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II. Composition And The Problem of Unity

II. Composition And The Problem of Unity

Zechariah's name (“Yahweh has remembered”) is appropriate for a prophet whose message was one of encouragement and action. His genealogy (1:1, 7) and certain internal allusions suggest that, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Zechariah was from a priestly family. Scholars are generally agreed that the visionary and sermonic materials compiled in chs. 1-8 originated with this “Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo” who was contemporary with Haggai.

No such consensus exists concerning chs. 9-14. Scholars have dated these chapters from the eighth century b.c. down to the Maccabean period (mid-second century). Nor is there agreement that these six chapters constitute a unity, many assuming they are a composite work of numerous subdivisions and diverse historical contexts. Arguments universally stress differences in style, atmosphere, vocabulary, and contents between chs. 1-8 and chs. 9-14. Those who assume a position of unity for the book point out that Zechariah was a young man in 520 b.c. (based on his family's return from Babylon and the reference to “young man” in 2:4; Barker, 597) and that his ministry may have continued for several decades. Thus it is possible that twenty or thirty years elapsed between the time when the prophet received his visions and the time when he expressed his “burdens” (9:1; 12:1). But this is as much conjecture as are the various disunity theories. Regardless of one's views on the authorship of chs. 9-14, it is best to analyze the book as it has come down to us; viz., as a single composition.