Luke's genealogy of Christ (Luke 3:23-38) contains an interesting error. Between Shem and Abraham, he is clearly following the genealogy in Genesis 11:10-26. There is one key exception. At one point, Luke adds a name not present in Genesis 11, namely Cainan. This is Luke 3:34-36:
Why does this occur? One explanation suggests itself: Luke was not using the original Hebrew Bible, but rather a Greek translation of it known as the Septuagint or LXX. And the Septuagint does contain Cainan's name (although see the Apologetics Press response, below).
In other words, by using the Septuagint's corrupt translation of the original genealogy in Genesis, Luke may have allowed an error to creep into into his own genealogy.
The Apologetics Press argues that, actually, mention of Cainan in the Septuagint was inserted after Luke's gospel was written, by over-zealous scribes eager to make the Septuagint concur with Luke.
If that's correct, then it's impossible that Luke's genealogy was corrupted by using the LXX as his source. We then have no obvious explanation as to where Luke got the name from. I suppose divine inspiration could be invoked.
Instead, The Apologetics Press suggests the presence of "Cainan" in Luke is itself a scribal error. Indeed, two important early manuscripts of Luke don't include the name, but the rest do, and so all modern Bibles contain it. The NET Bible's notes argue that the absence of "Cainan" in those two manuscripts of Luke may have been the result of scribes dropping it to be consistent with the original Hebrew.
This whole debate is a mess. I'll summarise the possible positions as I see them:
A key issue is whether the Septuagint available to Luke actually included Cainan's name or not. If it did, it's obvious where he got the name and why his genealogy differs from the Hebrew version of Genesis. I would need to be an expert in Septuagint manuscripts to decide this issue for myself, so I've decided not to classify this problem for now.
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