Gary DeMar on July 12th, 2022, continued with his critique of my position, please follow this link to read the article: “This Generation’ as a Single Generation in Jesus’ Day.” This will be my response to his critique.
In reading DeMar’s most recent article some steps have been made to narrow in more closely to my view. This is to be commended! It is clear that DeMar realized that he was strawmanning my position in his previous article and has since attempted to rectify this by using direct quotations: “While he believes the phrase applies to the generation of Jesus’ day, he also claims it refers to “trans-historical people [that] includes (past generations) tied to Cain, through to the contemporaries of Jesus, and will extend down until the return of Christ. My view of genea,” Hicks argues, “is not limited to a singular group identified in the New Testament, my view extends and encompasses what I believe is more of the biblical data.” Clearly, DeMar recognizes that I affirm that “this generation” does apply in some sense to the contemporaries, but is not limited to the contemporaries.
Does DeMar continue down this road, however? No. He decides to a.) simply assert that his position is true ad nauseum (“the use of “this generation” by Jesus only refers to the generation of His day because only that generation was guilty of the covenantal evil of crucifying “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8))” b.) restate that his position is correct without proof (“Jesus always used “this generation” in reference to His contemporaries (Matt. 11:16; 12:41, 42; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 17:25; 21:32), and it doesn’t mean any other generation.”) and c.) bring up irrelevant people to make an argument that I am not making (Henry Morris, who insisted the Bible should be interpreted literally on issues related to the creation, does not take the same approach when he interpreted the meaning of “this generation”). Instead of responding to my arguments set forth in my 26-page article, DeMar has sidestepped our discussion in order to propagate his own ideas, but not to directly respond to me.
DeMar in attempting to move forward begins a discussion on the near demonstrative, something no one is arguing against. DeMar claims that it “always refers to something present-day as Greek lexicons and grammars demonstrate in their definitions.” Again, had DeMar been working on a rebuttal to my work, he wouldn’t be so busy trying to counter arguments I am not making. Of course, “this” refers to nearness, which is why it includes the contemporaries. The issue is not the near demonstrative, the question is are we discussing a qualitative type or class of people, or are we discussing quantitative chronology?
DeMar then uses F.F. Bruce as a source to argue against what he again seems to think is my position. Not sure why? F.F. Bruce is clearly not countering my understanding of “this generation” but a solely futuristic argument, “Moreover, if the generation of the end-time had been intended, ‘that generation’ would have been a more natural way of referring to it than ‘this generation.” Like DeMar, Bruce believes there are only two positions on the table, past/future. That isn’t the position I am arguing for, so DeMar in leveraging citations from Bruce has not dealt with my argument and neither has Bruce. If my view is “novel” then it wouldn’t fall under the typical futuristic argument, and thereby DeMar will need to conjure up a better response than to appeal to scholars that don’t directly respond to what I believe.
In a final attempt to respond to my position, DeMar responds to my last article (which was a rebuttal to his first article) instead of responding to anything in my 26-page article. In attempting to respond to my arguments surrounding Matthew 23:34-35 DeMar sloppily makes assertions while avoiding any accountability for his statements. Take, for instance, his citations below:
“It might be claimed that this is an argument from silence. True enough, except that Jesus states that His present audience had a hand in killing someone named Zechariah son of Berechiah.” https://americanvision.org/3334/who-is-zechariah-the-son-of-berechiah/
DeMar in attempting to answer questions regarding the identity of Zechariah in Matthew 23 admits that his argument is an argument from silence.
He then merely presupposes that his position is correct, with absolutely no evidence. He asserts that “any contemporary person named Zechariah fits,” but no evidence is given.
“So any contemporary person named Zechariah would fit.”
Basically, DeMar wants us to believe that Zechariah was an unknown contemporary, nowhere recorded in Scripture (except in the very text we are discussing) thereby begging the question. Where is the proof provided for who Zechariah is? None is given by DeMar; it is merely a “possibility”. Why does DeMar take this route of a contemporary person named Zechariah? Because if there is evidence that it is any person other than a contemporary his position crumbles. As I will demonstrate below, the best evidence we have indicates that Zechariah the OT prophet-priest is in view. If that is the case and a reasonable counter-argument is made, then DeMar should abandon his argument from silence.
Let’s look at the actual evidence, not arguments from silence.
