Tag Archives: trial of Jesus

Crucifixion of Jesus – Who was responsible?

Cui Bono? Who benefits?

This is a question crime investigators invariably ask. We know that the crucifixion of Jesus was a crime. Who was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus? Evidently the one who benefitted the most.

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Judas Iscariot

(Fig 1) Judas Iscariot

Was it Judas Iscariot who was responsible for the death of Jesus?

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He is notorious for having betrayed Jesus for a bribe of “thirty pieces of silver” with a kiss – the Kiss of Judas – to the soldiers of the High Priest Caiaphas.

Was thirty pieces of silver a great deal of money?

Probably not. According to Matthew 27:3-10, Judas returned the money to the priests who used it to buy a potter’s field. Judas himself is said to have committed suicide.

According to the Acts of the Apostles Judas used the money to buy a field but is said to have fallen head first and died. This field is known as Akeldama or Field of Blood.

The betrayal by Judas, the most controversial person in the New Testament is said to be the fulfillment of a prophecy. Tradition has it that Judas committed suicide by hanging himself.

Was it Pontius Pilate who was responsible for the death of Jesus?

Pontius Pilate who was the Roman prefect (governor) of Judea, a sub-province of Syria, was the one who presided over the trial of Jesus.

Pontius Pilate 2

(Fig 2) Pontius Pilate

As prefect, Pilate had several responsibilities. He was the head of the Roman military legions. He was the one who sanctioned construction works and controlled the collection of imperial taxes. He also passed judgment in civil and criminal cases.

During his ten-year tenure as prefect, Pilate had several disagreements with his Jewish subjects. According to Jewish historian Josephus is said to have annoyed the Jews on several occasions. It was thought that he would do the same during the trial of Jesus. The Jews protested against Pilate several times.

Not only did Pilate not have adequate concern for Jewish sentiments he was also said to be cruel and corrupt.
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Pilate spent most of his time in the coastal town of Caesarea, however he came to Jerusalem for significant Jewish festivals.

According to the followers of Jesus, Pilate did not play a crucial role in the trial of Jesus. He was not the one that decided that Jesus should be given the death penalty by crucifixion.

Although Pilate eventually decided that Jesus should be crucified, that decision was reluctant and under duress. Some scholars say that early Christians down-played the role of Pilate in the trial and execution of Jesus in order not to alienate Roman audiences.

It must be noted that Jesus was given the most horrible punishment possible even though the Roman prefect had a choice of options such as flogging, handing the matter back to the Sanhedrin, or to refer the case to Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee.

Although Pilate was responsible for the final act of his conviction Jesus blames him to a lesser extent, putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of the high priest. John 19:11 records Jesus as saying “You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.”

Some have interpreted this to mean that Jesus was blaming the Jews as a whole. However, it is clear that Jesus blamed the chief priest as he referred “to a singular person as “he” or “the one” who was responsible”.

Tradition has it that Pilate who was known to be corrupt took a hefty bribe from Joseph of Arimathea and conspired to ensure that Jesus did not die on the cross.

Pilate was also reluctant to condemn Jesus to death because his wife Claudia Procula interceded on behalf of Jesus.

Pilate eventually relented and condemned Jesus to death because he feared a Jewish backlash.

Was it Caiaphas who was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus?

Joseph Caiaphas was the Jewish high priest who is said to have organized the plot to kill Jesus. Caiaphas is also said to have headed the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus as the then high priest. According to the most accounts, Caiaphas was the major antagonist of Jesus.

caiaphas

(Fig 3) Joseph Caiaphas

Caiaphas had many important responsibilities, including control of the Temple treasury, managing the Temple police and other personnel and performing religious rituals.

Probably the most important role of Caiaphas was to be the liaison between the Roman rulers and the Jewish people. The Romans expected him to keep the Jewish populace under control.

Caiaphas and his family enjoyed power and many luxuries as long as he was in the good books of the Romans. He feared that all these perquisites would be lost if there was a Jewish uprising.

Caiaphas reasoned that it is better for one man to die –Jesus Christ – rather than many lives be lost as a consequence of Jewish unrest and the Roman reaction to the unrest.

