Thomas Aquinas: Philosophy and Education in the Middle ages

In Catholic seminaries, three of the first four years of study is devoted to Greek philosophy, mainly Aristotle. Aristotle is central to Catholic theology because the bulk of it derives from the dazzling intellect of Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) who built his theology on Aristotle.

Thomas Aquinas by Fra Angelico

Aristotle ostensibly demonstrated that the universe could be understood without recourse to religion and its associated divine revelation. This understanding, however, was not concerned with ultimate questions about existence and about God, which other religions such Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism are concerned with.

For example, the Greek gods had a modest influence over mankind compared to the God of the Hebrews. For one, when the Greek gods arrived in the universe, the universe was already all there. In contrast, the God of the Hebrews not only pre-existed the universe, He created it. Also, the Greek gods had no control over human (random) fate , whereas the central teaching of the Bible (Old Testament and New) is that God is a sovereign ruler and sustainer of all things. Greek religion had its ceremonies and rituals and its – believed, if not perceived – benefits. But it didn’t matter one iota whether you attended the ceremonies or practised the rituals. Greek religion couldn’t conceive – and if it did, probably wouldn’t have cared – that religion could give you a purpose in life, or that it could “renew your mind” (Romans1:2). Such an idea was totally foreign to the Greek mind. You don’t renew your mind, you expand it, you unfold it. The creation account in Genesis, for example, or the theological disputes in Christian theology would be regarded with amusement, even disdain. In this regard, the modern mind is very similar to the classical mind. When a Greek citizen took time off from his busy banqueting schedule to meditate on deep issues, he’d take a dip into philosophy for answers; Greek philosophy, naturally. Anything else was trivial. The modern secular mind is very similar to the classical mind in their disdain of theology and faith, which they consider to be not only delusional piffle but “lethally dangerous” (Dawkins, Richard, November 11, 2001, “Has the world changed?“. The Guardian).

Aristotle, like all Greeks, hadn’t read, nor would he have cared to read, the Hebrew Scriptures. It would’ve been beneath his Hellenic hubris and Attic dignity to do so. Attic Greek is the prestige dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek, and is the standard form of the language studied in courses of “Ancient Greek” (Wikipedia).

Aristotle, like all the Greek philosophers before and after him, were preoccupied with the idea God. Theology, the study (logos) of God (theos) could be undertaken purely through the natural means of reason and ordinary experience. Revealed theology wasn’t necessary to know God, because natural theology could do the job. The Christian view is that God is there, but he is not silent. (He Is There and He Is Not Silent” is the title of a book by Francis Schaeffer. This book deals with the philosophic necessity of God being there and not being silent). The classical view is that although God is – supernaturally – there, he is indeed silent, and would – naturally – remain so.

After the final demise of the Roman Empire in 476 (there are 210 theories on why Rome fell, and more keep cropping up), interest in classical literature waned until it was largely forgotten. But in later centuries, classical literature and philosophy began to see a resurgence. Its pagan worldview, however, was a threat to Christianity. The idea that God could be discovered without the aid of scripture was seen as a threat to Christian tradition. In several instances there was fierce opposition, which sometimes triggered riots, and even heresy trials.

It was only in the 9th century, under Charlemagne’s (King of the Franks. 747 – 814) educational reforms that opposition to the classics melted away.

In the Middle Ages, theology was well established as the queen of the sciences, and philosophy was its handmaiden. “Science” in the Middle Ages up to the Enlightenment of the 18th century signified any systematic recorded “knowledge” (Latin scientia). “Science” had the same broad meaning as “Philosophy” (Greek philo “love” and sophos “knowledge, wisdom”.

The Enlightenment is a period in Western culture and philosophy that divested itself of religious beliefs and resuscitated the the classical faith in reason. The Enlightenment resuscitated the Aristotelian idea of the primacy of reason. The difference between the Reformation and the Enlightenment is that on the Reformation view, justification is by faith alone; whereas on the Enlightenment view, justification is by faith in reason alone. Though “faith in reason” is an oxymoron” (Greek oxy “pointed”, moron “silly”), it is not for practical purposes a contradiction. I explain:

How do we know, how do we prove that our noggins are rational? That’s easy; use your noggin. This, however, is no solution, because you can’t use your noggin to prove you have a noggin, that is, you can’t use your reason to prove that your reason is rational. If we cannot prove our reason is rational, this does not stop us living out our practical lives. So, although the foundation principle of our knowledge may remain out of reach, this does affect the practical uses of knowledge. It’s a bit like God; we may ignore or be ignorant of Him, yet this does not affect the comfortable life of being a professor of theology or Greek philosophy.

