The Women in Matthew’s Genealogy: Answer to a Reader

Yesterday I received this question in response to a post:

QUESTION:

I have also heard that hints of the possibility of Jesus’ illegitimacy can be found in Matthew’s hereditary narratives. It is a bit of a stretch but Matthew names 4 women in them and all 4 are somewhat” loose” women, giving the hint that illegitimacy can still produce remarkable people. Any thoughts on this?

RESPONSE:

Ah, great question.  Here is what I say about it in my textbook on ...

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Luke’s 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 ...
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The Women in Matthew’s Genealogy

Another bit drawn mainly from my undergraduate textbook, but of relevance to my current thread on the birth narratives of Jesus.

There is one other interesting and frequently-noted feature of Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (actually, not of Jesus, but of Joseph). That is the fact that it makes explicit reference to women among Jesus’ ancestors. That is highly unusual. Women scarcely ever appear in most ancient Israelite and Jewish genealogies;, which invariably trace a person’s lineage from father to son ...

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Matthew’s Genealogy: The Number “Fourteen”

Like my previous post, this one takes material over from my textbook, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.

I pointed out in the previous post that Matthew presents a numerically significant genealogy of Jesus in order to show that something of major significance happen every fourteen generations:  from Abraham, the father of the Jews, to David, the greatest king of the Jews: fourteen generations; from King David to the Babylonian Captivity, the greatest ...

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Matthew’s Genealogy

As I have pointed out, the reader who first comes to the New Testament, and so begins at the beginning, with Matthew chapter 1, first finds him/herself confronted with a genealogy. This may not seem like an auspicious beginning, but the genealogy is highly significant for understanding Matthew’s Gospel, since this genealogy is mean to emphasize Jesus’ “credentials” precisely as the messiah. And so v. 1 indicates that Jesus he was “the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (“son ...

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Genealogies of Matthew and Luke

One of the differences between the stories of Matthew and Luke in their infancy narratives is in their genealogies of Jesus (which for Luke, oddly enough, does not actually occur in his infancy narrative!). I know that genealogies are among the least favorite reading for many students of the Bible, and one may be a bit dismayed in starting to read the New Testament, with the very opening of the very first book, Matthew, to find a genealogy!

But I ...

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