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AUTHOR OY BIBLICAL RESEARCHES IN PALESTINE.
WITH EXPLANATORY NOTES,
AND REFERENCES TO PARALLEL AND ILLUSTRATIVE PASSAGES.
INSTITUTED 1799 :
SOLD AT THE DEPOSITORY, 56, PATERNOSTER ROW,
AND 65, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD;
AND BY ALL THE BOOKSELLERS.
The earliest attempt to exhibit the Gospels in a Harmony or Synopsis was made by Tatian the Syrian, about A. D. 170, in a work called Diatessaron, (rò dià teooápwv, that is, the Gospel compiled by means of four,) which is now lost, though it was well known and extensively used in the 5th century. Since the revival of learning and religion, at the Reformation, so very many have attempted anew to accomplish the like object, that their works may be now computed at two hundred. This fact, it has been justly observed, is sufficient to prove both the interest which has been taken in the subject of Harmonies, and the difficulty of such an undertaking. It is very easy to account for the interest thus manifested; for the vast importance of the history itself is such, that the Gospels cannot be studied with the attention which they claim, without being brought into comparison with each other, and also into harmony, so far as practicable. What earnest student can fail to seek a distinct impression of the concurrent testimony of the evangelists, and of the relation which the statements, the style, and the plan of one Gospel bear to those of the others ? Indeed without such an effort, the mind cannot possibly form a well-defined and just conception of the life of Christ as a whole, though it may receive lively impressions of particular scenes and incidents. Another source of interest in the synoptical study of the Gospels lies in the fact, that it leads to the discovery of numerous undesigned agreements which would else have been unnoticed or not felt and appreciated. These incidental coincidences do in fact furnish one of the strongest proofs, that these records are genuine, emanating from the writers to whom they are ascribed, and that the transactions actually took place which they relate. And this remark suggests a most weighty reason for studying the evangelic harmony. This is incumbent on us, as believers in the genuineness and truth of the Gospels; for the enemies of our faith have often sought to discredit their testimony on account of the differences and difficulties which appear upon comparing them. We ought therefore to be prepared to meet such attempts, and to show that there is no necessary contradiction in the statements of the evangelists, though there may be difficulties in them, which we cannot wholly remove, arising from their confessedly fragmentary character, and from our imperfect knowledge.
In reading a Harmony, one cannot fail to be struck with the strong likeness which the Gospels bear to one another, particularly the first three of them. While each evangelist has a peculiar style, and follows more or less a different principle in selecting and arranging the particulars of the history, we often find a remarkable similarity in the language as well as in the matter. Sometimes the expressions are identical, or vary only in the arrangement of the words; and very frequently the words, without being precisely the same, present so decided a resemblance that it is impossible to regard the agreement as accidental. But how can this agreement be explained ? This inquiry has naturally excited great attention, and given rise to much discussion among the learned.
Some have contended that the later evangelists made use of the earlier; for example,
1 Hug's Introduction to the N. Test., Fosdick's Transl. p. 36. 2 Preface to Greswell's Dissertations, p. ii.
3 This resemblance is best seen in a Greek Harmony; for in our English version, owing to an oversight of the translators, many expressions appear like which are unlike in the original, and also the contrary.