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The descendant of David
Posted: 18 March 2008 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]
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inthegobi - 18 March 2008 06:50 AM

[Jesus was] adopted by Joseph as is common in ancient and traditional life, he proclaims it himself, and Mary his biological mother is a biological descendent of the house of David. There are more common meanings to the word ‘descendent’ than biological descent; but the Mary connection, if you believe it, provides that biological descent.

Stripped of the theological stuff, your earlier question has three perfectly normal answers, two of which have no messy divine claims at all to deal with. One is that Jesus is what we’d call today adopted into the house of David; related to that is that Mary’s already a member by marriage. The other is gleaned from the quote you extracted from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Mary herself was a member of the same ‘house’ or extended family group. What’s not to understand about that?

Matthew and Luke clearly try to show that Jesus was related to David through Joseph. The only place where the Bible tries to tie Jesus to David through Mary is in Luke 1:27 (according to the Catholic Encyclopedia). I think this part is disputable as to what it actually claims. I my opinion it again says that Joseph, not Mary, was the descendant of David (”...to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.”) As far as Jesus fulfilling the OT prophecy by being an adopted descendant, well, what can I say? I am just wondering which one of these two claims (adopted descendant vs. Mary being a ‘Davidson’) is the plan B here…

inthegobi - 18 March 2008 06:50 AM

So I naturally assumed you had some proof Jesus wasn’t a ‘Davidson’ after all, or why make such heavy weather out of a commonplace?

“A common man marvels at uncommon things; a wise man marvels at the commonplace.” (Confucius) wink

There is also the problem with Jesus’s DNA. Pope Pius XII approved the Shroud of Turin as a the real thing. Let’s assume we look at the blood stains of the Shroud of Turin under a microscope. Would we find a “divine DNA” in it? If Jesus’s DNA merely reflected the DNA of Mary, he would had looked just like her, he would had been a woman. What does God’s DNA look like, Kirk?

[ Edited: 18 March 2008 08:51 AM by George ]
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Posted: 18 March 2008 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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When I re-read the New Testament as an adult, I was struck by how obsessed the gospel writers seemed to be with fulfilling prophesies.  Being of the House of David is necessary to establish Jesus as a true messiah according to Old Testament prophesy.  They were probably espescially obsessed with establishing Jesus’ credentials because he was not the warrior king messiah many predicted would lead the jews in a victorious war of liberation. 

There were points in the reading where Jesus is healing people or performing miracles and the way it was written it sounded more like Jesus was fulfilling prophesy than acting out of concern or compassion.  That always struck me as odd. 

As for the Shroud of Turin, that cloth is so contaminated, how could you know who’s DNA was whose?  They used to let pilgrims touch the shroud, presumably even the blood stains, so there is probably the DNA of hundreds if not thousands of DNA samples. 

As far as the metaphysical issue of Christ’s DNA, I imagine it would probably look like anyone else’s.  I think most believe that the spirit that inhabited the body of Jesus was what made him divine.  Afterall, according to Christian dogma, the non-caporeal soul is the part of us that survives death.

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Posted: 18 March 2008 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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JRM5001 - 18 March 2008 09:06 AM

I think most believe that the spirit that inhabited the body of Jesus was what made him divine.

That doesn’t sound right to me. Most Christians believe Mary was a virgin.

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Posted: 18 March 2008 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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George - 18 March 2008 08:03 AM

Matthew and Luke clearly try to show that Jesus was related to David through Joseph. The only place where the Bible tries to tie Jesus to David through Mary is in Luke 1:27 (according to the Catholic Encyclopedia). I think this part is disputable as to what it actually claims. . . .

Is it really the only place in the four Gospels? I’ll take your word for it. I noticed it was ambiguous (in English) too. Time’s not heavy enough on my hands to track down the Greek.

