The X-Rated Gospel

‘The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the Son of Abraham.’ That is Matthew chapter 1, v. 1—not exactly riveting stuff, is it? One might have thought that the ‘begots’ were an Old Testament thing—but here we are, at the very start of the New Testament, supposedly the new religious order and what do we have? Matthew 1, v.2: ‘Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.’

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Thanks to David Trim for this study on Matthew.

I hope Spectrum will invite Dr. Andy Nash, author of this quarter’s Sabbath School lessons as well as the accompanying book on Matthew, to write a Sabbath School lesson study.


What is the chief take away from lesson #1 ?

this is an excellent, readable reflection of Matt 1:1-17…my only misgiving is the implication some will find that our sinner status derives from what we choose to do (even though phrases like the one cited here can be read legitimately very differently)…i would have thought that the races involved in the four women discussed would have moved us into a more overt, detailed discussion of original sin, which teaches that the larger reason we are sinners is because we are conceived and born that way before we exercise any intelligent choice to sin…it is this intrinsic sinner quality that paul contrasts with justification in Rom 5:12-19, which is another condition we can’t claim credit in…justification is the lesson that needs to be internalized much more than it is - justification by faith, after-all, is the third angel’s message in verity, RH: April 1, 1890 - but that isn’t going to happen if we think we’re sinners only when we sin…


Interesting perspective.

A side bar:

Perfectly discredits the 6000 yr. age for the earth. :wink:


Jesus was the universal man.Just as most of us have family skeletons in the closet so had he.

That He could rise above his genelogical heritage to be completely obedient through the power of the Spirit means the is hope and possibilities for us also.

There is also another thing to consider.Had not these four sinned then the Messiah would never have been born.

The NT genealogies function to smooth the hard edges of historicism.

Historicism is the perspective that all knowledge and cognition are historically conditioned. While the major expositors of historicism are Vico and Herder, historicism can be traced all the way back to Jesus, who bases the changes He makes in divorce laws upon changes in society and culture. That God’s law is a fluid phenomenon that accommodates itself to social and cultural change finds substantial support in Scripture. With respect to sexual mores, polygamy, divorce, slavery, marriage, genocide, war, oaths, inheritance, and other moral issues, we see that our standards of behavior are different from the standards of behavior God instituted for the ancient Israelites. God’s law is necessarily a reflection not only of Him but on those to whom the law has been given. Accordingly, a Christian historicist might hold that God’s law is imperfect and ever-changing, not because He is imperfect and ever-changing, which He of course is not, but because we are. If there is such a thing as universal and transcendent truth, we cannot possibly know what it is, because once we learn of such truth that truth becomes historically conditioned.

For a radical historicist, historical judgments about the ancients are fruitless. Attempts to discern the meaning, as per authorial will, of an ancient text are fruitless. There are too many manifestations of distance that impede understanding, including differences in language, customs, cosmological awareness, scientific understanding, morals, culture, worldview. It is important to be cognizant of distance to the extent it exists. What can be said to the young boy who criticizes Ruth for uncovering the penis of Boaz and doing to Boaz what the biblical author is so polite not to set forth in explicit detail? What can be said for starters is that the young boy needs to better understand the culture and society in which Ruth lived and not superimpose upon the text his alien notion of morality.

Seventh-day Adventists have never understood or grappled with historicism and have remained largely ignorant about hermeneutics in general. Ellen White wrote about the characters of the Bible as if they were her next door neighbors. The highly-promoted “plain meaning” approach to interpretation essentially refuses to recognize that there is any distance between the ancient text and reader. The understandable sensitivity about the change from Sabbath to Sunday has helped to condition Seventh-day Adventists to avert their eyes from historicism and a correct hermeneutical understanding of law. I am unaware that any serious treatment of historicism as it relates to Scripture has been written by a Seventh-day Adventist. The clumsy and half-baked discussion about a “trajectory hermeneutic” in the context of the recent debate regarding women’s ordination illustrates the discomfort and uncertainty Seventh-day Adventists have with the hermeneutical concept of historicism. As a result of this discomfort and uncertainty, most Seventh-day Adventists do not know what to say about polygamy, slavery, genocide, capital punishment, weird Levitical laws, the wearing of veils, and other historical anomalies set forth in Scripture.

