Response to a Christian on the Genealogies of Jesus

Response to a Christian on the Genealogy of Jesus   

            In the article “The Genealogy of Jesus in the Bible”, we discussed the contradictory genealogies of the Messiah presented in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, respectively.  In this follow-up article, we will respond to the arguments raised by a Christian apologist on the IslamiCity discussion forum.

            In response to our point that Matthew’s genealogy is shorter than Luke’s, the Christian stated (emphasis in the original):

“Are you then saying if someone was to lists the genealogy of their parents, and their parents parent and so on as was the custom for the Jews, somehow the names and length of each parent would match up the same, regardless of how many brothers and sisters one have? If so, you’re not being rational nor logical. Also, since Jesus was not the natural son of Joseph but was the Son of God, Luke’s genealogy of Jesus would date back longer and prove that he was, by human birth, a son of David through his natural mother Mary.”

This response is typical of Christian apologists.  The Christian has simply repeated one of the various theories concocted by his predecessors to explain the contradictory genealogies between Matthew and Luke.  The reader will notice that the Christian has presented no evidence that Luke’s genealogy was drawn through Jesus’ mother.  The reason is because there is no such evidence.  It is a theory which is refuted by one simple fact: Mary is not even mentioned in the genealogy!  It would be a strange genealogy indeed when the parent through whom the genealogy was drawn is not even mentioned. 

            Next, the Christian stated:

“Regarding the genealogies of Jesus given by Matthew and by Luke, Frederic Louis Godet wrote: “This study of the text in detail leads us in this way to admit—1. That the genealogical register of Luke is that of Heli, the grandfather of Jesus; 2. That, this affiliation of Jesus by Heli being expressly opposed to His affiliation by Joseph, the document which he has preserved for us can be nothing else in his view than the genealogy of Jesus through Mary.”

Again, we see nothing more than conjecture.  Since apologists cannot and will not admit the simple fact that Matthew and Luke contradict each other, they have to come up with alternative explanations, no matter how nonsensical or unprovable.  It is like putting a puzzle together, but when the pieces don’t fit, the apologists force them to fit.  The result is a discombobulated puzzle which makes no sense.  We can see this more clearly in the Christian’s next statement (emphasis in the original):

“As the Bible shows, Matthew traces the descendants of Solomon down to Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, thus demonstrating that Jesus had the legal right to the throne of David through the kingly line, since it begins with Abraham Matthew’s list would be shorter. (Mt 1:7, 16) Luke traces Jesus’ lineage to Heli (apparently the father of Mary) through Nathan, who was another son of David and Bath-sheba and therefore Solomon’s full brother. (Lu 3:23, 31).  Nonetheless, both lines of descent merge in Zerubbabel and Shealtiel and again branch out into two lines of descent. (Mt 1:13; Lu 3:27) Mary the mother of Jesus was a descendant through Nathan, and Joseph his adoptive father descended through Solomon, so that Jesus was both the natural and legal descendant of David, with full right to the throne.”

First, it needs to be pointed out that the Christian has conveniently ignored the fact that the Bible does not simply predict that the Messiah would be a “legal” heir of David, but a physical descendant of David, as we stated in the original article.

            Second, the Christian conveniently assumes that Heli (from Luke’s genealogy) was Mary’s father, but no such evidence exists!  In any case, drawing the genealogy from David’s son Nathan, as Luke does, renders the genealogy irrelevant and actually disqualifies Jesus as the Messiah since the Messiah must be a physical descendant of David through his son Solomon, not Nathan.  We will come back to this shortly. 

            Next, the Christian stated:

“Luke follows the ancestry of Mary, thus showing Jesus’ natural descent from David, while Matthew shows Jesus’ legal right to the throne of David by descent from Solomon through Joseph, who was legally Jesus’ father. You may not agree because of your denials but that in no way changes the FACTS.

Another way you may look at this, one shows the maternal link of Jesus whereas the other one shows the paternal link of Jesus.”

It seems the Christian is trying more to persuade himself of these unproven assumptions than anyone else.  His insistence on the so-called “facts” only displays a blind acceptance of standard apologetics.  The “fact” is that there is no proof that Luke was drawing Jesus’ genealogy through Mary.  That is why Mary is not even mentioned.

