Two of the four gospels in the New Testament give ancestor lists for Jesus Christ. The gospels were Matthew and Luke.
At the start of Matthew we have a genealogy that seems to be contradicted by the one in Luke. The traditional answer is that Matthew is tracing Jesus’ ancestors through Joseph and Luke through Mary. But Luke never even mentioned Mary in the genealogy. Would anybody write as Luke allegedly did, “Jesus was the son of Joseph – it was supposed – the son of Heli, the son of Mattat” and so on when Heli is Mary’s dad and Mattat her grandfather? Of course not! Why mention Joseph first unless he is the son of Heli? The early Church did not believe that this was Mary’s list when it invented a man called Joachim for her father. Mary is not even mentioned. 

It is no objection to say that she was not mentioned for Jews did not trace genealogies through mothers (page 329, Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition) for then there would have been no genealogy if this is Mary’s list. Does it make sense to imagine a list of ancestors being made from the mother's side and not to mention the mother because the mother didn't count? The relatives of the mother and the ancestors of the mother were irrelevant.
The Jews felt that the woman was just a kind of bag to hold a baby and did not give a part of herself to make babies. The man was believed to do this. If the objection were right Luke would not be tracing the genealogy through Mary but Joseph. It is no objection to say she was not mentioned for we are already told in Luke that she was Jesus’ mother (page 149, Answers). But then that means we do not know if it is hers or not. It would not be a reason anyway.
Some say the original language of the gospel, Greek, indicates that where Jesus in Luke is being described as "son of Joseph as was supposed" is treated as if were in brackets and this is used to justify the idea that the list is not Joseph's but Mary's (page 69, Jesus and Early Christianity in the Gospels). This is only an assumption for there were no brackets in ancient Greek.
Luke traces Jesus back to Adam in the list meaning he wants to verify Jesus was a real man. Luke would be tracing the physical ancestors of Jesus. If so, then Luke regards Joseph as Jesus' literal father even if he did mention him in brackets. Luke saying that Joseph was supposed to be the father does not deny that Joseph may have been the father. It only says there was some doubt or perhaps no evidence that Joseph was the father.
The brackets theory does not work. Why else would Joseph have been mentioned unless he was Jesus' father? And if the list was not of Joseph's ancestors why did Joseph need to be mentioned at all and especially if he was not Jesus' physical father? And if Joseph was in brackets that does not mean or indicate that the list was Mary's. You could imagine, "Jesus (Joseph was his father), and Heli was his father and Thomas was his father, and Jake was his etc". Meaning Heli was Jesus real father either through being Joseph's father or through being the father of Jesus (perhaps as the sperm the Holy Spirit took) or father as short for grandfather. Joseph being mentioned at all means the list was about Joseph not Mary. His being in brackets does not prove any different but makes it more likely that it was his line that was being talked about. And the Greek might just be faulty so there is no need to assume there should be brackets there. Luke could have been clearer - and did he would have been. There is no bracketing.

Some say it is possible that Joseph was only mentioned in brackets because we already know he was Jesus' foster father and so the list chooses to start with Jesus' legal grandfather Heli meaning Heli is the father of Joseph. Possible? We are entitled to choose then a different kind of possible. We can say it is possible that the lists contradict each other whatever Christians say.

Some Christians say that the Luke genealogy did not originally call Joseph the son of Heli but the son in law of Heli before some copyist made a mistake (page 90, In Defence of the Faith). Their evidence for this is that Luke would not have contradicted Matthew but there is no evidence that Luke knew of Matthew at all or knew it well if he did. Claims like that need to be supported by manuscript evidence but there is none. And what happened to Jesus' promise that not a word of his scriptures would be lost?
Mary should not and would not have been dropped being the most important person in the Lucan list if she was the one whose roots were being traced.

