J. Richard Middleton

On July 28, 2021

This is the first in a four-part series as biblical scholar J. Richard Middleton answers the often-asked question, How should we interpret biblical genealogies? In this series, he focuses on two sets of prominent genealogies in the Bible, first in the Old Testament (Genesis 1-11), then in the New Testament (Matthew 1:1-17). Middleton shows that these genealogies in Genesis and Matthew do not represent precise historical accounting, such that we could figure out when Adam and Eve lived. Instead, they have fascinating and important theological purposes, illuminating the message of biblical books in which they are found.

Introduction to the Genesis Genealogies, with a Close Look at Genesis 4

When Christians read the book of Genesis, they tend to focus on the narratives, but skip over the genealogies. After all, who wants to read a boring list of “begats”? We much prefer to read the majestic opening creation account (Gen 1:1-2:3) and the interesting (often tension-filled) stories of the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:4-3:24), Cain and Abel (Gen 4:1-16), Noah and the flood (Genesis 6-9), and the tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9); and then we move on to the longer, more complicated narratives of Abraham and Sarah; Isaac and Rebekah; Jacob, Leah, and Rachel; and Joseph and his brothers, who are the ancestors of the twelve tribes Israel (Genesis 12-50).

Continue reading here.