When Rome fell, Greek literature and philosophy had been largely forgotten in Medieval Europe. The Medieval Church in Europe did not only encourage the study of Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, but also encouraged Muslim philosophers such as Avicenna and Averroes. It was Muslim scholarship, mainly Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and Averroes (Ibn Rushd), that introduced Greek philosophy to the West. There was also the great Jewish philosopher, Moses Maimonides. Aquinas had a great respect for Maimonides. There is written on Moses Maimonides’ tombstone: “From Moshe (Moses) to Moshe (Moses Maimonides) there was none like Moshe.” A Catholic might want to add “until Thomas.

Thomas Aquinas was called “the dumb ox” at school. He was very fat, and suffered from dropsy, and one eye was much bigger than the other. (This feature is not clear in the Fra Angelico picture above). In his youth, he was lethargic, introspective, spoke little, and most of the time was lost to the world.

When he was 18, he had set his mind on becoming a friar in the Dominican order. A monk. A vow of poverty. On his way to Rome, he was nabbed by his brothers, who brought him home. He was kept prisoner for more than a year.

No threats, no entreaties, no prayers, no enticements could deter him. What about an Abbot? Or a Bishoprick? Ok, then, an Archbishoprick; there’s one going in Naples. Even a prostitute secreted into his chambers could not dampen his resolve.

His family finally relented, and Thomas was sent to Cologne to study under Albertus Magnus (Albert the Great)’ “Magnus” because he was the greatest scholastic philosopher in Europe. Thomas went to Paris where he studied and obtained his Master’s degree. He also wrote some of his works there. In about 1261, Pope Urban invited him to come and teach in Rome. About 10 years later he returned to Paris. Soon after, he founded a new studium generale in Naples. A studium generale is the medieval name for an education institution of international excellence. The universities of Paris, Oxford and Cambridge, which were established in the early 13th century were three other studia generalia.

Thomas is called Doctor Angelicus, which the Roman Catholic Church translates as “Angelic Doctor”. This does not mean that he was angelic but that he was an expert on angels, a “doctor of angels.”

Aquinas was the greatest of the “Scholastics” (Schoolmen). Scholasticism is a medieval Catholic school of philosophy and theology. The roots of Scholasticism go back to the 8th century educational reforms of Charlemagne (Charles the Great; 747 – 814), King of the Franks. Education was called the “liberal arts”; “liberal” because education was open only to freemen (Latin: liber, “free”), and not to slaves.

The modern term ‘liberal arts’ is a curriculum aimed at developing intellectual abilities, in contrast to a vocational, professional, or technical curriculum. In ancient Greece and Rome (the classical period), the term designated the education appropriate to a freeman as opposed to a slave. In the feudal system of the Middle Ages, education was open only to the privileged few – the equivalent of the classical freeman of Greece and Rome. Education was limited to those who didn’t need to make a living.

The education curriculum consisted of two main divisions. The trivium (“three”) and the quadrivium (“four”). The trivium consisted of three language subjects: “grammar”, “rhetoric” and “dialectic”. The quadrivium consists of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. Let me say more about the trivium of “grammar”, “rhetoric” and “dialectic”.

The classical and medieval meaning of “grammar” was not restricted to the rules of language. “Grammar” consisted of rules as well as literature, for example, poetry and drama.

Rhetoric” is the art of persuading an listeners or readers to feel, think or act a certain way. “Rhetoric” also has the ordinary (non-academic) meaning of “empty words”, “hot air”, as in “He’s all rhetoric and no substance.” “Rhetoric” in this sense is the most trivial of the trivium.

The third component of the trivium was “dialectic”. “Dialectic was another name for logical reasoning, or simply, “logic”. The classical philosophers as well as the Medieval theologians based their intellectual practice on the assumption that all mentally healthy humans are endowed with the same rules of logic: the rules of my mind are the same as the rules of everyone else’s mind. The dialectical method is also called the Socratic method, because it came down to us through Socrates via Plato. (Plato, a pupil of Socrates, preserved and expanded his teacher’s thought in the “Platonic dialogues”).

