Interpreting Luke's Genealogical Account

(Phil) #81

Also, in a relatively closed society and small population, it probably would not take too many generations to be related to everyone that preceded them, as the discussions on a genealogical Adam point toward.

(Jay Johnson) #82

Doesn’t work. If one were Mary’s and one Joseph’s, and both converge on the Davidic line, then both should be identical from some point back to David. For instance, we’ve already mentioned the mysterious fact that Zerubbabel and Shealtiel are the only Davidic kings in the genealogy of Luke 3, but Matthew 1 even diverges on that point:

Luke 13: the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,
Matthew 1: After the deportation to Babylon, Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,

So in Luke, we have Neri, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Rhesa, but in Matthew we have Jeconiah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud. Many work-around solutions have been offered, such as Levirate marriage (taking a brother’s wife and “raising up children for him”) and the phenomenon of people having more than one name (Simon/Peter/Cephas), but no real solution to the problem has been found.

(Albert Leo) #83

Surprisingly, I agree with the position Richard Dawkins takes in his book, “The Ancestor’s Tale”. He takes >600 pages in presenting a good defense of neo-Darwinian theory as an explanation of the evolution of earthly life up to and including early Homo sapiens. But even though the evidence supports the fact that we modern humans have the same genome as early H.s., our markedly different behaviors strongly support the occurrence of some Epi-genetic change, the exact mechanism of which is currently unknown. (Presently I would place my bet on it’s involving DNA-methylation in the cerebral cortex, but the results are AS IF the brain became programmed to act as Mind.)

Thus neither Dawkins nor I have reached any conclusion as to HOW we became human. He remains an atheist, while I prefer to believe that God’ Will is being fulfilled in ways that are not always apparent to us.
Al Leo

(Albert Leo) #84

Hi, I presume the part I’ve highlighted from your quote is taken from John: 14:6 No one comes to the Father except through me. Perhaps one of the other authors of John’s gospel wanted future generations to remember this: John 6:44 _No one comes to me unless the Father draws him. The first supports the view that acknowledging Jesus as our Savior is the ONLY was to reach heaven. In the second Jesus seems to be speaking as Christ, the cosmic Messiah, through whom even heathens who never learned of Jesus could be drawn to the Father; i.e. be saved and not damned.

Which do you believe is closer to the Truth? I am putting my faith and trust in the latter.
Al Leo

(Mervin Bitikofer) #85

I don’t hold to some sort of physical or biologically “built-in” original sin theory. I don’t think you can really find sin under a microscope or with an equation. So there is nothing in that regard for me to attribute to God. I do think I am fallen, though, with every other human being (except Jesus) who ever lived.

That’s why I don’t believe all this either (at least as you put it). It does indeed strain credibility.

I can see why. If that’s what I thought of Christianity, I would probably have walked away by now.

(Albert Leo) #86

Freddy, I consider myself a skeptic, and so I just hope you are not too determined to remain unconvinced. You have very clearly enumerated the reasons so many of my scientific colleagues (many raised as Italian Catholics) have chosen agnosticism. I hope you will take the time to peruse some of my previous posts that suggest that the concept of Original Sin arose from the (defensible) ignorance of the fact that God used evolution and ‘selfish genes’ to produce the variety of wondrous life we see on earth. When a promising primate, Homo sapiens, appeared, he bestowed a Blessing, changing brain into Mind and Conscience, potentially enabling H.s. to rise above animal instinct.

This is the inconsistency that turned me off of Original Sin and onto Original Blessing. Of course I am not the first to suggest this answer. Within recent Catholic tradition, the Jesuit, Teilhard de Chardin, promoted Original Blessing and was banished from teaching it in France and sent to ‘heathen’ China where he could do little harm (but where he did indulge in his avocation in helping unearth Pekin Man.) More recently a Dominican priest, Mathew Fox, preached Original Blessing, and when he refused to stop, he was defrocked. So far, BioLogos has remained more open-minded, bless their hearts.[quote=“freddymagnanimo, post:75, topic:36744”]
non-Christians are choosing to rebel against God.
For my answer to the problem of “heathen damnation”, see my recent post to @still_learning. I maintain that the most quoted verse in Johns gospel (14:6) conveys less Truth than the very similar one (6:44)
Al Leo

(Freddy Magnanimous) #87

I’ll check that out. It definitely seems to make more sense than the traditional story that every one of us is fallen and in desperate need of being saved. I haven’t found much reason to base any sort of worldview upon the contents of the Bible (not to mention the challenge of even finding a consistent worldview in the Bible), but perhaps these ideas rely more on natural theology.