It is Caiaphas and a few other Jewish leaders who were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jewish people as a whole were not responsible for the death of Jesus
The Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) of the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Paul VI “repudiated belief in collective Jewish guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus.” It declared that “the charge can be made neither “against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today”.

To answer the question “Cui Bono”, it was without doubt Joseph Caiaphas and a few other Jewish leaders who stood to gain the most from the crucifixion of Jesus.

Picture Credits:

1) Judas Iscariot
https://www.google.co.in/search?q=Judas+Iscariot&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjD_dOHp67KAhWEGY4KHTiABgEQ_AUIBygB&biw=1280&bih=639#imgrc=SNdGKOdYC63jCM%3A

2) Pontius Pilate
https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=639&q=Pontius+Pilate&oq=Pontius+Pilate&gs_l=img.3..0l10.11504.18141.0.20309.14.7.0.7.7.0.109.701.3j4.7.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.14.757.aJO3uiteQEU#hl=en&tbm=isch&q=pontius+pilate+passion+of+the+christ&imgrc=S4Qvnirb8c2-DM%3A

3) Joseph Caiaphas
https://www.google.co.in/imgres?imgurl=http://38ccda.medialib.glogster.com/media/fa29dd3fa218b49643c573736a88ff5265451a8d2b050d6c882c551536343b55/caiaphas-picture.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.glogster.com/angelyn/caiaphas-high-priest/g-6ljbk57o1r48jrnuil1dca0&h=424&w=549&tbnid=MZL40n4rBASybM:&tbnh=155&tbnw=200&docid=BHIpFRtbPj4JAM&itg=1&usg=__pen9GSDL-zB9-dxuhyJZ38QbF3Q=

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Trial Of Jesus – Fate Decided By A Handful Of Characters

The Trial Of Jesus Was Presided Over By Annas, Joseph Caiaphas The High Priest Of Jerusalem And Later By Pontius Pilate

Joseph Caiaphas

According to Biblical accounts, Caiaphas sent Jesus to Pilate for his execution. As high priest and chief religious authority in the land, Caiaphas had many important responsibilities, including controlling the Temple treasury, managing the Temple police and other personnel, performing religious rituals, and – central to the passion story – serving as president of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council and court that reportedly considered the case of Jesus.

The high priest had another, more controversial function in first-century Jerusalem: serving as a sort of liaison between Roman authority and the Jewish population. High priests, drawn from the Sadducean aristocracy, received their appointment from Rome since the time of Herod the Great, and Rome looked to high priests to keep the Jewish populace in control. High priests were also expected to arrest and hand over to the Romans, Jews they considered to be agitators.

Annas and Caiaphas

Although not much is known about Caiaphas because of his long tenure as high priest – from 18 to 36 C.E – it can be reasonably concluded that he must have had a good working relationship with the Roman authorities. Of his total tenure as high priest Caiaphas served for ten years when Pontius Pilate was the Roman prefect. In all likelihood the two seemed to have had a close relationship. It is also reasonable to presume that Caiaphas and Pilate had a fixed understanding about how to deal with rebellious persons such as Jesus.

Caiaphas’s motives for turning over Jesus to Pilate are suspect. Some historians think that he had no other alternative. Others however are of the opinion that Caiaphas was convinced that unless Jesus was brought under control or probably even eliminated that he would possibly upset the relationship that the high priest had with the Romans and that could in turn lead to Roman intolerance of Jewish institutions and traditions.

Because of the balance that high priests had to maintain in their relationships with the Jews and the Romans they were both respected and reviled by the Jewish population. Jews respected their high priest for the highest religious role they played and as the head of the Sanhedrin. However they were despised for the close relationship they were required to maintain with the Romans. Some high priests were even suspected to have taken bribes from the Romans for favors rendered (1).

Caiaphas lived in Jerusalem’s Upper City just south of the present Jaffa Gate, which was occupied by the city’s rich and powerful. In this way he differed from the other high priests. Judging by his lifestyle and the way in which he carried out his functions it can be reasonably guessed that his house was built around a huge courtyard. The gate facing the street must have led to the large courtyard where soldiers assembled and sometimes lit a fire. It is also likely that the house was part of a complex where other families also lived. It is this that leads one to conclude that Caiaphas and Annas lived in the same complex (2).

