A Chiastic Feature of Matthew’s Genealogy of Christ (Matt. 1:2-16)

nativity

Matthew says in Matt.1:1 that Jesus is the son of Abraham and the son of David. In his Genealogy of Christ which goes from verses 2 to 16, there are three sections. The first runs from Abraham to David, and has a chiastic element – for example, Matthew’s “additional” comments regarding Jacob-Judah and Judah-Perez match and  are in fact  closely related thematically  to his chiastically-corresponding comments regarding Salmon-Boaz and Boaz-Obed (as the relevant Old Testament history shows). However, there is also a chiastic element to the next two sections (which run from David to Christ) when they are considered together.

Obviously, the Deportation to Babylon comes at the centre, but Matthew’s comments regarding the first generation, David-Solomon, are structurally linked to the last generation – that which generated Jesus Christ.  It looks like this:

 

(v.6)

A:  Δαβὶδ δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς (And David  the king)

B:   ἐγέννησεν   (begat)

C:    τὸν Σολομῶντα   ἐκ τῆς ( Solomon  of the one)

D:      – – – –    [who had been wife]

E:     τοῦ Οὐρίου·  (of Urias;)  (total: 11 words)

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

(v.16)

E`:   τὸν Ἰωσὴφ (Joseph)

D`    τὸν ἄνδρα (the husband)

C`  Μαρίας, ἐξ ἧς   (of Mary, of whom)

B`    ἐγεννήθη (was born)

A`    Ἰησοῦς ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός. (Jesus  who  is called    Christ) (total:12 words)

This is  really sophisticated structuring on Matthew’s part since the second half of the chiasm (A` to E`) is, structurally, “working” backwards – i.e. in the opposite direction to the “forwards” direction of the generational flow : David the king (I’m using the Textus Receptus here – the words “the king” are, surely incorrectly, missing in Nestle-Aland) corresponds structurally to Jesus Christ (A and A`), Solomon to Mary (C and C`) and Uriah to Joseph (E and E`), and of course the active “begat” corresponds to the passive “was begotten” in B and B`. There is something rather poignant in the fact that the expected word “wife” regarding the (unnamed) Bathsheba in D is missing (it should correspond to “husband” in D`) and Matthew reinforces this with a 1 word asymmetry in the word count: Matthew is a mathematician as well as a theologian. The grammatical structures and cases etc., also correspond – but in a more complex way (e.g. E and E` have a genitive and accusative respectively, but this is balanced up by an accusative and genitive in C and C`.)

The above is just one small aspect of a genealogical table that is packed with structure and meaning.



Categories: Matthew's Genealogy of Christ

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1 reply

  1. re your last paragraph, can we have some more please? This is brilliant stuff.

    Like

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