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Fathers Of The Church, Catholic Edition

1. Whereas, in a discourse of no small length and of imperative importance, which we have finished within the compass of one book, we have refuted the folly of those who think that the disciples who have given us these Gospel histories deserve only to be disparagingly handled, for the express reason that no writings are produced by us with the claim of being compositions which have proceeded immediately from the hand of that Christ whom they refuse indeed to worship as God, but whom, nevertheless, they do not hesitate to pronounce worthy to be honoured as a man far surpassing all other men in wisdom; and as, further, we have confuted those who strive to make Him out to have written in a strain suiting their perverted inclinations, but not in terms calculated, by their perusal and acceptance, to set men right, or to turn them from their perverse ways, let us now look into the accounts which the four evangelists have given us of Christ, with the view of seeing how self-consistent they are, and how truly in harmony with each other. And let us do so in the hope that no offence, even of the smallest order may be felt in this line of things in the Christian faith by those who exhibit more curiosity than capacity, in so far as they think that a study of the evangelical books, conducted not in the way of a merely cursory perusal, but in the form of a more than ordinarily careful investigation, has disclosed to them certain matters of an inapposite and contradictory nature, and in so far as their notion is, that these things are to be held up as objections in the spirit of contention, rather than pondered in the spirit of consideration.

2. The evangelist Matthew has commenced his narrative in these terms: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” By this exordium he shows with sufficient clearness that his undertaking is to give an account of the generation of Christ according to the flesh. For, according to this, Christ is the Son of man,—a title which He also gives very frequently to Himself, thereby commending to our notice what in His compassion He has condescended to be on our behalf. For that heavenly and eternal generation, in virtue of which He is the only-begotten Son of God, before every creature, because all things were made by Him, is so ineffable, that it is of it that the word of the prophet must be understood when he says, “Who shall declare His generation?” Matthew therefore traces out the human generation of Christ, mentioning His ancestors from Abraham downwards, and carrying them on to Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born. For it was not held allowable to consider him dissociated from the married estate which was entered into with Mary, on the ground that she gave birth to Christ, not as the wedded wife of Joseph, but as a virgin. For by this example an illustrious recommendation is made to faithful married persons of the principle, that even when by common consent they maintain their continence, the relation can still remain, and can still be called one of wedlock, inasmuch as, although there is no connection between the sexes of the body, there is the keeping of the affections of the mind; particularly so for this reason, that in their case we see how the birth of a son was a possibility apart from anything of that carnal intercourse which is to be practised with the purpose of the procreation of children only. Moreover, the mere fact that he had not begotten Him by act of his own, was no sufficient reason why Joseph should not be called the father of Christ; for indeed he could be in all propriety the father of one whom he had not begotten by his own wife, but had adopted from some other person.

3. Christ, it is true, was also supposed to be the son of Joseph in another way, as if He had been born simply of that man’s seed. But this supposition was entertained by persons whose notice the virginity of Mary escaped. For Luke says: “And Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.” This Luke, however, instead of naming Mary His only parent, had not the slightest hesitation in also speaking of both parties as His parents, when he says: “And the boy grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was in Him: and His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.” But lest any one may fancy that by the “parents” here are rather to be understood the blood relations of Mary along with the mother herself, what shall be said to that preceding word of the same Luke, namely, “And His father and mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him”? Since, then, he also makes the statement that Christ was born, not in consequence of Joseph’s connection with the mother, but simply of Mary the virgin, how can he call him His father, unless it be that we are to understand him to have been truly the husband of Mary, without the intercourse of the flesh indeed, but in virtue of the real union of marriage; and thus also to have been in a much closer relation the father of Christ, in so far as He was born of his wife, than would have been the case had He been only adopted from some other party? And this makes it clear that the clause,”as was supposed,” is inserted with a view to those who are of opinion that He was begotten by Joseph in the same way as other men are begotten.

4. Thus, too, even if one were able to demonstrate that no descent, according to the laws of blood, could be claimed from David for Mary, we should have warrant enough to hold Christ to be the son of David, on the ground of that same mode of reckoning by which also Joseph is called His father. But seeing that the Apostle Paul unmistakably tells us that “Christ was of the seed of David according to the flesh,” how much more ought we to accept without any hesitation the position that Mary herself also was descended in some way, according to the laws of blood, from the lineage of David? Moreover, since this woman’s connection with the priestly family also is a matter not left in absolute obscurity, inasmuch as Luke inserts the statement that Elisabeth, whom he records to be of the daughters of Aaron, was her cousin, we ought most firmly to hold by the fact that the flesh of Christ sprang from both lines; to wit, from the line of the kings, and from that of the priests, in the case of which persons there was also instituted a certain mystical unction which was symbolically expressive among this people of the Hebrews. In other words, there was a chrism; which term makes the import of the name of Christ patent, and presents it as something indicated so long time ago by an intimation so very intelligible.

5. Furthermore, as to those critics who find a difficulty in the circumstance that Matthew enumerates one series of ancestors, beginning with David and travelling downwards to Joseph, while Luke specifies a different succession, tracing it from Joseph upwards as far as to David, they might easily perceive that Joseph may have had two fathers,—namely, one by whom he was begotten, and a second by whom he may have been adopted. For it was an ancient custom also among that people to adopt children with the view of making sons for themselves of those whom they had not begotten. For, leaving out of sight the fact that Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses (as she was a foreigner), Jacob himself adopted his own grandsons, the sons of Joseph, in these very intelligible terms: “Now, therefore, thy two sons which were born unto thee before I came unto thee, are mine: Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon: and thy issue which thou begettest after them shall be thine.” Whence also it came to pass that there were twelve tribes of Israel, although the tribe of Levi was omitted, which did service in the temple; for along with that one the whole number was thirteen, the sons of Jacob themselves being twelve. Thus, too, we can understand how Luke, in the genealogy contained in his Gospel, has named a father for Joseph, not in the person of the father by whom he was begotten, but in that of the father by whom he was adopted, tracing the list of the progenitors upwards until David is reached. For, seeing that there is a necessity, as both evangelists give a true narrative,—to wit, both Matthew and Luke,—that one of them should hold by the line of the father who begat Joseph, and the other by the line of the father who adopted him, whom should we suppose more likely to have preserved the lineage of the adopting father, than that evangelist who has declined to speak of Joseph as begotten by the person whose son he has nevertheless reported him to be? For it is more appropriate that one should have been called the son of the man by whom he was adopted, than that he should be said to have been begotten by the man of whose flesh he was not descended. Now when Matthew, accordingly, used the phrases, “Abraham begat Isaac,” “Isaac begat Jacob,” and so on, keeping steadily by the term “begat,” until he said at the close, “and Jacob begat Joseph,” he gave us to know with sufficient clearness, that he had traced out the order of ancestors on to that father by whom Joseph was not adopted, but begotten.