Caiaphas’ house itself must have been a large villa, being the official residence of the high priest. Since Jesus was first taken to the residence of Annas first, before being taken to the residence of the high priest, it is further reason to believe that the two lived in the same complex. Caiaphas’ house would presumably have been an extensive “villa,” the official residence of the high priest and his family. This is also proof that Annas still wielded a lot of power and was in fact the unofficial high priest.

Matthew 26:57–68 states that the Sanhedrin had gathered where Caiaphas the High Priest was located. One can infer from this that the meeting of the Sanhedrin was at the home of Caiaphas (3).

Annas

The trial of Jesus was first presided over by Annas. Although Annas was not the high priest during the trial of Jesus, he was the high priest from A.D. 6 to 15. Even though he was removed from office by the Romans Annas was still a powerful man merely because he was a Sadducee and the father-in-law of the then high priest Caiaphas. Annas was eventually succeeded by five of his sons as high priests.

In the Gospel of John Annas questioned Jesus about his disciples, and his teaching before Jesus was sent to Caiaphas.

Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate was the Roman prefect (governor) of Judea, a sub-province of Syria. It was he who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus.

As prefect, Pilate had multifarious responsibilities. He commanded Roman military legions, sanctioned construction works, organized the collection of imperial taxes, and adjudicated on civil and criminal cases.

During his ten-year term as prefect, Pilate had several disagreements with his Jewish subjects. According to Jewish historian Josephus, Pilate’s act of bringing effigies of Caesar into the holy city of Jerusalem “by night and under cover” annoyed Jews who considered the effigies idolatrous. Jews went to Caesarea which was Pilate’s base and protested. Even though Pilate threatened them of dire consequences, the protesting Jews showed that they preferred martyrdom to accepting Pilate’s idolatrous act. Seeing their conviction, he relented. On another occasion, according to Josephus, Pilate angered his Jewish subjects when he diverted Temple funds to construct an aqueduct. Based on past experience, it was expected that the trial of Jesus would be another cause for Jewish unrest in Jerusalem.

Not only did Pilate not have adequate concern for Jewish sentiments, according to Philo writing in CE 41, he was also said to be cruel and corrupt. Philo recorded that Pilate’s tenure was fraught with “briberies, insults, robberies, outrages, wanton injustices, constantly repeated executions without trial, and ceaseless and grievous cruelty.” Although Philo may have been a little imaginative in his accusations there is nothing to say that he was anything but what was said about him by Philo, maybe to a lesser degree.

While it is known that Pilate spent most of his time in the coastal town of Caesarea, he however came to Jerusalem for significant Jewish festivals. When he visited Jerusalem it is said that he stayed in the praetorium which could have been either the palace of Herod the Great or a fortress that was located near the northwest corner of the Temple Mount (4).

According to the accounts of the followers of Jesus, Pilate did not play a decisive role in the trial of Jesus. He was not the one that decided that Jesus should be given the death penalty by crucifixion. And even if he did it must have been a reluctant one under duress. Some scholars say that early Christians played down the role of Pilate in the trial and execution of Jesus in order not to alienate Roman audiences. It must be noted that Jesus was given the most horrible punishment possible even though the Roman prefect had a choice of options such as flogging, handing the matter back to the Sanhedrin, or to refer the case to Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee.

Pilate was aware that previous messianic claims had led to civil unrest. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that he would have willingly acceded to the request of the Temple priests to hand down the severest punishment to Jesus. Jesus was a potential threat to the relative peace that prevailed then. He had stated publicly that he is the “King of the Jews.” This was undoubtedly a threat and Pilate must have felt it expedient to remove this threat. It must be noted that execution by crucifixion is a Roman form of capital punishment and therefore Jesus was deemed to have violated Roman law and not Jewish law.

It does not seem that Pilate’s troubles with the Jews ended with the crucifixion of Jesus. It would appear that his problems continued till he was removed from office in 36 CE by the Syrian governor Vitellius. Subsequently Pilate was exiled to Vienne in France (5).

