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.