Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VI/Julius Africanus/Elucidations




(Joseph the son of both, p. 127.)

The opinion that Luke’s genealogy is that of Mary was unknown to Christian antiquity. In the fifteenth century it was first propounded by Latin divines to do honour (as they supposed) to the Blessed Virgin. It was first broached by Annius of Viterbo, a.d. 1502. Christian antiquity is agreed that:—

1. Both genealogies are those of Joseph.

2. That Joseph was the son of Jacob or of Heli, either by adoption, or because Jacob and Heli were either own brothers or half-brothers; so that,—

3. On the death of one of the brothers, without issue, the surviving brother married his widow, who became the mother of Joseph by this marriage; so that Joseph was reckoned the son of Jacob and the son of Heli.[1]

4. Joseph and Mary were of the same lineage, but the Hebrews did not reckon descent from the side of the woman. For them St. Luke’s genealogy is the sufficient register of Christ’s royal descent and official claim. St. Luke gives his personal pedigree, ascending to Adam, and identifying Him with the whole human race.


(Conclusion, cap. xix. p. 138.)

On Jewish genealogies, note Dean Prideaux,[2] vol. i. p. 296, and compare Lardner, vol. ii. 129, et alibi. Stillingfleet[3] should not be overlooked in what he says of the uncertainties of heathen chronology.

Lardner repeatedly calls our author a “great man;” and his most valuable account,[4] digested from divers ancient and modern writers, must be consulted by the student. Let us observe the books of Scripture which his citations attest, and the great value of his attestation of the two genealogies of our Lord. Lardner dates the Letter to Origen[5]a.d. 228 or 240, according to divers conjectures of the learned. He concludes with this beautiful tribute: “We may glory in Africanus as a Christian” among those “whose shining abilities rendered them the ornament of the age in which they lived,—men of unspotted characters, giving evident proofs of honesty and integrity.”




The valuable works of Africanus are found in vol. ix. of the Edinburgh edition, mixed up with the spurious Decretals and remnants of preceding volumes. I am unable to make out very clearly who is the translator, but infer that Drs. Roberts and Donaldson should be credited with this work.


  1. Routh, Reliqu. Sacræ, vol. ii. pp. 233, 339, 341, 355. Compare also vol. ii. 334 and 346, this series.
  2. Also on the Seventy Weeks (p. 134, supra), vol. i. pp. 227–240 and 322.
  3. Origines Sacræ, vol. i. pp. 64–120.
  4. Works, vol. ii. pp. 457–468.
  5. See Introductory Notice, p. 123, note 4, supra.