This is a working project intended to help coordinate discussions about cleaning up the ancestry of Jesus of Nazareth on Geni.
How to Participate
You can participate by following the project and contributing to the discussions. Please note that theological disputes are "off topic".
Documenting Different Theories
Please remember that theories are not facts. There are dozens of theories about Jesus' ancestry, both ancient and modern. There have been theories that Jesus was a secret Herodian prince, that he was the heir of the Maccabees, that he was related in some way to other messiahs, that he was an ancestor of the Merovingians, etc.
All of these theories are interesting, and we want to capture them in the notes fields, with appropriate documentation and links, but they are not the mainstream opinion and should not be represented as fact or likely conjecture on Geni.
Geni is a collaborative site, intended to find find common ground. There are three fundamental theological answers to the question of Jesus' father.
- The orthodox Christian view, given in the Gospels, is that Jesus was the legal son of Joseph and Mary. Jesus was the son of God, but under Jewish law Joseph became his father when he acknowledged paternity by marrying Mary.
- The orthodox Muslim view is that Jesus was created in Mary's womb. Therefore, he was like Adam, without human parents. However, Mary was his mother in the sense she gave birth to him and Joseph was his father in the sense that he was Mary's legal husband. This seems to be the prevailing view, although the Quran says that Jesus was the physical son of Mary by a man who forced his attentions on her.
- The conventional Jewish view is that Jesus was almost certainly the son of Joseph and Mary.
There is also a fourth opinion given in the Talmud and by the Greek philosopher Celsus, that Jesus was the son of a Roman solider, Pantera.
The Christian gospels portray Jesus as the Son of God, but imply that he was the son of his mother's husband Joseph. The received text of the Gospel of Matthew 1.16, which dates from the 4th century, says, "Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, who bore Jesus." However, the Sinaitic Syriac version, which dates from the early 5th century, reads, "Jacob begat Joseph. Joseph, who was betrothed the virgin Mary, begat Jesus." An early manuscript in the Vatican library reads, "Jacob begat Joseph, and Joseph begat Jesus." St. Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) said Jesus was "the son of Joseph and Mary, according to the ordinary course of human generation."
The Geni tree finds common ground by making Jesus the legal son of Mary and Joseph, without taking a theological position.
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke give conflicting genealogies for Jesus. There have been many attempts to reconcile the conflicts:
- Both genealogies are correct and both genealogies are for Joseph, but one shows Joseph's' legal descent and the other shows his biological descent. This solution goes back to the 3rd century, to Eusebius of Caesarea and Sextus Julius Africanus.
- Matthew gives Joseph's genealogy, while Luke gives Mary's. This solution was first proposed by John of Damascus in the 7th century, and became the most common view in Europe in the 16th century.
- Matthew's genealogy is genuine, and Luke's is fake. This solution is favored by many modern scholars, who believe that Matthew's genealogy was the one circulated by Jesus' family. The core argument here is that Matthew was clearly written by someone Jewish for a Jewish audience, while Luke was written by a Gentile for Gentiles.
Problem of Zerubbabel
Question of Pantera
Early Jewish sources make Jesus the son of Panthera, a Roman soldier. "Rabbi Shiemon ben Azzai has said: I found in Jerusalem a book of genealogies; therein was written that Such-an-one [a common Jewish euphemism for Jesus] is the bastard son of an adultress." (Mishnah). If true, this must have been before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, so preserves a very early tradition.
The story was also reported the Greek philosopher Celsus (c. 178): "[Celsus] accuses [Jesus] of having 'invented his birth from a virgin,' and upbraids him with being 'born in a certain Jewish village, of a poor woman of the country, who gained her subsistence by spinning, and who was turned out of doors by her husband, a carpenter by trade, because she was convicted of adultery; that after being driven away by her husband, and wandering about for a time, she disgracefully gave birth to Jesus, an illegitimate child, who having hired himself out as a servant in Egypt on account of his poverty, and having there acquired some miraculous powers, on which the Egyptians greatly pride themselves, returned to his own county, highly elated on account of them, and by means of these proclaimed himself a god.'" (Origen Adamantius (c. 185-254), Contra Celsus, 1.28). "But let us return to where the Jew is introduced, speaking of the mother of Jesus, and saying that 'when she was pregnant she was turned out of doors by the carpenter to whom she had been betrothed, as having been guilty of adultery, and that she bore a child to a certain soldier named Panthera' . . ." (Origen, 1.32; see also 1.69). Some Christian apologists note that Panthera could have been a satirical pun on the Greek word parthenos (virgin).
One of the heresies St. Epiphanius of Salamis (315-403) attempted to refute was the charge that "Jesus was the son of a certain Julius whose surname was Panthera."
A tombstone found in Bingerbrück, Germany in 1859 bears the name Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera, a Roman soldier from Sidon who served in the Cohors I Sagittariorum. Craveri has suggested that this Panthera was Jesus' father (Craveri). The full inscription reads, "Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera from Sidon, aged 62 years served 40 years, former standard bearer (?) of the first cohort of archers lies here." (CIL 13:7514). Pantera, which is this man's given name, was a common Syrian name, meaning panther.
