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18. Bible and Qur'an Series
BOOKLET 3 - The Textual History of The Qur'an and the Bible
(A reply to Amad Deedat's Booklet: Is the Bible God's Word?)
A Study of the Qur'an and the Bible

10. The Genealogy of Jesus Christ


Deedat begins his last chapter with a suggestion that there is a contradiction between the genealogies of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke simply because there is a vast difference in the names listed by the two writers. To Deedat this distinction between these lists immediately proves that “both these authors are confounded liars” (Deedat, Is the Bible God's Word?, page 54). It taxes our credulity to believe that men who painstakingly recorded the most holy and truthful teaching ever given to mankind should turn out to be “confounded liars” as Deedat claims.

Fortunately we do not share Deedat's prejudice against the Bible and can afford to approach this question objectively. At the outset it is obviously true to say that every man has two genealogies - one through his father and one through his mother. Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus but he had to be regarded as his father for the sake of his genealogy as all Jews reckoned their genealogies through their fathers.

Therefore Matthew, without further ado, records the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph's line and, in his succeeding narrative about the birth of Jesus, concentrates on Joseph's role as his natural guardian and as the husband of Mary his mother.

Deedat casually mentions that, according to Luke 3:23, Joseph was the “supposed” father of Jesus (Is the Bible God's Word?, page 52) without further comment. Here, in this one word, lies the key to the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. Throughout the list of ancestors he names we find no mention of a woman. Although he concentrates on Mary's role in the birth of Jesus, when he comes to her genealogy he does not describe Jesus as the son of Mary but as the “supposed” son of Joseph, meaning that, for the sake of sustaining a masculine genealogy, Joseph was being named in her place. Luke has very carefully included the word “supposed” in his genealogy so that there could be no confusion about it and so that his readers would know that it was not the actual genealogy of Joseph that was being recorded. This very simple explanation does away immediately with alleged contradictions or problems.

Even though the true facts have been explained for centuries, men blinded by prejudice continue to make this puerile charge for contradiction against the writers Matthew and Luke. (Finlay, Face the Facts, page 102).

Deedat, while endeavoring to sustain his claim that there is a contradiction between the Gospel-writers, also accuses Matthew of giving Jesus an ignoble ancestry by naming certain “adulterers and offspring of incest” (Is the Bible God's Word?, page 52) as his forefathers, as if this affected his total purity and holiness.

If we examine the Gospel of Matthew we will find four women named in the genealogy of Jesus. They are Tamar, who committed incest with Judah; Rahab, who was a prostitute and a Gentile; Ruth, who was a Gentile as well; and Bathsheba, who was an adulteress. Very significantly Matthew has named the four women in the ancestry of Jesus who had moral or ethnic defects. He has obviously done so deliberately and clearly did not think he was dishonoring Jesus by naming such women. If there was any stigma attached to such an ancestry he would surely have named some of the more holy women he was descended from, like Sarah and Rebecca. Why did he choose to specifically name the very four women who disturbed the “purity” of his ancestry? Matthew very quickly gives us his own answer. When the angel came to Joseph he said of the child to be born:

You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 2:21)

It was precisely for people such as Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba that Jesus came into the world. He came to save such people from their sins and to make his salvation available to all men, both Jew and Gentile alike. As he himself said to the Jews and to his disciples on one occasion:

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”. For I came not to call the righteous but sinners. (Matthew 9:12-13)

If you, the reader, imagine that the religious efforts you have made over the years count for some sort of righteousness before God and that your sins will be glossed over by a God who cares little for the manner in which they confront his holiness, then pursue your futile quest for self-righteousness. You need not look to Jesus for he cannot help you. There is no one who can help you.

But if you know that your sins are many and if you have discovered your true self, and have found that there is no righteousness in you but only gross wickedness; if you have been so honest with yourself as to admit these facts, then turn to Jesus for he came to save men like you and he is able to cleanse you and deliver you from all your sins.

We do not propose to deal at any length with Deedat's queries about the authors of the books of the Bible. Jesus confirmed that all the books of the Old Testament as received by the Jews were the inspired and authoritative Word of God, constantly quoting from them and declaring that the Scriptures, as received by them, could not be broken (John 10:35), and the Holy Spirit has uniformly testified through all quarters of the Christian Church to the equal authority of the books of the New Testament.

The Qur'an too, as we have seen, likewise gives full support to the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians at the time of Muhammad as being the genuine Taurat and Injil, the very Word of God. Those books were the Old and New Testaments as we know them. No one can sincerely doubt these facts.

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