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July 19, 2007 / vivator

from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah

Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary.

Luke 11:49-51 (RSV)

Some interpret the phrase “from (the blood of) Abel to (the blood of) Zechariah” to mean “from Genesis to Chronicles”, the first and the last books of the present Jewish scripture (cf. F.F. Bruce: Canon of Scripture, page 31; Josh McDowell: Evidence that demands a verdict, Vol. 1, page 33).  This supports Protestant belief that in Christ’ time Old Testament comprises the same books as in their Bible, i.e. it excludes deuterocanonical or apocryphal books.  The murder of Abel is mentioned in Genesis 4:8 and Zechariah was the one in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21 because he was murdered in the court of the house of the Lord.  However, parallel verse in Matthew 23:35 says that Zechariah was the son of Barachiah while Zechariah of 2 Chronicles was the son of Jehoiada.  Thus Jesus may refer to the prophet Zechariah who was the son of Berechiah (Zechariah 1:1, Ezra 5:1) and who together with Haggai and Malachi were the last Jewish prophets.  The Bible is silent of how and where he died but Jesus might rely on extra biblical source, just like Paul named the magicians, Jannes and Jambres, who opposed Moses in 2 Timothy 3:8 and about the spiritual rock that followed the Israelites during Exodus (1 Corinthians 10:4).  A paper written by S.H. Blank: The Death of Zechariah in Rabbinic Literature (Hebrew Union College Annual, Vol. 12-13, pages 327-346) refers to a comment on Targum (Aramaic translations or paraphrases of the Old Testament) of Lamentations 2.20 saying that prophet Zechariah, son of Iddo, the High Priest, was murdered in the sanctuary of the Lord on the Day of Atonement.  Other proposed candidates are Zechariah, father of John the Baptist (according to Origen) and sceptics proposed Zechariah, son of Baruch who was murdered in c. 68 AD in the temple (Josephus, Wars of the Jews 4.5.4).  Even if Zechariah of 2 Chronicles was the one Jesus meant, the order of books (written in scrolls, not bound together as in the present day Bible) could not be clearly defined in His time.  We also have evidence that Chronicles was not always the last book of the Jewish scripture.  Three of the eight early lists of Jewish scripture have Chronicles as the first book of the Writings (cf. Encyclopædia Judaica, Vol. 4, page 829-830) including Leningrad Codex, the oldest (c. 1009 AD) complete Masoretic text of Jewish scripture.  Those with Chronicles as the last book include the earliest known list of Jewish scripture dated end of 2nd century AD. 

Our Rabbis taught: the order of the Prophets is Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the Twelve ……….; The order of the Ketuvim is Ruth, the Book of Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel, the Scroll of Esther, Ezra and Chronicles.

Babylonian Talmud, tractate Baba Bathra 14b

But even earlier is the testimony of Josephus (c. 90 AD) where Chronicles could not be the last book.  

For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have], but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death.  This internal of time was little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books.  The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life.

Josephus, Against Apion 1:8 (38-40)

While Josephus mentioned twenty-two books (equal to the present twenty-four books of Jewish Scripture if we combine Ruth with Judges and Lamentations with Jeremiah) in three divisions, the number of books in the second and third division differs with the present Jewish Scripture.  The second division according to Josephus has thirteen books while the the third one has four.  The present Jewish Scripture has eight and eleven books in the second and third divisions.   Since according to Josephus the third division contains hymns and precept for the conduct of human life, Chronicles cannot be the last book in Josephus’ list.

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  1. Newchasm / Jul 23 2007 1:40 pm

    Jesus would have access to geneologies. He would have access to histories and time. The Jewish kept them accurate so they could return to their land in event of exile. Or jubilee. Also, it is not hard to jump to the fact that all prophets were killed and stoned.

    Matthew 23 may be a LXX verion of Belechiah or a literary mistake from oral tradition.

    As for Josephus. He does not establish all the books of apocrypha as scripture. The first 5 are the torah. He has the count right. present day is 24 is 2 over 22 on its count. Does the present count and not combine the two?

    Next, the books are not chronological linked at all to each other. Only loosely so. The sections are not chronological linked either. Job is thought to be the earliest written. Yet, the torah is written very early to. The sections are context linked. Chronicals was likely a compilation of multiple human hands. I tend Jesus is talking about the prophet Zech of 1:1. It speaks of time not books inbetween.

    I find it spurious because Jesus was adressing prophets and law. The apocrypha fall outside these two for the most part also.

  2. Newchasm / Jul 23 2007 1:41 pm

    Josephus could have linked the context of each set differently.

  3. vivator / Jul 23 2007 9:49 pm

    Since according to Josephus books that belong to Jewish Scripture must be written between the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes then it excludes deuterocanonical/apocryphal books – they were written after that period. But shall we rely on his testimony? From the lips of Christ we know that all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John the Baptist (Matthew 11:13), not until the reign of Artaxerxes.

    • joel / Sep 10 2010 3:25 pm

      @vivator

      “From the lips of Christ we know that all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John the Baptist (Matthew 11:13), not until the reign of Artaxerxes.”

      …actually, the scripture you referenced refers to the fact that until John the Baptist came, the only voice the people heard from God came from the Law and the Prophets, which according to Josephus numbered 22! John the Baptist was so great (read the following verses for context) because he broke the prophetic silence of the intertestamental period resulting in the mad rush of men coming to the Kingdom by repentance (the “violence” mentioned in the same group of verses.)
      Josephus was a clear witness that the Apochryphal books were not cannonical, and the fact that John’s greatness is predicated upon the fact that he broke the prophetic silence between the testaments does not support your position on the Apochrypha at all.

    • Iamjew / Nov 1 2013 7:30 am

      You write: “From the lips of Christ we know that all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John the Baptist (Matthew 11:13)…” as support for a later closing of the canon.

      Christ is obviously referring to the Jewish canon, i.e.: that IT spoke (“prophesied”) until his day. He could not have been referring to the apocryphal books, because he says “ALL THE PROPHETS AND THE LAW prophesied until John the Baptist,” meaning the whole Jewish canon as described by Josephus.

      He didn’t say that SOME other (newer) prophets spoke in between, but that ALL of them spoke, meaning the totality of the Jewish prophets as accepted by the Jews themselves.

      When the Jews closed THEIR canon in “2nd century AD” as you state, did they include the apocrypha? No.

      • vivator / Nov 2 2013 2:10 pm

        I reply to your both comments – the earlier one is repeated in the latter one. First according to Josephus in his work Against Apion 1:8 (38-40), books of Jewish Scripture were written between Moses and reign of Persian king, Artaxerxes, NOT between Moses and John the Baptist. You are free to follow Josephus opinion – I choose to follow Christ’s words. Second when the Jews closed their canon, they did not include Apocrypha. But why we need to follow their decision? Christians are not obliged to follow Jewish decision made after Christ crucifixion, considering what He taught through His parable of the vineyard’s tenants in Matthew 21:33-41 – let out the vineyards to other tenants (verse 41). For more on this issue of Canon you are welcome to read my post :

        https://vivacatholic.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/who-has-the-correct-number-of-books-in-the-bible/

        Again you are free to follow their (the Jews) decision. You just have to realize that by doing so you rely on authority OUTSIDE the Bible to determine which books belong to Old Testament. Assuming that you believe the Bible is the highest authority then it means you cannot have their authority to determine the canon of Old Testament. You see the irony?

  4. vivator / Sep 11 2010 3:18 pm

    Joel,
    Christ did not say John the Baptist broke prophetic silence – in fact Christ and Scripture no where say there is such silence. Josephus division of Jewish Scripture has three parts, not Law and Prophets. If Scripture is truly your only authority why you rely on Josephus statement to determine how many books in your Bible?

    • Chris / Sep 11 2010 8:24 pm

      You ask Joel (who deserved a better answer from you to his excellent comment, if I may say so) this: “If Scripture is truly your only authority why you rely on Josephus statement to determine how many books in your Bible?”
      I’m guessing he used an extra-biblical source for the same reason you did when you responded to another writer on August 13, 2010:

      On August 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm, you Vivator wrote:
      “Just like Webster, Whitaker either did not do his homework or tampered the facts with his own custom made historical facts. The early Church, not even during Chris and apostle time, did not have closed canon as he claimed. The Jews did not close their canon until 2nd century AD, as they themselves claimed in Encyclopedia Judaica (refer to my reply to Mike).”