But - if there’s no good reason to reject that Mary’s from the house of David, and there’s some evidence, and if that evidence isn’t contradicted elsewhere (indirectly - like if there was a historical record of dissension about Mary’s family), and if there’s a long tradition in the Church of it - well, then it’s likely. It’s a ‘workable case’ as I rather coyly put it.

The virgin’s name was Mary.”) As far as Jesus fulfilling the OT prophecy by being an adopted descendant, well, what can I say? I am just wondering which one of these two claims (adopted descendant vs. Mary being a ‘Davidson’) is the plan B here…

Hm, i’m not bucking for one theory over the other. Jesus is God, he’s sent by God, he’s God’s ‘Son’, he’s a real human being too, and he’s the Jews’ Messiah. How exactly he’s a member of the house of David just doesn’t make me jump. So maybe i’m the wrong person to squeeze on this subject. A certain kind of fundamentalist christian cares a lot about this kind of question, true. But then I’d suggest that they’re also concentrating too much on biological descent - that it’s the only way to think of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. That’s like asking ‘how can Jesus be free from sin - unless Mary is without sin, and so she doesn’t pass on the Original Sin DNA.’ That’s a very minority theology that thinks that way, and it’s easy to ridicule.

“A common man marvels at uncommon things; a wise man marvels at the commonplace.” (Confucius) wink

Note that the proverb does not demand that the wise man avoid marvelling at the uncommon - it’s more likely it means that the common man doesn’t marvel enough. wink

cheers,

Kirk

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Posted: 18 March 2008 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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You are right, my point was not as articulately made as it could have been.  According to the Gospels it’s pretty clear that Joseph had not lain with Mary (to use the Biblical terminology), therefore Jesus has no human male genetic counterpart.  How Mary is impregnated is not specified other than to say the Holy Spirit did it somehow. 

I suppose some sort of super DNA could have been used but the point I wanted to make was that Jesus’ physical body was human which implies that his DNA would not be unusual.  Who knows, maybe God took the DNA of David himself to impregnate Mary.  I remember when I was young and did not understand reproductive issues that well, I thought Jesus basically inhabited the baby created by Mary making the DNA of the physical shell meaningless.  I would still contend though that most Christians believe that Jesus’ spirit is the source of his divinity, not his physical form and therefore his DNA would not be anything special—except to the Merovingian Kings of course. 

A virgin birth is also part of the prophesy “checklist.”

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Posted: 18 March 2008 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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inthegobi - 18 March 2008 10:01 AM

he’s God’s ‘Son’

Aha! God’s ‘Son’? I don’t know, Kirk, those quotations around son look a bit sacrilegious to me. grin

[ Edited: 18 March 2008 01:10 PM by George ]
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Posted: 19 March 2008 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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inthegobi - 18 March 2008 06:50 AM

[Jesus was] adopted by Joseph as is common in ancient and traditional life, he proclaims it himself, and Mary his biological mother is a biological descendent of the house of David.

no she is not, Joseph is, or so “the word of god” says. Beside, women back then were irrelevant at best as far as determining anything the back then crown deemed worthy of determining. They were considered more of breeding cattle and kitchen animals than anything else. Now suddenly a woman is key.

 

There are more common meanings to the word ‘descendent’ than biological descent; but the Mary connection, if you believe it, provides that biological descent.

No, the only meaning decendant has here is biological, if biological ties are irrelevant, then why adultery or extra-marital relationships are still outlawed in the eyes of church to this day?

Stripped of the theological stuff, your earlier question has three perfectly normal answers, two of which have no messy divine claims at all to deal with. One is that Jesus is what we’d call today adopted into the house of David;


adopted is adopted, it is not blood decendant.

related to that is that Mary’s already a member by marriage.

member of marriage back then for a woman meant being someone’s baggage or equipment, nothing more. So does it really count in the sense it’s being used here.

inthegobi - 18 March 2008 06:50 AM

So I naturally assumed you had some proof Jesus wasn’t a ‘Davidson’ after all, or why make such heavy weather out of a commonplace?

he either is the pure royal blood decendant of king David or he is not. having presumably been concieved of the holy spirit, the latter automatically rules out the former. Or actually they both cancel out eachother. In a way, he is neither the first nor the second.