6. But even although Luke had said that Joseph was begotten by Heli, that expression ought not to disturb us to such an extent as to lead us to believe anything else than that by the one evangelist the father begetting was mentioned, and by the other the father adopting. For there is nothing absurd in saying that a person has begotten, not after the flesh, it may be, but in love, one whom he has adopted as a son. Those of us, to wit, to whom God has given power to become His sons, He did not beget of His own nature and substance, as was the case with His only Son; but He did indeed adopt us in His love. And this phrase the apostle is seen repeatedly to employ just in order to distinguish from us the only-begotten Son who is before every creature, by whom all things were made, who alone is begotten of the substance of the Father; who, in accordance with the equality of divinity, is absolutely what the Father is, and who is declared to have been sent with the view of assuming to Himself the flesh proper to that race to which we too belong according to our nature, in order that by His participation in our mortality, through His love for us, He might make us partakers of His own divinity in the way of adoption. For the apostle speaks thus: “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” And yet we are also said to be born of God,—that is to say, in so far as we, who already were men, have received power to be made the sons of God,—to be made such, moreover, by grace, and not by nature. For if we were sons by nature, we never could have been aught else. But when John said, “To them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name,” he proceeded at once to add these words, “which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Thus, of the same persons he said, first, that having received power they became the sons of God, which is what is meant by that adoption which Paul mentions; and secondly, that they were born of God. And in order the more plainly to show by what grace this is effected, he continued thus: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,”—as if he meant to say, What wonder is it that those should have been made sons of God, although they were flesh, on whose behalf the only Son was made flesh, although He was the Word? Howbeit there is this vast difference between the two cases, that when we are made the sons of God we are changed for the better; but when the Son of God was made the son of man, He was not indeed changed into the worse, but He did certainly assume to Himself what was below Him. James also speaks to this effect: “Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.” And to preclude our supposing, as it might appear from the use of this term “begat,” that we are made what He is Himself, he here points out very plainly, that what is conceded to us in virtue of this adoption, is a kind of headship among the creatures.

7. It would be no departure from the truth, therefore, even had Luke said that Joseph was begotten by the person by whom he was really adopted. Even in that way he did in fact beget him, not indeed to be a man, but certainly to be a son; just as God has begotten us to be His sons, whom He had previously made to the effect of being men. But He begat only one to be not simply the Son, which the Father is not, but also God, which the Father in like manner is. At the same time, it is evident that if Luke had employed that phraseology, it would be altogether a matter of dubiety as to which of the two writers mentioned the father adopting, and which the father begetting of his own flesh; just as, on the other hand, although neither of them had used the word “begat,” and although the former evangelist had called him the son of the one person, and the latter the son of the other, it would nevertheless be doubtful which of them named the father by whom he was begotten, and which the father by whom he was adopted. As the case stands now, however,—the one evangelist saying that “Jacob begat Joseph,” and the other speaking of “Joseph who was the son of Heli,”—by the very distinction which they have made between the expressions, they have elegantly indicated the different objects which they have taken in hand. But surely it might easily suggest itself, as I have said, to a man of piety decided enough to make him consider it right to seek some worthier explanation than that of simply crediting the evangelist with stating what is false; it might, I repeat, readily suggest itself to such a person to examine what reasons there might be for one man being (supposed) capable of having two fathers. This, indeed, might have suggested itself even to those detractors, were it not that they preferred contention to consideration.

8. The matter next to be introduced, moreover, is one requiring, in order to its right apprehension and contemplation, a reader of the greatest attention and carefulness. For it has been acutely observed that Matthew, who had proposed to himself the task of commending the kingly character in Christ, named, exclusive of Christ Himself, forty men in the series of generations. Now this number denotes the period in which, in this age and on this earth, it behoves us to be ruled by Christ in accordance with that painful discipline whereby “God scourgeth,” as it is written, “every son that He receiveth;” and of which also an apostle says that “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” This discipline is also signified by that rod of iron, concerning which we read this statement in a Psalm: “Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron;” which words occur after the saying, “Yet I am set king by Him upon His holy hill of Zion!” For the good, too, are ruled with a rod of iron, as it is said of them: “The time is come that judgment should begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be to them that obey not the gospel of God? and if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” To the same persons the sentence that follows also applies: “Thou shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” For the good, indeed, are ruled by this discipline, while the wicked are crushed by it. And these two different classes of persons are mentioned here as if they were the same, on account of the identity of the signs employed in reference to the wicked in common with the good.

9. That this number, then, is a sign of that laborious period in which, under the discipline of Christ the King, we have to fight against the devil, is also indicated by the fact that both the law and the prophets solemnized a fast of forty days,—that is to say, a humbling of the soul,—in the person of Moses and Elias, who fasted each for a space of forty days. And what else does the Gospel narrative shadow forth under the fast of the Lord Himself, during which forty days He was also tempted of the devil, than that condition of temptation which appertains to us through all the space of this age, and which He bore in the flesh which He condescended to take to Himself from our mortality? After the resurrection also, it was His will to remain with His disciples on the earth not longer than forty days, continuing to mingle for that space of time with this life of theirs in the way of human intercourse, and partaking along with them of the food needful for mortal men, although He Himself was to die no more; and all this was done with the view of signifying to them through these forty days, that although His presence should be hidden from their eyes, He would yet fulfil what He promised when He said, “Lo, I am with you, even to the end of the world.” And in explanation of the circumstance that this particular number should denote this temporal and earthly life, what suggests itself most immediately in the meantime, although there may be another and subtler method of accounting for it, is the consideration that the seasons of the years also revolve in four successive alternations, and that the world itself has its bounds determined by four divisions, which Scripture sometimes designates by the names of the winds,—East and West, Aquilo [or North] and Meridian [or South]. But the number forty is equivalent to four times ten. Furthermore, the number ten itself is made up by adding the several numbers in succession from one up to four together.

