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Why 2 Genealogies For Jesus Christ?

Genealogy is a record of ancestors, or descendants. The Bible provides two of them for Jesus Christ, one by Matthew in Matthew 1:1-17 and the other by Luke in Luke 3:23-38. Although both clearly show that Jesus was descended from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (who God renamed as Israel), Judah (from whose name Jew is derived) and King David, there are slight differences that have caused many to ask the question, "Why 2 different genealogies for Jesus Christ?"

Scroll Matthew's Genealogy Of Jesus Christ

Matthew's account moves forward in time, providing a list of descendants beginning from Abraham:

"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."

"Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king."

"And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa, and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon." [see Why Babylon?]

"And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ."

"So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations." (Matthew 1:1-17 RSV)

Luke's Genealogy Of Jesus Christ

Luke's account moves backward in time, providing a list of ancestors all the way to Adam, and God:

"Jesus, when He began His ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah [see The Flood], the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." (Luke 3:23-38 RSV)

Both Genealogies Of Joseph?

The major cause of controversy is that 2 seemingly different genealogies are provided for Joseph (while ignoring that none is presented for Mary). That part of the enigma actually has the likely answer. Very simply, one of the listings is that of Mary. Simple logic demands that Joseph couldn't have two sets of ancestors, while Mary had none.

Although there are a number of other theories, many Biblical scholars believe that Luke's listing is for Mary, and Matthew's is for Joseph.

Some then may ask, "Why include Joseph at all (apart from the fact that it was the custom to record genealogies through the father, even when he was a step-father, the reason Joseph's name was there instead of Mary's), since he was a step-father, and it was Mary that provided the actual ancestry back to King David?"

Both Joseph and Mary were descended from David. Joseph's record satisfies the legal requirement of primogeniture (inheritance rights, and responsibilities, usually went from the father to the oldest son, or legal step-son) for the line from David, while Mary's satisfies the actual physical descent from David. All requirements, legal and genetic, are fully met.

Fact Finder: What are the origins of the terms Hebrew, Israelite and Jew?
See Hebrew


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