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July 14, 2006



Matthew's Gospel begins by tracing the geneology from David to Joseph, husband of Mary. The obvious purpose of beginning his Gospel this way is to establish Jesus as the heir to David. He then passes from this to an account of Jesus' virgin birth. Evidently, Matthew saw no contradiction between the fact that Jesus was heir to Josoph's ancestry despite the fact that they were not blood relatives.

Is there any evidence that Mary was a descendent from David?


I heard one time that the reason the Biblical geneaologies are different is because one of them is actually Mary's. Is there any basis for this?

Kjetil Kringlebotten

Interesting. I've heard about it before.


Didn't you have a nice page about this on your old website?


It is indeed written somewhere that Mary also was from the house of David (even before her marriage to Joseph). Mr. Armstrong, God bless him, probably has something on it over at his website, but I am far too old to look.


On a slightly diverging topic. If the Jews of today believe that the Messiah will be a descendant of David, is there anyone keeping track of that geneaology? If not, then how will know. Or do the Jews of today not believe that the Messiah will be a descendant of David? I've always wondered that.

Tim M.

I have read and been taught that Jewish culture is matriarcal and that one traces their ancestory through the mother, even up to today.

I find it interesting that the geneology at the end of Luke 3 traces Jesus' geneology from David through Nathan and not Soloman and still arrives at Joseph.


From Jimmy's Old Site

"Some have tried to deal with the issue by saying that Luke’s genealogy really doesn’t give Jesus’ lineage through Joseph at all, but through Mary. It is true that Mary was a descendant of David (cf. Rom. 1:3), but neither of the lines given in the gospels is her line. The text does not support that idea. Luke states that Joseph was the son of Heli, not that Mary was the daughter of Heli, and in any event, this does not account for the question of Shealtiel’s two fathers."

Devin Rose

In our age of paternity tests and daytime talk shows, where finding the biological father of a child is the most important thing so that proper child support payments can be assessed, it's hard to understand how St. Joseph could have "really" been considered Jesus' father since clearly he was not his biological father.

Yet this is how our Heavenly Father planned the incarnation of his Son, choosing St. Joseph to be Jesus' father, in all ways save biologically. Thus it seems to me that we place more emphasis on biological fatherhood due to our culture and the fact that it is the ordinary way that God procreates children, whereas with Jesus, God did something extraordinary and did not flinch at choosing St. Joseph to be Jesus' father, even though St. Joseph and Mary did not procreate Jesus in the ordinary way.

St. Joseph, together with the Virgin Mary, made the incarnation of Jesus possible and reared Jesus in love throughout his life and probably up until the time just before his public ministry began, teaching Jesus his trade and providing for Jesus and Mary through his work--a true image of God the Father and an inspiration to all fathers!

Paul Hoffer

I am presently reading Fulton Oursler's "The Greatest Story Ever Told." In it, Mr. Oursler does present as fact both Mary and Joseph as descendants of David. While I realize that it is more akin to the Diatessaron in harmonizing the Four Gospels into a story about Jesus' life, Mr. Oursler consulted with Jewish, Protestant and Catholic authorities in writing the book and tried to make the book as historically and scripturally accurate as possible.


There is no evidence, in Scripture at least, that Mary is a descendant of David. Luke identifies Joseph as the House of David. He never identifies Mary's House, but he *does* identify her kinswoman Elizabeth as being of the House of Aaron. This has always fascinated me, as the exact relationship of Mary & Elizabeth is not identified (except in some of the apocrypha). But I've always fallen on the assumption that Mary is an Aaronite, because that makes Jesus a Priest, as well as a King.

I also remember reading somewhere--I believe it was in an old issue of _Catholic Answers_--that Jewish law gave political heredity to adopted children, but priestly heredity *had* to be biological, and implied the same thing about Mary being from the House of Aaron.

J. R. Stoodley

About Jewish culture being matriarchal, yes, today in order to be considered ancestrally Jewish you need to have your Judaism confirmed on your mother's side not your father's, since you can never be 100% certain that the person the mother says is the father really is (at least until we invented paternity tests). However, tribal and legal status was clearly passed down from father to son in the OT.

Regarding Christ as priest, while there is the family connection to the tribe of Levi which may not be completely without symbolic meaning, it is clear from the book of Hebrews that Jesus is not a Levitical priest. The Levitical priesthood, like all the priesthoods of the Old Testiment, was a prefigurment of the real thing that Christ would be. If anything, Christ is more connected to the priest Melchizedek, king of Salem, and to the sons of David who were inexplicably (except considered typologically) called priests.

About the two geneologies given to Jesus, they are both clearly geneologies of Joseph (unless maybe if there was a very early corruption of the text?). One traces him through the king Solomon and the other through the prophet Nathaniel, right? This has the effect of emphasizing the fact that Jesus is both King and Prophet, but since both texts pretty clearly present the geneologies as true I have a hard time accepting the explanation some give that one or both are not meant to be taken as a true line of descent. My own thought is, what if one line (presumably the kingly one since it would make him the heir to the throne of Judah) went down the true patriarchal ancestry of Joseph, while the other was actually the ancestry of Joseph's maternal grandfather, who then is simply called the father of Joseph. Still probematic, but I can't think of anything better. Does anyone have a better answer?


"Bothe genealogies are now generally held to be Joseph's, one by natural and one by levirite succession, according to the ancient Jewish law which obliged a man whose brother had died without male issue to marry his brother's widow to perpetuate his brother's line, and/or by other forms of adoption."--Warren Carroll, "The Founding of Christendom", p. 312, footnote 48.