            Next, the apologist stated:

“Of course, the promise was sworn to David and many of the prophets of old agree. (Psalm 132:11, 12; Isaiah 11:1, 10) Your so called scholarly sources truly can’t compete with their lack of knowledge and understanding of the scriptures.  

Jehovah has sworn to David; He will surely not go back on his word: “One of your offspring, I will place on your throne.  If your sons keep my covenant And my reminders that I teach them, Their sons too Will sit on your throne forever.”

A twig will grow out of the stump of Jes′se, And a sprout from his roots will bear fruit. In that day the root of Jes′se will stand up as a signal for the peoples.  To him the nations will turn for guidance, And his resting-place will become glorious.

Second, both Solomon and Nathan are descendants of David. Matthew and Luke agrees by using both Jesse and David in their list. So you and your source inadvertently agrees with myself that Matthew shows Jesus legal right and that Luke is showing Jesus natural descent from David as I’ve been saying all along.”

What the Christian does not seem to understand is that the Messiah had to be a physical descendant of David through his son Solomon.  Hence, Matthew’s genealogy makes no sense since it does not prove a “natural” line of descent and Luke’s genealogy makes no sense since it actually disqualifies Jesus as the Messiah by tracing his genealogy through Nathan. 

            Next, the Christian stated (emphasis in the original):

“Therefore, Matthew is showing Jesus Legal right to the throne of David, Luke shows Jesus natural descent so of course they wouldn’t have the same names as you and your source admitted, Matthew is not showing Jesus’ natural descent, only Luke but thanks anyway! Sorry to BUST your bubble, again!”

The apologist sounds like a broken record, endlessly repeating the same non-sequitur without providing even a shred of evidence. 

            He then stated (emphasis in the original):

“You are only proving my case and agreeing with the scriptures in Psalms and Isaiah and many, many more that Jesus has the LEGAL right to the throne as the promise seed which Matthew shows.

Again Nathan would be a NATURAL ancestor of Jesus/Messiah and Solomon a LEGAL ancestor of Jesus/Messiah. Has it sank in yet? Nathan, natural, Solomon legal! Nathan, natural, Solomon legal! Nathan, natural, Solomon legal! The natural lineage of Messiah is traced, from David through Nathan and his descendants down to Jesus, evidently through Jesus’ mother Mary. (Lu 3:23, 31)”

The apologist keeps insisting on the “LEGAL” descent when no such stipulation is present in the Bible.  Hence, Matthew is wrong since the Bible says nothing about the Messiah having a “LEGAL right to the throne.”  This is just an invention of Christian apologists.  Moreover, Luke is wrong since the Bible stipulates that the NATURAL ancestor of the Messiah must be David through his son Solomon.  We hope that these simple facts will “sink in” for the brainwashed apologist.

            He then stated:

“Look at what another prophet of old tells us. Concerning the time when ‘they will look on the One whom they pierced,’ the prophecy of Zechariah says there will be a bitter lamentation and wailing throughout the whole land, family by family, and especially for the families of David, Levi, the Shimeites, and “the family of the house of Nathan.” (Zec 12:10-14) If the family of Nathan’s house here referred to sprang from David’s son, this would make it one of the families of David. Therefore the lamentation would affect families within families.”

This is an example of the selective quoting of the Tanakh that is the hallmark of Christian polemics.  When we read the passage from Zechariah 12 in context, we find that it has nothing to do with the Messiah being “pierced”.  Of special interest are verses 7-9, which utterly refute any attempts to link Zechariah 12 with Jesus:

“The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah.  On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them.  On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.”

Clearly, this passage is not even remotely linked to Jesus.  When did God “shield those who live in Jerusalem” in Jesus’ time?  The reality is that within 40 years of Jesus’ ministry, Jerusalem was actually destroyed by the Roman army and the Jews were defeated and scattered.  If Zechariah 12 was referring to the time of Jesus, then it was a false prophecy since Rome not only attacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, it actually succeeded in destroying it and was not the one to be destroyed as the prophecy states.  Given this fact, it is quite comical for the apologist to state the following (emphasis in the original):

“NOW, you see also how the so called ‘old testament’ and it’s prophets prophesied about Jesus as the Messiah, way back then? Another FACT that Islam disagrees with. I know you don’t want to believe this but just because you don’t want to believe doesn’t make it not true. This could be the beginning of a new dawn for you if you let it work its way.”