What the genealogies do to help counter or balance historicism is “shorten” time. The genealogies give the impression of a list of parents and their children living in one historical time period, not a list of strangers to each other who existed in different historical contexts over thousands of years. The extended family listed has one morality, one culture, one worldview, one set of norms and customs, etc. The NT writers in the genealogies speak of the OT ancestors as if they were intimate friends; no distance is remarked upon. There is no apparent reticence about judging the OT ancestors or cognizance that such judgments should be accommodating to a different historical context. Probably the best counters to historicism are the stubborn fixity of human nature and an explication of some notion of a linear progression of history. I see no counter as dispositive and there may be some hermeneutical circularity here.

I thank David Trim for the issues he explores in his excellent essay.


Would someone please explain how Joseph’s genealogy supports Jesus to be the messiah seeing he is not Joseph’s son but Mary’s? Shouldn’t the genealogy be Mary’s? I have listened to people talk about Jesus’ ancestry but is it? The list of ancestors continues till it gets to Joseph who was the husband of Mary of whom Jesus was born.


A thoughtful and encouraging analysis of Matthew’s opening “yawn” verses to the gospel. Well, no more “yawn.” It is the gospel in the opening!

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From my 21st century cultural viewpoint, I find is disconcerting that Israel, for thousands of years, embraced all the trapping of racial profiling. Israel “despised” all other races bundling them together as uncircumcised. As such, there was not much effort to share Moses (the gospel) with foreign peoples.

I find it praise worthy that Jesus challenged the God of Moses by embracing humanity as a whole unencumbered by the 600+ laws of the Torah. However, I am still confused why prejudice against all other ethnic groups was written in OT scripture as the inspired viewpoint of God.

To blc Birber: Perhaps I should have said, “Jesus challenged the writings or used of Moses as authority.”


Do you realize what you said? Jesus challenged Himself? He was the God of Moses. I Cor. 10:1-4. The “God of Moses” embraced all of humanity from the beginning. This is the God who said to “love thy neighbour as thyself”–in Deuteronomy; the God who promised the following, in Isaiah 42:6–“I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.” And in Isaiah 49:22–“Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.”

If Jesus was born of a virgin, then how could he be the son of Joseph?


David, I am sure that you are acquainted with H.M.S. Richards poem- . the last line reads. “He went in and made the old thing right.” Faith is trust that He did and it was right! That is the Alpha and Omega of our redemption. He accepted an X rating to spare us. that is the Gospel of Grace. Tom Z

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Theologian G. Ernest Wright, in his little book The God Who Acts [1952], says that what we know about God is through what we discern in God’s mighty acts in history.
Unlike the Koran and unlike the Book of Mormon our God does not come down and dictate word for word what is in the Bible.
Instead, our God is revealed by what HE DOES and the Bible is the infallible record of those mighty acts. Those letters that make up the words of the Old Testament are the record of those mighty acts in which we see God revealed.
the Jews would have said — Our God is the the God who created the world, who heard our cries when we were enslaved and led us out of the land of Egypt and into the promised land. Ours is the God who defeated the armies os Sennacherib. The God we worship enabled us to rise above the threatening power of the world that would have destroyed us. We worship the God who acted in the lives of Abraham, Moses, Jacob."
It was the mighty acts of God in history that enabled them to begin to understand what God is like.
The Bible is the account of those events in history through which we gain progressive insights into the nature of God, But, in the end it is Jesus that we get the full story.
The Gospels are a declaration of how to live as a kingdom people, working to create the kingdom of God in this world. Jesus spells out for us specific directions for how his followers should relate to others and what sacrifices are required of them if they are to be citizens of his kingdom.
The Gospels provide us a prescription for a kingdom life-style, and the other books of the New Testament provide us with a solid theology. — The Red Letter Revolution, pp 7,8.