10. In this way, then, as Matthew undertook the task of presenting the record of Christ as the King who came into this world, and into this earthly and mortal life of men, for the purpose of exercising rule over us who have to struggle with temptation, he began with Abraham, and enumerated forty men. For Christ came in the flesh from that very nation of the Hebrews with a view to the keeping of which as a people distinct from the other nations, God separated Abraham from his own country and his own kindred. And the circumstance that the promise contained an intimation of the race from which He was destined to come, served very specially to make the prediction and announcement concerning Him something all the clearer. Thus the evangelist did indeed mark out fourteen generations in each of three several members, stating that from Abraham until David there were fourteen generations, and from David until the carrying away into Babylon other fourteen generations, and another fourteen from that period on to the nativity of Christ. But he did not then reckon them all up in one sum, counting them one by one, and saying that thus they make up forty-two in all. For among these progenitors there is one who is enumerated twice, namely Jechonias, with whom a kind of deflection was made in the direction of extraneous nations at the time when the transmigration into Babylon took place. When the enumeration, moreover, is thus bent from the direct order of progression, and is made to form, if we may so say, a kind of corner for the purpose of taking a different course, what meets us at that corner is mentioned twice over,—namely, at the close of the preceding series, and at the head of the deflection specified. And this, too, was a figure of Christ as the one who was, in a certain sense, to pass from the circumcision to the uncircumcision, or, so to speak, from Jerusalem to Babylon, and to be, as it were, the corner-stone to all who believe on Him, whether on the one side or on the other. Thus was God making preparations then in a figurative manner for things which were to come in truth. For Jechonias himself, with whose name the kind of corner which I have in view was prefigured, is by interpretation the “preparation of God.” In this way, therefore, there are really not forty-two distinct generations named here, which would be the proper sum of three times fourteen; but, as there is a double enumeration of one of the names, we have here forty generations in all, taking into account the fact that Christ Himself is reckoned in the number, who, like the kingly president over this [significant] number forty, superintends the administration of this temporal and earthly life of ours.

11. And inasmuch as it was Matthew’s intention to set forth Christ as descending with the object of sharing this mortal state with us, he has mentioned those same generations from Abraham on to Joseph, and on to the birth of Christ Himself, in the form of a descending scale, and at the very beginning of his Gospel. Luke, on the other hand, details those generations not at the commencement of his Gospel, but at the point of Christ’s baptism, and gives them not in the descending, but in the ascending order, ascribing to Him preferentially the character of a priest in the expiation of sins, as where the voice from heaven declared Him, and where John himself delivered his testimony in these terms: “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!” Besides, in the process by which he traces the genealogy upwards, he passes Abraham and carries us back to God, to whom, purified and atoned for, we are reconciled. Of merit, too, He has sustained in Himself the origination of our adoption; for we are made the sons of God through adoption, by believing on the Son of God. Moreover, on our account the Son of God was pleased to be made the son of man by the generation which is proper to the flesh. And the evangelist has shown clearly enough that he did not name Joseph the son of Heli on the ground that he was begotten of him, but only on the ground that he was adopted by him. For he has spoken of Adam also as the son of God, who, strictly speaking, was made by God, but was also, as it may be said, constituted a son in paradise by the grace which afterwards he lost through his transgression.

12. In this way, it is the taking of our sins upon Himself by the Lord Christ that is signified in the genealogy of Matthew, while in the genealogy of Luke it is the abolition of our sins by the Lord Christ that is expressed. In accordance with these ideas, the one details the names in the descending scale, and the other in the ascending. For when the apostle says, “God sent His Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin,” he refers to the taking of our sins upon Himself by Christ. But when he adds, “for sin, to condemn sin in the flesh,” he expresses the expiation of sins. Consequently Matthew traces the succession downwards from David through Solomon, in connection with whose mother it was that he sinned; while Luke carries the genealogy upwards to the same David through Nathan, by which prophet God took away his sin. The number, also, which Luke follows does most certainly best indicate the taking away of sins. For inasmuch as in Christ, who Himself had no sin, there is assuredly no iniquity allied to the iniquities of men which He bore in His flesh, the number adopted by Matthew makes forty when Christ is excepted. On the contrary, inasmuch as, by clearing us of all sin and purging us, He places us in a right relation to His own and His Father’s righteousness (so that the apostle’s word is made good: “But he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” ), in the number used by Luke we find included both Christ Himself, with whom the enumeration begins, and God, with whom it closes; and the sum becomes thus seventy-seven, which denotes the thorough remission and abolition of all sins. This perfect removal of sins the Lord Himself also clearly represented under the mystery of this number, when He said that the person sinning ought to be forgiven not only seven times, but even unto seventy times seven.

13. A careful inquiry will make it plain that it is not without some reason that this latter number is made to refer to the purging of all sins. For the number ten is shown to be, as one may say, the number of justice [righteousness] in the instance of the ten precepts of the law. Moreover, sin is the transgression of the law. And the transgression of the number ten is expressed suitably in the eleven; whence also we find instructions to have been given to the effect that there should be eleven curtains of haircloth constructed in the tabernacle; for who can doubt that the haircloth has a bearing upon the expression of sin? Thus, too, inasmuch as all time in its revolution runs in spaces of days designated by the number seven, we find that when the number eleven is multiplied by the number seven, we are brought with all due propriety to the number seventy-seven as the sign of sin in its totality. In this enumeration, therefore, we come upon the symbol for the full remission of sins, as expiation is made for us by the flesh of our Priest, with whose name the calculation of this number starts here; and as reconciliation is also effected for us with God, with whose name the reckoning of this number is here brought to its conclusion by the Holy Spirit, who appeared in the form of a dove on the occasion of that baptism in connection with which the number in question is mentioned.

14. After the enumeration of the generations, Matthew proceeds thus: Now the birth of Christ was on this wise. Whereas His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. What Matthew has omitted to state here regarding the way in which that came to pass, has been set forth by Luke after his account of the conception of John. His narrative is to the following effect: And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw these things, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her: Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born shall be called the Son of God; and then follow matters not belonging to the question at present in hand. Now all this Matthew has recorded [summarily], when he tells us of Mary that “she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” Neither is there any contradiction between the two evangelists, in so far as Luke has set forth in detail what Matthew has omitted to notice; for both bear witness that Mary conceived by the Holy Ghost. And in the same way there is no want of concord between them, when Matthew, in his turn, connects with the narrative something which Luke leaves out. For Matthew proceeds to give us the following statement: Then Joseph, her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son; and His name shall be called Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is, God with us. Then Joseph, being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son; and he called His name Jesus. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, in the days of Herod the king, and so forth.

