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IN order to exalt the dignity and character of the Christian Messiah still higher than a mere claim for a divine origin paternally would have the effect to do, two of his assumed to be inspired biographers have set up for him a claim to a royal lineage through the maternal line.
Hence, they tell us that he descended from and through a line of kings embracing the house of David. But in presenting the names, and the number of generations, in their attempts to make out this royal distinction, this kingly exaltation of birth, they exhibit a most egregious bungle, and the most barefaced tissue of discrepancies. For they not only differ widely with each other in this matter, but differ with the Old Testament genealogy, and differ with those texts which give the maternal ancestry of Jesus.
Indeed, though varying as wide as the poles from each other, they both miss Jesus and arrive at Joseph in tracing down the generations from Abraham (unless we assume they intended to represent Joseph as being his father).
Luke, in his gospel, names and counts off forty-one generations from David, to Joseph, though he had previously represented it as being forty-two; but Matthew says that “from Abraham to David are fourteen generations,” but according to his own showing, and according to his own list of names, there are but thirteen. And then he tells us there are but fourteen generations from David to the carrying away into Babylon. But according to the Old Testament genealogy (see i Chron. iii.) there were eighteen. And then the names comprised in the two genealogies of Matthew and Luke are so widely different from that found in Chronicles, as to set all analogy and agreement at defiance.
In fact, in their whole list of names, from David down to Joseph, they only come together twice. Their names are all different but two, that of Salathiel and Zorobabel, which names alone are found in both lists.
Matthew tells us that the son of David, through whom Joseph descended, was Solomon, but Luke says it was Nathan. The next name in Matthew’s list is that of Roboam, but the corresponding name in Luke’s list is Mattatha. Matthew’s next name is Abia, which Luke gives as Menan, while Chronicles differs from both, and gives it as Abijah. Matthew says Joram begat Ozias, but Chronicles virtually declares Joram had no such son, although he had a great-great- grandson Uzziah. But Luke says, in effect, there was no such person in the genealogical tree, or family line, as either Joram, Ozias or Uzziah. Matthew says again, “Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon.” (Matt. i. ii.)
But Chronicles declares that Jechonias was Jehoiakim’s son, and not Josiah’s, and that Josiah had no such son. And, besides, we learn, from 2 Kings xiii., that Josiah was killed eleven years before the exile to Babylon, and could not well beget a son after he had been defunct a tenth of a century.
Matthew, after naming twenty-four generations as filling out the line, and making it complete between David and Jacob, concludes by saying, “and Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary.”
But Luke, antecedent to spinning out his list to fourteen generations more than Matthew, i.e., making it fourteen generations longer, declares that “Joseph was the son of Heli.” So that Joseph either had two fathers, Jacob and Heli; or Matthew or Luke, or both, were most egregiously mistaken, with all their “inspiration.”
Again, Luke says that Salathiel was the son of Neri; but Chronicles says he was the son of Jechonias. And after Chronicles had registered Zorobabel as the son of Penniah, Matthew and Luke, assuming to become “wise above what was written,” both declare that he was the son of Salathiel. They agree here in contradicting Chronicles, which is the only instance but one of their agreement in the whole list of progenitors from David to Joseph.
With this exception they contradict each other all the way through, and in many instances that of Chronicles, too.
This is a strange way, indeed, of proving Jesus Christ to have had two fathers! — to be both the son of God and son of David! And it is still stranger that they should trace his genealogy to Joseph, if they did not consider him Joseph’s son. Otherwise, the genealogy of “Sinbad the Sailor,” or “Harry Haulaway,” would have been as apropos.
Such are the beautiful harmony and agreement in the words of “divine inspiration” which Christians prate so much about.
And all this appears to be the result of an attempt to elevate the man Christ Jesus to a level with the demigods of antiquity, nearly all of whom claimed to be of royal or princely descent. Such continual blundering, guessing, cross-firing, and clashing of names as is exhibited in the foregoing exposition, reminds us of the Hibernian’s reply when asked for the number and names of his brothers:
“Well, sir, I have fourteen brothers, and they are all named Bill but Bob — his name is Tom.”
Matthew and Luke’s attempt to exalt and dignify the character of Christ by making out for him a pure, holy and royal lineage we find, upon a critical examination not only proved a very signal but a very singular and ludicrous failure, for all his female ancestors who are brought to notice were persons of libidinous or licentious tendencies, according to their own biblical history.
“It is remarkable,” says Dr. Alexander Walker, (a Christian writer, in his work on Woman, p. 330), “that in the genealogy of Christ only four women are named: Thamar, who seduced the father of her late husband, and Rachel, a common prostitute, and Ruth, who, instead of marrying one of her cousins, went to bed with another of them, and Bathsheba, an adulteress, who espoused David the murderer of her first husband.”
What a pedigree for an incarnate God — a being ostensibly of spotless origin! though his impure ancestral origin does not detract from the high moral character and distinguished moral life which marks the history of “the man Christ Jesus,” many incidents of whose life show him to have been what is now known as a spiritual medium.