Son of Adam, Son of God

One of the alternative Gospel readings for today’s Mass is the genealogy  of Jesus contained in Luke’s Gospel.  (Lk 3:23-38).  I did a double take when I noticed that because I don’t remember ever hearing that genealogy proclaimed at Mass.  We hear St. Matthew’s version of the genealogy each December during Advent, but when I read Luke’s it was so unfamiliar it was like I was reading it for the first time.

There are several differences between the two versions, apart from the fact that Matthew’s moves chronologically forward and ends with Jesus and Luke’s moves chronologically backward and begins with Jesus. Since I’m not sure what to make of the differences, let me just note a couple of them. Maybe some of you have explanations for their significance. Or maybe something in the difference will prompt some fruitful contemplation.

First, Matthew’s genealogy traces Jesus’ lineage back to Abraham; his account begins, “Abraham became the father of Isaac…” Luke’s traces Jesus’ lineage to Adam; his genealogy ends with “….son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.”

Second, Matthew’s genealogy has 72 generations – three divisions of 14. Luke’s has 77, which my Jewish Annotated New Testament observes “suggests completion.”

Third, whereas Matthew’s genealogy contains the name of five women, about which I’ve spoken before (you can find a link to my podcast on the subject here), Luke lists no women.

Fourth, while there are some common names on the list, there are also differences in the lines through which Matthew and Luke trace Jesus’ origins. Mathew’s genealogy goes through Solomon, whereas Luke’s goes through Nathan, creating a completely different cast of characters in the middle portion of the genealogy. (In the final section, some names are the same and some are different.

I have no grand points to make here. Actually, I’m hoping someone with more knowledge than I have can add an explanation for the differences. But I found it interesting to read the two side-by-side and thought I’d raise it for your consideration.