Are there Mistakes in the Geneology of Jesus?
One For Israel
On page 89 of his book, rabbi Daniel Asor claims that he sent a letter to the Vatican, demanding that they solve the contradictions (as he calls them) between the genealogies of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament. Rabbi Asor continued to claim that Pope Benedict himself, since he was unable to provide an answer, resigned from his position as Pope.
We have no relation to the Pope, and not much sympathy for the Vatican either, or for the persecutions of our people by the Catholic Church, but we have even less patience for insanity.
I can absolutely not believe that Antipope Ratzinger was so unfamiliar with Catholic culture as to not know the Catholic answer to this one.
Did you know the nobility counts their genealogies in a number system known as Sosa-Stradonitz? It has a double name, because it was invented twice. First by Sosa, then by Stradonitz.
Stephan Kekulé von Stradonitz, who died in Berlin before the Machtübername, ninety years ago, and a few days, was concerned with helping German and other nobility to keep track of genealogies. His example involved European sovereigns, counted back from present to the "32 ancestors" (father and mother are two, grandparents four ancestors ...)
His work involved interpreting the method of Fray Jerónimo de Sosa, who, certainly also served nobles, but first of all was interested in keeping track of Our Lord's genealogy. This isn't in the wiki I consult today, but I learned of it earlier. He in turn had a predecessor not thought of, when one speaks of Sosa-Stradonitz, namely Michaël Eytzinger.
Now, whether Brother Sosa was in fact involved in the solution Catholics tend to give or not, I can't actually prove right now. I can however copy the solution with the theologians who stand behind it, from the Haydock comment on Matthew chapter 1:
Ver. 11. Josias begot Jechonias, &c. The genealogy of Christ, as it appears by the 17th verse, is divided by the evangelist into thrice fourteen generations, and so it is to contain 42 persons. The first class of fourteen begins with Abraham, and ends with David. The second class begins with Solomon, and ends with Jechonias. The third class is supposed to begin with Salathiel, and to end, says S. Jerom, with our Saviour Christ. But thus we shall only find in the third class thirteen generations, and in all only forty-one, instead of forty-two. Not to mention in these short notes other interpretations, the conjecture of S. Epiphanius seems the most probable, that we are to understand two Jechonias's, the father and the son, who had the same name. So that the true reading should be, Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren, and Jechonias begot Jechonias, and Jechonias begot Salathiel. Thus Jechonias named in the 12th verse is not the same, but the son of him that was named in the 11th verse; and from Jechonias the son, begins the third class, and so Christ himself will be the last or 14th person in that last series or class. There are several difficulties about reconciling this genealogy in S. Matthew with that in S. Luke, c. iii. But without insisting on all the particulars in these short notes, I hope it may suffice to take notice, that no one can reasonably doubt but that both the evangelists copied out the genealogical tables, as they were then extant, and carefully preserved by the Jews, and especially by those families that were of the tribe of Juda, and of the family of David, of which the Messias was to be born. For if the evangelists had either falsified, or made any mistake as to these genealogies, the Jews undoubtedly would have objected this against their gospels, which they never did. Wi.
[Wi = Bishop Witham]
The difficulties here are: 1. Why does S. Matt. give the genealogy of Joseph and not of Mary? 2. How is it inferred that Jesus is descended from David and Solomon, because Joseph is the son of David? 3. How can Joseph have two men for his father, Jacob of the race of Solomon, and Heli of the race of Nathan? To the 1st it is generally answered, that it was not customary with the Jews to draw out the genealogies of women; to the 2nd, that Jesus being the son of Joseph, either by adoption, or simply as the son of Mary his wife, he entered by that circumstance into all the rights of the family of Joseph; moreover, Mary was of the same tribe and family of Joseph, and thus the heir of the branch of Solomon marrying with the heiress of the branch of Nathan, the rights of the two families united in Joseph and Mary, were transmitted through them to Jesus, their son and heir; to the 3rd, that Jacob was the father of Joseph according to nature, and Heli his father according to law; or that Joseph was the son of the latter by adoption, and of the former by nature. A.
[A = Author = Haydock]
In the transmigration, or transportation to Babylon; i.e. about the time the Jews were carried away captives to Babylon. For Josias died before their transportation. See 4 K. xxiv. Wi.
Some think we are to read: Josias begot Joakim and his brethren; and Joakim begot Joachim, or Jechonias. Jechonias was son to Joakim, and grandson to Josias. The brothers of Jechonias are not known, but those of Joakim are known. 1 Par. iii. 15, 16. Besides this reading gives the number 14. A.
S. Jerom says that Jechonias, the son of Josias, is a different person from Jechonias who begot Salathiel, for the latter was son of the former; see Paralip. iii. where it is said that Zorobabel was son of Phadaia; but Phadaia is the same as Salatheil. E.
[E = Estius.]
Mat. Polus affirms that every one the least conversant in Jewish story, must know that several genealogies which appear to contradict each other, do not in reality. Synop. Crit. v. 4, p. 12.