There are 4 possible Zechariah’s that are in view based on all the evidence we have:
1.) Zechariah the Son of Baruch
2.) Zechariah the Son of Jehoiada
3.) Zechariah the Son of the Baptizer
4.) Zechariah the Son of Berechiah or Iddo
Of these possible options, the best is #4 and here is why:
A.) Zechariah the prophet in Zechariah 1:1 is called the Son of Berechiah (Zechariah 1:1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying)
Note: We already have more evidence than DeMar does at this point. We have a direct reference to Zechariah the Son of Berechiah in Zechariah 1:1.
B.) The Aramaic Targum to Lamentations 2:20 affirms that Zechariah the prophet was killed in the temple (Aramaic Targum to Lamentations 2:20 – See, O Lord, and observe from heaven against whom you have turned. Thus is it right for the daughters of Israel to eat the fruit of their wombs due to starvation, the lovely boys wrapped in fine linen? The Attribute of Justice replied, and said, “Is it right to kill priest and prophet in the Temple of the LORD, as when you killed Zechariah son of Iddo, the High Priest and faithful prophet in the Temple of the Lord on the Day of Atonement because he admonished you not to do evil before the Lord?)”
C.) Marvin Pate, agrees with the above assessment from the Aramaic Targum and adds more information: “In Matthew 23:35 Jesus accuses the Jewish leaders of having a history of killing Old Testament righteous men, from Abel to Zechariah the son of Berachiah. Yet, the Old Testament says nothing of the prophet Zechariah being murdered. Skeptics of the Gospels seize on this point arguing that Jesus mistakenly confused the prophet Zechariah with another Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, who was a priest. According to 2 Chronicles 24:20–22, the latter was killed in the temple court. However, rabbinic traditions (e.g., the Targum on Lam. 2:20 and the Midrash Rabbah on Eccl. 3:16) also refer to Zechariah the prophet as being killed in the temple. On this understanding, Jesus and extra-biblical tradition converge in reporting an actual incident not mentioned in the Old Testament. Other New Testament notables also refer to individuals not recorded in the Hebrew Bible but mentioned in non-canonical Jewish literature.” (pg 37) https://www.mybibleteacher.net/uploads/1/2/4/6/124618875/40_questions_about_the_historical_jesus_by_c._marvin_pate__z-lib.org_.epub.pdf
D.) Zechariah the prophet/priest is the next-to-last OT prophet (chronologically), so it makes sense that Abel is the first righteous one killed and Zechariah the prophet/priest is last. Why pick Abel (a well-known personage) and then Zechariah (some unknown contemporary) that the present audience might not have even known. This is pure conjecture.
E.) Jesus expected his audience to know who Zechariah the Son of Berechiah was, that is why we do not have an unknown Zechariah in view, but a known Zechariah with the emphatic usage of “Son of Berechiah.”
F.) Tatian Diatessaron Gospel Harmony and Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book 5:14:1 affirm that there is no textual variation with Zachariah the son of Barachiah, so we can have certainty that the Son of Barachiah is in view and not someone else.
G.) Zechariah the prophet-priest is the only possible candidate for being killed between the temple and the altar (i.e. this area was located in the inner court/court of priests, cf. 2 Ki 21:5, 2 Chr. 4:9) because this was only a place where a priest could go. No other candidate would have been close enough, and this excludes the other plausible option of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada.
H.) The murder of OT prophets is stated in Mt. 23:31 (So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets). Zechariah was one of those OT prophets. The fathers of those in the presence of Jesus killed the OT prophets, meaning that an OT prophet was in view. The fathers of the contemporaries could not have killed a present contemporary Zechariah.
I.) The context of Mt. 23:34 and vs. 35 actually refutes the idea that a contemporary was in view. Jesus says that He will send prophets, wise men, and scribes, some who will be scourged and killed, and this is SO THAT (vs. 35) the guilt of all righteous bloodshed will fall upon them. Their killings that would come afterward were to allow for the fact that the guilt of all bloodshed of the OT saints would fall on them (which includes Zechariah the prophet).