(GJDS) #88

I do not think that as Christians we would base our faith and beliefs on what atheists wish is so, or on any bets people make. It is sufficient to accept that science is silent on this matter - otherwise science becomes an ideology.


You can read this post here Genesis Movie Trailer. An Exciting-Looking Film Forthcoming From Our Friends At AIG! to see where my “conversion/revelation” came from.

I kind of spell out my thoughts on other religions. I don’t know any ones heart, so I can’t really say why they believe what they do.

Are they really seeking to find our creator? Or are they seeking to ‘confirm’ the ‘truth’ of what they want to believe in?

I hate to use logic, but to me Christianity is the most logical one. I think in my seeking God, He is the one that revealed that logic to me.

But I do not thing all paths lead to God. Is there any other Creator that wants to be with His creations in other religions. I am not expert on all religions, but I think I summarized most of them in that quote above.

Why do people think they are worthy of being in any way associated with their Creator? He created you, do you really think you can earn your way back to him? It’s like an ant trying to climb its way to the moon, it’s not gong to happen. Unless He lovingly provides a way for us to know Him and come to Him, which as far as I know, that only religions is Christianity, where Jesus does this.

It is a difficult subject to speak to for many people. And people you have a deep talk like that to, should be really good friends. I just don’t happen to have anyone of another religion that I am that close to, to ask them why they believe what they believe. I can’t back it up, but it is just a very strong belief I have, that anyone who earnestly seeks their Creator, He will reveal Himself to them. It could be supernatural, or it could be through the acts of man (why does this Christian act this way), as men are a vessel of God’s light, mirrors to shine Him to us. Or it could be through words of man. I don’t believe any words of man will every convince anyone to believe in God. But I do believe a man who is seeking God, can see God’s revelation in those words/logic and come to know God through those words then.

I do not hold all the truths. Maybe some are hidden for the time being, maybe some I will never know. But
I enjoy talking and relating with others who share similar passions, but in the large scheme of things, it doesn’t make a hill of beans. My foundation is based in my Creator, who wants to know me, and allows me to be with Him, through the sacrifice of His Son. And though I can’t and don’t follow His will all the time, I know in my head and my heart it is what is best for me, I can’t explain why I still sin. Because I am human, and when I don’t stay close to the Spirit, who can do the will of God, I fall back to my nature and sin.

I am leaning more and more that direction the more I learn.

I completely agree with this. This is why I think Pharisees didn’t recognize Jesus, and this is why (though it took a bit of time and earnest seeking) Paul and Nicodemus found Jesus. John 8:19 Paul knew God, and found Jesus. The Pharisees had no clue who God was (on a personal level) they just knew about God. This is why God says, depart from me, I never knew you. They never knew His heart, they just knew His laws. They were all about outward appearances, like so many other religions. God wants to know our hearts, and we wants us to know His heart. A personal relationship with Him.

I am kind of thinking the later one also. I am currently reading to scriptures to see if I can find support (or a part that clearly refutes this) line of thought. I know that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness Rom 4:9.

I have said this in other posts, but I’m sure you didn’t read it as many are long. But when I look at the Bible as a whole (which I like to do so I don’t get caught up on details). I see why God made us, which is to be with Him. We can’t be with Him because we are sinners. The first sin was rejection of God’s ways. We think we can do better, we think we can control things and are smarter than God, and we can decide the best course of action. God allows us to pursue this (though He knows it is wrong and bad for us), this is what sin is, God allows us to sin Sin in the most fundamental of terms is not doing what God says is best, rejecting He knows best, and we can do better.

So when Abraham has faith in God’s ways, this was credited to him as righteousness. This is what God wants, and always wanted, for us to know Him, and trust Him, because He loves us. Just like a parent wants their kinds to know and trust them.

When Jesus came, we fulfilled the law, didn’t sin, died for us to atone for our sins and conquer the law. So before Jesus, we could want to listen to God (but our human nature pushes us in the direction not doing God’s will), this was sin. We killed animals to sacrifice our sine, which was commanded, but it also required faith in God to do these things.

Hosea 6:6 “I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.

