At face value it may seem strange that Matthew and Luke record different genealogies of Jesus. Many, including Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, and Islamic apologist Shabbir Ally (Further Reading 4), have alluded to this comparison when accusing the Bible of contradiction.

However, these genealogies can be better understood with some general background information:

Biblical Genealogies

Biblical genealogies have different properties from the family trees that we are familiar with today.

Firstly, Biblical genealogies use the terms ‘son’ and ‘father’ loosely. They can mean either direct descendant or distant descendant. For example, we read in Luke 3:8 and John 8:39 that a group of religious teachers said to Jesus, ‘Abraham is our father’, which is absurd in the modern sense, since Abraham lived thousands of years before. Similarly, Jesus is described throughout the New Testament as ‘the son of David’ (Matthew 1:1), who lived hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

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