The Socratic method takes the form of a debate. Participants in the debate explore one another’s positions in a stimulating, rational and illuminating way. The Socratic debate, however, doesn’t merely involve a sharing of ideas. The crux – and the fun -of a dialectic debate involves cutting and thrusting through contrary points of view. Each participant tries to lead the other to contradict himself. You don’t try and prove how clever you are; that only strengthens your opponent’s resolve. Instead, you let your opponent kick the ball into his own scrotum.

Plato, in his “Socratic dialogues”, portrays Socrates asking questions that elicit other questions. Socrates may know the answer, but pretends he doesn’t. In this way, the teacher does not lord himself over his pupil. The art is to cross-examine without making the other person peeved; to weed out without making the other person feel a weed, to uncover contradictions without making the other feel naked.

The Socratic method is not only applicable in the formal teaching situation; it is also applicable – and admirably so – in the home. I may talk till I’m blue in the face to my children about all these wise how-to’s, but what ultimate good does it do if I don’t do it myself. My daughter Beccy has often berated me for rubbishing her views.

The aim of both dialectic and rhetoric is to persuade. But dialectic restricts itself to rational persuasion, whereas “rhetoric” covers all kinds of persuasion such as how to feel and act. “Rhetoric” is often a one-sided matter. Somebody talks and somebody listens. Dialectic, in contrast, aims to persuade through rational discussion, through dialogue, the (objective) truth of a matter.

Although scholasticism developed a poor reputation during and after the Renaissance, scholastic writers had produced useful philosophical ways of explaining Catholic doctrine. Aquinas used the Aristotelian terms of “accidents” and “substance” to explain the most important of Catholic doctrines, the “real presence”, which is called transubstantation. In transubstantiation, the substance of bread and the wine changes into the substance of the body and Spirit of Christ. Although the senses can only detect the “accidents” (taste, texture, smell, sight), the communicant – claims the dogma – is eating the actual flesh and blood of the living Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent expands this belief by stating: “In this sacrament are contained not only the true body of Christ, and all the constituents of a true body, such as bones and sinews, but also Christ whole and entire”. Christ whole and entire is contained not only in the body but also in the blood.

Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae covers almost the whole of Catholic theology. He stopped working on it the year before he died in 1274.

Now, fellow Protestants, don’t give Protestantism a bad name by saying that Aquinas believed that all he had written was straw. He didn’t say that. This is what he said: “I cannot go on…. All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.”

14 thoughts on “Thomas Aquinas: Philosophy and Education in the Middle ages

  1. Raf,

    I enjoyed learning Aquinas in college, in a theories of law course. Aquinas, of course, was the exponent used to champion the divine theory of law, in which every person is presumed to be divinely imbued with an automatic sense of right and wrong. He was a brilliant writer, even though his theory did not correlate well to the world it was intended to describe.

    But I’m going to digress, and post a note to David Cook here because your comrades at will not tolerate alternative viewpoints:

    on January 19, 2012 at 3:18 am said:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Mr. Cook,

    Who is the servant?

    * Isaiah 41:8–”But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen…”
    * 43:1–”But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”
    * 44:1–”Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:”
    * 44:21–”Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.”
    * 45:4–”For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect…”
    * 49:3–”Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

    So now that we know who the servant is, let’s talk about who the servant isn’t. Who isn’t mentioned at all in the Hebrew scriptures? Who isn’t patrilineally Davidic? Who didn’t usher in an era of universal, everlasting peace? Who presaged the destruction of the holy temple in Jerusalem, rather than its eternal restoration? Who claimed to be the Jews’ king, even though he never ruled over a single subject? Who ordered the Jews to violate their First Commandment by praying to him instead of directly to their G-d? Who was the herald of the Jews’ expulsion from Israel, from which their messiah is prophesied to restore them? Who promised he’d come right back from crucifixion to fulfill the Biblical messianic prophecy 2,000 years ago that remains a long, open “to do” list? Just because we can’t speak about Jesus in the context of the Book of Isaiah (which is about Israel, not Jesus) doesn’t mean we can’t speak about Jesus. There’s lots to say about Jesus without bringing in topics like Isaiah that are not relevant to Jesus.