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Posted: 19 March 2008 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Daisy - 19 March 2008 10:57 AM
inthegobi - 18 March 2008 06:50 AM

[Jesus was] adopted by Joseph as is common in ancient and traditional life, he proclaims it himself, and Mary his biological mother is a biological descendent of the house of David.

no she is not, Joseph is, or so “the word of god” says. Beside, women back then were irrelevant at best as far as determining anything the back then crown deemed worthy of determining. They were considered more of breeding cattle and kitchen animals than anything else. Now suddenly a woman is key. . . . related to that is that Mary’s already a member by marriage. A member of marriage back then for a woman meant being someone’s baggage or equipment, nothing more. So does it really count in the sense it’s being used here.

And yet even today Jewish ancestry is traced through the mother. That’s treating a woman much more than ‘baggage or equipment.’ Btw, the technical term you’re looking for is ‘chattel’: women were often, though not completely, treated like chattel - chattel includes the servants, who are also members of the House of X. (They just aren’t the members who make the House of X the actual House of X.)

No, the only meaning decendant has here is biological . . .


The ‘here’ is for you to prove. You’ll need to know something about bibllical scholarship and something about common cultural practices of the ancient world. I’m not an expert, just a student of philosophy of the premoderns. I can only claim here that that’s not the impression I get from my own reading and some experience among traditional peoples. For an easily accessed example, take the Roman Emperors of about 100AD, who adopted someone as their son, who would be Emperor upon the ‘father’s’ death. It’s just a commonplace of the ancient world.

There just are more uses of ‘descendent’ in the ancient world than you’re interested in, is all.

Adopted is adopted, it is not blood decendant.

Well, yes, but also a descendent is a descendent to premodern and traditional folk, whether by adoption or blood. Come to think of it, a premodern family or royal house can also *reject* or throw out a person from the family, and that person *ceases* to be a descendent except in the ‘mere’ fact that he’s got the same DNA or ‘blood’.

This concentration on biological blood relation and DNA is an artefact of the 19th century, and was often connected to racist interests. So careful.

Furthermore, recall ‘blood brothers’ as a kid? There the two people make themselves of ‘one blood’ by actually mingling their blood. I’ve seen this myself in one traditional people. There’s multiple ways to make someone akin to you. Maybe if you used ‘kin’ rather than ‘descendent’, which obviously you are restricting to the biological kind.

Lastly, the phrase is precisely ‘of’ the House of David, not ‘is the biological descendant of’ the House of David. “Of” is a stretchy word, no?

I think you’re making heavier weather out of this than it really is. The strongest claim you can plausibly make is that Jesus isn’t a biological descendent of the House of David. To this the ancient world would probably say to you ‘So what? We don’t care; Jesus was made a member of the House of David by being accepted by Joseph no matter his biological father, and that’s good enough to us.’

Kirk

[ Edited: 19 March 2008 12:13 PM by inthegobi ]
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Posted: 19 March 2008 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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inthegobi - 19 March 2008 11:38 AM

We don’t care; Jesus was made a member of the House of David by being accepted by Joseph no matter his biological father, and that’s good enough to us.

In other words, you don’t really need to know that much about “biblical scholarship” after all.

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Posted: 19 March 2008 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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If you do a google search for “Jesus and House of David” you will see that there has been quite a discussion of this issue.  It is a war of interpretation and Biblical quotes.  It seems there is confusion about Mary’s lineage and an apparent contradiction in Matthew and Luke which cite different fathers for Joseph.  The matter is complicated because Mary’s lineage is not explicitly provided in the Bible.  Therefore, her lineage can be speculated over through indirect evidence.  It is given in an apochrophal text but who knows what weight can be ascribed to that.  It’s also difficult to determine an answer because people cite ancient Jewish law and sometimes that information is contradictory (such as Jesus’ legal status as Joseph’s son and whether that makes him part of the House of David). 

