GABRIELE BROSZIO: Genealogia Christi. Die Stammbäume Jesu in der Auslegung der christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten fünf Jahrhunderte. Bochumer Altertumswissenschaftliches Colloquium Band 18. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier 1994. 389 p. ISBN 3-88476-105-6. DEM 58,60.
ARCTOS 32 /1998
Gabriele Broszio’s Genealogia Christi is based on her doctoral dissertation in the Catholic theological faculty of University of Bochum. Broszio has surveyed how Jesus’ genealogies in the gospels of Matthew and Luke have been treated in early Christian literature, from the early Church Fathers until the Council of Chalcedon. Her purpose is not to study these genealogies from a modern exegetical viewpoint or to analyse the infamous differences between the genealogies but to study for what purposes and how Jesus’ genealogies were utilised in patristic literature.
The work is divided into two main sections: the discussion, in which Broszio surveys and analyses the use of family trees, and the documentation, in which she has collected the vast source material concerning Jesus’ genealogies for later use.
The genealogies were treated in various contexts, in commentaries to the gospels, homilies, questions and answers, harmonisations of gospels, letters and didactic poems. Broszio shows that genealogies were of crucial importance in christological controversies. Matthew’s version of Christ’s descent functioned as an evidence of his real birth as a human and of his human essence whereas the family tree presented in the gospel according to Luke was interpreted as a manifestation of not only of Christ’s human nature but also of his being the son of god. E.g. for Origen, the genesis of Christ makes his two natures clear.
For Christian writers as Origen, Eusebius, Ambrose and Augustine, the incompatibility between the genealogies in Matthew and Luke was not essential because the genealogies were not historical documents of Jesus’ noble descent but theological expressions. The genealogies in the two gospels manifested their kerygma of Christ’s double nature in their own way, Matthew of his human nature and Luke of his divinity.
The church fathers from Origen onwards offered allegorical interpretations in which deeper meanings were sought for Jesus’ forefathers. For Eusebius the genealogy in Matthew was an example of the double reality of the Scripture, the “letter”, i.e. the historical reality and the “spirit”, i.e. the deeper theological reality. The writer of the Opus imperfectum in Matthaeum saw a deeper reality hidden from humans in Jesus’ family tree in Matthew. Thus, Christian writers, e.g. Augustine, tried to find these secret deeper meanings by explaining the generations of Jesus’ forefathers by number symbolism and the names of his ancestors by allegorical interpretations.