It’s Pretty Much Definite: Jesus was Descended from David

I am grateful to Gavin of the blog Otagosh for pointing out the genealogical gem that BBC News recently shared. Jesus almost certainly was descended from David – because it is likely that everyone among the Jews in his time was descended from David. Read the article for the genealogical logic behind this statement.

Of course, that’s assuming you don’t think that Matthew and Luke were giving a factual account in their early chapters…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    I came that conclusion a long time ago. I was reading about the mitocondrial eve and such and the research shows that every one alive to day is likely related to everyone in antiquity that had chldren. So the ironty is while Paul likely had no records he was probably right. suck it mythicist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bruce.prescott Bruce Prescott

    The BBC article makes the gospel genealogies pointless. If everybody in Israel was related to David at the time of Jesus — what’s the big deal?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Well, just as with William the Conqueror and other famous individuals, there are some people who have actual reason to conclude that they are descended from a particular person, while it may be that everyone else also is but has not kept track of the connection.

      At any rate, for those who believe in Jesus’ virginal conception, the genealogies were already pointless! ;-)

      • Tanya

        Nope. An adopted child is just as entitled to the rights of a natural born child.
        Thats the law. There is no difference.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          What relevance does modern law have to making sense of first-century Jewish and Christian texts?

        • Mary

          Supposedly the Messiah had to be a physical descendent of David, Isreal’s most important king. He had to have royal blood.
          Some people have suggested that he was descended from David through Mary’s bloodline. Maybe Dr. McGrath could explain more about that.
          At any rate, I think what he is saying is that if everyone was descended from David then Jesus would not have a special claim to be the Messiah, the “king” of the Jews, based on his bloodline alone.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            In ancient times, as far as royal lines went, it was the patrilineal line that normally mattered for such things – hence both genealogies focusing on fathers and sons.

            My point when posting this was aimed at least in part at the skepticism some have expressed towards the claim that Jesus was descended from David. I thought it might be rather ironic if it turned out that Jesus almost certainly was descended from David, for the unexpected reason that most Jews in his time probably were. I didn’t expect quite as much discussion to be generated by this particular post, to be quite honest!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Evans/100000619020207 David Evans

    These calculations are statistical, not certainties. It is probable that if we pick any individual from David’s time, he was an ancestor of Jesus. But it’s not certain, because all his children (or grandchildren, or great-grandchildren) might by pure chance die before leaving any descendants. Or they might all, by family tradition or otherwise, adopt a lifestyle that never brought them in contact with Jesus’s ancestors. Many people didn’t move far from their native village in those days.

    David is, admittedly, a special case. We know some of his children left descendants.

  • Erp

    I suspect the big thing was that Matthew and Luke were claiming patrilineal descent meaning that Jesus was of the house of David (which runs into problems when there are also claims Joseph wasn’t actually the father of Jesus) and that is much less likely.

    I agree almost everyone in Judah in David’s time who had any living descendants at the time of Jesus was likely to be an ancestor.

  • Tanya

    Dr. McGrath, is always interesting the many different, subtle, ways you can find to Deny Christ.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      What strange troll comments you have left today. In one of them you complain that I find ways to bring Jesus into things, in the other you accuse me of denying him. Which is it?

      • Mary

        Apparently you are not to speak of Jesus without her permission.

  • beallen0417

    Does this mean that when the Pauline author refers to Jesus as the seed of David in Romans 1 we can stop implying this guarantees a historical personage, since it means the same thing as “children of Abraham” which the Pauline author calls all Christians in Galatians? Or will Dr. McGrath conveniently ignore this fact the next time he needs to “prove” there was a historical Jesus referred to by the Pauline author?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      In his rather strange comment above, the well-known troll Evan/Beallen0417 seems to assume that Paul did not think that the Christians to whom he wrote and with whom he interacted were historical figures. I usually ignore trolls’ comments, but this one seems so bizarre that I am inclined to ask whether it makes sense to anyone else…


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