ABC:Luke 3

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Verse 23, Different Genealogies of Jesus?[edit]

Patheos' Bob Seidensticker claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[1]

The different genealogies of Jesus

The Messiah had to be of the line of David (Jeremiah 33:15–17; Isaiah 9:7), so two gospels provide genealogies of Jesus to validate this requirement. The problem is that we only need to go back one generation, to Joseph’s father, to find a problem.

Matthew 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Luke 3:23 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,

There is just one unique male biological line that would terminate in Joseph, so at least one of these genealogies is wrong. And it’s hard to imagine that an ordinary Joe like Joseph would have a reliable record of his genealogy going back generations. Worse, Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus, so his genealogy is irrelevant. If being in the line of David is a requirement, then having a god for a father makes you ineligible.

The most common rebuttal is to say that the Luke genealogy is for Mary, but the text makes clear that it’s for Joseph. Anyway, why would you provide the genealogy of the parent from whom descent from David wouldn’t count? We’re seeing the incompatible clash of two ideas: Jesus inherits David’s throne and Jesus was the son of God.

Every person has two genealogies, one through their father, and one through their mother. As Halley's Bible Handbook points out:

"The commonly accepted view is that Matthew gives Joseph's line, showing Jesus to be legal heir to the promises given to Abraham and David, and that Luke gives Mary's line, showing Jesus' blood descent: 'who as to his human nature was a descendant of David' (Romans 1:3). Mary's genealogy, in accordance with Jewish usage, was in her husband's name. Joseph was the son of Heli (Luke 3:23)-that is, Heli's son-in-law. Jacob was Joseph's father (Matthew 1:16)."
-Halley's Bible Handbook[2]

This has been recognized since at least 1917 when the Scofield Reference Bible printed a similar explanation:

"In Matthew, where unquestionably we have the genealogy of Joseph, we are told Matthew 1:16, that Joseph was the son of Jacob. In what sense, then, could he be called in Luke 'the son of Heli'? He could not be by natural generation the son both of Jacob and of Heli. But in Luke it is not said that Heli begat Joseph, so that the natural explanation is that Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli, who was, like himself, a descendant of David. That he should in that case be called 'son of Heli' ('son' is not in the Greek, but rightly supplied by the translators) would be in accord with Jewish usage.(CF) 1 Samuel 24:16 The conclusion is therefore inevitable that in Luke we have Mary's genealogy; and Joseph was 'son of Heli' because espoused to Heli's daughter. The genealogy in Luke is Mary's, whose father, Heli, was descended from David."
-Scofield Reference Bible[3]

Per the Scofield, it accords with Jewish usage to present the mother's genealogy in the father's name, thus the confusion over two seemingly differing genealogies. It also explains why the Luke account begins with a focus on Mary, giving detail only she would know, detail specific to her life. Luke ch. 1 delves into the history of Mary's cousin Elisabeth and Elisabeth's child, John the Baptist, the angel's greeting of Mary, Mary's thanksgiving to God, and how Mary stayed with Elisabeth afterward. Luke 2:19 says, "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:34 records Simeon speaking to Mary specifically, while Luke 2:48 records her conversation with Jesus.

In short, a logical reading of Luke shows the narrator of the early chapters appears to be Mary, not Joseph, and seems to be written from her point of view distinctly. Matthew 1, on the other hand, tells a more matter-of-fact account from Joseph's point of view, telling detail from his vantage point and only that pertaining to him. Just as Luke relates Mary's feelings and thoughts, so does Matthew's early account with Joseph. Matthew 1:19-20 describes Joseph's thought process to send Mary away privately, and his discussion with the angel that persuades him otherwise. Matthew 2:19-23 describe the angel's message to Joseph specifically that it's alright to return to Israel.

Just as the early chapters of Matthew appear written from Joseph's view, so the early chapters of Luke appear clearly written from Mary's, and the genealogies in Matthew those of Joseph's while Luke records Mary's genealogy.