15. With respect to the city of Bethlehem, Matthew and Luke are at one. But Luke explains in what way and for what reason Joseph and Mary came to it; whereas Matthew gives no such explanation. On the other hand, while Luke is silent on the subject of the journey of the magi from the east, Matthew furnishes an account of it. That narrative he constructs as follows, in immediate connection with what he has already offered: Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him. Now, when Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled. And in this manner the account goes on, down to the passage where of these magi it is written that, “being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” This entire section is omitted by Luke, just as Matthew fails to mention some other circumstances which are mentioned by Luke: as, for example, that the Lord was laid in a manger; and that an angel announced His birth to the shepherds; and that there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God; and that the shepherds came and saw that that was true which the angel had announced to them; and that on the day of His circumcision He received His name; as also the incidents reported by the same Luke to have occurred after the days of the purification of Mary were fulfilled,—namely, their taking Him to Jerusalem, and the words spoken in the temple by Simeon or Anna concerning Him, when, filled with the Holy Ghost, they recognized Him. Of all these things Matthew says nothing.

16. Hence, a subject which deserves inquiry is the question concerning the precise time when these events took place which are omitted by Matthew and given by Luke, and those, on the other hand, which have been omitted by Luke and given by Matthew. For after his account of the return of the magi who had come from the east to their own country, Matthew proceeds to tell us how Joseph was warned by an angel to flee into Egypt with the young child, to prevent His being put to death by Herod; and then how Herod failed to find Him, but slew the children from two years old and under; thereafter, how, when Herod was dead, Joseph returned from Egypt, and, on hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judaea instead of his father Herod, went to reside with the boy in Galilee, at the city Nazareth. All these facts, again, are passed over by Luke. Nothing, however, like a want of harmony can be made out between the two writers merely on the ground that the latter states what the former omits, or that the former mentions what the latter leaves unnoticed. But the real question is as to the exact period at which these things could have taken place which Matthew has linked on to his narrative; to wit, the departure of the family into Egypt, and their return from it after Herod’s death, and their residence at that time in the town of Nazareth, the very place to which Luke tells us that they went back after they had performed in the temple all things regarding the boy according to the law of the Lord. Here, accordingly, we have to take notice of a fact which will also hold good for other like cases, and which will secure our minds against similar agitation or disturbance in subsequent instances. I refer to the circumstance that each evangelist constructs his own particular narrative on a kind of plan which gives it the appearance of being the complete and orderly record of the events in their succession. For, preserving a simple silence on the subject of those incidents of which he intends to give no account, he then connects those which he does wish to relate with what he has been immediately recounting, in such a manner as to make the recital seem continuous. At the same time, when one of them mentions facts of which the other has given no notice, the order of narrative, if carefully considered, will be found to indicate the point at which the writer by whom the omissions are made has taken the leap in his account, and thus has attached the facts, which it was his purpose to introduce, in such a manner to the preceding context as to give the appearance of a connected series, in which the one incident follows immediately on the other, without the interposition of anything else. On this principle, therefore, we understand that where he tells us how the wise men were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and how they went back to their own country by another way, Matthew has simply omitted all that Luke has related respecting all that happened to the Lord in the temple, and all that was said by Simeon and Anna; while, on the other hand, Luke has omitted in the same place all notice of the journey into Egypt, which is given by Matthew, and has introduced the return to the city of Nazareth as if it were immediately consecutive.

17. If any one wishes, however, to make up one complete narrative out of all that is said or left unsaid by these two evangelists respectively, on the subject of Christ’s nativity and infancy or boyhood, he may arrange the different statements in the following order:—Now the birth of Christ was on this wise. There was, in the days of Herod the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God, in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord: and the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord: and he shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people perfect for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel, answering, said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: and he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. And it came to pass that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He looked upon me, to take away my reproach among men. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her who is called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? for, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed art thou that didst believe, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told thee from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on them that fear Him, from generation to generation. He hath made strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath holpen His servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy: as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. Then it proceeds thus:—She was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel; which, being interpreted, is, God with us. Then Joseph, being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife, and knew her not.

Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her relatives heard that the Lord magnified His mercy with her; and they congratulated her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue, and he spake and praised God. And fear came on all them that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that had heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, What manner of child, thinkest thou, shall this be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began; (to give) salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us: to perform mercy with our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He sware to Abraham our father that He would give to us; in order that, being saved out of the hand of our enemies, we might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all our days. And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people, for the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts until the day of his showing unto Israel. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. This first taxing was made when Syrinus was governor of Syria. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped Him in swaddling-clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching and keeping the vigils of the night over their flock. And, lo, the angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling-clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they understood the saying which had been told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it, wondered also at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, His name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And then it proceeds thus: Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him. Now when Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea; for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently the time of the star which appeared unto them. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star which they had seen in the east went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they found the child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return unto Herod, they departed into their own country another way. Then, after this account of their return, the narrative goes on thus: When the days of her (His mother’s) purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they brought Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord), and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was in him.

And it had been revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when His parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law, then took he Him up in his arms, and said, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel. And His father and mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary His mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be spoken against; and a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers day and night. And she, coming in that instant, gave thanks also unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for the redemption of Jerusalem. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him. When he arose, he took the young child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea, in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither; and being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee; and came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. And the child grew, and waxed strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was in Him. And His parents went to Jerusalem every year, at the feast of the passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and His parents knew not of it. But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem seeking Him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. And when they saw Him, they were amazed. And His mother said to Him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I sought thee sorrowing. And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them. And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them; and His mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and age, and in favour with God and men.

