Vol. 19, no. 1-2 (2023): Russell Hoban

Holy Tricksters: Que[e]rying the Foundational Story of Jesus in Matt. 1:1–18

Russell Hoban, University of Auckland


In the introduction of Jesus’ genealogy (Matt 1:1), the writer firmly establishes its core purpose: affirming Jesus’ royal lineage as the son of David and son of Abraham, thereby situating him as the prophesied Messiah. However, the inclusion of four Old Testament women of troubling status—foreigners, a prostitute, an adulteress—challenges the ensuing Israelite patriarchal power narrative. Scholars typically attempt to explain these problematic women by categorising and grouping them but ultimately fail to link them meaningfully with Mary. Viewing the women as literary tricksters through a queer lens reveals deeper subversive meanings, which point toward the ultimate disruption of the genealogy’s surface meanings by the silent characters of the Holy Spirit and Mary. Que(e)rying the narrative, including the troubling intimate encounter of the Holy Spirit and Mary, underscores Mary’s significance and offers a final resolution that acknowledges the subversive voices of women and the author’s intentions to transcend heterocentric patriarchal norms.


Matt. 1:1-18, genealogy, patriarchy, women, tricksters, queer

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