Luke 1:5, Which Zechariah was murdered in the Temple? Part II of IV

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias

//Yesterday, I quoted a verse in Matthew in which Jesus speaks of a murder in the Temple. Here it is again:

That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. –Matthew 23:35

So who is this mysterious Zechariah? One possibility, discussed yesterday, is that this Zacharias/Zechariah was a man who died in the war of 66-70 AD. Today’s verse provides another Zechariah: the father of John the Baptist.

This makes a lot of sense, as this Zechariah lived in Jesus’ time. It thus makes sense for Jesus to say “from Abel to Zechariah.” We have no Biblical record of how John’s father died, but we do have this story in the Infancy Gospel of James:

And Herod searched for John, and sent officers to Zacharias, saying: Where has thou hid thy son? And he, answering, said to them: I am the servant of God in holy things, and I sit constantly in the temple of the Lord: I do not know where my son is. And the officers went away, and reported all these things to Herod. And Herod was enraged, and said: His son is destined to be king over Israel. And he sent to him again, saying: Tell the truth; where is thy son? for thou knowest that thy life is in my hand. And Zacharias said: I am God’s martyr, if thou sheddest my blood; for the Lord will receive my spirit, because thou sheddest innocent blood at the vestibule of the temple of the Lord. And Zacharias was murdered about daybreak. And the sons of Israel did not know that he had been murdered.

So was the father of John the Baptist murdered? The Infancy Gospel of James is considered pseudepigraphical (not written by the person it is attributed to) and dated to about the mid-2nd century, so it’s hard to fully trust. However, no less a respected church father than Origen suggests that the Zechariah mentioned by Jesus was indeed John the Baptist’s father.

Another solution tomorrow.

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