18. Now at this point commences the account of the preaching of John, which is presented by all the four. For after the words which I have placed last in the order of his narrative thus far,—the words with which he introduces the testimony from the prophet, namely, He shall be called a Nazarene,—Matthew proceeds immediately to give us this recital: “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,” etc. And Mark, who has told us nothing of the nativity or infancy or youth of the Lord, has made his Gospel begin with the same event,—that is to say, with the preaching of John. For it is thus that he sets out: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophet Isaiah, Behold, I send a messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. John was in the wilderness baptizing, and preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, etc. Luke, again, follows up the passage in which he says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and age, and in favour with God and man,” by a section in which he speaks of the preaching of John in these terms: Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness, etc. The Apostle John, too, the most eminent of the four evangelists, after discoursing of the Word of God, who is also the Son, antecedent to all the ages of creaturely existence, inasmuch as all things were made by Him, has introduced in the immediate context his account of the preaching and testimony of John, and proceeds thus: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This will be enough at once to make it plain that the narratives concerning John the Baptist given by the four evangelists are not at variance with one another. And there will be no occasion for requiring or demanding that to be done in all detail in this instance which we have already done in the case of the genealogies of the Christ who was born of Mary, to the effect of proving how Matthew and Luke are in harmony with each other, of showing how we might construct one consistent narrative out of the two, and of demonstrating on behoof of those of less acute perception, that although one of these evangelists may mention what the other omits, or omit what the other mentions, he does not thereby make it in any sense difficult to accept the veracity of the account given by the other. For when a single example [of this method of harmonizing] has been set before us, whether in the way in which it has been presented by me, or in some other method in which it may more satisfactorily be exhibited, every man can understand that, in all other similar passages, what he has seen done here may be done again.

19. Accordingly, let us now study, as I have said, the harmony of the four evangelists in the narratives regarding John the Baptist. Matthew proceeds in these terms: In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea. Mark has not used the phrase “In those days,” because he has given no recital of any series of events at the head of his Gospel immediately before this narrative, so that he might be understood to speak in reference to the dates of such events under the terms, “In those days.” Luke, on the other hand, with greater precision has defined those times of the preaching or baptism of John, by means of the notes of the temporal power. For he says: Now, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. We ought not, however, to understand that what was actually meant by Matthew when He said, “In those days,” was simply the space of days literally limited to the specified period of these powers. On the contrary, it is apparent that he intended the note of time which was conveyed in the phrase “In those days,” to be taken to refer to a much longer period. For he first gives us the account of the return of Christ from Egypt after the death of Herod,—an incident, indeed, which took place at the time of His infancy or childhood, and with which, consequently, Luke’s statement of what befell Him in the temple when He was twelve years of age is quite consistent. Then, immediately after this narrative of the recall of the infant or boy out of Egypt, Matthew continues thus in due order: “Now, in those days came John the Baptist.” And thus under that phrase he certainly covers not merely the days of His childhood, but all the days intervening between His nativity and this period at which John began to preach and to baptize. At this period, moreover, Christ is found already to have attained to man’s estate; for John and he were of the same age; and it is stated that He was about thirty years of age when He was baptized by the former.

20. But with respect to the mention of Herod, it is well understood that some are apt to be influenced by the circumstance that Luke has told us how, in the days of John’s baptizing, and at the time when the Lord, being then a grown man, was also baptized, Herod was tetrarch of Galilee; whereas Matthew tells us that the boy Jesus returned from Egypt after the death of Herod. Now these two accounts cannot both be true, unless we may also suppose that there were two different Herods. But as no one can fail to be aware that this is a perfectly possible case, what must be the blindness in which those persons pursue their mad follies, who are so quick to launch false charges against the truth of the Gospels; and how miserably inconsiderate must they be, not to reflect that two men may have been called by the same name? Yet this is a thing of which examples abound on all sides. For this latter Herod is understood to have been the son of the former Herod: just as Archelaus also was, whom Matthew states to have succeeded to the throne of Judaea on the death of his father; and as Philip was, who is introduced by Luke as the brother of Herod the tetrarch, and as himself tetrarch of Ituraea. For the Herod who sought the life of the child Christ was king; whereas this other Herod, his son, was not called king, but tetrarch, which is a Greek word, signifying etymologically one set over the fourth part of a kingdom.

21. Here again, however, it may happen that a difficulty will be found, and that some, seeing that Matthew has told us how Joseph was afraid to go into Judaea with the child on his return, expressly for the reason that Archelaus the son reigned there in place of his father Herod, may be led to ask how he could have gone into Galilee, where, as Luke bears witness, there was another son of that Herod, namely, Herod the tetrarch. But such a difficulty can only be founded on the fancy that the times indicated as those in which there was such apprehension on the child’s account were identical with the times dealt with now by Luke: whereas it is conspicuously evident that there is a change in the periods, because we no longer find Archelaus represented as king in Judaea; but in place of him we have Pontius Pilate, who also was not the king of the Jews, but only their governor, in whose times the sons of the elder Herod, acting under Tiberius Caesar, held not the kingdom, but the tetrarchy. And all this certainly had not come to pass at the time when Joseph, in fear of the Archelaus who was then reigning in Judaea, betook himself, together with the child, into Galilee, where was also his city Nazareth.

22. Or may a question perchance be raised as to how Matthew tells us that His parents went with the boy Jesus into Galilee, because they were unwilling to go into Judaea in consequence of their fear of Archelaus; whereas it would rather appear that the reason for their going into Galilee was, as Luke has not failed to indicate, the consideration that their city was Nazareth of Galilee? Well, but we must observe, that when the angel said to Joseph in his dreams in Egypt, “Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel,” the words were understood at first by Joseph in a way that made him consider himself commanded to journey into Judaea. For that was the first interpretation that could have been put upon the phrase, “the land of Israel.” But again, after ascertaining that Archelaus, the son of Herod, was reigning there, he declined to expose himself to such danger, inasmuch as this phrase, “the land of Israel,” was capable also of being so understood as to cover Galilee too, because the people of Israel were occupants of that territory as well as the other. At the same time, this question also admits of being solved in another manner. For it might have appeared to the parents of Christ that they were called to take up their residence along with the boy, concerning whom such information had been conveyed to them through the responses of angels, just in Jerusalem itself, where was the temple of the Lord: and it may thus be, that when they came back out of Egypt, they would have gone directly thither in that belief, and have taken up their abode there, had it not been that they were terrified at the presence of Archelaus. And certainly they did not receive any such instructions from heaven to take up their residence there as would have made it their imperative duty to set at nought the fears they entertained of Archelaus.

