Errors in the Genealogies of Jesus
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The Atheists

Errors in the Genealogy of Jesus

I'm not the most intelligent person in the world, I'll admit that. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of things I don't know about. However, when I do notice something, and it seems really out of synch with reality, I remember it. For instance, many people, and most Christians in general, think that the Bible is the unerring word of God. I think they got it wrong: first of all, several men wrote the different books of the Bible, not some deity. And as men aren't perfect, the books themselves aren't perfect. Hell, my own writing isn't perfect. I don't see how anyone can say their writing is. Secondly, and most importantly for this rant, the Bible is full of internal errors. Many people have found them, apologists have tried to explain them away, and others have denied their existence, but the facts of the matter are that they exist, and they are relatively easy enough to find. All you have to do is actually read the Bible to find them.

Now, I'm not going to re-hash a list of inconsistencies that someone else compiled, or compile my own list, or anything like that. What I am going to do is go in-depth into one that I found on my own. As evidenced by the title of this page, it involves the genealogies of Jesus. For those of you who don't know what genealogy means, it's basically the tracing back of a person's family, usually by father to grandfather, to great-grandfather, etc. as far back in history as you can go. The ones listed in the Bible for Jesus are inconsistent, and likely incorrect, and not connected with any reality, according to what I've found.

If you've seen this sort of thing before, you might be thinking that this is a regurgitation of the old "Matthew vs. Luke" argument. For those of you who don't know, that's the one that says:

"Hey! Matthew and Luke give two different genealogies of Jesus! What's up with that?"

To which the apologists (people who give explanations - i.e. apologies - for the inconsistencies in the Bible - a practice I don't understand, because wouldn't it stand to reason that if the document were perfect, apologies wouldn't be necessary?) reply:

"It was a mis-print, silly. One of them is Joseph's genealogy, and the other is for Mary. You see, because of the status of women at the time the books were written, a woman couldn't really have a genealogy. They weren't important enough in the male-dominated society."

To which I reply, that's nice. I don't think it's correct, and I certainly don't agree with the practice of belittling women like that, but hey, he's God, and we all know that God's perfect, and he's allowed to do that sort of thing, I mean, be a chauvanist and all. Y'know what I'm saying?

Anyway, I am thinking about mentioning that little bit, as it is a part of this whole mess. It's actually what got me started on this, because, really, the two just don't add up in a number of ways. But who am I to comment about that inconsistency when so many larger minds have already commented on it? I'm just a simple guy with simple thoughts and simple needs. All I want to do is correlate the data, so to speak. And then crack a cold one.

So I asks myself, I says, "Self, if you wanted to find some sort of collaborating evidence, the kind that will fly in a court of law, or in this case, in some coffee house with some stimulated hyperactive minds, where would you look?" And I replied, "Why not look in the Old Testament? You can do some research, and perhaps trace some of the names." And then I said (to myself again), "Wait a minit! Just go to Chronicles! There's a veritable wealth of information there!" And there I went. This rant is the result of what I found.

For easy reference, I've appended the actual verses from the Bible that I used to the bottom of this document. I chose the NIV because it was there, and easy access is the best, I think. I added them so that you can double check me if you like, or if you want to see them for yourself, or if you want to make sure that this isn't something I made up, and I'm inventing verses of my own for the Bible, etc. etc. etc.

For starters, let's take a look at the three versions.

Matthew -

This is by far the easiest to read; it's pretty straightforward. "Bob was the father of Bill, who was the father of Fred, who was the father of Jim, who was the father of. . . " and so on, except that it starts with Abraham, and ends with Jesus. I can only surmise that the author figured that everyone knows the order from Adam to Abraham, so why bother wasting papyrus?