Since we (Israelites only) had a law, we would have faith in God to atone our sins through the spotless lamb, which again, was a commandment, but also demonstrated faith, and also set up Jesus (foreshadowing). We kept needing to sacrifice lambs, because we kept sinning. But the ones who loved God and His ways in his heart was I believe vindicated. God knows our hearts, we can fool anyone else, but Him. This was the purpose of the law, to show we can’t live a sinless life. We can’t earn our way to God, we need something better.

So when Jesus came, and died for us, conquered the law, now we no longer fall under the law, but under His grace through Jesus. We still sin, but in that declaration of wanting Jesus to forgive us, and wanting to do the will of God, that is the same faith I believe credited to Abraham as righteousness.

Jesus was on earth, He forgave sins, God can forgive sins. The lambs were not magical, it was an agreement. If you sacrifice this lamb, I will forgive you. God still did the forgiving. But God cannot (or wishes not to) just willy nilly forgive the world for a few reasons. One, that makes everything in creation pointless, why not just do that in the beginning. Two, sin is bad, God doesn’t want us to sin, He is holy, we (as sinners) can’t be in God’s presence. It has to be only allowed to forgive those who want it, or it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Three, this is what I believe heaven and hell is. Heaven is choosing God’s will, hell is rejecting it. It does no good to forgive a man of his sin if he still rejects God. Because of sin, he can’t be with God, but even if sinless, he still doesn’t want to be with God. God allows those that want to be with Him, a way to do so, and those who don’t, not to.

I use caution saying this, because I do believe that Jesus was/is real, and did come in human form to die for us, and show us how to live a life following God’s will (aka sinless). But I almost want to say that Jesus is a manifestation of faith in God. So if Abraham had faith in God (before Jesus on earth), he basically had faith that God would send Jesus to die for us. Faith in a loving God, came to fruition when a loving God send His Son to die for us to be with Him.

Faith in God’s will (knowing that He knows what is best for us) was the same before, during, or after Jesus. BUT, being that God loved us so much and did send His Son Jesus, I think it can be quite blasphemous to deny who He was or what He did for us. So I think in having faith in God post Jesus, God will reveal the truth of Jesus to you.

I really like this logic, and I think it supplements greatly my current beliefs. Like animals had natural instinct only. Humans, had natural instinct, and then were given an “original blessing”, with the ability to use logic to sometimes not follow that natural instinct. But sometimes is not enough. And God wanting us to know Him (how holy He is) gave us consciences and the law so we could see how we are pulled and succumb to that pressure of following our natural instinct. Then Jesus came, and showed us how to not follow the instinct for His entire life…

I am not convinced that a man (other than Jesus) could not, not sin. Jesus was temped and able to sin, He was 100% human (animal instinct and all). So if we are human too, could we not sin? I think with the help of the Holy Spirit, and constant prayer to the Father, and doing everything Jesus taught us to do, is what helped Jesus not sin. He wants us to also allow the Spirit to help us not sin, this is a sanctification process of our lives, hopefully become more and more like Jesus. I don’t think any other man could have conquered death (that was one of the “100% God” part of Jesus) as Jesus did, which freed us from the law. But technically speaking, I could believe that a man could live a sinless life, there is no original sin, and get to heaven having lived a sinless life.

(system) #90

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(Christy Hemphill) #91

(Christy Hemphill) #92

@aleo I opened the topic for you, so you can add your response now.

(Albert Leo) #93

Perhaps @AntoineSuarez can correct me, but I surmised that the reason the Vatican has discouraged the idea of Original Blessing (as proposed first by Teilhard de Chardin and then by Mathew Fox) is that it undercuts the validity of Jesus’ role as our Savior. However, could it be that the word, ‘savior’, can have a wider meaning than ‘saving from eternal damnation’? If God gave Homo sapiens a conscience, enabling each newly-minted human to rise above his animal nature, and any individual at some point in time refused to take advantage of that gift, that individual sinned. But Jesus’ message has the power to save us from that sin. In my view, the world that God created, which included the early, instinct-driven Homo sapiens, was 'Good’, as Genesis states, but in giving humans a conscience, he, thru his son, Jesus, has shown how we can make it Better.–not Perfect, just better. @GJDS
Al Leo

(Albert Leo) #94

Gosh, Christy, I cannot believe you really wrote this. If morality is not the reflection of the behavior God wills for (and expects of) us humans, where does it come from? Evolution? That’s what the atheists, Dawkins and Harris, would have us believe. And your claim that evolution is no more brutal than any other natural process can be very misleading unless all parties to the discussion are in agreement with the meaning of words like brutal and evil and the relationship with their opposites, such as benevolent or supportive. You, as an expert wordsmith, know this all too well.

