Matthew 23:33-35

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BibleNew TestamentMatthew

33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
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.

Literal Reading

This passage is cited along with other allusions to Genesis here as "accepting" events of early Genesis as literally true. See the complete list of these passages here. —BP

Does this allusion prove that Jesus read Genesis as literally true or that he rejects modern biological science nowadays? This is beyond formal proof, but (a) we can judge his purpose in making the allusion; and (b) we can compare other New Testament allusions.

  • his purpose: he was speaking about the Jewish history of fratricidal murder, and predicting that it would continue in the persecution of his own people; in this context it was very appropriate for him to mention the archetypal fratricidal murder. No inference can be drawn from this to justify any particular beliefs about the origin of the universe, the Flood, etc.
  • Jude's allusion to a legend about an angel quarreling with the devil about Moses' body shows that New Testament allusions do not necessarily imply historicity — even of the actual event alluded to, let alone independent events found in nearby chapters!
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