariah; Elioenai, and Hezekiah, and Azrikam, three. And the sons of Elioenai were, Hodaiah, and Eliashib, and Pelaiah, and Akkub, and Johanan, and Dalaiah, and Anani, seven.[my emphasis]

1 Chronicles 3

Hmm... so Matthew has dropped a few generations between Joram and Ozias (Azariah) the father of Jotham, and all to make some obscure point about the number fourteen, which he then fumbles anyway.

Some genealogist he turned out to be.

Clearly, when he was writing his 'Gospel' the author of Matthew had no inkling that it would one day be included in the same book as the Jewish books of myths and legends so his cavalier treatment of the ancient 'prophecies' could be easily seen.

Like so much else with the author of the 'Gospel' of Matthew, he turns out to be more an embarrassment than a help. The surprise is that his effort got included in the Bible in the first place. If the compilers hadn't managed to convince themselves, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, that it was written by Matthew, a reputed disciple and companion of Jesus, there seems to be no earthly reason this catastrophic blunder of a book was included in the Bible in the first place.

Let's see if the author of Luke can make a better fist of it. He starts with Jesus and works backwards. It's not the most gripping section of the Bible but bear with me, please:

VersesComment
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri,Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er, Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim, Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda, Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor, Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech, Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

Luke 3:23-38
To summarise then, and going backwards from Abraham, so we can compare it with Matthew's effort:

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Juda, Phares, Esrom, Aram, Aminadab, Naasson, Salmon, Booz, Obed, Jesse, David, Mathan, Mattatha, Menan, Melea, Eliakim, Jonan, Joseph, Juda, Simeon, Levi, Matthat, Jorim, Eliezer, Jose, Er, Elmodam, Cosam, Addi, Mechi, Neri, Salathiel, Zorobabel, Rhesa, Joanna, Juda, Joseph, Semei, Mattathias, Maath, Nagge, Esli, Naum, Amos, Mattathias, Joseph, Janna, Melchi, Levi, Matthat, Heli, Joseph, Jesus.

That's fifty-six generations then, between Abraham and Jesus. But, even allowing for his crass blunder in dropping three generations, Matthew only makes it forty-four. Luke has discovered another twelve generations somewhere.

Once you start asking yourself questions like, "How do I really know there is a God?" you are already on the path to unbelief. During my documentary on St Paul, some experts raised the possibility that his spectacular conversion on the road to Damascus might have been caused by an epileptic fit. It made me realise that I had taken things for granted that were taught to me as a child without subjecting them to any kind of analysis. When you think about it rationally, it does seem incredibly improbable that there is a God.

Jonathan Edwards, Olympic Gold Medallist, Atheist.
Former Evangelical Christian and presenter of BBC TV religious programmes.
It makes you wonder if this is the same Joseph - he of two different fathers, let alone the same Jesus. Taken together with the irreconcilable differences between Luke's and Matthew's account of the events surrounding Jesus' birth and early childhood, when they can't even agree when it happened, or anything at all apart from that it was somewhere in Bethlehem, one might think they were writing about two entirely different Jesuses.

As we have seen in Christmas! Which Christmas?, Matthew's author bends over backward, often stretching credulity beyond breaking point, to emphasise the Jewishness of Jesus and how almost everything about him fulfils the ancient Jewish prophesies, whilst the author of Luke, who was reputed to have been a companion of Paul who was pushing the new cult to non-Jews, is emphasising a wider appeal (hence tracing Jesus's origins all the way back to Adam (why was it necessary to go beyond Noah?). Matthew is having none of that.

What neither author ever intended was that their 'Gospels' would appear together in a book claimed to be the inerrant word of God, otherwise they might have made more of an effort to get their accounts to line up. Just as Matthew is caught out by us having his source to hand in the same book, so these two authors of the 'synoptic' Gospels are hoist on the petard of later charlatans who were hoping to foist their efforts on us as gospel truths - something they were never intended to be.

Further reading:
Ehrman, Bart D. (2009-02-20). Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them). Harper Collins, Inc.





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3 comments :

  1. Thanks for this post. I've been reading you for awhile now and, although I've been banished to the American midwest for a while now, I have been a devout (ha - couldn't resist) Atheista for the better part of six decades now. Having read the bible and having come up with over 3900 inconsistencies and exingencies within its hallowed (hollowed?) covers, even that won't dissuade some of these idiots. Take the Assemblies of God sect, for instance. They teach a literal meaning of the bible. No critical thinking, no discussion, no anything smacking of dissent. That'll create a great perpetuation of stupidity, ignorance and fraud.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As someone said, if you could reason with religious people, we wouldn't have religious people.

      Delete
  2. is there a "Jewish" state called Israel...?

    which tribe are the edomite, gog & magog "Jews" allegedly supposed to be from...

    Amorites...Jebusites, Kenites...perizzites ?

    curiously some fog banks can be made to disappear

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/7388839/mackey-encylopedia-of-freemasonry-vol-1-1914501p
    {see the words Assassin, Babylon & Captivity}

    IN GOOD FAITH

    Knowing Truth is not a "Religion"

    NO ONE ON EARTH HAS TO BE A "JEWISH"

    is that good news or what

    ReplyDelete

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