November 1, 2009

Jesus, David's Lineage?

Jesus will be of King David's lineage. So the prophecy says. So here is the question. Since Jesus was a virgin birth, was Mary of David's lineage? For I am sure God is not. Does anyone know the answer to this question?

Why do I ask since Joseph was of David's lineage? Joseph was Jesus Stepfather, think about it. He was not the biological father. So, was Mary of King David's lineage?

38 comments:

One Voice of Many said...

Actually, I have always heard that the David line was through Mary's lineage but I don't have anything other than memories to back that up. And, as with most stories along those lines, it's probably b.s.

Erin said...

OK Mr. Bible Scholar - aren't those lineages in Matthew? It says it was through Joseph....I have never given a thought to the fact that Joseph wasn't the "real" father.

So what does that mean? God messed up, the people who wrote it down messed up, or God figured the earthly father was sufficient. Maybe he is saying it's decidedly NOT genetics that made Jesus the Messiah?

Tyler Dawn said...

Hey sweetums, the original Matthew in Hebrew clears that up. There is a word that can mean either father, man or husband in Hebrew and the translators chose the one that means "husband" because Joseph was her husband. However, if the word "father" is used then you do get the 14 generations the scriptures talk about. The KJV authors counted the generations with the word husband and just replaced the word 14 with 13 -- so much for that version being inerrant, eh?

The original version is called the Shem Tov Matthew, and if you want to study about it there is an excellent book by a karaite rabbi called The Hebrwe Yeshua vs the Greek Jesus -- fascinating read.

Tyler Dawn said...

Forgot to add this -- Joseph was an incredibly common name, so it would not be strange that it was the name of her husband and of her father.

Ruth said...

Funny that you ask about this because I was just asking the same question when I happened to be reading in Luke Chapter 3 where it traces Jesus lineage back to David through Joseph and then to Adam.

So then I wondered if Jesus even had some of Mary's DNA or if he was miraculously implanted as a full embryo you know like invitro. So then I wondered who he looked like? Did he look like his brothers and sisters? Did God create him with the feature of both parents?

At any rate it seems society saw Jesus as Josephs son.

Barry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barry said...

The other possibility that we seem to be sidestepping here is that Jesus may, in fact, have been Joseph's son. The lineages in Matthew and Luke (which completely contradict each other, by the way) seem to assume that he is.

The source manuscripts we have for the book of Matthew are in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic. (Shem Tov Matthew is a late mediaeval text, probably translated from the Greek.) If there was an Aramaic or Hebrew original it has long been lost, and "untranslating" a document into its supposed original language is mostly guesswork. The word used in Greek is the word for "husband", so that's what we need to go by unless there is solid evidence for an earlier variation that says something else. Presumably the original translator (if it wasn't written in Greek in the first place) understood the meaning of the words he was translating and so we must assume that the original meaning was "husband", not "father".

The genealogy in Luke supports the idea that Joseph wasn't Jesus' real father because it says that Jesus "was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph..." but then if he wasn't Joseph's son there is another problem, i.e. that there is no existing evidence of him being a descendant of David.

The idea that is often used to explain away the discrepancy between the two genealogies, i.e. that one is the lineage of Joseph while the other is the lineage of Mary, holds no water because the text is quite clear that it is Joseph's lineage that is being referred to in both cases.

The other possibility, of course, is that the people who wrote the Gospels simply got it wrong. At least one of them certainly did, as their genealogies of Jesus differ hugely.

Barry said...

Actually, on re-reading the genealogies, they both seem to allow for the idea that Joseph may not have been Jesus' father - but in that case, why use Joseph's genealogy to justify Jesus' Davidic descent? That seems odd to me.

Ruth said...

I don't think it means by blood but by name. Back then they did all sorts of things to pass on their name - like have children for a brother or have children with a concubine just to carry the name.

Tyler Dawn said...

Luke's is widely accepted as Mary's lineage

Tyler Dawn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barry said...

Tyler: There is no evidence for the idea that Luke gives Mary's lineage. The text itself says it's Joseph's lineage, which pretty much rules that idea out.

Tyler Dawn said...

Oops, you are right -- typing mistake -- if you read my above responses, you will see that I said Matthew's is Mary's lineage if you look at the Shem Tov Matthew. Joseph's is Luke, Mary's is Matthew. The word for father/husband got mangled in the translation -- without Joseph being her father, the 14 generations do not add up, so it makes sense.

Barry said...

Again, the text of Matthew clearly shows that it is referring to Joseph's lineage, not Mary's. As I said in my earlier comment, Shem Tov Matthew is a late mediaeval translation into Hebrew from the Greek, which means it is less reliable than the Greek (which clearly says Joseph was Mary's husband).

