Interpreting Luke's Genealogical Account

(Andrew Cirel) #101

Hi Freddy,
I agree with a lot of what you say. As someone who became a Christian as a child I have struggled with these problems as an adult who searches for the truth. If God used evolution to create us then He needs to accept some of the responsibility for our sins, the result of evolution, but he doesn’t.

Hi Aleo,
A couple of comments after reading your last post.
Genesis doesn’t say we were created immortal, in fact it says the opposite, that’s why God created the tree of life and the reason we die is because we lost access to this tree.
There is no evidence that consciousness is unique to humans. Some animals likely experience it, even if it is to a significantly lesser extent than us. A chimpanzee probably experiences it like a 2 year old human.

(Albert Leo) #102

Genesis was written for people living in a culture 3,500 yrs. ago. We can accept the fact that it had an uplifting effect for millennia on those who were exposed to it. But that does not guarantee that the message God intended for it to convey was completely and accurately understood. For instance, it is only fairly recently that humans have progressed to the point that they can appreciate the evidence supporting evolution–that humankind was created over a long period of time an not just instantaneously, and that we are still in an ongoing process of creation.

If the process of Creation is truly on-going, then at the time humankind appeared, the World did appear GOOD in God’s eyes, but not perfect. One can hold God responsible for humankind’s lack of perfection (predilection to sin–to act contrary to what conscience tells us), but He is not responsible for Sin itself. In giving us a Conscience, God has given us the ultimate Gift–the opportunity to become co-creators with Him. IMHO the images used in Genesis–the Tree of Knowledge, the Tree of Life, the Snake as tempter–were appropriate for the times, but these are often misleading when interpreted literally today.

The relationship between consciousness and conscience is still somewhat “fuzzy”. Both the human and the chimpanzee must learn to behave according to the rules of the societies they are born into–i.e. they are both conscious, but both must “build” their conscience. This building process appears to cease at age 2 in the case of the chimp, because it has already met the requirements needed for chimp culture. The human child at two still needs a good deal more “moral construction” to operate in today’s society. And if human society progresses as God intends (moves closer to the ultimate Omega), our consciences must improve drastically. Today’s news media gives us ample evidence of what we should work on. Jesus put it quite succinctly: "Love thy neighbor as thyself."
Al Leo

(Andrew Cirel) #103

Hi Al Leo,
Oops, sorry, when I read your post, I read consciousness when you actually wrote conscience, luckily for me it is somehow connected.
Also, I’m sorry, I came across more critical than I meant to, so thanks for your gracious response.
I agree it is difficult to take ancient writings and interpret them today.
In Genesis, being made in God’s image is a good thing, but eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and being like God is not, but being like Christ is, and to make it more perplexing, having a conscience which is a good thing sounds like being like God which we’ve already been told is not. Struggling with these things is probably why I’m not a theologian, but it is why I joined these forums.
I love your ending “Love thy neighbour as thyself”.

(JamesM) #104

The genealogy back to Adam in St Luke 3.23-38 reflects the theme of universality in St Luke’s Gospel. St Matthew presents the genealogy of Jesus as Israelite, Jewish, Davidic, and royal; so it is traced back to Abraham, through David and Solomon. St Matthew shows great interest in the Kingship of Jesus.

As do all the Evangelists. But they do it in different ways. Both St Matthew & St Luke emphasise the Kingship of Jesus by using Psalm 72. It speaks of the kingdom of the king who is a son of David; of iits universal extent, and of its unending rule. St Matthew latches onto verses 8-11:

8 May he also rule from sea to sea
And from the River to the ends of the earth.

9 Let the nomads of the desert bow before him,
And his enemies lick the dust.

10 Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.

11 And let all kings bow down before him,
All nations serve him.

When the Magi bring gifts to the Infant Jesus, in St Matthew 2, they are paying Him tribute, paying homage to Him as their Ruler, and recognising Him as the Davidic King of Psalm 72. They are doing what Herod ought to be doing, and does not do. All the words in St Matthew that are translated “worshipped”, can also be translated as “paid homage to”. The verb proskuneō includes both meanings.

St Luke draws on a different part of the same Psalm:

12 For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help,
The afflicted also, and him who has no helper.

13 He will have compassion on the poor and needy,
And the lives of the needy he will save.

14 He will rescue their life from oppression and violence,
And their blood will be precious in his sight;

Verses 12-14 say very much what Jesus applies to Himself in St Luke 4.16 following, when He quotes Isaiah 61. Psalm 72, and St Luke’s use of it, make clear that what Jesus does, He does as Universal King. How far He is prepared to go in “hav[ing] compassion on the poor and needy”, is shown at its starkest when He promises Paradise to the Good Thief crucified with Him. The Universal King of St Matthew is no less truly Universal in St Luke - the two writers make related points, about the same Christ, in slightly different ways,

His Universality as King justifies tracing His genealogy back to Adam. His being the Davidic King, justifies tracing His genealogy back through Solomon, David, & Abraham. The two Evangelists are highlighting different aspects of the “Good News of the Kingship/Reign/Kingdom of God” which is made present on Earth in Jesus, God’s Chosen Anointed King & Son.

Whether Adam was a real historical person, is not relevant to the theological message of St Luke’s genealogy, The Universality of the Kingship of Christ depends, not on the historicality of Adam, or of Abraham, but upon the Purpose of God in sending His Son.

(Mitchell W McKain) #105

I believe Adam is a real historical person, for there is absolutely nothing in science to say otherwise. What science does not support is the idea that Adam is a golem made of dust, or the only homo sapiens on the planet, or the sole genetic progenitor of mankind. To be sure science is and always will be a filter though which I read the Bible, determining what to take at face value and what I should see as possibly having some symbolic or metaphorical meaning.