And from the same comment on Luke 3:
Ver. 22. The reason why the Holy Ghost shewed himself in the shape of a dove, was because he could not be seen in the substance of his divinity. But why a dove? To express that simplicity acquired in the sacrament of baptism. Be ye simple as doves; to signify that peace bestowed by baptism, and prefigured by the olive branch which the dove carried back to the ark, a true figure of the Church, and which was the only security from the destructive deluge. S. Amb.
You will object: Christ, though he was God, would not be baptized till the age of 30, and do you order baptism to be received sooner? When you say, though he was God, you solve the difficulty. For, he stood not in need of being purified at all; of course, there could be no danger in deferring his baptism. But you will have much to answer for, if, being born in corruption, you pass out of this world without the garment of incorruption. S. Greg. Nazian. orat. 40.
[St. Gregorius of Nazianzen]
Remarks on the two Genealogies of Jesus Christ.
To make some attempt at an elucidation of the present very difficult subject of inquiry, we must carry in our minds,
1. That in the Scripture language the word begat, applies to the remote, as well as the immediate, descendant of the ancestor; so that if Marcus were the son, Titus the grandson, and Caius the great-grandson of Sempronius, it might, in the language of Scripture, be said, that Sempronius begat Caius. This accounts for the omission of several descents in S. Matthew.
2. The word begat, applies not only to the natural offspring, but to the offspring assigned to the ancestor by law.
3. If a man married the daughter and only child of another, he became in the view of the Hebrew law the son of that person, and thus was a son assigned to him by law. The two last positions shew in what sense Zorobabel was the son both of Neri and Salathiel, and Joseph the son both of Jacob and of Heli, or Joachim.
"S. Matthew, in descending from Abraham to Joseph, the spouse of the blessed Virgin, speaks of a son properly so called, and by way of generation, Abraham begot Isaac, &c. But S. Luke in ascending from Jesus to God himself, speaks of a son properly or improperly so called. On this account he make use of an indeterminate expression, in saying, the son of Joseph, who was of Heli. That S. Luke does not always speak of a son properly called, and by way of generation, appears from the first and last he names; for Jesus was only the putative son of Joseph, because Joseph was the spouse of Mary, the mother of Christ; and Adam was only the son of God by creation. This being observed, we must acknowledge in the genealogy in S. Luke, two sons improperly so called, that is, two sons-in-law, instead of sons. As among the Hebrews, the women entered not into the genealogy, when a house finished by a daughter, instead of naming the daughter in the genealogy, they named the son-in-law, who had for father-in-law the father of his wife. The two sons-in-law mentioned in S. Luke are Joseph, the son-in-law of Heli, and Salathiel, the son-in-law of Neri. This remarks clears up the difficulty. Joseph, the son of Jacob, in S. Mat. was the son-in-law of Heli, in S. Luke; and Salathiel, the son of Jechonias, in S. Mat. was the son-in-law of Neri, in S. Luke. Mary was the daughter of Heli, Eliacim, or Joacim, or Joachim. Joseph, the son of Jacob, and Mary, the daughter of Heli, had a common origin; both descending from Zorobabel, Joseph by Abiud the eldest, and Mary by Resa, the younger brother. Joseph descended from the royal branch of David, of which Solomon was the chief; and Mary from the other branch, of which Nathan was the chief. By Salathiel, the father of Zorobabel, and son of Jechonias, Joseph and Mary descended from Solomon, the son and heir of David. And by the wife of Salathiel, the mother of Zorobabel, and daughter of Neri, of which Neri Salathiel was the son-in-law, Joseph and Mary descended from Nathan, the other son of David, so that Joseph and Mary re-united in themselves all the blood of David. S. Mat. carries up the genealogy of Jesus to Abraham; this was the promise of the Messias, made to the Jews; S. Luke carries it up to Adam, the promise of the Messias, made to all men."
Whatever the difficulties attending the genealogies may be, it is evident that they arise from our imperfect knowledge of the laws, usages, and idiom of the Jews, from our ignorance of the true method of reconciling the seeming inconsistencies, or from some corruptions that in process of time may possibly have crept into the text. The silence of the enemies of the gospel, both heathen and Jewish, during even the first century, is itself a sufficient proof, that neither inconsistency nor corruption could be then alleged against this part of the evangelical history. If the lineal descent of Jesus from David were not indisputable, he could not possess the character essential to the Messias, nor any right to the Jewish throne. We may confidently then assert, that his regular lineal descent from David could not be disproved, since it was not even disputed at a time when alone it could have been done so successfully; and by those persons who were so deeply interested in falsifying the first Christian authorities.
Now, what was he saying about us Catholics, the writer?
not much sympathy for the Vatican either, or for the persecutions of our people by the Catholic Church,
I'm not edified by that kind of allegations, but thanks for at least preferring us over insanity - or over Rabbi Asor.
Hans Georg Lundahl
St. Gregory of Nazianzen !
Nazianzi, in Cappadocia, natalis beati Gregorii Episcopi, Confessoris et Ecclesiae Doctoris, ob singularem divinarum rerum doctrinam cognomento Theologi; qui collapsam Constantinopoli catholicam fidem, ipsius urbis Episcopatum gerens, restituit, haeresesque insurgentes compressit.
PS - can this be taken as a hint Ratzinger was forced to abdicate before he could give Asor an answer? Since he already died, it is not easy to ask him .../HGL
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