@Relates and I have views that differ on the varied aspects of evolution. I believe it displays both brutality and benevolence, and since I believe that it is God’s chosen method for developing the variety of life on earth, we humans must come to terms with both factors. The commensalate relationship between the night blooming cactus in my garden and the moth, its sole pollinator, is easy for me to accept as God-directed. The dingo parents who disable an innocent wallaby and then invite their pups to chew on it while it is alive and suffering, just so they get to recognize and crave the taste of their future prey–this is more difficult to accept as God-directed. But is there any other choice? It is one of the thorniest problems that BioLogos faces in reconciling evolution with Christian Faith. But I haven’t seen an answer in this Forum.
Al Leo

(Christy Hemphill) #95

I think morality is a product of free will. I don’t think free will is a biological thing, so no, I don’t think it evolved. We can choose to submit to God’s ideals or not. But I think God’s ideals are external to us and something we don’t know unless they are revealed to us.

I don’t think it is any more brutal than, for example, wildfires destroying acres of life and burning many creatures alive, which is part of the natural cycle of many ecosystems. I didn’t say the predator-prey aspects of nature were not brutal, I said I didn’t see them as somehow uniquely brutal, such that evolution poses a unique problem of evil or animal suffering not encountered in other natural processes.

(Albert Leo) #96

I agree that morality and the possibility of sin result from free will and both are NON-biological and did not evolve.

Teilhard’s world view (at least as I understand it) helped me to deal with the problem of Natural Evil in a Universe that God considered as Good. I wonder if you (and perhaps others on this Forum) may find it useful, too. From our perspective here on earth, God created the Universe in three stages.

First Stage: the Cosomosphere of non-living matter and energy in which the initial quark plasma interacted to form the simplest forms of matter, hydrogen & helium, and energy in the form of radiation of various wave lengths. (Dark matter & dark energy are still beyond our present understanding, but are not pertinent to our present discussion.) Our Milky Way, our Sun, and our Earth are all results of a ten billion year process of physical interaction which might, very loosely, be considered as cosmic evolution. In preparation of planet Earth to progress to further steps, it had to possess certain ‘Goldilocks’ properties: 1) the correct distance from a star of correct temperature; 2) a magnetic field generated by a melted iron core; 3) which also produced plate tectonics that created novel environments over the ensuing ages.
Second Stage: The Biosphere began in a manner that science still cannot decipher (and perhaps never will, but that still would NOT be a proof of God’s existence. Organic molecules, such as uracil, appear to be formed in outer space and could have polymerized on earth in ways to contain information pertaining to their stability under the ever-changing environments on earth.) However this took place, longer life and replication proceeded at a polymolecular level until it became primitive life forms which competed with each other to become more complex and more varied.
There was no such thing as “awareness” at this stage, and thus no Natural Evil. If one such proto-organism overcame its neighbor (ate it), so what? No loss. Indeed, in a couple of cases there was an immense gain: Apparently, the ancestor of modern mitochondria lived on after being ‘swallowed’ by an ancient bacterium, and a chloroplast lived on in a plant cell to provide useful source of energy so that both previously-independent cells profited. It is doubtful if multi celled organisms like us could ever have evolved without such cooperation, such synergy. Such cooperation between individuals later produced societies that proved more competitive than each individual.
The problem of Natural Evil began to arise when organisms developed a nervous system that could experience suffering and become at least vaguely aware of their existing Life and their impending Death. Natural Evil had entered the world as "collateral damage’: Plate tectonics, necessary to create the varied environments that motivated evolution, also caused death from volcanoes, tsunamis,etc. Competition, including predation, kept animal and plant societies in balance and more healthy. But the aware creatures that had to live and die by these forces suffered in proportion to how aware that they had become of their own existence. We are at the apex of that awareness.

The third stage, the Noosphere, is much to involved to address in this post. Suffice it to say that Teilhard was the first to give it shape as the sphere of Ideas–product of the newly-minted Mind. The concept is far richer and more complex than that proposed by Richard Dawkins as the realm of 'memes
Al Leo


(Freddy Magnanimous) #97

I agree with you that Christianity needs a start point — some kind of Fall or Image-of-God injection. But I just don’t think there was a moment when humans were endowed with a conscience. I think that idea is hard to map onto evolution (cultural or biological). I understand your Great Leap Forward hypothesis, but i think reality is messier. I just don’t think human advancement went from “animal” to “human” at any one point. [quote=“aleo, post:93, topic:36744”]
and any individual at some point in time refused to take advantage of that gift, that individual sinned.

