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A Gospel harmony is an attempt to merge or harmonize the canonical gospels of the Four Evangelists into a single gospel account, the earliest ancient example being the Diatesseron by Tatian in the second century. A gospel harmony may also establish a chronology for the events of the life of Jesus depicted in the four canonical gospels and how they relate to each other, see also Chronology of Jesus. Under modern scholarship, the effort has waned to portray any one harmony of events as totally correct. The process can also be hindered by discrepancies between various Gospels accounts of certain events.

The unique material of each gospel complicates the discernment of one, harmonized chronology. However, others consider the unique material crucial to narrowing down the possible chronological order. Some scholars have questioned the historicity of events in the canonical gospels.

Approaches to harmony

The terms harmony and synopsis have been used to refer to approaches that aim to achieve Gospel harmony, although they are different approaches. Technically, a "harmony" weaves together sections of scripture into a narrative, merging the four Gospels. There are four main types of harmony: radical, synthetic, sequential and parallel. A "synopsis", much like a parallel harmony focuses on key events and brings together similar texts or accounts in parallel format, usually in columns.

Tatian's Diatesseron harmony which dates to about 160AD was perhaps the very first harmony. In the third century the Christian Ammonius of Alexandria developed the forrunner of modern synopsis as the Ammonian Sections in which he started with the text of Matthew and copied along parallel events. No other major Gospel harmonies appeared thereafter until the 15th century.

The 16th century witnessed a major increase in the introduction of Gospel harmonies. In this period the parallel column structure was introduced, partly in response to the rise in Biblical criticism. This new format was used to emphasize the trustworthiness of the Gospels. It is not clear who produced the very first parallel harmony, but Charles Dumoulin in 1565 and Gerhard Mercator in 1569 had used similar approaches. In terms of content and quality, Johann Jacob Griesbach's 1776 synopsis was a notable example.

In the 19th century, other "extract and merge" attempts were made, which were not technical harmonies, e.g. the 1819 Jefferson Bible which placed selected verses in chronological order, but removed large sections of text that Thomas Jefferson considered too supernatural.

W. G. Rushbrooke's 1880 Synopticon is at times considered a turning point in the history of the synopsis, for it was based on Markan priority, i.e. giving priority to the Gospel of Mark. Thirteen years later, John Broadus used historical accounts to assign priorities in his harmony, while previous approaches had used feasts as the major milestones for dividing the life of Christ.

In the 20th century, two separate books both titled Synopsis of the Four Gospels, one by Kurt Aland and the other by John Bernard Orchard became the standard texts in the field of Gospel harmony.

A parallel harmony presentation

The following table, mainly events for which there is also a Wikipedia article, is an example of a parallel harmony. The order of events, especially during the ministry period, has been the subject of speculation and scholarly debate. While this harmony compares the work of several scholars, other harmonies may differ substantially on the placement of some events.

