The genealogy of Jesus.
Matthew 1.2-17; Luke 3.23-38.
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Notes and quotes.
§ The Matthean and Lucan genealogies share three important points in common:
§ But the differences between the two genealogies are far more significant than their similarities:
As these two genealogies, apart from their mutual identification of Joseph as the father of Jesus, overlap only where the Hebrew scriptures can offer support, it is rather clear that the Matthean and Lucan genealogies of Jesus are wholly independent of one another.
§ Both Matthew and Luke have a weak link at Zerubbabel. Although each names a different son of Zerubbabel as continuing the line, neither son mentioned is listed in 1 Chronicles 3.19-20 as belonging to Zerubbabel (Masoretic and LXX):
I do not yet know what to make of the fact that the seven sons (and one daughter) are numbered as five. Perhaps the two named before Shelomith and the five named after her had different mothers, since Shelomith is called the sister only of the former two, and the five-count applies only to those from the latter group.
At any rate, what is clear is that neither Abiud (according to Matthew) nor Rhesa (according to Luke) make the list. Fitzmyer, page 500, on Rhesa:
The suggestion has been made that this name is actually a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic title rēā, "prince," and that it should be taken with the former name, "Prince Joanan, son of Zerubbabel," referring to Hananiah, the son of Zerubbabel in 1 Chr 3:19. According to Plummer (Commentary, 104), "some Jewish copyist" of the pre-Lucan list would have mistaken it for a proper name.... This is, however, highly speculative, and the formation of the list, as it now stands in the Lucan text, is against it.
It might be remarked that such a view is precisely an explanation of how the list, in the words of Fitzmyer, now stands in the Lucan text as it does, and is therefore not subject to the current Lucan formation of the list, all relevant exegetical mistakes having been made before Luke got to it. However, Fitzmyer is correct to note how speculative all such hypotheses must remain.
§ While Luke specifies no particular numerical arrangement, Matthew explicitly organizes his genealogy into three sets of fourteen. Matthew 1.17:
We might represent this arrangement schematically as follows:
What becomes apparent is that Matthew has had to artificially juggle the names somewhat to come up with his scheme of fourteen. The first group, from Abraham to David, poses no problem. The second group, however, comes out to fourteen names only by omitting three names immediately after Joram (asterisked * above), the kings Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah, and, a bit later, the king Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah (or Joseph, asterisked * above). And the third group comes out to only thirteen names unless we count, for no apparent reason, Jechoniah twice (both instances of which are boldfaced above).
§ The names after Zerubbabel on the Matthean list do not derive from the Hebrew scriptures, nor do they match in any way those in the equivalent part of the Lucan list until we reach Joseph. So did Matthew invent them?
It is precisely his scheme of fourteen that persuades me, at least for the time being, that Matthew was working with an existing list of names from Abiud to Jesus. For he clearly wants fourteen names in each of his three groups, yet we have to double up on Jechoniah in order to make the last group come out to fourteen. If Matthew invented the names in this last group, why did he not invent one more name to round out the number?
But, if he was working with an existing list of names, we find that he had fourteen names from Abraham to David (which simple fact may have sparked the idea of fourteen in the first place), seventeen from Solomon to Jechoniah, and only thirteen from Shealtiel to Jesus (or perhaps rather only eleven from Abiud to Jesus, and he knew that he could get two more out of Shealtiel and Zerubbabel). He therefore left the first group alone, took away three names from the second, and had to double up on a name in the last. What he does to Jechoniah, therefore, is inversely analogous to what he does to Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah. This analogy, however, would make no sense if Matthew were creating the names from Abiud to Jacob from scratch.
On my principle of the the real and the ideal, then, Matthew really had only thirteen names, but ideally he wanted fourteen. Thus the thirteen names probably preceded him in the tradition, and he had to make do with what he had.
The possibility of Lucan invention may swing the other way.
§ The Old Testament introduces a good many characters to the reader with an abbreviated genealogy. The standard practice is as follows:
Take 1 Samuel 9.1, for example (Masoretic and LXX):
Or 2 Chronicles 20.14 (Masoretic and LXX):
Note then how Luke 3.23, 38 follows the general pattern:
§ Matthew, as we have seen, explicitly organizes his list around the number fourteen. Luke does not explicitly mention a numerical scheme for his list, but could it be that he has classed his genealogy loosely in sevens?
It may not be coincidental, then, that David heads the seventh septet, Abraham the ninth, and Enoch the eleventh. (That Enoch was seven generations from Adam did not go unnoticed in Judaistic thought, as Jude [1.]14 indicates: ...εβδομος απο Αδαμ Ενωχ....)
