Friday, March 23, 2018

The genealogy of Jesus

7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph [or Asa], 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos [or Amon], and Amos [Amon?] the father of Josiah (Mt 1:7-10).

1. The interrelationship between the "genealogies" of Matthew and Luke poses a long-standing crux. I put "genealogies" in scare quote because that in itself may be part of the problem. In modern English, "genealogy" has a narrow, technical connotation, and it's prejudicial to assume that Matthew and/or Luke were recording "genealogies" in that specialized sense.

2. For instance, is the selection criterion in Matthew strictly and solely ancestral, or does he have other criteria? In vv7-8,10, he seems to use double entendres, where "Asaph" is a pun for "Asa" while "Amos" is a pun for "Amon". Although it's possible that "Asaph" and "Amos" are scribal errors, they represent the stronger manuscript tradition. Cf. B. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the New Testament (UBS, 2nd. ed., 1994), 1-2. 

If "Asaph" and "Amos" are original, then Matthew is substituting a psalmist and a prophet for Hebrew kings. A homophonic wordplay that trades on association with each. If so, then Matthew isn't constructing a pure family tree; rather, his selection criteria include theological kinship as well as lineal ancestry.  

But in that event, the question of whether Matthew and Luke have contradictory "genealogies" is confused, since, at least in the case of Matthew, this was never meant to be strictly ancestral in the first place. The genre is more complex. Matthew, writing for a Jewish audience, has subtle puns to indicate that Jesus is not only David's royal heir, but heir to the psalmists and prophets. 

1 comment:

  1. Matthew is Jewish, so he may be conflating names based on similarities. See this: