Social Identity Reading of the Genealogy of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:23-38): Lessons on Inclusivity for the Christian Church in Kenya


Elijah Makhanu
Julius Kithinji


Ethnic identity, viewed as the basis of ones’ belonging or otherwise is one major cause of
disunity in both the biblical and contemporary world. The impact of ethnic identity on
Christian unity should be viewed as a strong case for the existence of Christians and a key
identifier of whose they are. The main objective of this paper is to understand the impact of
the ethnic identities in the genealogy of Jesus on unity in the Christian Church, while
examining the integrative effects of various ethnic identities in the genealogy of Jesus Christ
as recorded in Luke, through the lenses of Social Identity Theory (SIT). Using a library-based
study, this paper seeks to demonstrate that Luke employed cultural memory, a view point of
SIT to create a new identity among the followers of Jesus through an inclusive agenda that
decentralizes ethnicity as presented in Jesus’ genealogy by including some individual
characters who do not belong to the Jewish ethnic group. By so doing, Luke presents Jesus
prototypically as a superordinate Christian identity for the entire human race. Thus,
redefining the concept of ‘ethnic belongingness’ in a very revolutionary sense. While
reference is made to the Matthean genealogy in terms of social status, it is important to
underscore that the anticipated audience of Matthew which is Jewish, limits its scope and
application in so far as this paper is concerned. For this reason, the book of Luke is
preferred for this study because of its profound concern with universal social issues of the
gospel and its spatial descriptions. The various ethnic identities in the genealogy are diverse,
heterogeneous and are at the centre of inter-ethnic animosities world over. Similarly, the
genealogy of Jesus comprises of various ethnic groups which share a common ethnic identity
in the person of Jesus, but largely disagree on the way that identity should be expressed.
While this genealogy spurns centuries of time, providing the lenses through which one can
understand shifting priorities and inter-ethnic conflicts, it lays a solid foundation for
celebration of unity and a common heritage shared by all members of the body of Christ. The
findings of this paper will concretize the foundation for the Christian Church culture that
thrives on unity in diversity as demonstrated in the person of Jesus Christ, thus
foregrounding the efforts towards ethnic unity in the Christian Church in Kenya.


How to Cite
Makhanu, E., & Kithinji, J. . (2024). Social Identity Reading of the Genealogy of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:23-38): Lessons on Inclusivity for the Christian Church in Kenya. African Multidisciplinary Journal of Research, 1(1), 82–95. Retrieved from