23. Or does any one put to us this question, How was it, then, that His parents went up to Jerusalem every year during the boyhood of Christ, as Luke’s narrative bears, if they were prevented from going there by the fear of Archelaus? Well, I should not deem it any very difficult task to solve this question, even although none of the evangelists has given us to understand how long Archelaus reigned there. For it might have been the case that, simply for that one day, and with the intention of returning forthwith, they went up on the day of the feast, without attracting any notice among the vast multitudes then assembled, to the city where, nevertheless, they were afraid to make their residence on other days. And thus they might at once have saved themselves from the appearance of being so irreligious as to neglect the observance of the feast, and have avoided drawing attention upon themselves by a continued sojourn. But further, although all the evangelists have omitted to tell us what was the length of the reign of Archelaus, we have still open to us this obvious method of explaining the matter, namely, to understand the custom to which Luke refers, when he says that they were in the habit of going to Jerusalem every year, as one prosecuted at a time when Archelaus was no more an object of fear. But if the reign of Archelaus should be made out to have lasted for a somewhat longer period on the authority of any extra-evangelical history which appears to deserve credit, the consideration which I have indicated above should still prove quite sufficient,—namely, the supposition that the fear which the parents of the child entertained of a residence in Jerusalem was, nevertheless, not of such a nature as to lead them to neglect the observance of the sacred festival to which they were under obligation in the fear of God, and which they might very easily go about in a manner that would not attract public attention to them. For surely it is nothing incredible that, by taking advantage of favourable opportunities, whether by day or by hour, men may (safely venture to) approach places in which they nevertheless are afraid to be found tarrying.

24. Hereby also we see how another question is solved, if any one indeed finds a difficulty in it. I allude to the question as to how it was possible, on the supposition that the elder Herod was already anxious (to obtain information regarding Him), and agitated by the intelligence received from the wise men concerning the birth of the King of the Jews, for them, when the days of the purification of His mother were accomplished, to go up in any safety with Him to the temple, in order to see to the performance of those things which were according to the law of the Lord, and which are specified by Luke. For who can fail to perceive that this solitary day might very easily have escaped the notice of a king, whose attention was engaged with a multitude of affairs? Or if it does not appear probable that Herod, who was waiting in the extremest anxiety to see what report the wise men would bring back to him concerning the child, should have been so long in finding out how he had been mocked, that, only after the mother’s purification was already past, and the solemnities proper to the first-born were performed with respect to the child in the temple, nay more, only after their departure into Egypt, did it come into his mind to seek the life of the child, and to slay so many little ones;—if, I say, any one finds a difficulty in this, I shall not pause to state the numerous and important occupations by which the king’s attention may have been engaged, and for the space of many days either wholly diverted from such thoughts, or prevented from following them out. For it is not possible to enumerate all the cases which might have made that perfectly possible. No one, however, is so ignorant of human affairs as either to deny or to question that there may very easily have been many such matters of importance (to preoccupy the king). For to whom will not the thought occur, that reports, whether true or false, of many other more terrible things may possibly have been brought to the king, so that the person who had been apprehensive of a certain royal child, who after a number of years might prove an adversary to himself or to his sons, might be so agitated with the terrors of certain more immediate dangers, as to have his attention forcibly removed from that earlier anxiety, and engaged rather with the devising of measures to ward off other more instantly threatening perils? Wherefore, leaving all such considerations unspecified, I simply venture on the assertion that, when the wise men failed to bring back any report to him, Herod may have believed that they had been misled by a deceptive vision of a star, and that, after their want of success in discovering Him whom they had supposed to have been born, they had been ashamed to return to him; and that in this way the king, having his fears allayed, had given up the idea of asking after and persecuting the child. Consequently, when they had gone with Him to Jerusalem after the purification of His mother, and when those things had been performed in the temple which are recounted by Luke, inasmuch as the words which were spoken by Simeon and Anna in their prophesyings regarding Him, when publicity began to be given to them by the persons who had heard them, were like to call back the king’s mind then to its original design, Joseph obeyed the warning conveyed to him in the dream, and fled with the child and His mother into Egypt. Afterwards, when the things which had been done and said in the temple were made quite public, Herod perceived that he had been mocked; and then, in his desire to get at the death of Christ, he slew the multitude of children, as Matthew records.

25. Moreover, Matthew makes up his account of John in the following manner:—Now in those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is He that is spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Mark also and Luke agree in presenting this testimony of Isaiah as one referring to John. Luke, indeed, has likewise recorded some other words from the same prophet, which follow those already cited, when he gives his narrative of John the Baptist. The evangelist John, again, mentions that John the Baptist did also personally advance this same testimony of Isaiah regarding himself. And, to a similar effect, Matthew here has given us certain words of John which are unrecorded by the other evangelists. For he speaks of him as “preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;” which words of John have been omitted by the others. In what follows, however, in immediate connection with that passage in Matthew’s Gospel,—namely, the sentence, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight,”—the position is ambiguous; and it does not clearly appear whether this is something recited by Matthew in his own person, or rather a continuance of the words spoken by John himself, so as to lead us to understand the whole passage to be the reproduction of John’s own utterance, in this way: “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; for this is He that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah,” and so on. For it ought to create no difficulty against this latter view, that he does not say, “For I am He that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah,” but employs the phraseology, “For this is He that was spoken of.” For that, indeed, is a mode of speech which the evangelists Matthew and John are in the habit of using in reference to themselves. Thus Matthew has adopted the phrase, “He found a man sitting at the receipt of custom,” instead of “He found me.” John, too, says, “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true,” instead of “I am,” etc., or, “My testimony is true.” Yea, our Lord Himself very frequently uses the words, “The Son of man,” or, “The Son of God,” instead of saying, “I.” So, again, He tells us that “it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day,” instead of saying, “It behoved me to suffer.” Consequently it is perfectly possible that the clause, “For this is He that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah,” which immediately follows the saying, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” may be but a continuation of what John the Baptist said of himself; so that only after these words cited from the speaker himself will Matthew’s own narrative proceed, being thus resumed: “And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair,” and so forth. But if this is the case, then it need not seem wonderful that, when asked what he had to say regarding himself, he should reply, according to the narrative of the evangelist John, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” as he had already spoken in the same terms when enjoining on them the duty of repentance. Accordingly, Matthew goes on to tell us about his attire and his mode of living, and continues his account thus: And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins, and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Mark also gives us this same statement almost in so many words. But the other two evangelists omit it.

