NOTE : Before, when I was a Reformed/Baptist, I held the view that Jesus’ genealogy in Luke was through Mary. I still kinda lean that direction, but this article is a good representation of another legitimate Catholic view I have no problem embracing– RAS
Three main difficulties are advanced against the foregoing harmony of the genealogies: First, how can they converge in St. Joseph, if they give different lineages from David downward? Secondly, how can we account for their convergence in Salathiel and Zorobabel? Thirdly, what do we know about the genealogy of the Blessed Virgin?
The convergence of the two distinct genealogical lines in the person of St. Joseph, has been explained in two ways:
(a) St. Matthew’s genealogy is that of St. Joseph; St. Luke’s, that of the Blessed Virgin. This contention implies that St. Luke’s genealogy only seemingly includes the name of Joseph. It is based on the received Greek text, on (os enomizeto ouios Ioseph) tou Heli, “being the son (as it was supposed, of Joseph, but really) of Heli”. This parenthesis really eliminates the name of Joseph fromSt. Luke’s genealogy, and makes Christ, by means of the Blessed Virgin, directly a son of Heli. This view is supported by a tradition which names the father of the Blessed Virgin “Joachim”, a variantform of Eliacim or its abbreviation Eli, a variant of Heli, which latter is the form found in the Third Evangelist’s genealogy. But these two consideration, viz. the received text and the traditionalname of the father of Mary, which favor the view that St. Luke gives the genealogy of the Blessed Virgin, are offset by two similar considerations, which make St. Luke’s list terminate with the name of Joseph. First, the Greek text preferred by the textual critics reads, on ouios, hos enomizeto, Ioseph tou Heli, “being the son, as it was supposed, of Joseph, son of Heli”, so that the above parenthesis is rendered less probable. Secondly, according to Patrizi, the view that St. Luke gives the genealogy of Mary began to be advocated only towards the end of the fifteenth century by Annius of Viterbo, and acquired adherents in the sixteenth. St. Hilary mentions the opinion as adopted by many, but he himself rejects it (Mai, “Nov. Bibl, Patr.”, t. I, 477). It may be safely said that patristic tradition does not regard St. Luke’s list as representing the genealogy of the Blessed Virgin.
(b) Both St. Matthew and St. Luke give the genealogy of St. Joseph, the one through the lineage of Solomon, the other through that of Nathan. But how can the lines converge in St. Joseph? St. Augustine suggested that Joseph, the son of Jacob and the descendant of David through Solomon, might have been adopted by Heli, thus becoming the adoptive descendant of David through Nathan. But Augustine was the first to abandon this theory after learning the explanation offered by Julius Africanus. According to the latter, Estha married Mathan, a descendant of David through Solomon, and became the mother of Jacob; after Mathan’s death she took for her second husband Mathat, a descendent of David through Nathan, and by him became the mother of Heli. Jacoband Heli were, therefore, uterine brothers. Heli married, but died without offspring; his widow, therefore, became the levirate wife of Jacob, and gave birth to Joseph, who was the carnal son ofJacob, but the legal son of Heli, thus combining in his person two lineages of David’s descendants.
The second difficulty urged against the harmony between the two genealogies is based on the occurrence of the two names Zorobabel and Salathiel in both lists; here again the two distinct lineages of David’s descendants appear to converge. And again, two answers are possible:
(a) It is more commonly admitted that the two names in St. Matthew’s list are identical with the two in St. Luke’s series; for they must have lived about the same time, and the names are so rare, that it would be strange to find them occurring at the same time, in the same order, in two different genealogical series. But two levirate marriages will explain the difficulty. Melchi, David’sdescendant through Nathan, may have begotten Neri by a widow of the father of Jechonias; this made Neri and Jechonias uterine brothers. Jechonias may then have contracted a levirate marriagewith the widow of the childless Neri, and begotten Salathiel, who was therefore the leviratical son of Neri. Salathiel’s son Zorobabel begat Abiud; but he also may have been obliged to contract alevirate marriage with the widow of a childless legal relative belonging to David’s descendants through Nathan, thus begetting Reza, who legally continued Nathan’s lineage.
(b) A more simple solution of the difficulty is obtained, if we do not admit that the Salathiel and Zorobabel occurring in St. Matthew’s genealogy are identical with those in St. Luke’s. The aboveproofs for their identity are not cogent. If Salathiel and Zorobabel distinguished themselves at all among the descendants of Solomon, it is not astonishing that about the same time two members of Nathan’s descendants should be called after them. The reader will observe that we suggest only possible answers to the difficulty; as long as such possibilities can be pointed out, our opponents have no right to deny that the genealogies which are found in the First and Third Gospel can be harmonized.
How can Jesus Christ be called “son of David”, if the Blessed Virgin is not a daughter of David?
(a) If by virtue of Joseph’s marriage with Mary, Jesus could be called the son of Joseph, he can for the same reason be called “son of David” (St. Augustine, On the Harmony of the Gospels, II, i, 2).
(b) Tradition tells us that Mary too was a descendant of David. According to Numbers 36:6-12, an only daughter had to marry within her own family so as to secure the right of inheritance. After St. Justin (Adv. Tryph. 100) and St. Ignatius (Letter to the Ephesians 18), the Fathers generally agree in maintaining Mary’s Davidic descent, whether they knew this from an oral tradition or inferred it from Scripture, e.g. Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8. St. John Damascene (De fid. Orth., IV, 14) states that Mary’s great-grandfather, Panther, was a brother of Mathat; her grandfather, Barpanther, was Heli’s cousin; and her father, Joachim, was a cousin of Joseph, Heli’s levirate son. Here Mathat has been substituted for Melchi, since the text used by St. John Damascene, Julius Africanus, St. Irenæus, St. Ambrose, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus omitted the two generations separating Heli from Melchi. At any rate, tradition presents the Blessed Virgin as descending fromDavid through Nathan.
[Taken from Maas, Anthony. “Genealogy of Christ.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909.]