Although Pilate was responsible for the final act of his conviction Jesus blames him to a lesser extent, putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of the high priest. John 19:11 records Jesus as saying “You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.” Some have interpreted this to mean that Jesus was blaming the Jews as a whole. However, it is clear that Jesus blamed the chief priest as he referred “to a singular person as “he” or “the one” who was responsible.” (6)

Different groups of scientists have fixed the year of the trial of Jesus as CE 33.
While we will never know for certain how willing Pilate was to condemn Jesus to death there is a single sentence by Matthew relating to Pilate’s wife Claudia Procula. The lady is supposed to have written the following to her husband while Pilate was judging Jesus, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night, I suffered much on account of him.”

Pontius Pilate's wife
Pilate’s wife Claudia Procula

Other early Christian writers have also referred to the sympathy that Pilate’s wife had for Jesus. “In the 3rd century, Origen suggested in his Homilies on Matthew that the wife of Pilate had become a Christian, or at least that God sent her the dream mentioned by Matthew so that she would convert.”

“Pilate’s wife is mentioned in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (probably written around the middle of the 4th century), which gives a more elaborate version of the episode of the dream than Matthew.”

“Procula is recognized as a saint in two churches within the Eastern Christian tradition: the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, she is celebrated on 27 October. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrates Pilate and Procula together on 25 June.” (7)

Joseph of Arimathea

Joseph of Arimathea is said to have lived for an unknown period of time in Arimathea, also called Arimathaim by the Septuagint, and referred to as Amartha by the Historian Josephus. That is the reason for his name. The ancient town of Arimathea is the present day Ramallah which is eight miles North of Jerusalem. Joseph of Arimathea is believed to have been a wealthy man with tin mines in Cornwall, England. Because of his business he was said to have been acquainted with British kings Beli, Lud, Llyr and Arviragus (8). Joseph of Arimathea was also referred to as Joseph de Marmore since he lived in Marmorica in Egypt before he shifted residence to Arimathea.

According to the Talmud, Joseph of Arimathea is said to be the uncle of Mary the mother of Jesus, which made him Jesus’ great uncle and presumably an old man. Much of what is said about Joseph of Arimathea is not verifiable except that he was a wealthy man. Some say that he even took Jesus on some of his business trips to England, India, and South America.

Although Joseph of Arimathea was not one of the 12 apostles of Jesus, he was his disciple – albeit a secret one – and an important person of that time. He was also considered significant enough to early Christianity that he should have been mentioned in all the four Gospels – (Matthew: 27:57-60; Mark 15:43-46; Luke 23:50-55; John 19:38-42). He is also mentioned in Jewish and Christian books called the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha (which include the Book of Jubilees, the Psalms of Solomon, the Fourth Book of Maccabees, the Book of Enoch, the Fourth Book of Ezra and the Apocalypse of Baruch) which are not included in some versions of the bible. Joseph of Arimathea was a respected Jewish councilor and a member of the Sanhedrin. However he was not one of the members that wanted the death penalty for Jesus, it is generally presumed that Joseph of Arimathea was not one of those who voted to condemn Jesus. Luke (23:50) states that Joseph of Arimathea was a good and just man. And Luke 23:50 says that he was not one of the members of the Sanhedrin who condemned Jesus.

Even though he wanted to keep his affection for Jesus a secret, when the need arose, he put caution aside and went to Pilate to request for the body of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea, according to some sources was a close friend of Pilate and is said to have paid him a huge bribe to obtain permission to bury the body of Jesus. Although Pilate acceded to his request, not being a family member of Jesus, he earned the displeasure of both the Romans and Jews and eventually spent time in Jail for his actions.

Joseph of Arimathea must have known the consequences of his actions. It would become apparent that he was a disciple of Jesus and as a result he would not only lose his reputation but also his social standing. It was also likely that he may not be able to continue his metals business in this part of the world (9).