Verse 23, Father of Joseph[edit]

Infidels.org calls this a contradiction and asks the question, "Who is the father of Joseph?"[4]

Matthew 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Luke 3:23 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.

That Matthew 1 and Luke 3 differ in their genealogies is a well-known fact. As observed by the Halley's Bible Handbook note for Matthew 1:1-17, the Matthew genealogy goes back to Abraham and Luke to Adam, Matthew starts at the beginning and Luke at the end, and from David to Jesus they present different lines of descent. As Halley's further notes:

"The commonly accepted view is that Matthew gives Joseph's line, showing Jesus to be legal heir to the promises given to Abraham and David, and that Luke gives Mary's line, showing Jesus' blood descent: 'who as to his human nature was a descendant of David' (Romans 1:3). Mary's genealogy, in accordance with Jewish usage, was in her husband's name. Joseph was the son of Heli (Luke 3:23)-that is, Heli's son-in-law. Jacob was Joseph's father (Matthew 1:16)."
-Halley's Bible Handbook[5]

This has been recognized since at least 1917 when the Scofield Reference Bible printed a similar explanation:

"In Matthew, where unquestionably we have the genealogy of Joseph, we are told Matthew 1:16, that Joseph was the son of Jacob. In what sense, then, could he be called in Luke 'the son of Heli'? He could not be by natural generation the son both of Jacob and of Heli. But in Luke it is not said that Heli begat Joseph, so that the natural explanation is that Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli, who was, like himself, a descendant of David. That he should in that case be called 'son of Heli' ('son' is not in the Greek, but rightly supplied by the translators) would be in accord with Jewish usage.(CF) 1 Samuel 24:16 The conclusion is therefore inevitable that in Luke we have Mary's genealogy; and Joseph was 'son of Heli' because espoused to Heli's daughter. The genealogy in Luke is Mary's, whose father, Heli, was descended from David."
-Scofield Reference Bible[6]

Again, it accords with Jewish usage to present the mother's genealogy in the father's name, thus the confusion over two seemingly differing genealogies. It also explains why the Luke account begins with a focus on Mary, giving detail only she would know, detail specific to her life. Luke ch. 1 delves into the history of Mary's cousin Elisabeth and Elisabeth's child, John the Baptist, the angel's greeting of Mary, Mary's thanksgiving to God, and how Mary stayed with Elisabeth afterward. Luke 2:19 says, "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:34 records Simeon speaking to Mary specifically, while Luke 2:48 records her conversation with Jesus.

In short, a logical reading of Luke shows the narrator of the early chapters appears to be Mary, not Joseph, and seems to be written from her point of view distinctly. Matthew 1, on the other hand, tells a more matter-of-fact account from Joseph's point of view, telling detail from his vantage point and only that pertaining to him. Just as Luke relates Mary's feelings and thoughts, so does Matthew's early account with Joseph. Matthew 1:19-20 describes Joseph's thought process to send Mary away privately, and his discussion with the angel that persuades him otherwise. Matthew 2:19-23 describe the angel's message to Joseph specifically that it's alright to return to Israel.

Just as the early chapters of Matthew appear written from Joseph's view, so the early chapters of Luke appear clearly written from Mary's, and the genealogies in Matthew those of Joseph's while Luke records Mary's genealogy.

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the Greek word huios translated "son" can simply mean descendant, so Jesus was called the descendant of Heli, not Joseph.[7] The following are examples where the same word translated "son" in Luke 3:23 is used in a broader sense to refer to descendants:

Luke 3:23 And <kai> Jesus <Iesous> himself <autos> began <archomai> to be <en> about <hosei> thirty <triakonta> years of age, <etos> being <on> (as <hos> was supposed <nomizo>) the son <huios> of Joseph, <Ioseph> which was the son of Heli, <Heli>

Matthew 1:1 ¶ The book <biblos> of the generation <genesis> of Jesus <Iesous> Christ <Christos>, the son <huios> of David <Dabid>, the son <huios> of Abraham <Abraam>.

