Sunday, November 17, 2013

Saint Matthew's Genealogy of Jesus Christ



[To a friend]


Greetings!

Saint Matthew's Genealogy (a subject dear to your heart) has been most useful for me by its naming king Josiah of Judah as the father of Jeconiah (1:11), when it is usual to consider Jeconiah as the son of Josiah's son, king Jehoiakim - hence the grandson of Josiah.
Why so useful?
It has to do with my efforts to demonstrate the historicity of the Book of Esther - and especially the historical identification of the wicked Haman. According to Jewish legend, Haman was, like Mordecai, a Jew. This was another vital clue for me, considering that Haman is variously given as an "Agagite"; an "Amalekite"; a "Bougean" (sounds like Boogey Man); and a "Macedonian".
Terribly confusing!
I had toyed firstly with Haman as the last Jewish king, Zedekiah, after I had read a Jewish tradition that Zedekiah had ten sons. The same as Haman. Moreover, his mother's name was Hamutal (or Hammutal), which was a very good candidate for (Esther 3:1): "Haman the son of Hammedatha".
But this comparison of the evil Zedekiah with Haman could not be sustained, since (for one) Zedekiah had been blinded by King Nebuchednezzar. Similarly evil, Jeconiah turned out to be a better candidate for Haman. And his being a son of Josiah, now (thanks to Matthew), instead of a grandson, enabled for his mother, too, possibly, to have been that Hamutal (also of bad reputation).

Now comes the twist.

Whereas Matthew has Jeconiah as the father of Shealtiel, Luke has Neri as the father of Shealtiel. See my latest post:


Jeconiah and Neri are usually considered by commmentators to represent two different persons - and two different lines (one being from Nathan).
My view (see post), though, is that Jeconiah and Neri 'are' actually the same person, and that Neri is, furthermore, the Neriglissar who ruled in Babylon after the death of Nebuchednezzar II.

Anyway, what I want to ask you is: Does your research into the structure of Matthew's Gospel suggest any new angle on any of this?
Perhaps it may not actually address this precise situation, but I thought it worth asking just in case.

Best wishes
Damien.


Response

Dear Damien,

Glad to help. But all this is entirely new to me. The short answer to your question is: I haven’t a clue. You see, there hasn’t been much research on my part. My approach has always been: “What is Matthew saying?” (as distinct to “What do others say that Matthew is saying?” I have made the assumption that Matthew was a highly intelligent writer who set out to put what he had to say into a sophisticated literary form. (I suspect that some people think Matthew was a bit of a dummy who copied Mark and added a few ideas of his own.) If a translation did not support the chiastic shape of his writing, there was probably something wrong with the translation; so back to the earliest version (in this case the Greek). I started off using the Westcott and Hort Greek but finally learnt that the Byzantine version was better. That’s about the extent of my “research”. I have not attempted to make a scientific study of the matter and write a learned article on it all. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I haven’t studied the ancient texts (other than the Greek, a bit). I have no idea how Matthew got his genealogy; (Does anyone really know HOW or WHERE he got his genealogy?) I accept the usual idea that the Jews kept extensive records of such matters and he had access to them. So you see, I have comprehensive ignorance on the question.
Sorry to disappoint you. BUT, I will have a look at the problem and see what I can see, and if I see anything I’ll let you know.
 
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