Other sources claim that Joseph of Arimathea accompanied the apostle Phillip, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, and others sometime during A.D. 37 to A.D. 63. After the others had gone in different directions Joseph of Arimathea sailed around the southern tip of England with the intention of meeting old business acquaintances. When he ran aground at Glastonbury, he is said to have gone to the countryside where he built a church. There is also another claim that Joseph of Arimathea hid the cup in which he had collected the blood and sweat of Jesus at the bottom of a deep well referred to as ‘Chalice Well’ or the ‘Blood Well.’ It is said that about 25000 gallons of red-tinted water pass through the well everyday. The explanation for the red-tint is said to be the high iron content in the well’s water.

Although Jerusalem was not the hometown of Jesus, the fact that he was buried in the tomb of a local wealthy man shows that he enjoyed the status of a charismatic leader who was respected even outside the inner circle of his disciples. Joseph of Arimathea is himself said to be a “rich man” according to Matthew 27:57 and a man of some standing as otherwise he would not have been granted an audience with Pilate nor would not have received permission to bury Jesus in spite of the fact that he was not related to Jesus who was considered a crucified criminal (10).

References:
(1) The Trial of Jesus: Key Figures. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/jesuskeyfigures.html

(2) The Trial of Jesus: Key Figures. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/jesuskeyfigures.html

(3) Sanhedrin trial of Jesus. (2012). Retrieved (2011), from http://www.enotes.com/topic/Sanhedrin_trial_of_Jesus

(4) The Trial of Jesus: Key Figures. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/jesuskeyfigures.html
(5) The Trial of Jesus: Key Figures. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/jesuskeyfigures.html

(6) Sanhedrin trial of Jesus. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://www.enotes.com/topic/Sanhedrin_trial_of_Jesus

(7) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontius_Pilate’s_wife

(8) Joseph of Arimathea. (2002). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblefacts.org/church/j_arimathea.htm

(9) The Amazing Burial of Jesus, Part 1, Matthew 27:57-61. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://www.gty.org/resources/print/study-guide-chapter/2399

(10) Gibson, Shimon. (2009) The Final Days of Jesus, The Archaeological Evidence, Harper Collins Publishers Inc. New York

Picture Credits:

(Fig 1) Annas and Caiaphas https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_Annas_and_Caiaphas_%28Anne_et_Ca%C3%AFphe%29_-_James_Tissot.jpg

(Fig 2) Pontius Pilate’s wife Claudia Procula https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pontius_Pilate’s_wife.jpg

Mysterious Joseph Of Nazareth – Facts And Myths

The Family of Jesus is a simple nuclear family. We are told that Mary is his mother and that Joseph is his foster father. At first blush this seems straightforward.

But not if you look at the story of Joseph of Nazareth from the perspective of the Talpiot tomb.

In March 1980 construction workers uncovered part of a burial cave belonging to the Second Temple period in the south of the Old City of Jerusalem, in the vicinity of East Talpiot. Based on the names inscribed on the ossuaries (bone boxes) excavated from this tomb some scholars claim that this is the family tomb of Jesus.

Other scholars vehemently oppose this claim. One of the principal reasons they cite as to why the Talpiot tomb cannot be the Family Tomb of Jesus is that the ossuary of Joseph the foster father is not among those excavated from this tomb.

Could there be a reasonable explanation for this?

The seemingly straightforward Joseph of Nazareth is actually ambiguous.

Matthew And Luke Are The Principle Source Of Information About Joseph

The principle source of information about Joseph the patriarch of the family of Jesus is from the first chapter of the gospels of Matthew and Luke. They are also probably the only reliable source. However apocryphal literature abounds with information about Joseph. Yet the reason they have not found their way into the Canon of the Sacred Books could be because they are not considered to be reliable. Besides this, even though some of this literature is based on dependable traditions they are considered too fantastic for a place in the Sacred Books.

The apocryphal literature concerning the life of Joseph include the “Gospel of James”, the “Pseudo-Matthew”, the “Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary”, the “Story of Joseph the Carpenter” (Fig 1), and the “Life of the Virgin and Death of Joseph” (1). To make matters worse not all of this little information is consistent. There are differences in the accounts of Matthew and Luke.

