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REPLY #30 TO
"RELIGION"



Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).


(R) Thanks for responding to my reply to the genealogy of Christ question. Your are correct in your excerpts from the Bible which state Joseph being the son of two different people. The problem is you cut off the excerpts too soon. The genealogy in Matthew is for Joseph, but the language and context in Luke, i.e. "[Jesus], the supposed son of Joseph" Lk 3:23 indicates that Heli is Joseph's father in law. This is further enforced by a study of the Hebrew which supports the more literal translation as "...Joseph, which was the son in law of Heli."
(MB) How can that be so? The exact same wording is used for all of the other 70+ father-son links in Luke and in *no* case does it mean "son-in-law". (BTW, Luke was written in Greek and not Hebrew). Nor, could it mean any such thing at any point, since that would invalidate the blood line from David through to Jesus. Also, the phrase "Jesus, the supposed son of Joseph" clearly says nothing about the relationship between Joseph and Heli. Rather, it supports the notion that Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit and not by Joseph. We still don't know for sure who Joseph's real father was. What we do know is that the Gospel accounts are clearly in conflict.
The biggest problem in resolving the conflict is that none of names given in the genealogy as immediate ancestors of Joseph either in Luke or Matthew can be verified either in the Bible itself or from any surviving contemporary records. That seems to be a rather large omission given the relative importance ascribed to descendants of the House of David.


(R) A second problem with the argument you present, is that Matthew and Luke were contemporaries, so why would they each write and publish such contradicting views when a simple discussion would have prevented a supposed contradiction noticeable to the very first readers of the letters. The obvious answer is that there is no contradiction and that the genealogies are separate, as would have been understood by the culture and use of language of the time.
(MB) The obvious answer comes from reality. Matthew and Luke were "contemporaries" only in the broadest sense of the word. Their respective Gospels were written at different times in different places in different languages for different audiences. Perhaps, it was Matthew's genealogy that was wrong and Luke (writing at a later time) had access to more correct records which may have been uncovered in the interim. Or, maybe they both made up the latter portions of their genealogies knowing that there were no records to either confirm or dispute them. We'll likely never know for sure. All we know is that the accounts are contradictory and no satisfactory explanation seeking to justify both of them has been advanced.
The genealogies aren't the only problems between Luke's and Matthew's accounts of the birth of Jesus. In fact, the only detail that they have in common is the claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Many of the differences might be reconciled, but at least one cannot. Matthew claims that Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to Egypt to escape Herod's order that infants two years and younger must be slaughtered. Luke not only does not mention either Herod's order or any trip to Egypt, he presents a chronology of Joseph's travels to Jerusalem and thence to Nazareth that can't possibly allow for an interim flight to Egypt and a stay of the length depicted in Matthew. Once again, at least one of the stories must be wrong since they can't both be true.


(R) Your next line of reasoning, regarding your statement saying there is no reason to give Mary's lineage is once again proof of Christ being the Messiah, you just need to dig a little deeper.
(MB) On the contrary, if Mary is assumed to be the object of Luke's genealogy, it is additional damning evidence *against* Christ being the prophesied Messiah. Since the throne of David only passes through the male line, it cannot accrue to Jesus through any maternal genealogy. It *must* come from Joseph's line.
In addition, the Bible clearly states several times that the line descending from David through Solomon is the one from which the future Kings will ascend to the throne (e.g., 1 Chronicles 28:5, 29:1, and 29:24). Since the genealogy in Luke shows descent from David through Nathan, no King can come from this line.


(R) Before I address this issue, I must tell you that I'm glad you're asking these deeper questions and not just superficial off the cuff remarks.
(MB) I try to stick to the facts (with apologies to Jack Webb...*grin*).

(R) However, as I mentioned before, all your objections can probably be addressed with logical, reasonable answers, but they will do little to sway your opinion as long as you do as I did, and many others, and that is to reject the idea of God. More on that later.
(MB) Understanding the contradictions in the Gospels has absolutely nothing to do with belief or non-belief in God. Those are two entirely separate issues. If Jesus is considered to be nothing more than a mortal man, the same questions would arise in reference to the two genealogies. After all, the throne of David is a secular position that had always been filled by mortal men who qualified through the same set of rules. I look upon this issue as a matter of history and not one of faith.