26. Matthew then proceeds with his narrative, and says: Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized by him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. For now the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be hewn down and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but He that is to come after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. This whole passage is also given by Luke, who ascribes almost the same words to John. And where there is any variation in the words, there is nevertheless no real departure from the sense. Thus, for example, Matthew tells us that John said, “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father,” where Luke puts it thus: “And begin not to say, We have Abraham to our father.” Again, in the former we have the words, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance;” whereas the latter brings in the questions put by the multitudes as to what they should do, and represents John to have replied to them with a statement of good works as the fruits of repentance,—all which is omitted by Matthew. So, when Luke tells us what reply the Baptist made to the people when they were musing in their hearts concerning Him, and thinking whether He were the Christ, he gives us simply the words, “I indeed baptize you with water,” and does not add the phrase, “unto repentance.” Further, in Matthew the Baptist says, “But he that is to come after me is mightier than I;” while in Luke he is exhibited as saying, “But one mightier than I cometh.” In like manner, according to Matthew, he says, “whose shoes I am not worthy to bear;” but according to the other, his words are, “the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose.” The latter sayings are recorded also by Mark, although he makes no mention of those other matters. For, after noticing his attire and his mode of living, he goes on thus: “And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose: I have baptized you with water, but He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit.” In the notice of the shoes, therefore, he differs from Luke in so far as he has added the words, “to stoop down;” and in the account of the baptism he differs from both these others in so far as he does not say, “and in fire,” but only, “in the Holy Spirit.” For as in Matthew, so also in Luke, the words are the same, and they are given in the same order, “He shall baptize you in the Spirit and in fire,”—with this single exception, that Luke has not added the adjective “Holy,” while Matthew has given it thus: “in the Holy Spirit and in fire.” The statements made by these three are attested by the evangelist John, when he says: “John bears witness of Him, and cries, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for He was before me.” For thus he indicates that the thing was spoken by John at the time at which those other evangelists record him to have uttered the words. Thus, too, he gives us to understand that John was repeating and calling into notice again something which he had already spoken, when he said, “This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me.”

27. If now the question is asked, as to which of the words we are to suppose the most likely to have been the precise words used by John the Baptist, whether those recorded as spoken by him in Matthew’s Gospel, or those in Luke’s, or those which Mark has introduced, among the few sentences which he mentions to have been uttered by him, while he omits notice of all the rest, it will not be deemed worth while creating any difficulty for oneself in a matter of that kind, by any one who wisely understands that the real requisite in order to get at the knowledge of the truth is just to make sure of the things really meant, whatever may be the precise words in which they happen to be expressed. For although one writer may retain a certain order in the words, and another present a different one, there is surely no real contradiction in that. Nor, again, need there be any antagonism between the two, although one may state what another omits. For it is evident that the evangelists have set forth these matters just in accordance with the recollection each retained of them, and just according as their several predilections prompted them to employ greater brevity or richer detail on certain points, while giving, nevertheless, the same account of the subjects themselves.

28. Thus, too, in what more pertinently concerns the matter in hand, it is sufficiently obvious that, since the truth of the Gospel, conveyed in that word of God which abides eternal and unchangeable above all that is created, but which at the same time has been disseminated throughout the world by the instrumentality of temporal symbols, and by the tongues of men, has possessed itself of the most exalted height of authority, we ought not to suppose that any one of the writers is giving an unreliable account, if, when several persons are recalling some matter either heard or seen by them, they fail to follow the very same plan, or to use the very same words, while describing, nevertheless, the self-same fact. Neither should we indulge such a supposition, although the order of the words may be varied; or although some words may be substituted in place of others, which nevertheless have the same meaning; or although something may be left unsaid, either because it has not occurred to the mind of the recorder, or because it becomes readily intelligible from other statements which are given; or although, among other matters which (may not bear directly on his immediate purpose, but which) he decides on mentioning rather for the sake of the narrative, and in order to preserve the proper order of time, one of them may introduce something which he does not feel called upon to expound as a whole at length, but only to touch upon in part; or although, with the view of illustrating his meaning, and making it thoroughly clear, the person to whom authority is given to compose the narrative makes some additions of his own, not indeed in the subject-matter itself, but in the words by which it is expressed; or although, while retaining a perfectly reliable comprehension of the fact itself, he may not be entirely successful, however he may make that his aim, in calling to mind and reciting anew with the most literal accuracy the very words which he heard on the occasion. Moreover, if any one affirms that the evangelists ought certainly to have had that kind of capacity imparted to them by the power of the Holy Spirit, which would secure them against all variation the one from the other, either in the kind of words, or in their order, or in their number, that person fails to perceive, that just in proportion as the authority of the evangelists [under their existing conditions] is made pre-eminent, the credit of all other men who offer true statements of events ought to have been established on a stronger basis by their instrumentality: so that when several parties happen to narrate the same circumstance, none of them can by any means be rightly charged with untruthfulness if he differs from the other only in such a way as can be defended on the ground of the antecedent example of the evangelists themselves. For as we are not at liberty either to suppose or to say that any one of the evangelists has stated what is false, so it will be apparent that any other writer is as little chargeable with untruth, with whom, in the process of recalling anything for narration, it has fared only in a way similar to that in which it is shown to have fared with those evangelists. And just as it belongs to the highest morality to guard against all that is false, so ought we all the more to be ruled by an authority so eminent, to the effect that we should not suppose ourselves to come upon what must be false, when we find the narratives of any writers differ from each other in the manner in which the records of the evangelists are proved to contain variations. At the same time, in what most seriously concerns the faithfulness of doctrinal teaching, we should also understand that it is not so much in mere words, as rather truth in the facts themselves, that is to be sought and embraced; for as to writers who do not employ precisely the same modes of statement, if they only do not present discrepancies with respect to the facts and the sentiments themselves, we accept them as holding the same position in veracity.

