Who was he? Why does the new testament begin with his descendants?
Well, I’m glad you asked this question, as I knew him well.
Actually, not me but my name sake, Melchizedek was a Priest-King who blessed Abraham in Genesis. Abraham then gave him a tithe… but I digress.
Abraham was from Ur in what is now Iraq, and was known then as Abram. He and his family moved away, to a place in the north called Haran, which was famous for worshipping the moon. After his brother dies, he laft his family, and with his wife (also his sister or half sister) moved south west to Canaan. Here, God made a deal with him, cut his member, worship him and he waill have a son… not just a son but a whole nation. At this point he changed his name to Abraham. When he was 99 years old, he had a son, Isaac. He did have an older son, Ishmael but he was born from an Egyptian concubine and left due to family disputes.
All of this and more can be found in Genesis, around chapter 14 and surrounding chapters… sorry, been a long while since I picked THAT book up.
Why is lineage in the New Testament started with him? Depends on which Gospel you read. I would say that it is fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in the birth of Jesus. Abraham was made a promise, Jesus’ promise to save ALL nations was fulfillment that all nations are descended through Abe (Spiritually speaking).
I was anticipating that the OP would be asking if there existed any verification of his actual existence and was eagerly awaiting the answers.
Ooh, now you’re asking…
There is a tomb in Israel reputed to be where Abraham was buried, or where he buried Sarah his wife, but as for verification? Nada.
Ur was considered a non existant place until discovered in teh 19th century, Canaan hasn’t much to go on either. Most of it seems to be ‘legend’ a story handed down by oral tradition until Moses got the dictation from the big fella himself.
Not much evidence or verification of the existence of my great great grandfather, but I’m sure he was a guy called Robert Ford… But I gues 150 years and my existence is slightly different to 3000 years and the claims of distant descendants. Maybe I had an ancester called Klondike Pete, who burried all the gold in Alaska to see what would happen…
Abraham was probably a real person who did enough in his life to remain in the oral traditions of a nomadic people, some of whom may have been his direct descendants. He became a mythologized hero-figure, like Arthur and Gilgamesh, with an extra long life and a direct line to his deity attributed to him. More happenings were gradually assigned to him over time, and when it came time to set down the local version of the creation myth (centuries later), Abraham’s life was set down with all the attributed myths that agreed with current doctrine. SOP, and the way anthopologist believe many hero figures become mythologized (this was a greatly simplified version).
Nitpick - actually, I think there is quite a lot of evidence about Canaan, notably the Canaanites pushed back toward the sea who formed a whole bunch of city-states, like Tyre, Sidon, and Carthage. The are collectively referred to as the Poenicians, and they pretty much ran the shipping and trading in the Mediterranean for several centuries.
I didn’t mean there isn’t much archaeological evidence for Canaan, I was referring to Abraham’s sojourn there. Having been in Israel, I enjoyed visiting all the sites and various museums. Fascinating history, esp Jericho, check it out if you ever get the chance.
The Gospel of Matthew starts with Abraham, but the Gospel of Luke begins with Adam.
That’s because Matthew was written by a Jewish author who was eager to show that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham. Luke was NOT Jewish, so he was more concerned with showing how Jesus was the fulfillment of a plan for ALL humanity (Jews and Gentiles both) from the beginning of time.