“Zachariah Who Perished” -- By: J. Barton Payne

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 08:3 (Fall 1967)
Article: “Zachariah Who Perished”
Author: J. Barton Payne

“Zachariah Who Perished”

J. Barton Payne

Professor of Old Testament
Wheaton College

On more than one occasion Christ stated that Pharisaism would be held responsible for all the blood of the prophets from Abel to Zachariah (Luke 11:51, cf. Matt 23:35). Even among evangelicals, it is now customary to identify the latter with Zechariah the martyred son of the high priest Jehoiada (2 Chron 24:20–22) and then, on the strength of this identification, to argue for the New Testament’s acceptance of the rabbinic order of books in the Old Testament canon.1 It would run from Abel, the first martyr of the first book of the Torah (Genesis), to Zechariah, the last martyr of the last book of the Kethuvim (2 Chronicles), for chronologically there were other martyrs who perished later than this priest (cf. Jer 26:23). Both of these conclusions, however, warrant reexamination.

Concerningthe canon, liberalism’s commitment to the theory of an eleven-book Kethuvim, terminating with Chronicles, and gaining recognition subsequently to an assumed close of the Nevi’im (Prophets) in 200 B.C., hardly required documentation;2 with its need to maintain a composition for Daniel and Esther after 200 B.C., negative criticism simply cannot afford to be open-minded on the subject. Yet R. Laird Harris has repeatedly called attention3 to Josephus’ restriction of the Kethuvim to the poetical books of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon4 (cf. Christ’s statement in Luke 24:44). As H. B. Swete has remarked, “The rest of the Hagiographa seem to have been counted by him among the prophets,”5 a view supported by all other Jewish evidence,6 until the fourth Christian century.7 Long ago Moses Stuart also showed how “all the earlier Christian writers down to the middle of the fourth century testify in favor of…only these Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon as belonging to the Hagiographa.”8 It remains to observe only that, in both Jewish (LXX) and Christian (patristic) groupings of the Old Testament books, just as in today’s English Bible, the poetic Kethuvim are regularly inserted between the Former Prophets (historical boo...

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