    To get the ball rolling, let’s talk about Jesus and personal responsibility. Christians say that Jesus et al (the “godhood”) orchestrated events such that a completely innocent bystander was cruelly butchered, and that every “totally depraved” member of humanity, who is guilty of sin and who actually deserves punishment, is awarded clemency. It is not enough that the gods of Christianity punish the innocent and reward the guilty; they go so far as to punish the innocent specifically for the sins of the unpunished guilty. These gods are not what we call fair or loving or decent; they are perverse. And they operate in a fashion that contradicts not only the human notion of justice, but also the Divine ethic stated in Deuteronomy 24:16 “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.” Yet you say that no one will be put to death for their own sin because G-d “the father” put his son to death for other peoples’ sins. What would Jesus say about this contradiction?

    Thanks for hosting, Raf.

    • Forgive me for jumping David Cook’s gun, but he seems to have left it somewhere.Let me ask you Anon what I asked you in my other comment: Do you believe that Jesus existed, for if you did, you would (possibly) believe that his mother also existed. If you don’t believe this, it’s surely a waste of time talking about genealogies with you.

      • Raf,

        We’ve discussed this before, but, since you’re asking me again, I’ll recite my answer for you again on this question: I really don’t have enough information to ascertain whether or not the legends of Christianity grew up around the framework of a real person named Jesus, or a sheer figment of Paul’s imagination. Since there are no witness people to testify about their ancestors’ collective personal experiences with Jesus, the only thing I know about Jesus’ supposed existence is the account Paul wrote of his dream, in which Jesus appeared to him and recounted his public miracle performance career that no one had ever heard of until Paul published the story of his dream. For all I know, Jesus could have actually existed and he may even have really appeared to Paul in Paul’s dream. But I can never know that. It is the nature of dreams that only the dreamer can pass judgement–and not always accurately–on how real it was. That’s quite different from the Jewish community’s collective memory of their ancestors’ collective prophecy at Sinai, as we’ve already mentioned. Perhaps because G-d wanted all Jews to know about His existence and message to them, He appeared to the entire Jewish community publicly at Sinai. It is puzzling that Christians imagine G-d changed His entire message to the Jews but conveyed his revised message to them only by means of sending a semi-human into the unverifiable dream claim of one lone Jew. But there is no puzzle about the veracity of the Christian claims that Jesus, a man, was a G-d, or that Jesus died for other peoples’ sins, or that the only way to G-d is through Jesus; these Christian beliefs are obviously false since they contradict the Hebrew Bible, in which G-d proclaimed that He is “not a man” or a “son of man”, that one person is never punished for another’s sin, and that Jews must never emplace another god before G-d.

        So, yes, there is always the possibility that there is a grain of truth to the legend that Jesus existed–it’s just a question of open one is to accepting the claim of another person that their wild, unlikely dreams are actually true. But I haven’t heard anyone try to prove that Paul didn’t actually have his dream. The narrative is known in logical terms as a “zero credibility story”, because there is just as much basis for accepting it as true as there is for rejecting it as false–namely, none.

        Since you do believe that Paul did dream the “new testament” storyline, and that every statement in it, every contradiction amongst the gospels is the gospel truth, I guess the conversation isn’t really about what I believe, but about what you believe. Jesus’ genealogy is presented in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, but one of the genealogies doubles the number of generations separating Jesus from King David, thus placing Jesus in two very different epochs of history. In logical terms, this contrast establishes what is known as a “zero sum game” in which the success of either one spells failure of the other. Although it is an essential Christian axiom that both Matthew and Luke are inerrant “gospel truths”, they are mutually exclusive. They cannot both be true. So, while I have grown accustomed to the comically rampant logical problems that characterize the Christian bible, I must ask you about your beliefs: which of the gospels do you believe are true, Matthew or Luke?

        • I wrote this in the piece I posted a few hours before this one you are commenting on:

          “One of the few traits of the Talmud and other rabbinic writings that appear to be useful for dating the texts is the rabbinic habit of stating laws and other teachings in the names of specific sages and teachers. For the first century of modern talmudic studies, many assumed that securing the dates in which a specific teacher flourished would enable historians to date the composition of his teachings. But it is precisely the “nonauthored” character of rabbinic literature that prevents us from assuming with any degree of historical certainty that Rabbi Akiva or any other rabbinic figure cited in the talmudic discussions “really” said what is attributed to him. Indeed, for most rabbinic sages, we do not have external historical or biographical references, nor do we have extensive internal biographies. In the best case, we know as much about such major rabbinic authorities as Hillel, Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi Akiva, or Rav as we do about the historical Jesus. Often less.” (Editors: Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert and Martin S. Jaffee).