Later Jewish tradition is confused about the details: "But is it not (the case that) Ben Stada brought magic marks from Egypt in the scratches on his flesh?" They said to him, "He was a madman and you cannot base laws on (the actions of) madmen." Was he then the son of Stada? Surely he was the son of Pandira? Rabbai Hisda [a third-century Babylonian] said, "The husband was Stada, the paramour was Pandira." (But was not) the husband Pappos ben Yehuda? His mother was Stada. (But was not) his mother Miriam (Mary) the hairdresser? (Yes, but she was nicknamed Stada) -- Pumbeditha, "s'tat da [this one has turned away from, was unfaithful to] her husband." (Tosefta, Shabbat 11.15, quoted by Smith, 47). This passage shows confusion with another Jesus, Jesus ben Stada, a sorcerer who was condemned by a rabbinic court in Lydda, and stoned (Tosefta, Sanhedrin 10:11, cited by Smith, 47). Note that the passage calls Jesus' mother a hairdresser, an occupation assigned in Christian tradition to St. Mary Magdalene. The word means braider. Another translation often given is spinner.
Brothers and Sisters of Jesus
The Gospels mention in passing that Jesus had brothers and sisters. His brothers are named. His sisters are not, although tradition names a few of them and modern theories have added many others.
There are several theories about what it means that Jesus had brothers and sisters:
- The Roman Catholic view is that they were the cousins of Jesus, the children of Joseph's brother.
- The Orthodox view is that they were children of Joseph by a prior marriage.
- The Protestant view is that they were the children of Joseph and Mary, born after the birth of Jesus.
Relationship to Mary Magdalene
In popular fiction, Jesus is sometimes portrayed as the ancestor of a Holy Bloodline, the Sang Real, which the Roman Catholic church has been trying for centuries to exterminate. (See, for example, Michael Baigent, et al., Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982)).
The crux of the argument is that Mary Magdalene, Jesus' supposed wife, held a special position among his disciples, and that it would have been unusual for a Jewish man of that era to be unmarried. However, the case for marriage is overstated. The Essenes, a Jewish sect of the time, idealized celibacy. If Jesus was connected with Essenes as many scholars believe, he is not likely to have married.
Nevertheless, there is evidence that the Gnostics, a loosely related group of early Christian sects, taught that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.
- The Gospel of Philip, a Gnostic gospel dated to about 180 to 350 CE, mentions their marriage: "There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary." (Gospel of Philip). The gospel is thought to be from a sect that idealized marriage as a sacred union.
- The Gospel of Jesus' Wife, a fragment from a Gnostic gospel dated to the 4th century and probably a copy of a 2nd century text, also seems to mention their marriage: "Jesus said to them, 'My wife ...'" (The Gospel of Jesus' Wife).
Muslim tradition also holds Jesus was illegitimate, but honors him as prophet. The Qur'an (c. 610) says a full-grown man forced his attentions on Mary. Fearing disgrace, she left the area and gave birth to Jesus in secret.
Joseph Schreiber (1956) argued that Jesus was a grandson of Herod the Great, son of Antipater III. He reasoned that the Emperor Augustus had appointed Antipater to be Herod's successor, and if Antipater were to die first his children by Mariamne, the High Priest's daughter were to succeed. Scheiber reasoned that Pilate seemingly acquiesced in Jesus' claim to be King of the Jews, and that such acquiescence could only mean that Jesus was in fact legally king. The idea is not new; Robert Graves made the same argument in his 1946 novel King Jesus.
Jesus' Female Ancestral Line
Genealogy of Jesus
- Wikipedia - Genealogy of Jesus
- PBS Jesus' Family Tree
- PBS Historical Jesus
- Wikipedia - Jesus
- Genealogy of Jesus
- Genealogy of Jesus in pdf
Immediate family of Jesus
The tree for the last four generations of the line to Jesus (after Levi) are presently a tangled mess. It is NOT at all clear how (if at all), Joseph of Arimathea is related here, so there are probably a dozen different versions IN this part of the tree.
Holy Grail Books
- Holy Grail Books , Michael Baigent
- Roza Bal The Tomb of Jesus in Kashmir Valley by Fida M. Hassnain, and Suzanne Olsson
- Jesus in Kashmir: The Lost Tomb by Suzanne Olsson
- Dan Brown , Books
Luke's list as far as King David, is in complete agreement with the "Old Testament" list (with the minor addition of Cainan between Shelah and Arphaxad, as found in the Septuagint, but omitted in the traditional Bible text).
The one MAJOR difference between the list in Luke, and the traditional line followed in the Geni tree, is that Luke has the first Exilarch Zerubbabel, "son of" Shealtiel, as descendant of this obscure Davidic line, while other, earlier sources have the same Zerubbabel as a direct near-descendant (great-grandson) of Jechoniah, the next-to-last King of the House of David. Luke's version does NOT make historical sense, as "his" Zerubbabel would be a "nobody", having no-real claim to this Line/Title. As such, the "main-line" tree follows Luke as far Shealtiel, and then has a pointer to the "other" Zerubbabel, where the line is continued, through his son Rhesa.
- Wikipedia, Genealogy of Jesus
- YouTube.com, THE DAVINCI CODE: A Jewish Perspective, visited Dec. 3, 2012
Resources to Avoid
The Internet is full of speculative and imaginative family trees for Jesus. These are some of the most common.
- David Hugues, Davidic Dynasty at Angelfire.com (slightly different PDF version available at <http://prioratulromanobss.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/davidicdynasty.pdf>)
- David Hughes, The British Chronicles (2007), Vol. 2
- Brian Starr, The Life of Saint Brychan (2008).
This line has many duplicated or similar names (even "duplicate" father-son pairs, such as Levi → Matthat, and FIVE people named Mattathias, Matthat or Mattatha). As such, it is VERY common to find completely mangled versions of it. So Great care MUST be taken to not mess it up when merging in new copies.