I’m not quite sure what you mean. You mean steal or act like a jerk[quote=“aleo, post:93, topic:36744”]
Jesus’ message has the power to save us from that sin.
I’m not sure if you mean from eternal damnation. If not, then saved from what?

For me, trying to figure out what Christianity is at this late in the game – after centuries of formal doctrine has been established – indicates that it’s a human invention. Also, whether or not our conscience was delivered to us from above, my conscience quickly tells me that God didn’t inspire the Bible. There’s too much bad stuff in it. And trying to derive a coherent theology from it that we can base our lives upon seems misguided.

(Albert Leo) #98

Freddy, I am so glad that you have challenged some of my proposals. They certainly are not set in stone, and the only way I can polish my arguments is to have them questioned and for me to rethink them in that light. The reason that I found the evidence for the Great Leap Forward so attractive is that it promised to solve the theological puzzle I was taught in parochial school: Humans are distinguished from animals by the fact that their souls are immortal, while the souls of animals (if they have souls) are mortal. There is no intermediate stage in between immortality and mortality. When I got to high school I saw the overwhelming evidence that humans arrived on this earth, not through an instantaneous act of creation, but very gradually out of a stock of animal ancestors. How could God manage to confer a conscience and an immortal soul to the offspring of two parents were NOT so endowed? Possibly through some directed mutation? But then the only way that beneficial mutation could be passed on would be through incestuous sexual relationships.

So all through my high school, college and post-doc training, while all the modern biochemical knowledge and genomics was being discovered, I clung to the conclusion that, to be considered human, it was necessary, but NOT sufficient, to possess the Homo sapiens genome. The behavior which makes us truly human depends to a significant degree on something outside our genome; i.e. it is epigenetic. And its spread through newly-invented language would be essentially instantaneous. That is when humans became Image Bearers with an immortal soul.

As Shakespeare has said: “Aye, and there’s the rub!” My proposal is NOT orthodox Christian theology, because it implies that humankind arose from a creature with animal-like instinct to one who could act on a conscience that God directed; i.e. humankind did not fall from a being created essentially sinless and perfect. It is evident that humankind as a whole did not properly make use of this gift of Mind and Conscience, and thus God had to enter our world, become incarnated, to lead us to his Promised Kingdom. But let’s face it: humankind is barely at stage One on the morality scale–Be bad and you will be punished!. Saving me from the fires of Hell is more motivating than Leading me to Paradise. But to those of us who hope and pray that Christianity will still be a positive force on earth 10,000 years from now, shouldn’t we be willing to rethink the broader implications of the word ‘Savior’?
Al Leo

(Theophilus Book) #99

Luke and Mathew give disparate accounts. Part of the problem consists of the inclusion of occasions in which the “law of Inheritance” has a place.

The law of Inheritance was part of the Mosaic law, which when two brother dwelt together, and one of them had a wife, and he died without progeny, the brother was required to take her to wife, to beget seed in his deceased brother’s name.

Parts of the genealogy reflect this. It becomes evident when one or more generations seem to veer into left field regarding family names and individuals not previously encountered in the reading.

Then there is also the fact that neither genealogy covers every generation, but in some cases references the head of a family but skips over several generations.

It would be a very frustrating study for a beginner who does not have that information.

The reference to “Fourteen generations” between specific historical events ought to be a clue -
Matthew 1:17 “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.”

One major denomination, (some say cult) depends totally upon counting generations to determine the time of the second coming of Jesus, and came up with 1914. They changed it several times when “The end” didn’t come, but now spend their time rationalizing it.

Their problem began when they began listing the children of Israel with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, so he was never a "Child OF Israel; Isaac was the grandfather of the children of Israel, so he was never a “Child of Israel;” And Abraham was the great-grandfather of the family, definitely not a child of Israel. So their estimate, assuming God intended for us to “count generations” to begin with, to ascertain fulfillments of prophecies, missed it by several hundred years.

And I for one cannot insist I understand the purpose of the genealogies.


This time line slash flood problem, is one of the things that made me question the YEC model.
I still don’t know enough about the issue to talked about, but Hugh Ross is the one I first heard talk about it. I am very interested in learning more!
Thank you for your post.