Thursday, December 16, 2010


1. A genealogy is the account or record of the descent of a person, group, or tribe from an ancestor. A genealogy may be segmented (taking account of several figures within a single generation) or linear (moving from one generation to the next by means of a single figure in each generation.) Genealogies are more statements about relationships in recent times than records motivated by historical curiosity. The interpreter must look to the present function of genealogy in the domestic, political – legal or religious sphere.

2. In the oral stage especially, genealogies are flexible and fluid. They may change to reflect a change in circumstances; It is possible for a person, group, or a tribe to have more than one genealogy. These may even appear side-by-side without sense of contradiction. When it is committed to writing or becomes part of a written document, it tends to lose fluidity and be taken more seriously as historical document.

3. The genealogy has a pragmatic function. It is the story of the family. It begins with Abraham since he serves as the beginning of salvation history and of God’s election of a people. The first break in the regular rhythm of the genealogy, and his brothers points to the twelve tribes of Israel. The goal of the list is Jesus Christ, who is the culmination of the aspiration of whole Israel v 17.

4. The function of this Genealogy is to trace Jesus’ descent back to David and Abraham. That Jesus the Christ came at the right time is suggested by the threefold sequence of 14 generations.

  • From Abraham to David
  • From David to Babylonian captivity
  • From the Babylonian exile to Jesus the Christ.

5. We have genealogy in Luke also. The major cleavage in the two genealogies is caused by the fact, that whereas Luke traces the lineage of Jesus through David’s son, Nathan, Matthew chooses to follow the royal lineage from David through Solomon. Luke traces Mary’s ancestry while Matthew traces Joseph’s. Both refer to Joseph, but Luke traces actual biological descent, while the other traces legal descent.

When we go through the genealogy, we come across the names of women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mother Mary. The common element found in all these women is the irregularity of their marriage. We cannot place Mary along with the other women. We should not also forget that God chooses not the best, but simple and humble persons to reveal Himself. It is not our efficiency that counts before the Lord but our availability and fidelity.


Class notes of St. Matthew

The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary

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