What I find interesting is that at the end, it says, "Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ." Pretty convenient and smart of them to set it up like that. Three sets of fourteen, which is six sets of seven. One set of 42. Three is a pretty important number in numerology, and so is six and seven. I can't remember how, I think 6 is the number of man, 7 is the number of god, and 3 represents the trinity. So, 6 * 7 must mean Jesus is THE real son of god. Or something like that. Which means to me that the author was trying to tailor the list for people who give numerology credence. Since it's easy enough to find evidence that the author dropped a couple of people's names (Joash, Amaziah, Azariah) to fit the scheme, I find this explanation believable. I also find the scheme wrong. Why a perfect god would have someone falsify information like that, I don't know. I mean, we all know that the bible was inspired by god, and men's hands were directed by Him. And who am I to question that?

The author screwed up, though. The total number of generations listed is 41. He must have counted someone twice, somewhere along the line. Maybe in Babylon. After all, things were pretty messed up there, and we all know that Babylon is the city of the devil and all.

Luke -

Luke is also pretty straightforward. The only real difference with it is that it runs backwards, as in starting with Jesus, and going back to Adam. The only real problems I have are that he takes a different route, by saying Joseph was the son of Heli, and deviating until he reaches Nathan, the son of Solomon. There is a point where he mentions a Shealtiel and Zerubabbel, but who they are and why he places them there is beyond me. If they are the same people mentioned in the other two genealogies, something is amiss here.

At Solomon, he links up with the rest, and follows pretty much back to Adam. I say pretty much, because he inserts someone by the name of Cainan into the mix, between Arphraxad and Shelah. It makes for a nice 21 generations from Adam to Abraham, but why do that? Numerology? I don't know and don't care to speculate; the fact is that either Chronicles or Luke is wrong. They contradict each other. And therefore, the Bible is not a perfect document as it is assembled today.

1 Chronicles -

This is perhaps the most confusing to read through. It just goes on and on, and on and on, and on and on about who was related to who, from father to son, and how many sons there are, and if there were any concubines that gave birth to sons, and if there were any daughters of note that gave birth to grandsons, and so on, and so on, and so on. It jumps around, so that at one verse, you are reading about one person's sons, and the next, you are jumping backwards 10 generations to look at the next line. Then you go all the way through that, only to jump back and forth to different people. So you have to go back to find out where you are, and keep track of where you are very carefully. But if you keep at it, you can trace things through to Zerubbabel.

Now, in my attempt at tracing this geneology, I think it reads that Shealtiel fathered Pediah, who fathered Zerubbabel. After all, it does get really confusing at the end of chapter three, and I could have made a mistake. It was at the time of the Babylonian takeover of Jerusalem, and things back then, I'm sure, were confused. Carnage and pillaging, slaughtering and raping, and all that fun stuff that goes along with conquering vanquished enemies. Anyway, the prophets Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai all mention Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel. Since they apparenly lived at that time, I would guess that you could give their references some credence. Maybe there's some bit that I'm missing. Perhaps Pedaiah was killed soon after the birth of Zerubbabel, and Shealtiel took him as his own. I don't know what happened, so I can't say. I wasn't there. All I know is that there is some information missing, or the Bible is inconsistent.

More points of contention: not only the inconsistencies that I've already commented on, but Abiud is not mentioned in Chronicles as a son of Zerubbabel. Yes, it was confusing, and perhaps someone changed his name, or something. Things like that happen in the Bible. Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul, Abram became Abraham, etc. Who knows? To me it is inconsistent. Also, Josiah fathered Jehoiakim, who fathered Jehoiakin(Notice the emphasis?). Now I know Jehoiakin is sometimes translated as Jeconiah, and I have no problem with that. The problem is, what happened to Jehoiakim? He supposedly got booted from being king (or something like that), but is that any reason to leave him off the list in Matthew? That's like saying Nixon was never president because he resigned in disgrace. Not true, and not very good history.

So I made this chart to better express what it is I'm trying to show here. After all, pictures are better than words. You can clearly see that, hey, things are out of whack. Like for instance, over the same period, Matthew lists fifteen less generations than Luke does, etc. etc. I think, that after looking, even superficially, anyone can notice that something is wrong somewhere.

