Were both of Jesus' parents descendants of King David?
Yes. The Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke confirm that Jesus came through that family line of King David. (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38) Though Jesus had many bitter enemies, none of them challenged his well-publicized line of descent. (Matthew 21:9, 15) Clearly, then, his lineage is beyond question.
Joseph It is even surprising to know the ancestors of
Joseph. First of all, few even of the Jewish priests of the first
century CE knew their ancestors back as far as 5 generations, and
it is unlikely that any lay people could say who were their
ancestors in the male line past their grandfathers or perhaps
There is some confusion because the Gospel According to St
Matthew provides a genealogy back through Joseph and then through
the great Zorobabel, son of Salathiel, to King David, but
the Gospel According to St Luke also provides a genealogy back
through Joseph and then through the great Zorobabel, son of
Salathiel, to King David. Raymond E. Brown (An
Introduction to the New Testament) says while Luke's list may
be less classically monarchical than Matthew's, there is little
likelihood that either is strictly historical.
We do not know anything about the genealogy of Mary, so it would
be impossible to answer this question in respect to Mary. Early
Christians believed that Mary's father and mother were called
Joachim and Anne, but they had no tradition linking Joachim and
Anne back to King David. In modern times, some have suggested that
the genealogy in Luke's Gospel is really that of Mary. However,
Luke is quite clear - this genealogy is through Joseph, going back
through Zorobabel to David.
Even if Luke meant 'Mary' when he said 'Joseph' in the genealogy
he passed on to us, this would still not explain why Matthew gave
Zorobabel's paternal grandfather as Jechonias, while Luke gave the
same grandfather as Neri. A man can not have two paternal
It is necessary to understand that Matthew and Luke wrote their Gospels in separate communities and each was entirely unaware of the work being performed by the other. So, they were unable to compare and harmonise their work, to assist future generations better understand the life of Jesus. We should, of course, not take the genealogies too literally - the two evangelists were simply doing the best they could with the information available.