We have just refuted the Christian’s laughable appeal to the Tanakh.  He may also be interested to read one of our other articles in which we dealt with some other so-called “prophecies” about Jesus:

            Next, the Christian repeated the same absurd argument about legal and natural descent as well unprovable assumptions about Mary:

“Oh yea I forgot, because Luke’s list is longer, right? Luke start from Adam remember, Matthew starts from Abraham which they both agree on. Thank goodness Matthew shows more of the legal affiliation where Luke shows more of the natural affiliation. Good job Matthew and Luke. Superb!

Say this out loud okay, Joseph’s father was a man named Jacob. Mary’s father was a man name Heli, which means Heli was Joseph’s father-in-law not father, Jeseph is Heli’s son-in-law! Repeat this five times. I know it may be complicated to you but really it’s not when you have an open mind and no agenda.

Obviously, but you and your “scholarly sources” said Joseph’s father was Heli instead of putting two and two together that Heli was Mary’s father, making him Joseph’s father-in-law. But, again you are only supporting my argument to the fact that it was common knowledge, that people knew who Jesus parents were. Not as to what you and Lachi was speculating about. Your comments . . .”

It will be a futile attempt to show the apologist the blind allegiance he shows to the polemical lies he has been told to believe, but we may as well try, or in the words of the apologist: “Repeat this five times”.

            There is no evidence that Mary’s father was a man named Heli.  This is an invention of the Christians to save themselves from the facts.  Those with an actual “open mind” will readily accept that the genealogies are contradictory and cannot both be true.  Making up assumptions about Mary’s father or the legal and natural descent of the Messiah does nothing to refute the facts.  We urge the apologist to repeat this five times…

            In response to our critique of the blind speculation the apologist has exhibited over and over, he stated:

“Speculation? Although you yourself have shown us the scriptures in the Bible that it was common knowledge, please, snap-out-of-it!

Matthew 13:55  Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

Luke 4:22  And they all began to give favorable witness about him and to be amazed at the gracious words coming out of his mouth, and they were saying: “This is a son of Joseph, is it not?”

John 6:42  And they began saying: “Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Do that in the Koran for Muhammad and see how far you will get. Where are his eyewitnesses and his genealogy in the Koran? You really don’t want to go there!”

So again we see the Christian simply going in circles.  He fails to provide any evidence for his claims except for some verses from the Gospels.  So we ask again: Where is the evidence that Mary’s father was Heli and that Joseph was Heli’s son-in-law?  And if the genealogy presented by Luke was that of Mary, then why is she not mentioned in her own genealogy? 

            Next, he stated (emphasis in the original):

“Well, let get it straight first, Jacob is Joseph biological father and Heli is Joseph’s father-in-law. However, Mary is Jesus biological mother. Luke’s genealogy of Jesus would prove that he was, by human birth, a son of David through his natural mother Mary. That is why Luke’s list is longer. Which means Jesus linage was covered from a legal and natural standpoint. Islam again, inadvertently agrees . . .”

The Christian still does not get it.  He is “inadvertently” shooting himself in the foot.  He has yet to prove that Luke was presenting Mary’s genealogy.  He has also failed to realize that the Messiah must be a physical descendant through Solomon, not Nathan!  So even if Luke was presenting Mary’s genealogy, it would disqualify Jesus as the Messiah since it would make him a physical descendant (through his mother) of Nathan!  This is not rocket science…

            The Christian then stated:

“Jesus’ lineage is the first evidence the Christian Greek Scriptures give in support of his Messiahship. The Bible foretold that the Messiah would come from the family line of King David. I shared with you Psalm 132:11, 12; Isaiah 11:1, 10 Matthew’s Gospel begins: “The book of the history of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.” Matthew backs up this bold claim by tracing Jesus’ descent through the line of his adoptive father, Joseph. (Matthew 1:1-16) Luke’s Gospel traces Jesus’ lineage through his natural mother, Mary, back through David and Abraham to Adam. (Luke 3:23-38) Thus the Gospel writers thoroughly document their claim that Jesus was an heir of David, both in a legal and in a natural sense.”