(R) Why state both genealogies? As I said, this is further proof of Christ being Messiah. The prophets predicted that the Messiah would be descended from David. Since the line of descendents is traced through the father, as was the legal custom, then Christ's "father" would have to have his lineage traced back to David, and Joseph does.
(MB) Let's discount Luke for now and assume that Matthew's genealogy is the only one in the Gospels. There are still problems. Matthew bases his genealogy on the numerological importance of the number "14" and goes to some effort to demonstrate that there are fourteen generations between significant events in Jewish history. But, Matthew seems not to be able to count.
He correctly lists 14 generations from Abraham to David, but then the problems start. From David to the Babylonian exile, Matthew claims 14 generations while the Old Testament gives 18. From the exile to Jesus, Matthew claims 14 generations but lists only 13 names. Since there are no independent records with which to verify this last part of Matthew's genealogy, one could reasonably defend it by claiming that a name was simply lost due to the ravages of copying and translation over time. But, there is no defense for the verifiable omissions in the middle third of the list. Matthew is simply wrong -- not to mention that Luke's account has no correllation whatsoever to any supposed importance of the number "14".


(R) Now there are two problems that arise. The first is that in order for Christ to be our priest He must be a levite.
(MB) I must have missed that requirement somewhere. Where in the Bible is that requirement established?

(R) The second has to do with the fact that God told Jechonias that his line would never sit on the throne because of the evil he had done (Jer 33:17) and he is in Joseph's line. (a much better "contradiction" than the one presented by the way, since it would be harder for your typical Christian to answer.) For God to have made such a statement would have eliminated Joseph from being a choice and then Jesus could not have been the Messiah, except that Joseph is not the father of Jesus, hence the virgin birth. The result is that Jesus is able to "legally" trace his line back to David, through his "father" as required by the law and trace it back to David through his mother.
(MB) For reasons stated previously, any lineage traced back to David through Nathan would disqualify Jesus from being the Messiah. The Bible also seems to doubt the story of the Virgin Birth in several places and strongly suggests that Joseph is the physical father of Jesus. Even Mary herself (in Luke 2:48) makes such a statement. In Romans 1:3 and 9:5, Jesus is said to have had a natural birth "according to the flesh" -- an impossibility if he was divinely conceived. In several places (e.g., 2 Tim. 2:8, Acts 13:22-23, Rev. 22:16), Jesus is said to be of David's seed -- again, an impossibility in the Virgin Birth scenario.

(R) Secondly, since Mary was a levite, Jesus also meets the requirements for being our priestly representative. And since Jesus is not tied by blood to Jechonias, the curse God put on the line of Jechonias does not apply to Jesus. This whole debate does nothing but reinforce Jesus' claim to be Messiah.
(MB) The facts suggest otherwise. In addition, there are more problems with claiming Jesus to be the Messiah. In Matthew 20:28, Jesus says that he came to minister and not to be ministered unto. However, Old Testament prophecy presents the Messiah in an entirely opposite way (e.g., Psa 72:11, Dan 7:14, Dan 7:27) where the Messiah will come to be served rather than to serve others. Finally, the notion that Jesus must be of a physical lineage from David is further reinforced by other Old Testament descriptions of the Messiah. In no case does any Old Testament prophecy refer to the Messiah as being anything other than a man. Nowhere is he attributed the power to redeem Man from sin or establish a method by which Man can gain salvation. Nowhere are there any statements that equate the Messiah with God or grant the Messiah any power or glory in heaven. And, the word "Messiah" itself means "annointed". It has no connotation of holiness or godliness or divine nature. Annointment was a sign through which kings and priests were given distinction and authority. It is not any sign of sinlessness or equality with God. This is verified by several uses of the word "annointed" in various verses (e.g., 1 Sam 10:1 and Lev. 4:3). In fact, the word "Messiah" meant nothing more than the next great King of the Jews who would lead the people out of oppression. In other words, it would seem to refer to a military leader instead of a spiritual or divine one.


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