Joseph the carpenter

Joseph Of Nazareth Is A Controversial Biblical Character

Joseph of Nazareth is probably one of the most controversial biblical characters. The controversy begins with his very genealogy. While Matthew refers to him as the son of Jacob (2), Luke refers to him as the son of Heli (3). Although these two claims are different they both attempt to trace the lineage of Joseph to David

There are quite a few explanations for the difference in the genealogies of Joseph as per Matthew and Luke:

Matthew was Jewish and wrote for a Jewish audience. Therefore if he is to present Jesus as the king of the Jews, his descent from David was paramount. This is why he begins verse one in 1:1-17 by describing Jesus as the “son of David, the son of Abraham.” In his statement Matthew gives more importance to Jesus’ kinship to David the king of Israel than to his descent from Abraham the father of Israel (4).

Tracing The Lineage Of Jesus Through Joseph

If the bloodline of Jesus is to fulfill the condition that he is the son of David and the son of Abraham (5), then his lineage must only be traced through the legal father of Joseph i.e. Jacob. Doing this was important from Matthew’s perspective because he was trying to project Jesus as the heir to the throne of David – the new “King of the Jews”. In an attempt to emphasize this Matthew refers to Jesus as the “son of David” seven times in his gospel (6). And it is only in his gospel does Jesus refer to the “The throne of his glory” (19:28, 25:31). By tracing the lineage of Jesus through Joseph the adopted father, Matthew was following Jewish tradition since it was the practice then for an adopted son to be given the lineage of the adopted father (7).

One explanation as to why Matthew refers to Joseph as the son of Jacob is that of Julius Africanus (Epistle to Aristides, c. 200-225). According to him a woman named Estha (the name according to tradition) was married to Matthan a descendant of Solomon (Mt 1). She bore a son named Jacob. After the death of Matthan, Estha married Matthat a descendant of Nathan (Lk 3). She bore him a son called Heli. This made Jacob and Heli half-brothers. When Heli died without any heirs, his half-brother Jacob took his widow as his levirate wife. Joseph was born of this union. Thus Joseph became the biological son of Jacob while being the legal son of Heli. Julius Africanus claims that his account is based on information given to him by the descendants of James the brother of Jesus (8).

However this explanation does not pass Jewish tradition. According to Jewish tradition the genealogy of a levirate son would show him as the natural son of his deceased father and not as the son of his natural father. The author of the gospel of Matthew was either fully aware of Jewish tradition or tended to ignore it as otherwise he would have had to reproduce the genealogy of Joseph on similar lines as that of Luke. However this explanation will be true if Jacob was the legal father of Joseph and Heli the biological father. It is quite likely that the relationship of Joseph to Heli and Jacob was misunderstood by Julius Africanus or an error of textual tradition.

Tracing The Lineage Of Jesus Through Mary

Luke on the other hand not being Jewish did not concern himself with details and limited himself to tracing the genealogy of Jesus from Nathan. Besides this Luke was writing for a non-Jewish audience and was more concerned with showing Jesus as descended from God. He had to do this, since being a descendant of King David was not of any great significance to non-Jews. Therefore he traced the genealogy of Jesus through Mary who was the daughter of Heli. Had he traced the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph and Jacob, then Jesus would not qualify as the son of God. The genealogy of Luke was inspired by the baptism of Jesus when God cried out from heaven that “This is my beloved son”. By doing this not only did Luke show that Jesus was a descendant of David through Nathan, but that he was also the son of God (9).

Even though it was Jewish custom to trace only male genealogies, Luke did not commit an error by tracing a female genealogy. There were two conditions under which it was proper to trace female genealogies. One “If a man dies without leaving a son, you shall let his heritage pass on to his daughter” (10), and two “This is what the Lord commands with regard to the daughters of Salphahad: They may marry anyone they please, provided they marry into a clan of their ancestral tribe, so that no heritage of the Israelites will pass from one tribe to another, but all the Israelites will retain their own ancestral heritage” (11). Mary satisfied these two conditions: her father had no sons and she married within her tribe: the tribe of Judah (12).

Are Joachim And Heli The Same Person?