So again, the Christian gives us nothing but blind speculation and no direct evidence and also has yet to realize that the Messiah was supposed to be a physical descendant of David through Solomon.  For this simple reason, both Matthew and Luke’s genealogies are invalidated because:

  1. As the Christian himself admits, Matthew traced the genealogy through Joseph, who was not Jesus’ real father.  Hence, even though the line goes through Solomon, since Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph, he could thus not be a physical descendant of Solomon.
  2. Even if Luke was tracing Mary’s genealogy (which is just the Christian’s own unproven claim), he draws it from Nathan. Hence, even if the genealogy was that of Mary, it would mean that Jesus was a physical descendant of Nathan.  Hence, he could not be the Messiah, as the Bible clearly states that the Messiah must be a descendant of Solomon.

We certainly hope the Christian gets it now, but we won’t hold our breath!

            The apologist then stated (emphasis in the original):

“Even the most skeptical opponent of Jesus’ Messiahship cannot deny Jesus’ claim to be a son of David. Why? There are two reasons.

One, that claim was widely repeated in Jerusalem for decades before the city was destroyed in 70 C.E.

Compare Matthew 21:9 Moreover, the crowds going ahead of him and those following him kept shouting: “Save, we pray, the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in Jehovah’s name! Save him, we pray, in the heights above!

Acts 4:27 For truly both Herod and Pontius Pilate with men of the nations and with peoples of Israel were gathered together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed

5:27, 28 So they brought them and stood them before the San′he·drin. Then the high priest questioned them   and said: “We strictly ordered you not to keep teaching on the basis of this name, and yet look! you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you are determined to bring the blood of this man upon us.

As you can readily see, if the claim was false, any of Jesus’ opponents—and he had many—could have proved Jesus a fraud simply by checking his lineage in the genealogies in the public archives. But history has no record of anyone challenging Jesus’ descent from King David. Evidently, the claim was unassailable. No doubt Matthew and Luke copied the salient names for their accounts directly from the public records. Which means Islam’s speculation theory is UP IN SMOKE!! PUFF!!”

So again, the Christian simply pulls unproven claims out of the air and presents them as “proof”.  What “public archives” is he talking about?  We would love to see the evidence for these “archives” where Jewish genealogies were apparently kept for public access.  The Christian is literally inventing evidence as he goes along.  It is truly an amazing sight.

            Next, he stated (emphasis in the original):

Second, sources outside the Bible confirm the general acceptance of Jesus’ lineage. For instance, the Talmud records a fourth-century rabbi as making a scurrilous attack on Mary, the mother of Jesus, for ‘playing the harlot with carpenters’; but the same passage concedes that “she was the descendant of princes and rulers.” An earlier example is the second-century historian Hegesippus. He related that when the Roman Caesar Domitian wanted to exterminate any descendants of David, some enemies of the early Christians denounced the grandsons of Jude, Jesus’ half brother, “as being of the family of David.” If Jude was a known descendant of David, was not Jesus as well? Undeniably!—Galatians 1:19; Jude 1.”

The Christian’s cut and paste antics only further prove how brainwashed he is.  The passage from the Babylonian Talmud is from Sanhedrin 106a, which states:

“Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, [did the children of Israel slay with the sword].  A soothsayer? But he was a prophet! — R. Johanan said: At first he was a prophet, but subsequently a soothsayer.  R. Papa observed: This is what men say, ‘She who was the descendant of princes and governors, played the harlot with carpenters.’”

It has been alleged that this passage is a reference to Jesus, but as Jewish sources point out, there is no mention of Jesus or Mary in the passage.  The theory that Balaam was a code-word for Jesus is also just speculation.  As one Jewish source puts it:

“…the passage above is referring solely to Balaam and not to Jesus.  Besides this fact, read the passage closely and you will see that Rav Papa is offering a parable that explains R. Yochanan’s statement.  It is impossible to read R. Yochanan’s statement as referring to Jesus and Rav Papa’s as referring to Jesus’ mother.

  1. Yochanan is saying that Balaam had tremendous potential and started
    out as a true prophet of G-d.  However, he turned to evil and in the
    end of his life became a sorcerer (i.e. user of black magic).  This
    tradition regarding Balaam’s descent was also recorded in the Tanchuma
    [Balak, 5] and in Yalkut Shimoni [Numbers, 771].”[1]

Hence, the Christian’s blind copying of apologetic hogwash is deceiving him.

