On the Genealogies of Jesus

Within the ancient world kinship and family were a person's primary source for status. The reputation of one's ancestral house was an important factor in how one viewed one's self, and how others viewed you. Kinship was a root of self-identity and understanding.

The Jews had a special focus on this, as for example those descended from Levi and Aaron were determined to be the ones suitable for Temple ministry. The book of Esdras notes that those among returnees from Babylon who could not prove Levite lineage were not permitted to perform Temple service.

In this context the genealogies of Jesus were called upon to serve certain purposes. Let's note some relevant points:

One would expect of course that critics find in these purposes evidence of malfeasance or fiction in Jesus' genealogies, but that is merely a case of assuming what has yet to be proven. As Miller has shown, there are viable ways of understanding how both genealogies would be accurate.

This commentary is intended as a supplement to Glenn Miller's excellent work on the genealogies of Jesus and is intended to draw out a few extra points of relevance about the use of genealogies in the ancient world. For more detail on this subject see out item here. Our primary source for this commentary is deSilva's Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity [158ff].