Objections and alleged discrepancies

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A discussion of the genealogies would be incomplete without considering some of the apparent discrepancies between the records. Some of the most common objections are raised here. Those which are addressed in greater detail in the preceding information, are briefly recapped.

1. If Matthew indicated there were 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus, why do only 41 names appear in his genealogy?

This is a common objection, which a cursory look at Matthew 1:17 would seem to justify.

However, careful examination shows that Matthew broke the genealogy down into three historic divisions, each of which contained fourteen generations. David's name was repeated because he was alive when the first division ended, and the second division began.

2. Matthew's genealogy is inconsistent with Old Testament records, that show Matthew skipped generations.

Matthew's genealogy was deliberately abridged. This may have been to aid in memorization of the tables. Old Testament writers also abridged their genealogical records, so Matthew had scriptural precedent to do so (compare Ezra 7:3 with 1 Chronicles 6:7-10).

3. Comparison shows that Matthew and Luke did not record the same names in their genealogies. Since they are not in harmony with each other, one or both of them must be erroneous.

Matthew and Luke traced two family histories. Matthew recorded the ancestors of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus. Luke recorded the ancestors of Mary, the biological mother of Jesus. The divergence of names is natural, given the fact that both authors presented two different family trees.

4. Luke stated that Joseph was the son of Heli, while Matthew stated he was the son of Jacob.

The Jerusalem Talmud shows that Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli. Joseph's father was Jacob. It was customary to refer to a son-in-law as a son in the first century. So Luke's statement was culturally correct.

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