How do biblical genealogies work?
, 2022-09-12 02:00:00,
Question: On the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Gospel reading is the genealogy of Jesus on Joseph’s side. It says Jesse was an ancestor of “Joseph, the husband of Mary.” But, in the Liturgy of the Hours, the first antiphon says “The Virgin Mary came forth from the root of Jesse.” But it was Joseph who came from the root of Jesse, and we know nothing of Mary’s genealogy except the tradition of Anne and Joachim being her parents. Also, since the genealogies of Jesus trace Joseph’s lineage, not Mary’s, why is this so since he was only a foster father not of his physical descent?
— Jeannine Aucoin, Concord, New Hampshire
Answer: The Church proclaims Mary’s descent from King David through sacred Tradition and the ancient liturgies.
Beyond this, it was the usual custom that marriages take place within tribes. So, if Joseph was the Tribe of Judah (David’s line), so was Mary.
However, Luke’s Gospel describes Elizabeth (a kinswoman to Mary) as belonging to the daughters of Aaron of the priestly tribe of Levi. Was then Mary of Levite heritage? But then again, the legal adoption of Jesus and marriage to Mary by Joseph would make Jesus and Mary members of the House of David (Judah).
This is fitting in that Jesus was born of Mary, of the priestly tribe of Levi, and adopted by Joseph, the royal tribe of David, since the Messiah is both priest and king. This theory however, is seemingly at odds with the Letter to the…
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