      • vivator / Sep 11 2010 10:09 pm

        Chris,
        The main difference is Catholics do not use Scripture alone as the final authority and we do not rely on authority of Jews to define our Old Testament canon. You and Joel look only fromk one side, not the whole picture of canonicity process.

      • Iamjew / Nov 1 2013 5:40 am

        And when the Jews closed THEIR canon in “2nd century AD” as you state, did they include the apocrypha?
        No.

  5. James / Apr 13 2012 12:12 am

    I don’t know why you continue to defend the apocrypha. It is never quoted in the New Testament. And when Jesus talks about the Scripture He says the Torah and the Prophets, and the Psalms. The apocrypha contradicts itself and also with the rest of the Bible. Also it says that the Jews were entrusted with the very words of God (Romans 3:1-2) . Do you think you “Catholics” have the right to add what the Jews clearly didn’t think was Scripture? I’ve read a couple of apocrypha verses and you know what? it sounds ridicoulous to me. There’s actually nothing you can gain from those stupid fables. In 2 Timothy 3:16 it says that ALL Scripture is used for teaching, rebuking and correcting, but the apocrypha doesn’t do that.

  6. Vincent Swift / Oct 17 2013 3:54 pm

    The Zechariah is most likely the father of John the Baptist it’s the only thing that makes sense
    and is contempory with Christ.it’s a murder in that generation and completes genesis to present
    It’s referrred to in the protoevangelicum of James and as I say the only thing that makes sense
    He was killed by Herod or his agents for refusal to disclose the whereabouts of his son who Herod
    thought born to be a future king.He was replaced by Simeon Known for the now let your sevant depart phrase and again contemporary with the infant Jesus

    • Ferd / Oct 31 2013 5:18 pm

      Note to Vivator: this post by Mr. Swift is incoherent. Exactly how does this add to the discussion?
      You have allowed this comment to stand while rejecting other comments that are coherent, and do add to the discussion. You will have to answer to The Lord for this.
      You have no fear of Him now, but you will then.

      • vivator / Nov 2 2013 2:21 pm

        What Mr. Swift wrote is already stated in my post – perhaps he missed it but his comment is still related to my post. Let me clarify that as the owner of the blog I reserve the right to publish or not to publish any comment. Visitors are welcome but not under any obligation to leave comment or re-comment. I am sure if you own a blog you will do the same. Some comments are pending because I need time to reply. I have full-time job and cannot spend too much time on blogging. Again when I publish their comment is up to me – nobody can tell me whether and when to publish any of them.

  7. Vincent Swift / Nov 2 2013 6:35 pm

    Sorry my post got you in trouble Vivator.I don’t know why it was thought incoherent.I read the earlier posts and thought that the discussion was about which Zechariah Christ was referring to
    If you have any troube at the day of judgement you can blame me

    • vivator / Nov 2 2013 7:20 pm

      Don’t worry, you did nothing wrong. Ferd just used as an excuse to execute “judgment” without even bothering to ask first why I did not reply to many comments. The person who commented know that I did not delete his/her comment – it simply waits for moderation. I did delete some comments in the past – as the owner of the blog I reserve the right to whether to publish or delete any comment and when to publish it. Any blog owner will do the same – it is public secret.

    • Ferd / Nov 4 2013 6:42 pm

      Dear Mr. Swift, please forgive me if my comment offended you – I meant no disrespect to you personally – you sound like a nice person. It is true that I found your comment difficult to understand, and to be fair perhaps I should have given it more time to figure out.
      My comment was rather directed at Vivator… What he describes as “waiting for moderation” was in fact more than an eight week wait for some of the people who posted here… enough time to exasperate even the most patient.
      Blessings to you.
      P.S. I have been known to be incoherent myself on occasion. 😉

      • vivator / Nov 4 2013 7:57 pm

        Ferd, Can you point out any legal regulation or law that gives maximum time interval or waiting period a blogger must answers any comment? Maybe there is one that I am not aware. Before you quote the name of the Lord read Exodus 20:7.

      • Vincent Swift / Nov 5 2013 10:25 pm

        Thank you Ferd no problem whatsoever don’t give it another thought
        My best to you too

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