          I focus on the last statement, “In the best case, we know as much about such major rabbinic authorities as Hillel, Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi Akiva, or Rav as we do about the historical Jesus. Often less.”

          “The editors believe that we know very little about Jesus. I think we know a lot about Jesus. However, what I think about the ignorance of these two respected scholars concerning the historicity of Jesus is not my emphasis here. What is relevant is their statement that whatever (little) is known about Jesus, even less is known about Hillel and the early Jewish sages. Talmudists will agree heartily with these scholars’ view that we know very little, if anything, about their (the Talmudists) greatest bugbear – Jesus, but will, in the same breath, vehemently insist that not only did Hillel and the early sages exist, but that they (the Talmudists) have a detailed knowledge of the lives of these early sages as revealed in Jewish works of revelation such as the Talmud. In Talmudism, not only is the Talmud divine revelation, but history as well.”

          Why would you want to argue about the genealogy of Jesus with the views you hold about his historicity?

          • First, a correction. The authors whom you appoint as my spokesmen, the ones who wrote “In the best case, we know as much about such major rabbinic authorities as Hillel, Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi Akiva, or Rav as we do about the historical Jesus. Often less.”, do not speak for me. In fact, they are unknowns in Jewish scholarship, just like the Jesus character they uphold as the operating standard of historical accuracy.

            Second, Jews today know of the Talmudic sages because we can trace back to them. I learned from such-and-such rabbi, who was a pupil of such-and-such, all the way back to the specific persons identified in the Talmud. In other words, we don’t know about the Talmud because a lone individual reported dreaming of it, but but rather because it is a record of arguments held publicly and passed down from the witnesses to us–unlike the “new testament”, Paul’s record of his dream, to which there are obviously no witness people.

            Third, how is our joint quest for the truth served when you duck the question of the direct contradictions between the mutually exclusive Jesus genealogies in the gospels of Matthew and Luke? It isn’t.

            Please answer my question: which of the gospels do you believe are true, Matthew or Luke?

            • Anon

              If you ever deign to read the THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO THE TALMUD AND RABBINIC LITERATURE. (It’s online), you might learn something.

              We have these scholars versus you, a nameless – if not nobody (otherwise you wouldn’t be able to talk) – anybody. For all we know you might be a parrot in the keep of a clever rabbi (lawyer?).

              Now, in case you think I’m being ad hominem, this cannot be right, because how can this be so when the object in question is arguably a parrot – or a troll.

              Your knowledge of world history, other than your own version of it (you have much in common with a Muslim) is, at best, very wanting. You keep trotting out the same rantras (which you did ad nauseam on the Roshpinaproject site) such as “God is not a man,” when it has been shown to you umpteen times that you don’t know how grammar works (See

              “[One day] the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15).

              Here are the scholars you scorn:

              Elizabeth Shanks Alexander is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious

              Studies at the University of Virginia. Her research interests include the oral

              character of rabbinic texts. She has just begun work on the development of gender in rabbinic law.

              Daniel Boyarin is the Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture in the Departments of Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric, University of California at Berkeley. His interests include the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in Late Antiquity, as well as conceptions of sexuality in Late Antique culture.

              Shaye J. D. Cohen is Littauer Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at Harvard University. He is interested in the history of Jewish identity and has just begun work on a history of rabbinic law.

              Yaakov Elman is Professor of Judaic Studies at Yeshiva University. His interests include the intellectual and cultural history of Late Antiquity and the history of biblical exegesis.

              Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Stan-ford University. She teaches the history and culture of rabbinic Judaism and studies the dynamics of gender in rabbinic culture, in particular rabbinic think-ing about the human body, as well as rabbinic conceptions of space in connection with formations of Jewish identity.

              Steven D. Fraade is the Mark Taper Professor of the History of Judaism at Yale University. He teaches the history and literature of Late Second Temple and early rabbinic Judaism.

              Isaiah Gafni is the Sol Rosenbloom Professor of Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Chair of the Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies. His areas of recent research include rabbinic Judaism and rabbinic portrayals of the past as expressions of self-identity, frameworks, and authority structures of the Jewish community in Late Antiquity, as well as the Jewish Diaspora and its links with the Land of Israel in Second Temple and post-Temple times.