J.) Isaiah 8:2 closes the door on the argument, as Zechariah the son of JeBerechiah (Barachias, LXX) was stated as being a martyr. (2 And I will take to Myself faithful witnesses [μάρτυράς – martyrs in the LXX] for testimony, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.). Zechariah the prophet (the expected martyr) was the one in view, as John Gill states, “and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah; this was Zechariah the prophet, as the Targum, and all the Jewish writers, say; who lived in the times of Darius, which was two hundred and forty years after this” https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/isaiah-8-2.html#o (cf. T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 24. 2.). Rabbi Akiva agrees, “Uriah was [in the time of] the First Temple, and Zechariah was [in the time of] the Second Temple! The Torah makes Zechariah’s prophecy dependent upon Uriah’s prophecy.”
To summarize, there are several good lines of evidence to conclude that Zechariah the prophet is in view:
- Zechariah the prophet is named in his book Zechariah 1:1 as the Son of Berechiah or Iddo,
- Zechariah the prophet is stated as dying in the temple in Lam 2:20, and Midrash Rabbah Eccl. 3:16,
- Zechariah the prophet-priest makes sense as the next-to-last OT prophet chronologically because Abel is the first OT saint slain and Zechariah the Son of Berechiah would be the last OT saint slain
- Zechariah the Son of Berechiah or Iddo would be expected to be known at the time of the proclamation of the words in Matthew 23:34-35,
- Zechariah is the only possible candidate that fits the prophet-priest role that could have been killed between the temple and the altar, no one else could have been that close to the altar and temple unless they were a priest and no other options suffices
- An OT prophet was clearly in view in light of the context of Mt. 23:30-32,
- Zechariah the prophet was killed as Isaiah 8:2 states clearly in the LXX
Darby summarizes this well: “The prophet Zechariah, son of Berachiah, was grandson of Iddo, and is called son of Iddo twice in Ezra. We have a priest Iddo, whose son or descendant is called Zechariah precisely at this epoch; for Zechariah, the son of Iddo, was a chief priest in the days of the son of Jeshua the priest. The Jewish Targum states, that Zechariah, the son of Iddo, a prophet and priest, was slain in the sanctuary. Further, the name of Iddo in Zechariah and Ezra is the same (the latter adding a silent aleph), and so is the priest in Neh. 12 (See Ken, and 5. 4.) I am aware some have referred the Targum on Jeremiah to Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, taking Iddo for this latter name; but there is no relationship between the two names whatever. Not only this, but the way Ezra speaks of Haggai and Zechariah is remarkable: he calls Haggai, in both the passages, Haggai the prophet. But Zechariah has, as his title, Zechariah the son of Iddo, not Zechariah the prophet, though shown to be such. The reason seems evident. This was Haggai’s only distinction. Whereas, Zechariah, the son of Iddo, was a well-known personage, Iddo being a chief priest over his brethren; that is, Zechariah, though a prophet, had a distinct and well known title by which he would be designated: he was a priest, and Iddo was a well known chief priest, so that he was called his son, though really his grandson. Hence, as the Targum declares that a prophet and priest of the name of Zechariah, the son of Iddo, was slain in the sanctuary- Zechariah, the son of Iddo, being certainly son of Berachiah, and a priest and a prophet, why should I be surprised if the Lord should say, that Zechariah, the son of Berachiah, was slain in the sanctuary?” https://bibletruthpublishers.com/zacharias-son-of-barachias/john-nelson-darby-jnd/collected-writings-of-j-n-darby-apologetic-1/la62431
What is DeMar’s response to all of this? Nothing, he doesn’t even bother to respond to any of this in his article from 2010, and yet as it has been shown, DeMar doesn’t have a leg to stand on, his entire position is merely presupposed. He invents a position, not even considered seriously amongst scholars, and pretends that it is a viable solution. Desperation is the mother of invention folks, and DeMar proves it!