Matthew 1:20 But <de> while he <autos> thought on <enthumeomai> these things <tauta>, behold <idou>, the angel <aggelos> of the Lord <kurios> appeared <phaino> unto him <autos> in <kata> a dream <onar>, saying <lego>, Joseph <Ioseph>, thou son <huios> of David <Dabid>, fear <phobeo> not <me> to take <paralambano> unto thee <sou> Mary <Maria> thy wife <gune>: for <gar> that which is conceived <gennao> in <en> her <autos> is <esti> of <ek> the Holy <hagios> Ghost <pneuma>.

Matthew 9:27 ¶ And <kai> when Jesus <Iesous> departed <parago> thence <ekeithen>, two <duo> blind men <tuphlos> followed <akoloutheo> him <autos>, crying <krazo>, and <kai> saying <lego>, Thou Son <huios> of David <Dabid>, have mercy <eleeo> on us <hemas>.

Matthew 27:9 Then <tote> was fulfilled <pleroo> that which <ho> was spoken <rheo> by <dia> Jeremy <Ieremias> the prophet <prophetes>, saying <lego>, And <kai> they took <lambano> the thirty <triakonta> pieces of silver <argurion>, the price

Verse 35[edit]

RationalWiki lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headline " Cainan, Son of Arphaxad."[8] Comments by the critic are italicized.

Cainan, Son of Arphaxad

There is an inconsistency between Luke's genealogy and the Genesis account three generations below Noah. The Genesis account has it (ABC:Genesis 11:12) that Noah's grandson, Arphaxad, had a son named Shelah. However, Luke's genealogy (ABC:Luke 3:35) has it that Shelah is the grandson of Arphaxad and the son of Cainan.

There is a very simple explanation for this, viz., that Luke derived his genealogy from the Septuagint, the contemporary Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. The Septuagint also contains the name of Cainan in Genesis 11, which is believed to have been slipped into the text to try and make the Deluge seem to have occurred earlier than it did.

However, this also poses a problem for Biblical literalists. If the Septuagint was dodgy, that was no problem, since it was not an original manuscript. But since the Gospel of Luke contains the Septuagint's error in its original manuscript, it cannot be hand-waved away.

Answers in Genesis is rather desperate about it, apparently, as they searched all the way back to 1809 to find a source that tries to pin the inconsistency on an unlikely "copyist error" that was later concealed by historical revisionism on the Septuagint, thus absolving the original manuscript from error. However, the Old Catholic Encyclopedia, written a century later, maintains that the error was in the Septuagint in Luke's time.

Interestingly, rather than proving the Bible is not inspired, this proves the books of Jubilees and 1 Enoch ARE inspired (and both are unusually well-preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls when it comes to manuscript count). As pointed out by Stephen Pigeon and Cepher Publishing, Jubilees 8:1-5 records the existence of this second Cainan as being the son of Arphaxad and father of Shelah.[9] Jubilees is an ancient book, like 1 Enoch (which is quoted in the book of Jude and referenced in Jubilees), dating before the time of Christ; and both should be considered scriptural. Jubilees preserves the evidence of Cainan as Arphaxad's son, showing that no contradiction exists.

Sources[edit]

  1. Seidensticker, P. (2018, October 20). "Top 20 Most Damning Bible Contradictions." Patheos.
  2. Halley, H.H. (1984). Halley's Bible handbook with the New International Version. Zondervan Publishing House.
  3. Scofield, C.I. (1917). Scofield Reference Notes.
  4. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  5. Halley, H.H. (1984). Halley's Bible handbook with the New International Version. Zondervan Publishing House.
  6. Scofield, C.I. (1917). Scofield Reference Notes.
  7. Thayer and Smith. Huios. The New Testament Greek Lexicon.
  8. RationalWiki Editors (2019). "Biblical Contradictions." RationalWiki.
  9. Pigeon, S. (2019, July 12). "The Book of Jubilees and Luke 3 – Yovheliym is an Inspired Book!" Cepher Publishing Group.