Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 2

Resolving Genealogical Ambiguity: Eusebius and (ps-)Ephrem on Luke 1:36

Matthew R. Crawford
Ephrem, Commentary on the Gospel I.25-26
[text: Leloir 1963, pp.24-26; trans: McCarthy 1993, pp.53-55]
25. The Lord will give him the throne of David (Luke 1:32). This [recalls the prophecy], The sceptre will
not depart until he comes (Gen 49:10). When the archangel instructed her that all things are easy for God
to accomplish, since, in the case of Elizabeth, your kinswoman (,+*($)
"' #$%
( ) Luke 1:36), [God] has
also given her conception in her old age, Mary replied, If it is thus for her, behold I am the servant of God; let
it be to me as you have said (Luke 1:38). From what the angel said to Mary, namely, Elizabeth your kinswoman
(Luke 1:36), it could be supposed that Mary was from the house of Levi; nevertheless up to this, the
prophecy was established within the framework (1/0.-%) of the husbands. The family of David
continued as far as Joseph who had espoused her, and [the birth of] her child was [reckoned]
through the framework of the men, for the sake of the family of David. It is in Christ that the seed
and family [of David] are brought to completion. Scripture is silent (14*+ *2) [about Marys genealogy] since it is the generations of men that it numbers and reckons. If Scripture had been accustomed (756) to indicate the family [line] through the mothers, it would be in order for one to seek
the family of Mary. But, lest [the words], Elizabeth, your kinswoman, were to show that Mary was also
from the house of Levi, take note that [the evangelist] has said [elsewhere], concerning Joseph and
$4 >6 =:( )Luke 2:4). The angel did not
Mary, that They were both of the house of David (7:*
say to Mary that Elizabeth was her sister, but Elizabeth, your kinswoman.
26. If Mary had been from another tribe, it would have been a lie [to have said], From the house
of David. For the angel said, The Lord will give him the throne of his father, David (Luke 1:32). He is the son of
Mary, however, and not the son of Joseph. He did not appear in the body from any other lineage,
except from David. For [the prophet] said, There will come forth a shoot from the stock of Jesse, and a scion will
blossom from his root (Isa 11:1). Zechariah also testied [to this] when he said, He has raised up for us a horn
of salvation in the house of David, his son (Luke 1:69). In like manner also the apostle said, Our Lord Jesus Christ
came from Mary, from the seed of the house of David (3 Cor 5). He wrote to Timothy as well, Remember Jesus
Christ, he who rose from the dead, he who came from the seed of the house of David (2 Tim 2:8). [next follows an interpolated passage containing citations from Rom 1:2-3; Heb 7:14; Acts 2:30] However, we nd
the tribes of Judah and Levi mixed up together through Aaron, who married the sister of Nahshon,
prince of the house of Judah (cf. Exod 6:23), and through the priest Jehoiada who married the
daughter of King Jehoram of the house of David (cf. 2 Chron 22:11). Even if the angels word made
reference to the close kinship of Elizabeth and Mary, these tribes were also [already] intermarrying
with each other.
Eusebius, To Stephanus 1.10-12
[text: Zamagni 2008, pp.94-102; trans: Pearse 2010, pp.18-23]
10. Those in our own day to whom this information has come down, and who have recognised Christs superhuman nature, naturally acknowledge also the credibility of the rest, including
the facts of his birth. However, the admirable evangelists had no choice at the time, in the Jewish
context, but to give the descent of Joseph, who was universally proclaimed as Jesus father. If they
had omitted that, and traced his descent through the maternal line instead, it would have been unbecoming (), and alien to the simplicity of the holy scriptures; there is no recorded precedent
for anyone having his genealogy traced through the maternal line (
). What is more, it would have made the subject of that genealogy appear
to have been a fatherless person, of discreditable birth; and that, as I have said, would have led to a
great deal of adverse comment and condemnation. Therefore, for the reason stated, it was advantageous for them to give Josephs descent from David.
Syriac Intellectual Culture in Late Antiquity: Translation, Transmission, and Inuence
University of Oxford

In doing so, they were also establishing Marys descent from David, giving an indication of
the brides ancestry by means of the bridegrooms. This is because the law of Moses lays down that
one may not take a bride from any other than ones own tribe and specic kinship-group, in order to
avoid one tribes inheritance shifting to another. Thus the husbands family registration sufced to
show the wifes as well, as a law-abiding man would not have taken a wife from any other group
than, rstly, his own paternal tribe, which in this case was Judah, and, secondly, from the same people and kinship-group, which in this case was that of David - those being the laws provisions.
Therefore, when Joseph is shown to be a member of the tribe of Judah and the inheritance and kinship-group of David, of course it follows that Mary must be seen as from the same ones as well!
11. Do not be surprised, however, at Marys being called a kinswoman () of Elizabeths when Mary is a member of the tribe of Judah, while Elizabeth is a Levite. The explanation is
that the Jewish race as a whole shares a single descent, and all the tribes are interrelated. Hence, the
divine apostle calls all Jews his kinsmen (For the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen in the esh, the Israelites, I would
have called down a curse on myself (Rom 9:3-4)), although his actual kinsmen were only those of the tribe
of Benjamin. Paul, then, called all Israelites in general his brothers and kinsmen; and that is the sense
in which the angel, to Mary, called Elizabeth her kinswoman, because of their both being Israelites.
There was another way, too, in which it was reasonable for Mary to be called a kinswoman
of Elizabeths: that is because of where she lived, in the territory of Judah, which was Marys place of
origin. Luke tells us: In these days Mary arose and hastened to make her way to the hill country, to a town of Judah. She
entered Zechariahs house and greeted Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-40)...
It would also, plausibly be because of their similarity of character, which was the reason why
they had both been found worthy to be part of the saving dispensation: one became the mother of
the Saviour, the other of the Saviours forerunner, and both shared one and the same Holy Spirit.
Thus is was in relation to God, above all, that they shared a kinship.
12. According to the divine apostle the man is the womans head (1 Cor 11:3), and under the
law of Moses the two shall become one esh (Gen 2:24), ... Thus, once Mary has been linked to Joseph, she
may justiably claim to share his descent, especially as she has been shown to belong, not just to the
same tribe as his, but to the same people and kinship-group as well. Quite apart from that, in his divine message to her, Gabriel has included among his prophecies the words: and God will grant him the
throne of his father, David (Luke 1:32), making it clear that David was the forebear of the One who is to
be her son. What else, logically, could the angel have meant by saying this to the Virgin, but an acknowledgement that she was descended from David? ... It is thus with good reason that Luke says:
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to be registered in a town of David called Bethlehem, because he
was from the house and kinship-group of David, along with his duly-betrothed bride Mary, who was pregnant (Luke 2:4-5).
Now that we have the proofs of such an interpretation of the wording from what has been said
above, we shall read this sentence as meaning unambiguously, not that Mary had gone with him to
be registered separately, but that she, along with Joseph, was of the house and kinship-group of
David.
Eusebius, To Stephanus, suppl. 8
[text: PG 22.965; trans: Pearse 2010, pp.144-45]
[quoting the Letter to Aristides by Julius Africanus, dealing with the differing genealogies of Matthew
and Luke]:
Let us therefore not descend to such pettiness in our theology as to try to establish the kinship and
priesthood of Jesus merely by the alternation of the names. After all, the priestly tribe of Levi was
linked together with the royal tribe of Judah by Aarons marriage to Naassons sister Elizabeth (cf.
Exod 6:23); and again, Eleazar married Phatiels daughter, and had children by her (cf. Exod 6:25).

m.r.crawford@durham.ac.uk
30 January 2015