This image is a chart correlating all the information gathered from 1 Chronicles, Matthew, and Luke

So there you have it, in a nutshell. The thing that did me a major double take on the bible, and sealed it for me as far as being an atheist. You see, up until the point I discovered this, I was a wavering atheist. I said I didn't believe, but I wasn't entirely convinced myself. In the back of my skull, I still thought that the Bibble was somehow sacrosanct, and infallible. Now I know otherwise, and that, my friend, is that.

Copyright 1999, by Eric B. Ptak. All rights reserved. Any and all replications in part or in whole should give credit where credit is due.

Bible References

1 Chronicles:

Chapter 1

1 Adam, Seth, Enosh,

2 Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared,

3 Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah.

4 The sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

- - -

17 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram. The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshech.

18 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber.

19 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.

20 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah,

21 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah,

22 Obal, Abimael, Sheba,

23 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.

24 Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah,

25 Eber, Peleg, Reu,

26 Serug, Nahor, Terah

27 and Abram (that is, Abraham).

28 The sons of Abraham: Isaac and Ishmael.

- - -

Chapter 2

1 These were the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun,

2 Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher
3 The sons of Judah: Er, Onan and Shelah. These three were born to him by a Canaanite woman, the daughter of Shua. Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the LORD's sight; so the LORD put him to death.

4 Tamar, Judah's daughter-in-law, bore him Perez and Zerah. Judah had five sons in all.

5 The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul.

- - -

10 Ram was the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, the leader of the people of Judah.

11 Nahshon was the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz,

12 Boaz the father of Obed and Obed the father of Jesse.

13 Jesse was the father of Eliab his firstborn; the second son was Abinadab, the third Shimea,

14 the fourth Nethanel, the fifth Raddai,

15 the sixth Ozem and the seventh David.

- - -

Chapter 3

1 These were the sons of David born to him in Hebron: The firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel; the second, Daniel the son of Abigail of Carmel;

2 the third, Absalom the son of Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;

3 the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by his wife Eglah.

4 These six were born to David in Hebron, where he reigned seven years and six months. David reigned in Jerusalem thirty-three years,

5 and these were the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon. These four were by Bathsheba daughter of Ammiel.

6 There were also Ibhar, Elishua, Eliphelet,

7 Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia,

8 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet--nine in all.

9 All these were the sons of David, besides his sons by his concubines. And Tamar was their sister.

10 Solomon's son was Rehoboam, Abijah his son, Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son,

11Jehoram] his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son,

12 Amaziah his son, Azariah his son, Jotham his son,

13 Ahaz his son, Hezekiah his son, Manasseh his son,

14 Amon his son, Josiah his son.

15 The sons of Josiah: Johanan the firstborn, Jehoiakim the second son, Zedekiah the third, Shallum the fourth.

16 The successors of Jehoiakim: Jehoiachin his son, and Zedekiah.

17 The descendants of Jehoiachin the captive: Shealtiel his son,

18 Malkiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama and Nedabiah.

19 The sons of Pedaiah: Zerubbabel and Shimei. The sons of Zerubbabel: Meshullam and Hananiah. Shelomith was their sister.

20 There were also five others: Hashubah, Ohel, Berekiah, Hasadiah and Jushab-Hesed.

21 The descendants of Hananiah: Pelatiah and Jeshaiah, and the sons of Rephaiah, of Arnan, of Obadiah and of Shecaniah.

22 The descendants of Shecaniah: Shemaiah and his sons: Hattush, Igal, Bariah, Neariah and Shaphat--six in all.

23 The sons of Neariah: Elioenai, Hizkiah and Azrikam--three in all.

24 The sons of Elioenai: Hodaviah, Eliashib, Pelaiah, Akkub, Johanan, Delaiah and Anani--seven in all.

- - -


Chapter 1

1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram,

4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse,

6 and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,

7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,

8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah,

9 Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,

10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah,

11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

13 Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor,

14 Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud,

15 Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

- - -


Chapter 3

23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli,

24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,

25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,

26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda,

27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,

28 the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,

29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,

30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,

31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,

32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,

33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,

34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,

35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,

36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,

37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan,

38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Scripture quoted without permission. Quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.

The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society.

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