              Galit Hasan-Rokem is the Max and Margarethe Grunwald Professor of Folk-lore, Department of Hebrew Literature and the Jewish and Comparative Folklore Program, Mandel Institute for Jewish Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her areas of specialization include hermeneutical and comparative aspects of folk literary production, especially in classical rabbinic culture, as well as Proverbs and riddles.

              Christine Hayes is the Robert F. and Patricia R. Weis Professor of Religious Stud-ies in Classical Judaica in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University. She has written about the relationship between the Palestinian and the Babylo-nian Talmud, as well as Jewish perceptions of non-Jews in Late Antique Jewish literature.

              Catherine Hezser is Professor of Rabbinic Judaism in the Department of the Study of Religions at the University of London. Her research centers on the social history of Jews in Late Antique Roman Palestine, particular in the context of early Greco-Roman and early Christian society.

              Martin S. Jaffee is Professor of Comparative Religion at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington in Seattle. His research interests include the relationship between orality and textuality in rabbinic lit-erature, as well as the relationship among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

              Jeffrey L. Rubenstein is Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. His interests include rabbinic stories, the history of Jewish law, the culture of the Babylonian Talmud, and Jewish ethics.

              Jonathan Wyn Schofer is Assistant Professor of Comparative Ethics at the Har-vard Divinity School. His research centers on rabbinic ethics and self-cultivation.

              Seth Schwartz is the Gerson D. Cohen Professor of Rabbinic Culture and Pro-fessor of History at The Jewish Theological Seminary. He has written about the influence of Roman imperialism on the political, social, and economic develop-ments of Jewish life in late ancient Palestine.

              Michael D. Swartz is Professor of Hebrew and Religious Studies at the Ohio State University. He has written on Jewish mysticism, magic, liturgy, and ritual in Late Antiquity.

        • Are you the Anon I used to ‘know’? 🙂
          I don’t know if you are interested but I was given this answer to your question, and it comes from my RCC. You could consider it as faulty as you wish…but it is still an option:
          “It was tradition that, if the father of a jewish family were to die and the widow re-marry, the second husband would be counted as the father of the widow’s children which she had with her deceased spouse. This was not uncommon in biblical times. I would submit to you that:

          1. St. Joseph’s mother married Jacob and had Joseph.
          2. Jacob died
          3. Joseph’s mother married Heli
          4. Who was counted as the father of Joseph
          5. Luke’s family tree is Heli’s.

          Or it could be that Heli died and Joseph’s mother married Jacob. Either way is good. This was very common in Judaic times – both trees can be correct without a contradiction.

          • About the anon you used to know. Are you talking about our Egyptian sojourn?

            Those Canaan days we used to know
            Where have they gone, where did they go?
            Eh bien, raise your berets
            To those Canaan days

            How does Luke – just because he spoke Greek so well doesn’t mean he ain’t Jewish – fit into the picacha?

                • “To make mistakes could turn out to be significant.”

                  Yep. You don’t need to tell that to ADAM.

                  As for your interesting genealogy, as we know in the Bibles genealogies are very important. So if your scenario were true, we would know about it, big time. But in RCC belief, it doesn’t have to be in the Bible.

                  • Without wanting to…I caught you in fragrant prejudice. I read the genealogy in a catholic forum and context from a laic person like me and I don’t know if this person is more prepared than I am but I thought that was original…since I always read about the possibility that Luke reported the descendance of Mary, quite possible since he seems to know things that he would have known only if he ‘interviewed’ his mom…Since you told me how wrong it was this genealogy I went to look who has it reported and it is an evangelical idea 🙂 Is it then more acceptable by you? 🙂 Speaking about the bible have you read that Moses was adopted twice? And Esther was adopted too? And some others of less relevance importance? Well adoption is not outside of the Bible supposedly
                    1. Bock, Darell (1996). Luke (The NIV Application Commentary). Zondervan. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-310-49330-3.
                    2. Bock is a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society. He serves as a corresponding editor for Christianity Today, and he has published articles in the Los Angeles Times and The Dallas Morning News.

                    • Glad you think my prejudice to be fragrant. Just joking, I know you meant flagrant.

                      EvANGELicals also sometimes have bright ideas, which may sometimes shed light.

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