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Who’s Your Daddies?

By Daniel out of the Lion's Den ~

I’m reading Richard Dawkin’s book, The God Delusion. Now, I have read the entire Bible, and most assuredly have read the books of Matthew and Luke many times over. And due to enduring countless Advent and Christmas Eve services, I have listened many more times to Matthew chapter 1 ad nauseum, and Luke chapter 3 to a lesser extent... which is why this astonishes me: that I have never heard of or noticed what Dawkins describes in his chapter ‘Arguments for God’s Existence’ in the section ‘The Argument From Scripture’. He points out that the genealogy of Jesus documented in Matthew is markedly different than the one documented in Luke. Specifically, the lineage from King David to Joseph (the husband of Mary) not only contains predominantly different names, but Matthew has 26 generations from David and Joseph, while Luke has 41!

Needing to see for myself, I created the following table from the two books, showing the discrepant patriarchal lineages from David to Joseph. Since Matthew lists the lineage in descending order, while Luke’s genealogy is in ascending order, the side-by-side comparison is needed to make the contrast more evident. If this isn’t enough to indict the Bible for having contradictions, then nothing is.

The way theologians have rationalized this gaffe reveals the epitome of blind faith and refusal to believe that the inerrant Word of God does indeed contain errors. Theologians have assigned this discrepancy to the following causes:

1) The Old Testament law of taking your brother’s wife when he dies. So one list is a step-father list? And every single father, save two, died and a brother took the wife? This still doesn’t explain the 26 vs 41 generations. Comical…

2) The corresponding names are actually different versions of the same name. That is quote a stretch. But the non-corresponding names? Even more comical…

3) The Matthew list is the genealogy of Joseph, while the Luke list is the genealogy of Mary. What are we, fools? The Luke list starts with Joseph!

Why is this important? I’m sure that all of us have been told from the pulpit on many occasions concerning the importance of the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew. “This proves that Jesus is the Messiah, the rightful heir to the throne! The King of the Jews, the Son of David, the Lion of Judah!” I suppose the Matthew genealogy is addressed most often because it starts out the New Testament. The Luke passage is somewhat ignored... on purpose? Might this be an indication of what I suspect, that the highly educated seminarians preaching at us week after week are cognizant of the contradictions in the Bible, but refuse to point them out due to the ramifications of what doing so might have on the collection plate?

I suppose to my credit, I have, over the years, considered Dawkin’s follow up thought – what does the lineage of Joseph matter at all, since his sperm did not fertilize the egg cell from Mary’s ovary that produced the baby Jesus (allegedly)?