Others say the lists were incomplete but agree with one another. Luke mentions people who Matthew left out and leaves out people who were listed in Matthew. This does not really succeed in harmonising the lists for if they knew who Jesus' grandfather was one or both of them would not have left his name out. One might think one could understand Luke leaving out some minor Bible or historical character but when he says that Joseph’s father was Heli while Matthew says it was Jacob who were non-biblical people it is a different story. They did not agree. And Luke does mean that Heli was Joseph’s father and Matthew thinks that Jacob was Joseph’s father for they would not leap back to some obscure forefather instead of the father.
The Matthew list was born from imagination and the first book of Chronicles. Matthew skips from Josiah to Jeconiah. Luke does not. Matthew said that there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, and fourteen from David to the Babylonian Captivity and fourteen from that until Jesus. David is DVD in Hebrews which stands for the number 14. It is thought that this is the reason why Matthew gives three generations of 14 though the Old Testament says there were not. But he was writing a gospel and not a puzzle or a piece of poetry and he thought his list was important as an apologetic for Jesus being the true king and it had to be exact and complete for that. The book was not meant for eventual distribution to the general public some of whom would go to the bother of examining its evidence and he did not foresee the arrival of printing. It is most likely that he really did think there were three sets of 14 through sloppy research or alternatively that he was sure the Old Testament was doomed with the apparent destruction of Judaism and was not afraid to tell lies about it.
Some say that Joseph's line in Matthew was traced through his real father Jacob and Luke traces it through his legal father Heli. They speculate that Jacob died and a man from another family Heli married Joseph's mother and became his legal father and step-father. Or you can assume that Heli was the real father and Jacob the legal. Perhaps both were legal fathers! The lists fail to show us that Jesus is a true descendant of David. When God promised David that a son of his in the far away future would be king it is hard to imagine that he would be so inept that he would fulfil this by making do with a legal son. The Jews expected a real king descended from David's loins. The Jews stressed blood so much that if a woman lost her husband in death and was left childless the husband's brother was compelled to marry her to raise up children for his brother.

The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus admits that neither of the two lists bears any semblance of plausibility (page 54 – see also the book, Jesus Hypotheses, page 139). The Matthew one gets many figures confused in the first twenty-eight and his list of fourteen for the period following the exile is insanely short. It puts in the priestly name Zadok which was a mistake for there were no priests in the list. Only the tribe of Levi could have priests. The Luke one contains duplications and even anachronistically puts post-exilic names on people in the pre-exilic period (ibid).
Matthew and Luke were not the first scripture mongers to come out with nonsense. Think about the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith. The Christian liberals look at the nonsense in the Bible and because it is nonsense they start saying it makes sense after all for it was never meant to be taken literally. This is a rationalisation. Where does it all stop? If we find the body of Jesus will the Church start saying that the resurrection was not meant to be taken literally? Their rationalisations assume falsely or without warrant that the ancients were as "sensible" as the scholars of our day. If Matthew and Luke had to use a symbolic genealogy in the face of Jewish opposition and hostility to the Christians then it reflects poorly on the authenticity of Jesus' claim to be Messiah.
Paul the first Christian writer says in Romans 1:3 says Jesus is the sperma of David, the literal seed meaning Joseph or some other descendant of David had to be literal Jesus’ father. The Bible says that Jesus had to be descended from David and lawful king of Israel to be the Messiah and Son of God. This was so stressed in the New Testament that if Jesus wasn’t a true descendant and king he wasn’t the Son of God but just another fake. The New Testament traces Jesus' descent through Joseph who was supposedly only Jesus' foster father.
JESUS AND EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN THE GOSPELS, Daniel J Grolin, George Ronald, Oxford, 2002 suggests that Matthew may have given the genealogy of Joseph's legal father Heli and Luke gives Joseph's genealogy through his actual father Jacob. This view supposes that Heli was married to Joseph's mother and died before she had a chance to conceive. So Heli stood in for Jacob meaning he was the real father of Joseph in the physical sense but Joseph was legally Jacob's son. Other suggest that Matthew gave the actual genealogy while Luke gave the legal. It is the same thing but the other way around. But Levirate law required that this could only be done when a married brother died childless and the other brother could stand in for him. A complete outsider standing in for a dead husband would not have been acceptable to most Jews. We can reject the Levirate law theory.
The genealogies are a contradiction between the gospels. They in fact prove that Jesus Christ was not the Messiah. Joseph’s father would matter as much as Jesus’ father because the messiah line was traced through Joseph. That is why the gospels disagreeing on this is fatal to the claims made about Jesus.


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