Monday, 19 December 2011

Who was the real father?

A wise man knows his own father.

"Let there be Light"

As we get ready for the Christmas season with its annual over-the-top birthday party for the Messiah or the Christ it's worth pausing to consider the pertinent point: Who was his real father? There are three candidates.

Here is the ancestral male line of Jesus' genealogy according to Matthew ch. 1 v. 1-16: Abraham - Isaac - Jacob - Judah - Perez - Hezron - Ram - Amminadab - Nahson - Salmon - Boaz - Obed - Jesse - David - Solomon - Rehoboam - Abijah - Asa - Jehoshaphat - Jehoram - Uzziah - Jotham - Ahaz - Hezekiah - Manasseh - Amon - Josiah - Jeconiah - Shealtiel - Zerubbabel - Abiud - Eliakim - Azor - Zadok - Akim - Eliud - Eleazar - Matthan - Jacob - Joseph - Jesus.

Beginning in Luke ch. 3 v. 23 there is a second male line genealogy for Jesus. Note that this one is very different from that given in Matthew ch. 1. Luke takes the trouble to prove to his readership that Jesus is the son of God. Here is how he does it.

God - Adam - Seth - Enosh - Kenan - Mahalalel - Jared - Enoch - Methuselah - Lamech - Noah - Shem - Arphaxad - Cainan - Shelah - Eber - Peleg - Reu - Serug - Nahor - Terah - Abraham - Isaac - Jacob - Judah - Perez - Hezron - Ram - Amminadab - Nahshon - Salmon - Boaz - Obed - Jesse - David - Nathan - Mattatha - Menna - Melea - Eliakim - Jonam - Joseph - Judah - Simeon - Levi - Matthat - Jorim - Eliezer - Joshua - Er - Elmadam - Cosam - Melki - Neri - Shealtiel - Zerubbabel - Rhesa - Joanan - Joda - Josech - Semein - Mattathias - Maath - Naggai - Esli - Nahum - Amos - Mattathias - Joseph - Jannai - Melki - Levi - Matthat - Heli - Joseph - Jesus.

It's as clear as day that Matthew's Joseph and Luke's Joseph are not the same person.

The Joseph referred to in Matthew is the son of Jacob. The Joseph referred to in Luke is the son of Heli. Both these Josephs can trace their ancestors back to King David. But by different routes. That's 40 generations of difference. Matthew's Joseph springs from the line of David's son Solomon. Luke's Joseph from the line of David's son Nathan. And therein lies a Christmas conundrum.

Now we must ask the obvious questions. Was Mary in some way confused? Did she have a problem choosing between her two suitors - the two Josephs? Were both of them graced with her favours? Did she perhaps play one against the other? Which Joseph did she marry eventually?

So then, who was Jesus' real father? Here is a list of the three candidates:

X Joseph (of Matthew's Gospel)

X Joseph (of Luke's Gospel)

X God

You may pick your own cross.


  1. for all these years I never realised there were two different Josephs.

    PS Thanks for the card - it arrived this morning.

  2. Hi Gwilym. It was so nice to see your face - at least a little bit of it - on my blog. I changed addresses because of a spam invasion and lost contact with many people. I'm glad you found me again. Your Christmas conundrum is an interesting one. I'm going to have to do some research on it. Like Gerald, I had never noticed the inconsistency.
    Have a Happy Christmas.

  3. Gerald, neither did I. I was taught as a child to think as a child - i.e. to believe everything your "elders and betters" will tell you. Thanks for your card too. It's on display. Front row!

    Mairi, Have a happy Christmas too. Good luck with your biblical research - the digger you deep the more unknown facts you will uncover. 'They' tell us only a small % of what's in there. Always repeating the same bits. The rest, the uncomfortable bits, 'they' never mention. I wonder why ;).


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