Matthew 1.1

The genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

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9 responses

  1. Interesting. It will take some time to get through Matthew at this rate!

    However, it did force a look at the original text: Βίβλος γενέσεως Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ υἱοῦ Δαυὶδ υἱοῦ Ἀβραάμ. Fairly literally, “Book of the source/origin of Jesus Christ son of David son of Abraham.” There are no definite articles anywhere to be seen (though that does not mean as much as in English), so a possible reading would be “The book of the origin of Jesus Christ, a descendant of David who was a descendant of Abraham.” Unless, of course, the last two clauses are parallel and not sequential, in which case the “who was” should be replaced by an “and”.

    I notice you dropped any reference to “book”: do you take “Βίβλος γενέσεως” to be a compound meaning “genealogy”?

    1. Okay, “book” might mean they had some sort of document listing these names? Obviously the whole of Matthew isn’t about Jesus’ genealogy, so ‘book of the genealogy’ must mean something more like ‘an account of’, yes?

  2. One other quick thought: It is interesting that the New Testament also begins with the “Book of genesis”.

    1. [Sorry I’ve been a bit inert these days, meant to reply sooner…] Whoever wrote this probably wasn’t thinking “I’m going to write an new Bible,” but what this is saying [I think] is: This man Jesus we’re talking about is 1) in the right family line to be the Messiah and 2) Jewish. Then he gives an ancestry to ‘document’ these claims. The question that comes to my mind: ‘Why does he need to say this?’

      1. I agree, I wasn’t suggesting this was done deliberately, just an interesting oddity (well, at least from man’s perspective).

        As for why the genealogy is here, I think your observations above are right. Matthew (simpler to use than “whoever wrote this book” so long as we understand we do not, or at least may not, mean the apostle) needs his readers to know this, is that because such an opening is expected in such books by the larger Roman world (a reason I have seen posited for Luke’s inclusion of one) or because he is writing for a predominantly Judean-Christian audience?

        1. If my conjecture [next post] has anything to it, he’d be writing for sympathetic (“god-fearing”) pagans wanting to be reassured that this was “real” Judaism he was preaching…? Because that’s one pretty plausible answer to “Why were the apostles preaching in synagogues & making converts among the gentiles?” — that this was where one could find people intrigued by Judaism Lite, but not quite ready to whack off bits just to belong. [a significant point to Paul, with his interest in recruiting from this population.]

  3. I would tend to read “son” here as “heir”. Son of David=Heir to David (i.e., King of Israel/King of the Jews). Son of Abraham=Heir to the promise(s) of Abraham/Heir of Abraham. Child of Israel.

    1. Yes…

      Should we be going through all those names next? — or skip?

      1. We’re back in the game again!
        Personally I find the geneology stuff dull–but obviously it was important to Matt. Whatever you think is fine by me.

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