§ Such a numerical arrangement may help to explain the presence of the otherwise unknown Admin on the stretch of names between David and Abraham: Luke needed another name. Matthew got away with the 13 names from the Old Testament only by reckoning inclusively (Abraham begins the group of fourteen that David ends). Luke, working with the tabular groups of seven that we see in the table above, and wishing to include Enoch in the pattern, could not meaningfully place Abraham at the end of the eighth septet when David began the seventh. Hence the need for an extra name, though it is not at all clear whence the name Admin might have come, unless it is a corruption of Amminadab, who comes just before Admin on the list.
Such considerations do not absolutely prove invention, but they seem to point that way, again invoking the principle of real and ideal. Luke did not really have fourteen generations from Abraham to David, counting exclusively, but ideally he would have liked two septets to span that gap. (This example of the principle at work is weaker than the Matthean example because Luke does not actually tell us that he is trying for groups of seven.)
In any case, the change from Aram to Arni in the next spot on the Lucan list remains unexplained unless, again, we have textual corruption.
§ I note the following characteristics of the Lucan genealogy:
The first and last observations above will be the important ones for this exercise. The middle observation only serves to confirm that there is more to this genealogy than a simple list of ancestral names. Whoever assembled it must have had some greater plan or purpose in mind.
The naming of Enoch in the seventh generation and of Jesus exactly seventy generations after him is surely no accident. It so happens that there is a certain document, quite popular in its time, written in the name of Enoch that also attaches significance to seventy generations.
The book of Enoch, also known as 1 Enoch, tells of the angels called the watchers who had relations with human women, as per Genesis 6.1-4, and were thus condemned to be bound in the valleys of the earth until the great day of judgment, a total of seventy generations.
When were the watchers bound? The Enochic literature is not entirely precise on that point, but on page 320 of Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church Richard Bauckham observes:
...it certainly happened after Enoch's translation and during the lifetime of his son Methuselah. So a reader might easily suppose that it should be dated in the generation after Enoch's.
The book of Enoch is divided into 5 sections, of which sections 1 and 3-5 are attested at Qumran; section 2, the parables, is not attested before Christian times. Methuselah does not appear in section 1 (or 2, for that matter), but each of sections 3-5 is set up as a direct address from the translated Enoch to his son Methuselah. Indeed, what Enoch is sharing with his son is vital information for posterity, for the generations of the world (82.1; 83.10).
We are justified, then, in seeing a connection, at least in hindsight, between these instructions to Methuselah for the generations and the seventy generations of 10.11-14:
Thus, although the immediate context of this passage includes instructions to Noah, the son of Lamech (10.1), it is easy to see how one familiar with the Enochic literature might start counting the seventy generations with Methuselah as the first. (This is especially true given that, according to all three extant versions of the genealogies in Genesis 5.1-32, Masoretic, LXX, and Samaritan, the lifespans of Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah overlap to a great degree.) If Methuselah is the one receiving instructions for all the generations, then it makes sense that all the generations (the seventy) should start being counted with him. Whether or not this is how the original author(s) of the Enochic literature intended the generations to be counted, what matters for our purposes is that this is a valid and plausible reading on the part of a Jewish reader from century I.
It seems, at any rate, quite a coincidence that (A) an ancient book written as instruction from Enoch to his son Methuselah should number the generations of the world at 70 and (B) a genealogy for the messiah, supposed to appear at the climax of history, should place that messiah in generation 70 after Enoch. I think, rather, that this is no coincidence at all. It is intentional.
It also helps explain the presence of Admin in the Lucan genealogy (Luke 3.33). In Ruth 4.19 and 1 Chronicles 2.9-10 Ram is the father of Amminadab; in Luke 3.33 Arni must correspond to Ram (Aram in Matthew 1.4), since both are said to be the son of Hezron, but his son is Admin, whose son is then Amminadab. No matter how the extra name Arni got onto the list, it serves a vital purpose to the christology of the genealogy, pushing David into the climactic seventh slot of the fifth septad. Without Arni, the genealogy would come out one name short as a messianic tract.
It would seem that whoever compiled this genealogy thought of Jesus as a member of the very last human generation before the great judgment at the end of the age, according to 1 Enoch.
Refer also to the article by Jona Lendering on the 77 generations.
§ Epiphanius, in Panarion 29.9, does not know whether or not the gospel of the Nazoraeans included the genealogy:
Of the gospel of the Ebionites Epiphanius writes in Panarion 30.13:
These passages let us know that the respective gospels of the Nazoraeans and of the Ebionites were, at least by the time of Epiphanius, different documents. The Nazoraean gospel he considered very complete (πληρεστατον), despite its possible omission of the genealogy of Jesus, while the Ebionite gospel he called not all very complete (ουχ ολω πληρεστατω).