A. Inheritance and Adoption
[from Glen Miller--Unraveling Wittgenstiens Net a Chrsitian Think Tank [link]
1) Jesus linage
But the problems for these prophecies run even deeper. Is Jesus actually of the tribe of Judah, the family line of Jesse, and the house of David? The sole evidence for this is two sets of genealogies for Jesus, in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38.
2) Gosepl geneologies not only source on Jesus' ancesstors
Strictly speaking, this is untrue. There are TONS of references to Jesus as being in the lineage of David, throughout the NT, and NOT just in the genealogies.
•in Zechariah's Song - Luke 1:69
•The blindman at Jericho - Mt 9:27; Mr 10:47
•The Canaanite Woman (a foreigner!) - Mt 15:22
•The questioning crowd in Mt 12:23
•The massive crowd at the Triumphal Entry - Mt 21:15
•Apostle Peter - Acts 2.25ff
•Apostle Paul - Acts 13.22ff; Romans 1.3; 2 Tim 2.8
•Apostle John - Revelation 5:5; 22.16
3) blood never used as issue by enemies of Jesus
It is worth pointing out that the issue of his Davidic blood was NEVER raised as an issue by his enemies (for the first several centuries!)--it was his alleged blasphemy and exorbitant claims that 'brought the house down'. And even though the general ignorance of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem was an issue (John 7:42), the local genealogical records were easily accessible to would-be-antagonists.
So, there really was a wide base of acceptance (on the basis of evidence) for Jesus' lineage. (For a discussion of the title "Son of David", see Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, pp254-258.)
4.on the assumption that only blood relations can inherit.
(Glenn Miller's argument from Christian Think Tank)
This assumption is demonstrably false. Let's look at the situation and background closely. 1.Matthew and Luke present different genealogies of Jesus--one through David's son Solomon (the royal line) and the other through David's son Nathan (the non-royal line). The royal line is traced in Matthew; the "natural" line in Luke. Matthew's genealogy goes only back to Abraham (to show the Jewish character of the King); Luke's goes back to Adam (to show the universal aspect of the Savior). Matthew's emphasizes Jesus' royalty; Luke, his humanity. 2.It is generally accepted (but not unanimously) that the genealogy in Matthew belongs to Joseph's family, and the one in Luke applies to Mary's line. (The historical evidence is fairly strong that both Mary and Joseph were of the house of David.) 3.Both genealogies are 'aware' of the virgin birth: Luke adds the phrase "He was the son, SO IT WAS THOUGHT, of Joseph" (3:23) and Matthew switches verbs from "X begat Y" to "Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom (feminine pronoun) was born Jesus".
So, how does Joseph 'step into' Mary's lineage? How does he 'pick up' her legal heritage? Probably through the law of levirate marriage. The Jewish folk had numerous provisions for cases of inheritance-transfer in extreme cases. One of the more frequent situations that had to be covered (in a land-based, clan-ownership system) was that of childless marriages, or in some cases, of son-less marriages.
One of the more concise statements of how this would apply here, is by J. Stafford Wright in Dict. of New Test. Theol., III. 662: "Mary's father (Heli?) had two daughters, May and the unnamed wife of Zebedee (John 19:25; Matt 27:56). If there were no sons, Joseph would become son of Heli on his marriage, to preserve the family name and inheritance (cf. Num 27:1-11; 36:1-12, esp. v. 8, which accounts for Mary marrying a man of the family of David.)" [The main passages in the OT that refer to these various laws are Num 7:1-11; Num 36:1-12; Lev 25:25; Dt 25:5-10. These practices were widespread in the Ancient Near East, and a good discussion of the details in Israel and differences from the ANE can be found in Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Vol 1--Social Institutions. Two famous cases, for good or ill, of these practices are in the story of Ruth (Book of Ruth) and in the story of Tamar (Gen 38:6ff).
What this 'nets out to' is that Joseph 'married into' Mary's gene-pool...and hence, the virgin birth doesn't stop the lineage "transfer".
In other words, the the physical-gene did NOT come FROM JOSEPH was IRRELEVANT in this case. Legal standing was related to EITHER 'genes' OR to 'marriage'. (Although it should be pointed out that levirate arrangements like this required close kinship already, and hence, quite a number of overlapping genes.).So, strictly speaking, Jesus got his genes from Mary and his legal standing (in the royal heir line) from Joseph (thru the marriage of M+J).
5.Now, as a practical matter, I consider the gene-issue to be important, simply because there were NUMEROUS other indications that the Messiah WOULD BE from the 'stock of Jesse' etc--images and phrases that DO put more emphasis on the blood-line that does simply 'legal lineage'--but I am persuaded that these requirements were adequately satisfied from Mary's side.
that was Glenn Miller's argument. It's pretty good, but there's a simpler solution. Whe Mary turned up Pregnant, Joseph calimed her as a wife. Naturally he wouldn't say "she's not really prenant with my child, it's really form the Holy Spirit!" Whose going to say "O we know you aren't the father, it's really God!" Now maaybe they suspected it a human, not Jospeh, but as no one was putting Jesus forward as Messiah at that point, why would the villagers object to Joseph claiming fatherhood?
How could they prove, if God really worked a miracle to impregnate Mary, how could the villagers ever make the case, or even suspect that Joseph was not the father? So if Jospeh claimed paternity by default, by not rejecting Mary, then no one would ever question. If that arrangement was good enough for God it would have have to be good enough for man.
If Jesus wasn't the son of God then he can't be the Messiah anyway. But in all my debates with anti-missionaries I've never seen them produce any documentation that an adopted son can't inherit the throne of Israel.