Genealogy and Nativity of Jesus Christ
Jesus was Jewish, born by Mary, wife of Joseph (Matthew 1, Luke 2). Matthew and Luke each offer a genealogy of Jesus. Matthew traces Jesus’ ancestry to Abraham through David. Luke traces Jesus’ ancestry through Adam to God. The lists are identical between Abraham and David, but differ radically from that point.
Matthew and Luke each describe Jesus’ nativity (or birth), especially that Jesus was born by a virgin Mary in Bethlehem in fulfillment of prophecy. Luke’s account emphasizes events before the birth of Jesus and centers on Mary, while Matthew’s mostly covers those after the birth and centers on Joseph. Both accounts state that Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary, his betrothed, in Bethlehem, and both support the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus, according to which Jesus was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb when she was still a virgin. At the same time, there is evidence, at least in the Lukan Acts of the Apostles, that Jesus was thought to have had, like many figures in antiquity, a dual paternity, since there it is stated he descended from the seed or loins of David.
In Matthew, Joseph is troubled because Mary, his betrothed, is pregnant (Matthew 1:19–20), but in the first of Joseph’s three dreams an angel assures him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, because her child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 2:1–12, wise men or Magi from the East bring gifts to the young Jesus as the King of the Jews. Herod the Great hears of Jesus’ birth and, wanting him killed, orders the murders of male infants in Bethlehem. But an angel warns Joseph in his second dream, and the family flees to Egypt—later to return and settle in Nazareth.
In Luke 1:31–38, Mary learns from the angel Gabriel that she will conceive and bear a child called Jesus through the action of the Holy Spirit. When Mary is due to give birth, she and Joseph travel from Nazareth to Joseph’s ancestral home in Bethlehem to register in the census ordered by Caesar Augustus. While there Mary gives birth to Jesus, and as they have found no room in the inn, she places the newborn in a manger (Luke 2:1–7). An angel announces the birth to some shepherds, who go to Bethlehem to see Jesus, and subsequently spread the news abroad (Luke 2:8–20). After the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Joseph, Mary and Jesus return to Nazareth.