Tyler Dawn said...

That the gospel of Matthew was originally in Hebrew and then translated into Aramaic is documented, so when the shem Tov manuscript was uncovered it answered a lot of the seeming inconsistencies in Matthew -- the first being "Joseph the father of Mary" instead of "Joseph the husband of Mary" -- two different guys named Joseph. One adds up to 14 generations, the other only to 13. So I have to disagree, Papais, an early church father clearly writes that the gospel was originally in Hebrew and studies of the Shem Tov show a ton of Hebraisms, scholars are rethinking what has been accepted as "fact":

The early churchman, Papias, wrote that "Matthew wrote down the sayings in Hebrew and each translated it as he was able", (Eusebius, H.E. [the History of the Church], 3.39; cf. 3.24).
"Matthew published a written gospel for the Hebrews in their own tongue, while Peter and Paul were preaching the gospel in Rome and founding the church there. After their passing, Mark also, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, transmitted to us in writing the things preached by Peter. Luke ... . Lastly, John ..." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.1.2; cf. Eusebius, H.E., 5.8)

Barry said...

Matthew 1:16 - "and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."

In the original Greek ιωσηφ τον ανδρα μαριας - "Joseph the husband of Mary." That's quite clear and unambiguous, and the Greek is the earliest and most reliable version of Matthew we have.

Barry said...

The Gospel of Matthew may well have been written in Hebrew or Aramaic originally, but that original has been lost so the earliest version we have is the Greek. The Shem Tov Matthew is not the original text, but was translated from the Greek in the Middle Ages, centuries after the earliest Greek manuscripts. You can't use a translation from the Greek to disprove something found in the Greek - the Greek is more reliable than a translation.

The Gospel of Matthew contains Hebraisms because it was written by a Jewish man. Nothing unusual there.

The answering of "seeming inconsistencies" in the Shem Tov Matthew is probably a result of the translator's own bias showing up in his translation, a common enough phenomenon. That still doesn't make it authoritative.

Tyler Dawn said...

Sorry Barry, but having done extensive research into this, I absolutely disagre. The Hebrew reads "Jacob the father of Joseph, the father of Mary." If both accounts supposedly list Joseph's parentage, then we can hardly call the scriptures inerrant as they are completely different.

I have to go with Papias, I have no reason to believe he was incorrect -- or why on earth he would lie about the original language. And having seen the contextual problems that are cleared up elsewhere in the text, I am thoroughly convinced.

The Shem Tov was dismissed and tossed based upon tradition, which is sadly all too common with what we do and do not accept.

Anyway, that is my last word on the subject. I have no desire to argue about it.

Erin said...

WOW thanks to both of you for the interesting debate. Leaves me with a lot to research, if only I had the time right now.

Barry said...

Tyler: If the Hebrew manuscript you were using was the actual text of the original, I would accept your point straight away. As it isn't, however, but is instead a translation made in the Middle Ages from the Greek text (i.e. with no access to the hypothetical Hebrew original), it cannot be regarded as reliable. The hypothetical Hebrew original of Matthew no longer exists, so we can't know the exact wording in it.

That being the case, the most reliable manuscripts we have are the early Greek manuscripts, in which Joseph is clearly shown to be Mary's husband, not her father.

The other issue, of course, is that Jewish society 2000 years ago was extremely patriarchal. Women were regarded as the property of their husbands. It would have been extremely unusual for a woman's lineage to be recorded.


Nate: You opened a real can of worms with this topic! I'm enjoying it though. :o)

Nate said...

What exactly does the prophecy say? From what I am getting from both of you, we are getting two lineages. One from Mary's father Joseph, and one from Mary's husband Joseph. Transliteration aside, what does the prophecy say?
Descending from the father or the mother? Also what was the custom of the time, certainly not the lineage through the mother. Not the way women were held in low esteem of the time. And, no Barry, I have not ruled out the possibility that Joseph was indeed Jesus biological father. Many beliefs have been falsified be Constatine's catholocism. Many things suppressed and hidden. But the angel that appeared to John the Baptist's parents, the messages were extremely similar in wording. You shall have a son, name him thus and he will do this etc... But no divine intervention there.

For me it matters little, as my beliefs stem more from the spirit that inhabits a biological construct, than the biology that creates the construct. I believe that Jesus spirit inhabited that body, and fulfilled his purpose. Other than that it matters little to me.

Susan said...

Some time ago, I read a book called, Desert to Destiny by Wendy Yapp and she discusses this issue towards the end of the book. I wrote about it here.

Valorosa said...

Awesome dig Susan :-)

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