Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Luke's Genealogy: how many names?

I've been wondering about Luke's genealogy recently. Copying such an extensive list of names was obviously quite difficult, so we have numerous issues in the spelling of various names, and bigger questions about the whole shape of the genealogy and how many names are in the genealogy. It is all a bit more messy than I would like.

Irenaeus (Adv Haer III.22.3) seems to have known a text of Luke with 72 generations: "Wherefore Luke points out that the pedigree which traces the generation of our Lord back to Adam contains seventy-two generations, connecting the end with the beginning, and implying that it is He who has summed up in Himself all nations dispersed from Adam downwards, and all languages and generations of men, together with Adam himself."

But I can't locate a manuscript reflecting that number, although there are lots of possibilities: e.g. Bezae has 65 names; 1071 has 73 names; Vaticanus has 76 names; Sinaiticus has 77 names; Alexandrinus has 74 names (W and 579 omit the whole thing).

NA27 prints a text with 77 names, this has the advantage of neatness (significant sevens all over the place; cf. Bauckham in Jude and the Relatives of Jesus); but the disadvantage that this neatness is pretty much imposed on the textual evidence (esp. at 3.33 reading Aminadab, Admin, Arni). Is that a reasonable approach? Did Irenaeus make the whole 72-thing up or did he simply miscount? It is interesting that he draws theological significance from a reading for which we have currently no evidence. Should we accept that the textual evidence is too uncertain to allow far-reaching theological deductions from the ennumeration (M.D. Johnson, Purpose of Biblical Genealogies)? Or should we allow the theological neatness to help us determine the original text?


  1. I have a further question. How do these different amounts of names reflect different textual streams of the LXX and the like? Or do they?

  2. As I wrote in the online commentary: "In Lk, as in Mt, it is very probable that the original genealogy obeys the Hebdomadic principle".

    I have a general entry on D/Aphraates 3:23ff. and one on 3:33.

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  4. Along this topic, what about Bezae in Matthew itself? The first page is not optically legible, so it's never been used to compare with the list in Luke.

    Haven't there been any attempts to use the latest scanning technology to extract the text of Bezae in Matthew's genealogy?

  5. "The first page is not optically legible"

    Well, that is a rather optimistic description of "not extant".


  6. Bezae's genealogy in Luke is constructed from Matthew's version reversed, then with additional names back from Abraham to Adam.

    Might that suggest that at some stage in the Bezan tradition there was a text of Luke without a genealogy?

  7. Sorry I didn't explain my question better.

    By 'first page', I mean the first extant page, which long served as the outside cover in lieu of the original binding. Thus it is very dark and only scattered portions of it will scan.

    I'm referring to 1:12-20, on the Latin side:

    I guess it's of no use in correlating with the Lucan list from v. 1-11, but the question still remains--has it been deciphered?

    What is the Western reading for v. 11, anyway?

  8. Peter, I think it is more probable that this is the result of some harmonization attempt. Since Aphraates is citing this text also, one could speculate that, perhaps, it is an attempt to add a genealogy to the Diatessaron. It's inclusion in D, then, would be another indicator for D's closeness to the Diatessaron or some similar document (and for its origin in Syria).
    Interesting matters ...

    Daniel, the text has been deciphered and it given in Scrivener's edition. It is the normal text.

  9. Julius Africanus apparently had access to manuscripts that lacked Matthat and Levi in Luke 3:24, considering that he insisted that Heli was the son of Melchi:

    "like manner the third from the end is Melchi, whose son was Heli the father of Joseph. For Joseph was the son of Hell, the son of Melchi"

    Mattat and Levi are also mentioned in the same order in verse 29. They were probably added to verse 24 via dittography.

    In Luke 3:37, "Cainan" is probably not original. It is absent in P75 and Codex Bezae and could be an assimilation the LXX.

    In Luke 3:33, instead of "the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni," the more probable reading is "the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram."

    In Luke 3:27, the text may have originally read, "the [son] of Rhesa Zerubbabel." Rhesa may have been a title mistaken for a name and then incorporated into the genealogy as a different ancestor.

    If you follow the above textual decisions, you arrive at seventy two generations, the same number cited by Ireneaus.