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Gospel Synopsis: The Genealogies

For a word-by-word comparison of Matthew 1:2-17 and Luke 3:23-28, see “the genealogy of Jesus” by Ben C. Smith and “Jesus’ Lineage” in Mahlon H. Smith’s Hyper-Synopsis. I found some resources online (let me know by email if I should include further posts):

If you looked at the posts above, you read a range of historical and theological approaches to the two distinct genealogies. These posts have helped my own thoughts as they relate to the “Synoptic Problem.”

  • Ancient biographers were interested in the ancestry and birth of their principal subjects. It is not unfathomable that Matthew and Luke independently supplemented Mark’s biography, while it is harder to explain Mark’s omission of Jesus’s genealogy, birth, and upbringing (e.g. perhaps Mark begins with the church’s proclamation of the preaching of John the Baptizer like in the speeches in Acts).
  • Drawing on the Jewish Scriptures or early Christian tradition:
    • Jesus’s immediate family (Mark 6:3; John 6:42)
    • Jesus’ descent from the patriarchs (Acts 3:13, 25-26; Galatians 3:16; Romans 4:13; Hebrews 7:14)
    • Jesus’ descent from David (Mark 10:47-48; John 7:42; Acts 15:16; Romans 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 5:5; 22:16)
    • Shared names: Abraham (Genesis 17:15; 1 Chronicles 1:27), Isaac (Genesis 21:3; 1 Chronicles 1:28), Jacob (Genesis 25:26; 1 Chronicles 1:34), Judah (Genesis 29:35; 1 Chronicles 2:1), Perez (Genesis 38:29; 1 Chronicles 2:4), Hezron (Genesis 46:12; Ruth 4:18; 1 Chronicles 2:5), Amminadab (Ruth 4:19; 1 Chronicles 2:10), Nahshon (Ruth 4:20; 1 Chronicles 2:10), Salmon/Sala (Ruth 4:20; 1 Chronicles 2:11), Boaz (Ruth 4:21; 1 Chronicles 2:11), Obed (Ruth 4:22; 1 Chronicles 2:12), Jesse (1 Samuel 16:1; Ruth 4:22; 1 Chronicles 2:12), David (1 Samuel 17:12; Ruth 4:22; 1 Chronicles 2:15), Shealtiel (1 Chronicles 3:17), Zerubbabel (1 Chronicles 3:19; Ezra 3:2; Nehemiah 12:1; Haggai 1:1)
  • Independent Evangelists?
    • They borrowed their genealogies from older sources (cf. possible explanations for the discrepancies in the links above) or freely created their genealogies for theological reasons, but without knowledge of the other. This may explain why there is little overlap of names, including even Jesus’s grandfather.
  • Matthew influenced Luke?
    • Observing the many wicked kings of Judah and that Jehoiachin’s descendants were cut off from the Davidic covenant of a perpetual dynasty (Jeremiah 22:30; 36:30; cf. 2 Kings 24:6-16; 25:27-30; 2 Chronicles 36:9-10), Luke drew on or created a different genealogy from another son of David named Nathan (2 Samuel 5:14; 1 Chronicles 3:5). Luke traced Jesus’s divine sonship back to God, stressed Jesus’s connection to all humanity with the line from Adam to Terah, and drew on or created a different list from Rhesa to Heli.
  • Luke influenced Matthew?
    • Observing that Luke listed several descendants of David that are otherwise unattested, though some names are reminiscent of other biblical characters (cf. 1 Chronicles, Amos, Nahum), Matthew chose the straightforward royal line (with some omissions) from Solomon to Johoiachin. Note that the curse against Jehoiachin was removed from his grandson and Davidic governor Zerubbabel (Haggai 2:20-24; Zechariah 3:8) and Matthew drew on or created a different list from Abiud to Jacob. Matthew restricted Luke’s universalistic focus to the covenant people descended from Abraham and thematically arranged the list into sets of 14 regardless of how the individual names are counted (cf. possible explanations in the links above).
  • Source Question about Matthew’s inclusion of the women Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba
    • Did Matthew name these women because they helped to advance the divine purposes just like Mary did, despite the unconventional means in their patriarchal cultural context, or because of their non-Jewish origins (Rahab the Canaanite, Ruth the Moabitess, Bathsheba as the wife of Uriah the Hittite)?
    • If Luke knew Matthew, would the author have excluded these names despite the text’s concern for women (e.g. 8:2-3; 10:38-42) and Gentiles (2:32; 4:16-30) or were the names omitted so the genealogy sticks to the line of patrilineal descent?



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