Anita #5 at this T&S post asked a question that deserves its own thread:
This is a little off topic, but I’m wondering what you (and those authors) make of the murder of Zacharias? Since Joseph Smith [words missing] the father of John the Baptist was killed, but other NT scholarship I’ve read suggests that when Jesus mentions the martyrs from Abel to Zacharias, he’s doing an A-Z from Genesis to 2 Chronicles in the Torah. Thoughts?
KJV Mt. 23:35 reads as follows:
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
TPJS p. 261 comments as follows:
Let us come into New Testament times–so many are ever praising the Lord and His apostles. We will commence with John the Baptist. When Herod’s edict went forth to destroy the young children, John was about six months older than Jesus, and came under this hellish edict, and Zacharias caused his mother to take him into the mountains, where he was raised on locusts and wild honey. When his father refused to disclose his hiding place, and being the officiating high priest at the Temple that year, was slain by Herod’s order, between the porch and the altar, as Jesus said. John’s head was taken to Herod, the son of this infant murderer, in a charger–notwithstanding there was never a greater prophet born of a woman than him!
This passage raises two issues. First is whether the attribution of the material to Joseph Smith is accurate. It is not. This is a common problem with JFSII’s selection of material for TPJS. During times when Joseph was listed as the editor of the Times and Seasons, JFSII just assumed that Joseph had penned unsigned editorials in that paper, but that is a huge assumption, and part of the reason that scholars today use more accurate materials than citing TPJS. In this particular instance the point is made by Gerald E. Jones, “Apocryphal Literature and the Latter-day Saints” in Apocryphal Writings and the Latter-day Saints, ed. C. Wilfred Griggs (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1986), 26:
“As early as 1842, W.W. Phelps read a publication of the Protoevangelium, or Gospel of James, which contains the story of Zacharias being murdered at the temple. Phelps published it as an unsigned editorial in the Times and Seasons.(28) This was later credited to Joseph Smith, who was listed as editor, but he probably was not the author of the article in question.(29) The inclusion of the article, however, indicates the constant interest of Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints in apocryphal literature and their desire to find supportive material for Latter-day scripture and revelation.”
(28) “Persecution of the Prophets,” Times and Seasons 3 (1 September 1842): 902.
(29) Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1965), p. 261. But Matthew 23:35 and Luke 11:51 probably refer to 2 Chronicles 24:20-21, as Bruce R. McConkie implies in his Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966-73), 1:624. The Protoevangelium (Gospel of James) 22-23 twists the story and mistakenly identifies Zachariah as the father of John. The Protoevangelium was translated into English in 1797 and republished by Oxford in 1827.
The second issue is whether the identification of this Zacharias who was murdered at the temple, which derives from the Protoevangelium of James (and was picked up from that source by W.W. Phelps [misattributed to JS]), is accurate. In my view, it is not. Here is what I wrote in my Footnotes to the NT for LDS ad loc.:
There was a tradition, found in the Protevangelium of James and mentioned by Origen and Chrysostom, that this Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist. More likely, the words “son of Berechiah” (which are not present in Luke) were a mistake based on Zechariah 1:1 and an attempt to identify this Zechariah more precisely, especially since there were 29 men named Zechariah mentioned in the OT text. The reference here is almost certainly to Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, described in 2 Chr. 24:21. As 2 Chr. was the last book of the OT in the Hebrew organization, from Abel to Zechariah covers the martyrdoms from the beginning to the end of scripture.
We LDS are used to Malachi being the last book of the OT, but open a Hebrew Bible and you will find that 2 Chronicles is the last book. So Anita is correct that this passage is not talking about the first to last in time, but the first to last in scripture.