In sacred (Spirit-inspired) Scripture well before Isaias 11 (root of Jesse) and well after, Christ's royal lineage is not questioned or problematic.


I have to go with JC. Mary's kinswoman Elizabeth is clearly a "daughter of Aaron". Luke 1:5 This gives our Blessed Savior His priestly lineage through Mary, a Levite and His royal lineage through Joseph, a Judahite of the "House of David", by adoption. Moses, who pre-figures Christ was also a Levite who was adopted into a house of kings. Ex.2:1-10. Mary had to be from Levi. Only Levites could handle the "Ark". Dt.10:8, thus affirming Mary's "Perpetual Virginity" because Joseph was a Judahite. Know Mary know Jesus.

Jordan Potter

Just because Mary and Elizabeth are "cousins" and Elizabeth is a descendant of Aaron, that doesn't mean Mary is a descendant of Aaron. Rather, Mary and Elizbeth could share a common grandparent or greatgrandparents who belongs neither to the House of Aaron nor to the Tribe of Judah. Nevertheless, some of the early Fathers did point to the Blessed Virgin's kinship with St. Elizabeth as evidence that the Blessed Virgin was descended from the Tribe of Levi, and thereby passed Levitical priestly blood onto her Son. Those Fathers then used that genealogical argument to bolster the doctrine of Christ as King and Priest.

As for Mary's descent from David, that is a very early Christian tradition, first mentioned (if I recall correctly) by St. Ignatius of Antioch circa 110 A.D. The early Marian apocrypha also say she was a descendant of David. Since there was a law or rule that strongly encouraged Israelites to marry within their own tribe, it would make sense that St. Joseph and St. Mary were both of the House of David, even if we can't absolutely say beyond all doubt that this tradition is true.

Another thing: St. Luke's genealogy of Jesus takes the line through St. Joseph back to Nathan (not Nathaniel), son of King David. Nathan was a Davidic prince, not to be confused with the Prophet Nathan who upbraided David for his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. The New American Bible's footnotes, as usual, are worthless on this point. Contrary to St. Gregory of Tours and the New American Bible's footnotes, there can no doubt that David's son Nathan was not the prophet Nathan, because Holy Scripture says David's son Nathan was one of the sons of David and Bathsheba -- but, except for their first baby who died a few days after birth, David and Bathsheba didn't have any children until AFTER the very full-grown prophet Nathan had gotten in David's face about the Bathsheba-Uriah matter. So St. Luke's genealogy was not intended to suggest that Jesus' office as Prophet derived from or was related in any way to Nathan the Prophet.


I am confused. Jesus is God. As the lineage in the old Testament states. He is a descendent of David, by THEIR standards at the time. Why would it be written by OUR standards? Is that too much for academia to figure out? It's kinda like looking at a rock for 10 years to find out what it is. What ever we want to debate and decide is superfluous. Basically it is someone unimportant wanting THEIR opinion and voice heard and taken as..should I say..gospel?
Nuff said, why beat it up?
Ohhh...you want YOUR opinions heard.
No opinions, read your bible. Try a few versions, or go to the old Greek and Hebrew.
God (Jesus) was here before the old testament was written. He became man or in His case Man by human birth. It's all there. It's not like a rock. A rock does not try to explain itself, but this is ALL explained. The Word says it all and did say it all in the bible. Who do you think was leading the scholars as they translated.
Get a relationship going with the Holy Spirit. He'll educate you Himself.
What? How do you do that?
How 'bout reading this and then applying the principles in it. All of this biblical information is right out of anyones bible.
download it and read it, once or 10 times.


Rock? what?, Anyway....
I question this too because even though it was not the practice and adoption was considered permanent, Jesus is from the "blood-line" of David?? This confuses me since Joseph was not Jesus' blood-father. I am invcestigating this more to figure it all out. Mary and Joseph could easily have been realated...this is still practiced in that area of the world today.


Hear about?
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"The holy and righteous Joseph the Betrothed, also referred to as Joseph of Nazareth, was the foster-father of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament (Matthew 1:16; Luke 3:23). Not much is known of Joseph except that he was "of the House of David" and lived in the town of Nazareth. His date of death is unknown, though he was still living when Jesus was 12 years old.

He was betrothed to the Virgin Mary at the time that Mary conceived Jesus. Luke says that he lived at Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 2:4); however, according to Matthew, it was only after the return from Egypt that he settled in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23). He is called a "just man". He was by trade a carpenter (Matthew 13:55). He is last mentioned in connection with the journey to Jerusalem, when Jesus was twelve years old. It is probable that Joseph died before Jesus entered on his public ministry because only Mary was present at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee, and he is not described at the crucifixion along with Mary (John 19:25). In addition, St. Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus, a duty that would have fallen to St. Joseph had he been alive.

Jesus Christ is described as being the brother of James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and several sisters (Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55). A tradition at least as early as the second century, still adopted by the Orthodox Church, explains that these "brothers and sisters" were from Joseph's marriage to Salome who left him a widower before he married Mary and so making them step-brothers and step-sisters. He was the older brother to Cleopas, who was also married to a woman named Mary.

That Jesus commended Mary to the care of John the Evangelist while he was hanging on the cross has been interpreted to also suggest that Joseph had died by that time, and that Joseph and Mary did not have any other children who might care for Mary."
from http://orthodoxwiki.org/Joseph_the_Betrothed


continued. . .
it is also believed that Joseph and Mary were related so the lineage would still be King David.


I believe if I remember correctly, He was her uncle.

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