27 June 2015

The Genealogy of Jesus

Because it can't be repeated often enough...

Rule #4: The Bible is not a source for your family tree.

A few months ago someone made this comment on my Facebook page, "If you believe the Biblical accounts, once you got back to Joseph, the rest is done for you, back to Adam." As always I will not address religious beliefs so we'll skip over the "If you believe" part.
At the time that comment was posted I was listening to a book I read years ago. When I read it I had not yet been bitten by the genealogy bug. As I went through it this time I had a completely different perspective.
"Of all the many thousands of accidental mistakes made in our manuscripts, probably the most bizarre is one that occurs in a minuscule manuscript of the four Gospels officially numbered 109, which was produced in the fourteenth century. Its peculiar error occurs in Luke, chapter 3, in the account of Jesus's genealogy. The scribe was evidently copying a manuscript that gave the genealogy in two columns. For some reason, he did not copy one column at a time, but copied across the two columns. As a result, the names of the genealogy are thrown out of whack, with most people being called the sons of the wrong father. Worse still, the second column of the text the scribe was copying did not have as many lines as the first, so that now, in the copy he made, the father of the human race (i.e., the last one mentioned) is not God but an Israelite named Phares; and God himself is said to be the son of a man named Aram!"
The printing press wasn't invented until the 15th century. That's a few thousand years of transcriptions and translations. To use The Bible as a source you would be trusting a transcription of a transcription of a transcription of a translation of a transcription of a...you get the idea. Most were done by scribes, many of whom were copying things they could not actually read. Those who could read might add or leave out a word if they didn't agree with something.
Of course none of that matters because you cannot get "back to Joseph."
"But..." Nope.
"I saw a tree..." No!
It is just not possible to have a documented line from a living person to anyone in The Bible so please stop.

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  1. "copying things they could not actually read" - sounds like Ancestry outsourcing census transcription to non-English speakers in Asia.

    1. My thoughts exactly. This post was actually going to be longer to go into that but my computer kept crashing (have a new one now) so I decided to cut it short :-P

  2. OMG! You kill me with some of these posts! You say what I want to scream from the top of mountains - especially in Oklahoma where my family lives (but I can not find a mountain there). And no one would understand anyway. :(
    I do once recall sending my grandmother into angry and somewhat hysterical fits in which she informed me that I was going to Hell. :) I happened to mention that Jesus (if he existed) would have been Aramaic at the least and not the lovely caucasian man she had in a painting on her wall.
    Yes, I have been known to poke rattle snakes. ;)