            He then stated:

“Another line of evidence that Jesus was the Messiah is fulfilled prophecy. Prophecies that apply to the Messiah are abundant in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Among them: the town of his birth (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:4-11); the tragedy of mass infanticide that took place after his birth (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18); he would be called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15); rulers of the nations would unite to destroy him (Psalm 2:1, 2; Acts 4:25-28); his betrayal for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15); even the manner of his death.—Psalm 22:16,”

We have already dealt with this issue in a previous article.  It is recommended that the apologist read the article we referred to above.

            Then he stated (emphasis in the original):

“The third type of evidence of Jesus’ Messiahship is the testimony of God himself. According to Luke 3:21, 22, after Jesus was baptized, he was anointed with the most sacred and powerful force in the universe, Jehovah God’s own holy spirit. And with his own voice, Jehovah acknowledged that he had approved his Son, Jesus. On two other occasions, Jehovah spoke directly to Jesus from heaven, thereby indicating His approval: once, before three of Jesus’ apostles, and another time, before a crowd of onlookers. (Matthew 17:1-5; John 12:28, 29) Furthermore, angels were sent from above to confirm Jesus’ status as Christ, or Messiah.—Luke 2:10, 11.”

This is yet another circular argument which fails to prove that Jesus’ genealogies in Matthew and Luke are both correct.  The evidence we have seen shows that they both cannot be correct and in fact, taken individually, both invalidate Jesus as the Messiah!  This is one of the great ironies of the Bible.

            Finally, he stated:

“These genealogies were carefully preserved down to the start of the Common Era. This is proved by the fact that each family of Israel was able to go back to the city of its father’s house to be registered in response to Caesar Augustus’ decree shortly before Jesus’ birth. (Lu 2:1-5) Also, John the Baptizer’s father Zechariah is noted as of the priestly division of Abijah and John’s mother Elizabeth as from the daughters of Aaron. (Lu 1:5) Anna the prophetess is spoken of as “of Asher’s tribe.” (Lu 2:36) And, of course, the extensive listings of Jesus’ forefathers at Matthew, chapter 1, and Luke, chapter 3, make it clear that such records were kept in the public archives, available for examination.

The historian Josephus gives testimony to the existence of Jewish official genealogical registers when he says: “My family is no ignoble one, tracing its descent far back to priestly ancestors. . . . Not only, however, were my ancestors priests, but they belonged to the first of the twenty-four courses—a peculiar distinction—and to the most eminent of its constituent clans.” Then, after pointing out that his mother was descended from Asamonaeus, he concludes: “With such a pedigree, which I cite as I find it recorded in the public registers, I can take leave of the would-be detractors of my family.”—The Life, 1, 2, 6 (1).

Though Jesus had many bitter enemies, none of them challenged his well-publicized line of descent. (Matthew 21:9, 15).”

The Christian assumes that since Josephus mentioned the “public records” where his genealogy was available, it means that every single Jewish person’s genealogy was also available!  This is of course yet another blind assumption for which no evidence exists.  It is certainly a wild claim that even poor Jewish families such as that of Joseph and Mary would have their genealogies on public record!  Moreover, had the Christian done some actual research, he would have found Josephus’ testimony about the actual genealogies that were on public record.  In “Against Apion”, he stated:

“I am now going to say, that we have the names of our high priests, from father to son, set down in our records, for the interval of two thousand years.”[2]

Therefore, according to Josephus, the “public records” contained the genealogies of the high priests, not all Jews.  In other words, only the religious leaders and other important people of the Jewish nation (which evidently included Josephus himself) had their genealogies available in the public record.  As is his custom, the Christian blindly assumes that Jesus’ genealogy and that of his mother were also available for public access, even though there is not a shred of historical evidence that these genealogies ever existed. 

            So in closing, the Christian has only shown the extent of his brainwashing, blind copying from apologetic sources and lack of actual research.  He has utterly failed to explain the contradictory genealogies and in fact has unwittingly proven that the genealogies actually invalidate Jesus as the Messiah!  Moreover, he didn’t even bother to respond to the fact that since Matthew included Jeconiah in his genealogy, it is yet another reason that Jesus would be disqualified as the Messiah, as Jeconiah’s bloodline was banished from the throne of Israel.     

And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!


[2] “Against Apion”, 1:7.

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