On the surface this explanation to reconcile the difference in the genealogies of Jesus by Matthew and Luke seems reasonably satisfactory. But this gives rise to another controversy. According to the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal Gospel written sometime during the end of the second century, the Gospel of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and the Book of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the parents of Mary are given as Joachim and Anna. So are Joachim and Heli the same person? Many scholars answer this question in the affirmative. They say that Joachim is just a variation of Joakim or Eliakim. The following two verses tend to support this line of thought:

Kings 23:34, “And Pharao Nechao made Eliakim the son of the Josias king in the room of Josias his father, and turned his name to Joakim…”

Chron 36:4, “And he made Eliakim his brother king in his stead over Judah and Jerusalem; and he turned his name to Joakim…”

It is probable that over the centuries the name Eliakim was shortened to Eli or Heli, after all, what is Heli in Greek is Eli in Hebrew. For instance the high priest in Sam 1:3 is called Heli in the Challoner-Rheims, but is referred to as Eli in the New American Bible and in Mark 2:14. Joachim and Heli seem to be the same person (13).

The Controversy About Joseph’s Hometown

The other principal controversy relates to Joseph’s hometown. Joseph is supposed to have descended from a Bethlehem family in Judea. This is also the birthplace of King David. Although by profession Joseph was a carpenter he was said to be a wise and learned man who was also a priest of the temple of the lord. He was a good-natured man, hard-working and a strict adherent of Jewish religious principles and observances (14). Even though it is generally understood that Joseph was from Bethlehem a town in Judea, there is nothing known about how he then finds himself in Nazareth in Galilee. It is quite likely that the skimpy means of his family and the rebuilding of Sepphoris and the ample work that was available there may have prompted Joseph to shift to Nazareth which was in proximity to this bustling town. Joseph was a carpenter by trade a skill that was in demand in Sepphoris. Whatever the reason we learn from the scriptures that Joseph is settled in Nazareth a short time before the Annunciation.

However from the lengthy stories relating to Joseph from apocryphal sources it would seem that Joseph was in Nazareth long before the Annunciation. According to apocryphal sources it appears that when he was forty years, Joseph married a woman named Melcha or Escha. Other sources name this woman Salome. In any case it is said that they were married for forty nine years and that the couple had six children – two girls and four boys.
More about the hometown of Joseph of Nazareth later.

Please also read my blog “Is The Introduction Of Nazareth Retrospective Prophecy?” at bit.ly/1NkO85k

Reference:

(1) Souvay, C. (1910). St. Joseph. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2011, from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08504a.htm

(2) Matthew 1:16 (New American Standard Bible)
“Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.”

(3) Luke 3:23-38 (New International Version, ©2011)
“Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli”

(4) The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah. (1973, 1978, 1984, 2011). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+1:1&version=NIV

(5) Pursiful, Darrell. (2010). The Genealogy of Jesus 6. Retrieved 2011, from http://pursiful.com/2010/10/the-genealogy-of-jesus-6/

(6) The Genealogy of Christ. (n.d). Retrieved 2011, from
http://www.abecedarian.org/Pages/Lineage.htm

(7) Genealogy of Christ. (n.d). Retrieved 2011 from http://www.geocities.ws/christiantriviaworld/GenealogyofChrist.htm

(8) Pursiful, Darrell. (2010). The Genealogy of Jesus 6. Retrieved 2011, from http://pursiful.com/2010/10/the-genealogy-of-jesus-6/

(9) Unique Placement of the Genealogy. (2010). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.lifeofchrist.com/life/genealogy/luke.asp

(10) Laws Concerning Heiresses.(n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.usccb.org/bible/numbers/27/

(11) Stanley, Bob. (2000). The Genealogy of Jesus Christ Through Mary… Retrieved 2011, from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/geneal.htm

(12) Stanley, Bob. (2000). The Genealogy of Jesus Christ Through Mary… Retrieved 2011, from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/geneal.htm

(13) Stanley, Bob. (2000). The Genealogy of Jesus Christ Through Mary… Retrieved 2011, from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/geneal.htm

(14) The Urantia Book, BIRTH AND INFANCY OF JESUS. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.truthbook.com/index.cfm?linkID=1374#U122_1_1

Picture Credits:

(Fig 1) Joseph of Nazareth – the carpenter https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_Tour.jpg