Challenging The Authenticity Of Cainan, Son Of Arpachshad -- By: Andrew E. Steinmann

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 60:4 (Dec 2017)
Article: Challenging The Authenticity Of Cainan, Son Of Arpachshad
Author: Andrew E. Steinmann

Challenging The Authenticity Of Cainan,
Son Of Arpachshad

Andrew E. Steinmann*

* Andrew E. Steinmann is distinguished professor of theology and Hebrew at Concordia University Chicago, 7400 Augusta Street, River Forest, IL 60305. He may be contacted at

Abstract: Most English versions list Cainan as son of Arphaxad and father of Shelah at Luke 3:36, although this person is not mentioned in the genealogies in Genesis 10, Genesis 11, or 1 Chronicles 1. This study examines the evidence for Cainan as a member of these genealogies in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek sources from the second century BC through the fifth century AD. After demonstrating that there is no evidence for Cainan in these genealogies before the late fourth century AD, the study concludes that Cainan was an accidental scribal displacement of the name from Luke 3:37 into the text of Luke 3:36. Subsequently, under the influence of this later text of Luke, Christian scribes added the name to other texts, including Genesis 10 LXX, Genesis 11 LXX, some manuscripts of 1 Chronicles 1 LXX, and the book of Jubilees.

Key words: Cainan, Samaritan Pentateuch, targums, Codex Alexandrinus (A), Codex Vaticanus (B), Josephus, Julius Africanus, Theophilus of Antioch, Augustine, Jubilees

One little-discussed problem in the biblical genealogies is the presence of Cainan, a supposed son/descendant of Arpachshad and father/ancestor of Shelah in the genealogies. This name is present in the genealogy of Jesus provided by Luke (Luke 3:36) as well as in Septuagint genealogies in the Table of Nations (Genesis 10) and in the genealogy from Shem to Abram in Gen 11:12 LXX.1 However, Cainan is absent from the Masoretic text in the OT at Gen 10:24, Gen 11:12, and 1 Chr 1:18. In these texts Arpachshad is the forebear of Shelah, and Cainan is not mentioned. Few studies of which I am aware have attempted to explain whether Cainan was accidentally or purposefully omitted from the Hebrew text or whether he was inserted for some ...

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