Tamar’s Twin Sons were actually her husband’s BROTHERS. LOL!
4/4EDIT-- Dont forget – Rahab was Ruth’s mother-in-law… Her father-in-law was Salmon.
Rahab had a fairly large family group. So little Boaz and his later son Obed had a lot of Uncles, Aunts, Cousins. King David had all these family stories.
What stories they could tell each other.
And then there was the treaty with the Gibeonites which God honored.
God hugs and kisses the people of Nineveh in the book of Jonah.

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Just a point of information. If monogamy means having only one partner in his/her lifetime (the preferred sexual practice that embodies a good adventist couple), this practice has become so rare that it is now considered deviant.

The dynamics underlying this behavior of externalizing and blaming others for which we have played a part is very much alive in our church hierarchy and in public display for everyone to see at the Adventist Online Yearbook where the SECC president’s name has been omitted. Isn’t David Trim the director of the ASTR?

Powerful evidence of how we can answer our own prayers and change our life trajectory without God’s intervention while fooling ourselves.


Men wrote about God’s “mighty acts” as they believed and understood them. But since men wrote everything found in the Bible, no man is infallible. Did the sun stand still for Joshua at Jericho? Did Balaam’s donkey really speak? Did God provide water in the desert for the Israelites?

These were written by men who perceived that God was both compassionate and yet fierce and killed all his children in a flood. Ancient peoples believed that all they could not explain were miracles, or work of the devil. But if God rules this world it is by His design and follows the natural laws. Otherwise, there could be no certainty from one day to the next whether the sun would rise in the East, whether He would strike our neighbor dead or any of the acts found in the Bible that man could not explain and attribute to God.

Today we have much more knowledge of the natural world than man ever dreamed of in the past. Diseases and infirmities were caused by sin either of parents or the individual. Some still seem to believe that today, but only those who remain in ignorance.

This type of thinking will not be attractive to intelligent and well educated individuals.

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Elmer: right … cos not printing a name in a book is so analogous to sentencing someone to be burned alive! And Tamar WAS guilty of adulterery and though the culprit was Judah himself, that didnt make her innocent. There’s no real similarities with what’s going on with Sandra Roberts

I think that Elmer made his point about the dynamics of Judah blaming Tamar (externalizing behavior) just as our church hierarchy does with Sandra Roberts. You may not agree but it is apparent to some of us. I especially appreciated Elmer’s statement of believing that we are serving God’s purposes while orchestrating our own pathway…there are some analogies there also to the biblical story and the GC2015.


Genealogies such as we find in the Gospel of Matthew served important purposes. In most pre-modern cultures, a person’s identity is largely derived from his or her linkage to the ancestors. To be part of a family is to know who your ancestors are and the stories concerning them that have been carried from generation to generation. Children are often named after family ancestors, and are believed to carry their traits.

A second purpose for a written genealogy is apologetic–to convince the readers that the person is important, or that their claim to some kind of inheritance (such as a title or property) is legitimate. In the case of Jesus, the claims made by Christians that Jesus was the Messiah would hold no water if it could be proved that he was a direct descendant of King David.

Beyond David Trim’s point about the kind of moral characters in Jesus’ family history–which should give us all hope, especially those of us who have lived somewhat X-rated lives–is another point. The inclusion of characters such as Ruth is meant to illustrate an important social element of the Gospel. In Christ, the ethnic boundary between Jews and Gentiles, so important and strictly observed by Jews, was torn down. Matthew finds in Jesus ancestry a foretoken of that dissolution. Ethnic purity, as well as sinless moral perfection, were not required for participation in the Kingdom of Heaven, in Jesus’ view. The Kingdom is now for Gentiles, and may even include the socially deviant and sexually adventurous.


Tamar was a widow in fact twice widowed at the time of her relationship with Judah who was himself a widower.

It was a action between consenting adults and Tamar while technicaly a daughter in law was not in fact so because a marriage only lasts until death of either partner.

It is obvious that Tamar knew things about old Judah and made sure she was in the right place at the right time…

Judah was a sinner but also a merciful man.