Jesus does confirm his relationship to David in Revelation 22, verse 16:
“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”

From a biological standpoint that quote would seem to make Mary a member of the House of David.  Read literally it also makes Jesus David’s father.  No one knows the reproductive mechanisms of the Holy Spirit so as usual with the Bible, the answer is contradictory and is open to speculation.

Daisy:  I am no expert on Jewish law, but I know the very conservative Orthodox Jews in NYC consider only those born of a Jewish woman to truly be one of the chosen.  I think that interpretation is based on ancient Jewish traditions so it would seem women had some value and legal status back then.

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Posted: 19 March 2008 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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George - 19 March 2008 12:14 PM
inthegobi - 19 March 2008 11:38 AM

We don’t care; Jesus was made a member of the House of David by being accepted by Joseph no matter his biological father, and that’s good enough to us.

In other words, you don’t really need to know that much about “biblical scholarship” after all.

the ‘We’ is in the person of the people of Jesus’ time. Come now, now you’re being embarrassing. The people of the time of the Bible didn’t care about what you care about - they didnt’ see it as necessary to calling someone ‘of the house of X’? And it’s their opinions that matter more than how we in modern English restrict the word ‘descendant.’ Sheesh.

Some days I don’t know if you’re being serious or joking, guys.

cheers anyway,

Kirk smile

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Posted: 19 March 2008 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I don’t see how the ancient world without any help from a biblical scholarship accepting Jesus as David’s descendant by being adopted by Joseph is any different from the modern world with the help of a biblical scholarship accepting the same thing. How am I being embarrassing? I find it is embarrassing (and quite repugnant actually, since the Catholic Church is spreading nonsense about condoms in Africa) to believe in two-millennia old myth based absolutely on no evidence whatsoever.

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Posted: 19 March 2008 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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George - 19 March 2008 12:53 PM

I find it is embarrassing (and quite repugnant actually, since the Catholic Church is spreading nonsense about condoms in Africa) to believe in two-millennia old myth based absolutely on no evidence whatsoever.

Look, George, I spoke too strongly. I’m sorry.

For some reason, this finally brought the light-bulb on in my head. For one thing, it’s relieving to hear - the Pope’s moral teaching, and the fact he can persuade (though not really daunt or force mind you) large numbers of people to attempt his advice, is a bigger problem than the precise original question you proposed.

But I’ve muddled your question, like so:

I think I answered the first part of your original question, taken as literally as I could take it: “How could Jesus be the messiah if he wasn’t really related to Joseph?” I think that there’s three ways how it all can be so, and be consistent with Jesus not being Josephs biological son.

But I failed to pay close enough attention to the rider: “and therefore [Jesus is] not able to fulfill the OT prophecy requiring the messiah to be a descendant of Isaac, Abraham, David, etc.”

The second part - well. From your subsequent posts, and with Daisy’s help, I finally realized you’re assuming that ‘descendant of David’ or ‘house of David’ can only possibly mean ‘biological descendent, through the male line.’ And there’s no good reason to restrict it so, has been my case. I have four pieces of evidence.

First of all - may i be bold - you’re making a wrong turn in reasoning. Like this. (1) Yes, it’s true George, and I agree: a young man cannot be both biologically fathered by Mr X and so fathered by Mr Y. (2) But you and I also know another fact: pretty much everyone knows a man can’t have two biological fathers. We should take the more plausible - and charitable - hypothesis: we should assume that ‘descendant’ or ‘house of X’ is used in a broader sense than ‘biological descent in the male line.’

But there’s also the empirical evidence:

Second, there’s an ‘epistemic’ reason you should take ‘descendent’ more broadly: it’s a prophecy from a certain culture about which we know quite a lot, and surely their criteria for fulfillment are what counts as fulfilled if anyone’s counts. And their criteria include adoption, and descent through a person’s mother.

