Fun with Genealogy — Matthew

Last week we reached out to New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, to get his take on the Cana wedding story and whether it had anything to do with the mythological god of wine Dionysius. He responded!!! Dr. Ehrman said that he has seen that comparison before. And the wine analogy is pretty good. But he said there are many other parts of John’s gospel that are not consistent with the Greek god. So he gives it very little credence. 

Poop. We still think it’s a fun idea.

This week let’s do a little genealogy, specifically in the first chapter of Matthew. This is also from Dr. Ehrman’s blog posts this week (we were there anyway, exchanging notes on Dionysius). 

  • Ends at Joseph. Matthew (written after Mark and before Luke) starts off with a lengthy genealogy of Jesus. The genealogy contains most of the prominent Jewish leaders of the past, including Abraham and King David. It’s really long. No one reads it. But it is interesting that it ends at Joseph, who Matthew says was Mary’s husband. Ummm, but Mary was a virgin according to Matthew. So what’s the point of ending at Joseph? Moving on.
  • Fun with numerology. Matthew also points out that there were 14 generations between Abraham and David, 14 more to the deportation to Babylon, and 14 more to get to the birth of Jesus. But don’t go in and count the generations in Matthew’s list, because they don’t add up to 14. And some of the genealogy links do not match the father/son genealogies in the Old Testament. Matthew evidently needed a quality assurance department. What was significant about 14? In ancient Israel, 7 was the perfect number. It represented the divinity. And what could be better than 7? 2×7 = 14. 
  • Sex and the City. Matthew’s genealogy is also interesting because it contains four women — very unusual in a male-dominated society. The names:  Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. All four women were Gentiles, not Jews. And all four women were involved in sex scandals (a couple of prostitutes, adultery, etc). But all their stories ultimately turned out to be in line with God’s will. One theory here is that Matthew was trying to draw a parallel between these historic women and skepticism over Mary’s virgin status. 

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