Others that affirm this position:
J. W. McGarvey “…but otherwise we shall be constrained to think that the prophet Zachariah is the one alluded to, and that he was slain as is declared in the text.” (p. 641) https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/89e5b14f-4d2d-47ef-b910-401cef9bec29/downloads/J%20W%20McGarvey%20-%20-%20Commentary%20On%20Matthew%20and%20Mar.pdf?ver=1626822613781
“Conclusion: Based on the criteria, the most likely Zechariah son of Berechiah who Jesus had in mind in Mt.23:35 is either…Zech #4 the prophet-priest who wrote the book of Zechariah, or Zech/Zach #3 the father of John the Baptizer.” https://bibletopicexpo.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/zechariah-son-of-berechiah-mt-2335/
Tim Chaffey “So the solution to this supposed contradiction is that Jesus did not refer to the events of 2 Chronicles 24. Instead, He was speaking about the murder of the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo. This makes sense in light of the context. Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees that they were guilty of all the righteous blood that had been shed on earth, “”from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah”” (Matthew 23:35). Abel was the first person to be murdered, and both Jesus and the writer of Hebrews identify him as righteous (Hebrews 11:4). Zechariah the son of Berechiah lived near the end of the Old Testament.” https://answersingenesis.org/jesus/jesus-is-god/was-jesus-wrong-about-zechariahs-father/
Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe “The Zechariah referred to has to be the son of Berechiah. This Zechariah is one of the minor prophets, and his father is listed as Berechiah (Zech. 1:1). He would be the most likely candidate because the other Zechariah (son of Jehoiada) died about 800 b.c. If one thinks Christ referred to this Zechariah, then the time span from Abel to this Zechariah would not cover the OT period, which extended to 400 b.c. Abel to Zechariah the son of Berechiah would make a much better sweep of the OT period than would the period from Abel to Zechariah the son of Jehoiada. Since many Zechariahs are mentioned in the OT, it would not be too difficult to imagine two Zechariahs dying from similar circumstances.” https://defendinginerrancy.com/bible-solutions/Matthew_23.34-35.php
George Klein Zechariah “The Old Testament doesn’t record anything about the martyrdom of Zechariah the prophet, but rabbinic literature from the early Christian period suggests that ‘Zechariah son of Berechiah’ was murdered.” Taken from: https://bibletopicexpo.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/zechariah-son-of-berechiah-mt-2335/
Gleason Archer “the prophet Zechariah, son of Berechiah” https://americanvision.org/3334/who-is-zechariah-the-son-of-berechiah/
If the position above is to be rejected, the alternatives would still cause an issue for DeMar, because if DeMar is on the side of scholars, he should abandon his contemporary Zechariah, for what is a far more biblical argument, but then a pillar would fall for his preteristic beliefs and that can’t happen.
In failing to deal with my rebuttals, numerous other contentions were left hanging in my previous article:
“DeMar needs to explain how Zechariah son of Berekiah was killed by the contemporaries of Jesus?” – This was not done, it was merely assumed that some unknown mysterious Zechariah was in view, but no evidence was given that the contemporaries actually killed a Zechariah son of Berekiah, and this surmounts to the argument from silence. My position however has several strong lines of evidence that DeMar will need to deal with before moving beyond this.
“So, again, how were they, the contemporaries, responsible for the sin of Cain, the sin of the ones who murdered Zechariah, and ALL righteous blood shed on the earth?” – No response was given.
“DeMar, how do you reconcile sin falling on them since Ezekiel 18:20 claims this is impossible.” – No response was given.
Before I finish and conclude this blog, I want to point out that Gary has asserted in this article that “this generation” only refers to the contemporaries, and that no other usage is in view. My question for Gary is how he accounts for these usages:
Genesis 7:1 “Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this generation.” – This can’t be the contemporaries, and the LXX uses the same term as the Gospels (7:1 – καὶ εἶπεν κύριος ὁ θεὸς πρὸς Νωε εἴσελθε σὺ καὶ πᾶς ὁ οἶκός σου εἰς τὴν κιβωτόν ὅτι σὲ εἶδον δίκαιον ἐναντίον μου ἐν τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ)
Deuteronomy 32:5 “They have acted corruptly toward Him, They are not His children, because of their defect; But are a perverse and crooked generation.” – Not a reference to the contemporaries, but an evil and wicked generation that existed before Jesus.
Deuteronomy 32:20 ““Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; For they are a perverse generation, Sons in whom is no faithfulness. – Not a reference to the contemporaries, but an evil and wicked generation that existed before Jesus.
Hebrews 3:10 “Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they did not know My ways’; – This is an OT quotation from Psalm 95, so how is this a restrictive title to only the contemporaries?
In conclusion, as we have seen from PT. 2, DeMar has not made a dent in the actual argument I am making. Each multipart series has failed to address key arguments that my position stands for and instead wastes precious time arguing for things I am not saying and beliefs I have not articulated.
My hope is that Gary will bring the heat in future articles.