Biblical Genealogies


Are biblical genealogies to be understood literally or figuratively?

Doesn’t one of the readings at Christmas talk about the exact number of generations from Adam and Eve to Jesus?


See this thread


thanks buffalo.

That thread is long and I will read later.

In summary, it seems that the genealogies are literal. Agree?


They serve a theological purpose and were added for a purpose by a post exilic auditor.


They are literal.



Disagree. I think that you will find that some of the genealogies are shortened. Matthew 1:1 “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Now that has to be non-literal. Jesus was not the literal son of David, and David was not the literal son of Abraham. :slight_smile:



Just asking is there any last names in the Bible I can only find first names? I find this interesting think we all come from one seed?

Thanks God Bless


Very few last names in Scripture. You could count them on two hands (or maybe one), and they did not hold the family connection we have with them today. They were character additions or “son-of”. Last names, as we know them, are a relatively modern phenomenon – late mediaeval and following – often taken from trades or professions: Fletcher, Walker, Baker, Smith, Archer, Joiner, Cooper.

When my husband’s grandfather came to the U.S. from Greece in the late 19th Century, he did not have a last name. So he took a name from a forbear.


Would we start with Adam and Eve? Or would we start with Noe seeing and are told God flooded the earth and there were only 8 whom were saved? Is it not a proven fact even Scientic fact that all of us can trace our ancestors back to Africa? Saw it on tv documentary.

Thanks God Bless


Both Mathew and Luke provide genealogies
Since they differ from each other (and differ from the genealogy given for the House of David in Chronicles) I’m not sure how they can be treated as literal other than that they are there to show us that He was descended from David (and in Luke’s case Adam) and not necessarily give us every twist and turn in the process.


I think we can say that the geneologies are to be read as literal.

That doesn’t mean we are supposed to read them as a list of meticulously chronicled facts, like we would read a spread sheet.

For example, when we read the following in Luke 3:

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.

Here we are presented with a set of accurate facts. However, a lot of other things happened around this time in the world that are not included here. Does that mean they didn’t happen? No, it just means that the facts that were provided were the ones that were important to what we need to know about Jesus.

Same with the geneologies. Each Sacred Author (inspired by the Holy Spirit) included those facts (in this case, names) and only those facts that were important for the story he was telling and the way he was telling it. This was dependent on the gifts of the writer and his intended immediate audience. As the Second Vatican Council said in Dei Verbum:

  1. Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1). Indeed, after the Ascension of the Lord the Apostles handed on to their hearers what He had said and done. This they did with that clearer understanding which they enjoyed after they had been instructed by the glorious events of Christ’s life and taught by the light of the Spirit of truth. The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some things from the many which had been handed on by word of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a synthesis, explaining some things in view of the situation of their churches and preserving the form of proclamation but always in such fashion that they told us the honest truth about Jesus. For their intention in writing was that either from their own memory and recollections, or from the witness of those who “themselves from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word” we might know “the truth” concerning those matters about which we have been instructed (see Luke 1:2-4).


One has to understand the relationships and how geneolgies worked back then. One account is through Mary the other Joseph.



why do they both mention Joseph?


**Genealogy of Christ

The convergence of the two distinct genealogical lines in the person of St. Joseph, has been explained in two ways:
(a) St. Matthew’s genealogy is that of St. Joseph; St. Luke’s, that of the Blessed Virgin. This contention implies that St. Luke’s genealogy only seemingly includes the name of Joseph. It is based on the received Greek text, on (os enomizeto ouios Ioseph) tou Heli, “being the son (as it was supposed, of Joseph, but really) of Heli”. This parenthesis really eliminates the name of Joseph from St. Luke’s genealogy, and makes Christ, by means of the Blessed Virgin, directly a son of Heli. This view is supported by a tradition which names the father of the Blessed Virgin “Joachim”, a variant form of Eliacim or its abbreviation Eli, a variant of Heli, which latter is the form found in the Third Evangelist’s genealogy. But these two consideration, viz. the received text and the traditional name of the father of Mary, which favour the view that St. Luke gives the genealogy of the Blessed Virgin, are offset by two similar considerations, which make St. Luke’s list terminate with the name of Joseph. First, the Greek text preferred by the textual critics reads, on ouios, hos enomizeto, Ioseph tou Heli, “being the son, as it was supposed, of Joseph, son of Heli”, so that the above parenthesis is rendered less probable. Secondly, according to Patrizi, the view that St. Luke gives the genealogy of Mary began to be advocated only towards the end of the fifteenth century by Annius of Viterbo, and acquired adherents in the sixteenth. St. Hilary mentions the opinion as adopted by many, but he himself rejects it (Mai, “Nov. Bibl, Patr.”, t. I, 477). It may be safely said that patristic tradition does not regard St. Luke’s list as representing the genealogy of the Blessed Virgin.
(b) Both St. Matthew and St. Luke give the genealogy of St. Joseph, the one through the lineage of Solomon, the other through that of Nathan. But how can the lines converge in St. Joseph? St. Augustine suggested that Joseph, the son of Jacob and the descendant of David through Solomon, might have been adopted by Heli, thus becoming the adoptive descendant of David through Nathan. But Augustine was the first to abandon this theory after learning the explanation offered by Julius Africanus. According to the latter, Estha married Mathan, a descendant of David through Solomon, and became the mother of Jacob; after Mathan’s death she took for her second husband Mathat, a descendent of David through Nathan, and by him became the mother of Heli. Jacob and Heli were, therefore, uterine brothers. Heli married, but died without offspring; his widow, therefore, became the levirate wife of Jacob, and gave birth to Joseph, who was the carnal son of Jacob, but the legal son of Heli, thus combining in his person two lineages of David’s


Thank you…for you kindness and thank you for keeping me on the right path…little child of God…God Bless


It depends on the genealogy.

Some at least of those in 1 Chronicles (for instance) treat place-names as though they were names of individual persons. Which is why places such as Eshtaol & Bethlehem are given fathers: either the fathers were “mayors” of the places; or the inhabitants of the places were included in the tribal group whose genealogy isbeing given.

Genesis 10 treats several peoples as though they were the individual offspring of individuals - that’s why several names in Genesis 10 are in the plural form. Caphtorim (for example) is not a person, but a people - probably the Cretans.

Hope that helps :slight_smile:


Have you been on the web site called " Hebrews of Africa" on google. First on the list when you get on the page. I found it very interesting. Seeing that we are talking on this subject you can also pick on topics on side panels of the page interesting.

God Bless


Mercygate have you been on the web site punch in on google its called “Hebrews of Africa” click on first one on this site at top. Seening that we are on this topic. You can also click on both side of the page on topics also. We never talk about the curses in the Bible when we do not fallow the law do we.

God Bless


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