My third piece of evidence was implicit, but here it is now up front: There was never a controversy recorded in contemporaries or the early church that Jesus was not of the house of David or a descendent. Rather, skeptics were usually skeptical about Jesus’ divine fatherhood, or else used the adultery angle to smear Mary. (That’s part of the ‘Pantera’ angle I mentioned earlier.)

Finally: There are many denominations today where they just deny a divine birth - ‘virgin’ means ‘Mary’s first-born’ and that’s that, and Jesus is or becomes God by some other divine means. Or he’s not divine at all - say among the folk of Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, where Hitchens will debate Hitchens in a month or so. And so on. Or they just don’t care about the family tree problem very much. If you read that Catholic Encyclopedia article carefully about ‘Messiah’, you’ll see it spends the most time establishing not his human descent but his self affirmations and proofs that he himself is their Messiah. Their collective relative unconcern is evidence that you may be mistaken in restricting ‘descendant’ to ‘biological descendant’ and requiring all Christians to hew to that.

I think all those collectively are a good case for dissolving your original question. Yes: it’s perfectly possible for Jesus to be both not Joseph’s son and ‘of the house of David’ or a ‘descendent’ of David.

None of this is a sufficient case for Jesus being God, or the Son of God. So maybe you’re worried that somehow the orthodox Christian ‘scores’ if Jesus can be shown to fulfill at least some Old Testament prophecy. But that’s only a necessary condition at most.

thanks for sticking with me, George.

Kirk

[ Edited: 19 March 2008 02:38 PM by inthegobi ]
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Posted: 19 March 2008 04:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I think this is the end of the road for me, Kirk. I am very well aware of the possibility of Jesus being related to David, be it through his mother or his father—whoever he (he, not “it”) was. What I didn’t understand was how could a person, you and Paul in this case, accept Jesus being from the house of David and simultaneously see him as the son of God. Since there is a very little evidence in the Bible (none in my opinion) that Mary was the descendant of David, and seeing that Matthew and Luke clearly tried to make the link between Jesus and David through Joseph, I now understand that “descendant doesn’t necessarily signify biological descendant” is a battle I can’t win. I give up. Not because I think I am wrong, but because I don’t have enough evidence to proof you wrong. Good game, Kirk! I accept the loss.

P.S.: This is not the first time I’ve experienced this kind of frustration on this forum as I’ve got into similar situations here many times before. Once Doug tried to persuade me that von Däniken was a racist, at other time Teresa implicitly accused me of being a sexist when I said that women are more qualified than men to make better daycare workers, and there were many other such times when I kept staring at the screen in silence, without any thought on how to advance. Why do I keep arguing if I know even before I post the initial comment that I will be proven “wrong”? Why this intellectual masochism that keeps me wanting to make a fool of myself over and over?

[ Edited: 19 March 2008 04:38 PM by George ]
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Posted: 19 March 2008 05:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Ah come on, George.  Have a sense of humor, or as I do, a sense of superiority LOL .  I get a huge kick out of watching some people here who seem to argue very powerfully, but are really just using one or more of the many Critical Thinking Fallacies to bolster their silly conclusions.  And, you caught it when you put ‘wrong’ in quotation marks.  You’ll notice that I seldom post more than two or three times on any thread.  After I’ve stated my point it’s up to the others to understand it or not.  If they want to nitpick or write long dissertations, that’s their option.  I usually start to read, recognize that it’s not meaningful, that they ofton don’t really know what they’re talking about, and go on to the next thread.  Rather than putting yourself down, you should do the same.  wink

Occam

P.S. This was addressed to George.  For the each other person who reads this post, I should say I’m not really talking about you, just some other posters.  LOL

O

edited to correct a typo.

[ Edited: 19 March 2008 05:13 PM by Occam ]
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Posted: 19 March 2008 09:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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One thing I have noticed that no one has mentioned is that there are two geneologies and both are Joseph’s, yet they are both different.  One even has four women of ill-repute.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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