Patristic Views Of The Two Genealogies Of Our Lord -- By: Frederic Gardiner
BSac 29:116 (Oct 1872) p. 593
Patristic Views Of The Two Genealogies Of Our Lord
The genealogies of our Lord, as given by the first and the third evangelists, are marked by such differences as have called forth a variety of explanations. By some the difficulty is simply passed over as one for the solution of which we have no sufficient data; and among others there is great difference, and even contrariety, of opinion. It seems, therefore, worth while to inquire what view was taken of the matter by Christian antiquity; and if the result of that inquiry shall be to show that for many centuries there was no settled and definite opinion at all, it will leave us the more free to determine the question simply on grounds of probable evidence.
In estimating the value of such explanations as we may find in the Fathers, it is to be noted that the differences between the genealogies are of a character to attract attention whenever the Gospels were carefully compared together. Such comparisons were made at an early date; and if the reasons for the differences had been positively known, they would have been distinctly and uniformly stated whenever the matter was discussed at all. Moreover, unless there
BSac 29:116 (Oct 1872) p. 594
were some explanation generally received, as there evidently was not, we should expect to meet with the statement of these reasons somewhat frequently in the early treatment of the Gospels. This is not the case; and in the investigation of ancient opinion, it soon becomes evident that each writer merely proposes what seems to him the most probable solution of the difficulty, or, knowing nothing better, adopts that of some one who had gone before.
The earliest mention of the subject is in a fragment of Julius Africanus (†232), preserved by Eusebius. He discusses the question at length; and his hypothesis is adopted by Eusebius, who says that Julius had received it from his ancestors (Eccl. Hist. 1. 7; 6. 31). Julius himself, however, intimates that his explanation was not altogether satisfactory, and disclaims any authority in its support. Prom his discussion it is quite plain that in his time — say at the close of the second century — there could not have existed any trustworthy tradition on the subject; but that the ancients, like ourselves, were obliged to consider the question on its merits.
Julius Africanus considers both genealogies as designed to show the ancestry of Joseph. This view was taken for granted, apparently without inquiry, by many of the ancients, because both genealogies terminate formally in Joseph; and from these Fathers it has passed on to many modern writers. Julius considers that “the families descended from Solomon and those from Nathan were so intermingled, b...
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