Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been asked by readers if I think the birth stories of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 were original to those Gospels (they are the only two sets of stories of Jesus’ birth we have; all subsequent retellings — even in modern times — go back to one or both of them).   My view is that there is little reason to doubt that Matthew began originally as it does now, with the stories of chs. 1-2 (though I’m open to persuasion otherwise).  But I do have questions about Luke 1-2.  I suspect they were added later, after the Gospel was first published.  I’ve talked about the issue before, including in a couple of posts from six, count them, six years ago.  I still think pretty much the same thing.  Here is the first of the two posts.  It begins with some reflections on Luke’s version of Jesus’ genealogy:


In my previous posts I have already said a number of things about the genealogy in Luke – possibly most of the important things:

  • It differs from Matthew’s in numerous ways, many of them irreconcilable;
  • Even though it too is a genealogy of Joseph, rather than Jesus, it traces Joseph’s line through a (completely) different set of ancestors back to Nathan, son of David, rather than to Solomon Son of David;
  • It is not, however a genealogy of Mary, but is explicitly said to be Joseph’s;
  • It is not clear why a genealogy of Joseph is given, since the whole point of a genealogy is bloodlines, and Jesus is not in the bloodline;
  • Unlike Matthew it begins with Joseph and works backward from there (that is not a discrepancy, of course, just a different way of doing it);
  • And unlike Matthew it does not stop with Abraham but goes all the way back to Adam – as in Adam and Eve. And it goes in fact a step further, indicating that Adam was “the son of God.” This means that Jesus is in a straight line of descent from God! (Well, Joseph is, anyway) (and then again, by this logic, we all are).

There are numerous other points that can be made about Luke’s genealogy, but I want to focus on just one issue, which I raise initially as a question that may have occurred to you. Why is the genealogy in chapter 3 instead of ch 1? You would think a genealogy would be given at the beginning of a person’s life, since that’s where it seems most relevant. But this one is given, oddly, after Jesus baptism as an adult. Huh?

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