Number Type Event Matthew Mark Luke John Other
0.5 Nativity Genealogy of Jesus
1 Nativity Gabriel announces John's
birth to Zechariah
2 Nativity Gabriel announces Mary's
motherhood to Jesus
3 Nativity Mary visits Elizabeth
4 Nativity Birth of Jesus: The Nativity
5 Nativity Adoration of the Shepherds
6 Nativity Infant Jesus at the Temple
7 Nativity Star of Bethlehem
8 Nativity Adoration of the Wise Men
9 Nativity Flight into Egypt
10 Nativity Massacre of the Innocents
11 Herod the Great's death
12 Youth Return to Nazarethmarker
13 Youth Boy Jesus at Jerusalem
14 Pilate appointed Iudaeamarker governor Antiquities of the Jews
15 Baptism of Jesus
16 This placement of follows Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster and Orville Daniel: "A Harmony of the Four Gospels", 2nd Ed., pub. by Baker Books Temptation of Jesus
17 Miracles Wedding at Cana
18 Ministry Jesus & Nicodemus
19 Ministry Jesus returns to Galilee
20 Ministry First Temple Cleansing
21 Ministry Samaritan Woman at the Well
22 Ministry Rejection of Jesus, Physician, heal thyself
23 Ministry Calling of Matthew
24 This placement of follows Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub. and R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub. but is placed later by Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster Parables New Wine into Old Wineskins
25 Ministry Commissioning the Twelve
26 Sermon on the Mount or on the Plain Beatitudes
27 Sermon on the Mount or on the Plain Expounding of the Law
28 Sermon on the Mount Discourse on Ostentation
29 Sermon on the Mount The Lord's Prayer
30 Sermon on the Mount The Birds of Heaven
31 Sermon on the Mount or on the Plain Discourse on Judging
32 Sermon on the Mount Discourse on the Two Ways
33 Sermon on the Mount The Test of a Good Person
34 Sermon on the Mount or on the Plain Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Builders
35 Miracles Widow’s Son at Nain Raised
36 Parables Parable of the Two Debtors
at a Pharisees' House
37 This placement of follows Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub. and R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub. but Luke 11:17-28 is placed with it by Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster Parables Parable of the Strong Man
38 Ministry Jesus' True Relatives
39 Parables Parable of the Sower
40 Parables Parable of the Tares
41 Parables Parable of the Growing Seed
42 Parables Parable of the Hidden Treasure
43 Parables Parable of the Pearl
44 Parables Parable of Drawing in the Net
45 Miracles Legion
46 Miracles Daughter of Jairus
47 Ministry Rejection of Jesus
48 Ministry Beheading of St. John the Baptist
49 Ministry But to bring a sword
50 Miracles Feeding the multitude
51 Miracles Walking on water
52 Miracles The Blind Man of Bethsaida
53 Ministry Confession of Peter
54 Miracles Transfiguration of Jesus
55 Parables Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
56 Ministry The Little Children
57 This placement of follows Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub. and R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub. but is placed later by Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster Ministry Jesus and the woman taken in adultery
58 This placement of follows Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub. and R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub. but is placed later by Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster Ministry The Good Shepherd
59 Ministry Seventy Disciples
60 Parables Parable of the Good Samaritan
61 Ministry Visits Martha and Mary
62 Ministry The Lord's Prayer
63 This placement of follows Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub. and R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub. but it is placed with Mark 3:23-35 by Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster Parables Parable of the Strong Man
64 Ministry Jesus' True Relatives
65 Ministry The Rich Fool
66 Ministry The Birds of Heaven
67 Parables Parable of the Faithful Servant
68 Parables Parable of the Friend at Night
69 Parables Parable of the Mustard Seed
70 Parables Parable of the Leaven
71 Parables Parable of the Lost Sheep
72 Parables Parable of the Lost Coin
73 Parables Parable of the Prodigal Son
74 Parables Parable of the Unjust Steward
75 Parables Lazarus and Dives
76 This placement of follows Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub. and R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub. but is placed earlier by Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster Miracles Raises Lazarus from the dead; Jesus wept
77 Parables Parable of the Unjust Judge
78 Parables Pharisee and the Publican
79 Ministry The Little Children
80 Ministry Evangelical counsels
81 Parables Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
82 Ministry The Master and Servant
83 Miracles Bartimaeus
84 Ministry Talks to Zacchaeus
85 Ministry The Triumphal Entry
86 Miracles Fig tree is cursed
86.5 Ministry Second Temple Cleansing
87 Ministry The Grain of Wheat
87.5 Ministry Authority of Jesus Questioned
88 Parables Parable of the Two Sons
89 Parables Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen
90 Parables Parable of the Wedding Feast
91 Ministry Render unto Caesar...
92 Ministry Woes of the Pharisees
94 Olivet Discourse Second Coming Prophecy
95 Olivet Discourse:
Parables
Parable of the Ten Virgins
96 Olivet Discourse:
Parables
Parable of the Talents
97 Olivet Discourse:
Parables
The Sheep and the Goats
98 Ministry Anointing
99 Ministry Last Supper
100 Ministry Promising a ParacleteGethsemanemarker
101 The Passion The kiss of Judas
102 The Passion Arrest of Jesus
103 The Passion Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus
104 The Passion Blood curse
105 The Passion Crucifixion of Jesus
106 The Passion Crucifixion eclipse
107 The Passion Descent from the Cross
108 Resurrection
Appearances
Resurrection of Jesus
109 Resurrection
Appearances
Jesus: Empty tomb
110 Resurrection
Appearances
Mary Magdalene, Myrrhbearers
111 Resurrection
Appearances
Noli me tangere
112 Resurrection
Appearances
Doubting Thomas
113 Resurrection
Appearances
Catch of 153 fish
114 Resurrection
Appearances
Great Commission
115 Resurrection
Appearances
Ascension of Jesus
117 Matthias replaced Judas
118 The Day of Pentecost
119 Ananias and Sapphira
120 Seven Greeks appointed
121 The Stoning of Stephen
122 Persecution of Christians in the New Testament
123 Preaching of Philip the Evangelist
124 Simon the Sorcerer
125 Paul's Conversion
126 Conversion of Cornelius
127 James, son of Zebedee executed
128 Death of Herod Agrippa I (in 44)
129 Mission of Barnabas and Paul
130 The Council at Jerusalem
131 2nd and 3rd missions of Paul
132 Paul before Felix
133 Paul before Festus
134 Paul before Agrippa II
135 Trip to Jerusalem
136 Chronology of Revelation


See also



References

  • Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub.
  • R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub.
  • Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster
  • Henry Rutter, Evangelical harmony Keating and Brown, London 1803.
  • Steven L. Cox, Kendell H Easley, 2007 Harmony of the Gospels ISBN 0805494448


Notes

This article incorporates work from A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek by Edward Robinson, a publication now in the public domain.


  1. Steven L. Cox, 2007 Harmony of the Gospels B&H Publishing ISBN 0805494448 page 3
  2. Kurt Aland, 1982 Synopsis of the Four Gospels United Bible Societies ISBN 0826705006
  3. John Bernard Orchard, 1983 Synopsis of the Four Gospels T&T Clark Publishers ISBN 056709331X
  4. by Flavius Josephus


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