29. With respect, then, to those comparisons which I have instituted between the several narratives of the evangelists, what do these present that must be considered to be of a contradictory order? Are we to regard in this light the circumstance that one of them has given us the words, “whose shoes I am not worthy to bear,” whereas the others speak of the “unloosing of the latchet of the shoe”? For here, indeed, the difference seems to be neither in the mere words, nor in the order of the words, nor in any matter of simple phraseology, but in the actual matter of fact, when in the one case the “bearing of the shoe” is mentioned, and in the other the “unloosing of the shoe’s latchet.” Quite fairly, therefore, may the question be put, as to what it was that John declared himself unworthy to do—whether to bear the shoes, or to unloose the shoe’s latchet. For if only the one of these two sentences was uttered by him, then that evangelist will appear to have given the correct narrative who was in a position to record what was said; while the writer who has given the saying in another form, although he may not indeed have offered an [intentionally] false account of it, may at any rate be taken to have made a slip of memory, and will be reckoned thus to have stated one thing instead of another. It is only seemly, however, that no charge of absolute unveracity should be laid against the evangelists, and that, too, not only with regard to that kind of unveracity which comes by the positive telling of what is false, but also with regard to that which arises through forgetfulness. Therefore, if it is pertinent to the matter to deduce one sense from the words “to bear the shoes,” and another sense from the words “to unloose the shoe’s latchet,” what should one suppose the correct interpretation to be put on the facts, but that John did give utterance to both these sentences, either on two different occasions or in one and the same connection? For he might very well have expressed himself thus, “whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose, and whose shoes I am not worthy to bear:” and then one of the evangelists may have reproduced the one portion of the saying, and the rest of them the other; while, notwithstanding this, all of them have really given a veracious narrative. But further, if, when he spoke of the shoes of the Lord, John meant nothing more than to convey the idea of His supremacy and his own lowliness, then, whichever of the two sayings may have actually been uttered by him, whether that regarding the unloosing of the latchet of the shoes, or that respecting the bearing of the shoes, the self-same sense is still correctly preserved by any writer who, while making mention of the shoes in words of his own, has expressed at the same time the same idea of lowliness, and thus has not made any departure from the real mind [of the person of whom he writes]. It is therefore a useful principle, and one particularly worthy of being borne in mind, when we are speaking of the concord of the evangelists, that there is no divergence [to be supposed] from truth, even when they introduce some saying different from what was actually uttered by the person concerning whom the narrative is given, provided that, notwithstanding this, they set forth as his mind precisely what is also so conveyed by that one among them who reproduces the words as they were literally spoken. For thus we learn the salutary lesson, that our aim should be nothing else than to ascertain what is the mind and intention of the person who speaks.

30. Matthew then continues his narrative in the following terms: “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering, said unto him, Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered Him.” The others also attest the fact that Jesus came to John. The three also mention that He was baptized. But they omit all mention of one circumstance recorded by Matthew, namely, that John addressed the Lord, or that the Lord made answer to John.

31. Thereafter Matthew proceeds thus: “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him; and, lo, a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This incident is also recorded in a similar manner by two of the others, namely Mark and Luke. But at the same time, while preserving the sense intact, they use different modes of expression in reproducing the terms of the voice which came from heaven. For although Matthew tells us that the words were, “This is my beloved Son,” while the other two put them in this form, “Thou art my beloved Son,” these different methods of speech serve but to convey the same sense, according to the principle which has been discussed above. For the heavenly voice gave utterance only to one of these sentences; but by the form of words thus adopted, namely, “This is my beloved Son,” it was the evangelist’s intention to show that the saying was meant to intimate specially to the hearers there [and not to Jesus] the fact that He was the Son of God. With this view, he chose to give the sentence, “Thou art my beloved Son,” this turn, “This is my beloved Son,” as if it were addressed directly to the people. For it was not meant to intimate to Christ a fact which He knew already; but the object was to let the people who were present hear it, for whose sakes indeed the voice itself was given. But furthermore now, with regard to the circumstance that the first of them puts the saying thus, “In whom I am well pleased,” the second thus, “In Thee I am well pleased;” and the third thus, “In Thee it has pleased me;”—if you ask which of these different modes represents what was actually expressed by the voice, you may fix on whichever you will, provided only that you understand that those of the writers who have not reproduced the self-same form of speech have still reproduced the identical sense intended to be conveyed. And these variations in the modes of expression are also useful in this way, that they make it possible for us to reach a more adequate conception of the saying than might have been the case with only one form, and that they also secure it against being interpreted in a sense not consonant with the real state of the case. For as to the sentence, “In whom I am well pleased,” if any one thinks of taking it as if it meant that God is pleased with Himself in the Son, he is taught a lesson of prudence by the other turn which is given to the saying, “In Thee I am well pleased.” And on the other hand, if, looking at this last by itself, any one supposes the meaning to be, that in the Son the Father had favour with men, he learns something from the third form of the utterance, “In Thee it has pleased me.” From this it becomes sufficiently apparent, that whichever of the evangelists may have preserved for us the words as they were literally uttered by the heavenly voice, the others have varied the terms only with the object of setting forth the same sense more familiarly; so that what is thus given by all of them might be understood as if the expression were: In Thee I have set my good pleasure; that is to say, by Thee to do what is my pleasure. But once more, with respect to that rendering which is contained in some codices of the Gospel according to Luke, and which bears that the words heard in the heavenly voice were those that are written in the Psalm, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee;” although it is said not to be found in the more ancient Greek codices, yet if it can be established by any copies worthy of credit, what results but that we suppose both voices to have been heard from heaven, in one or other verbal order?

32. Again, the account of the dove given in the Gospel according to John does not mention the time at which the incident happened, but contains a statement of the words of John the Baptist as reporting what he saw. In this section, the question rises as to how it is said, “And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.” For if he came to know Him only at the time when he saw the dove descending upon Him, the inquiry is raised as to how he could have said to Him, as He came to be baptized, “I ought rather to be baptized of Thee.” For the Baptist addressed Him thus before the dove descended. From this, however, it is evident that, although he did know Him [in a certain sense] before this time,—for he even leaped in his mother’s womb when Mary visited Elisabeth,—there was yet something which was not known to him up to this time, and which he learned by the descending of the dove,—namely, the fact that He baptized in the Holy Spirit by a certain divine power proper to Himself; so that no man who received this baptism from God, even although he baptized some, should be able to say that that which he imparted was his own, or that the Holy Spirit was given by him.

33. Matthew proceeds with his narrative in these terms: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. And so the account continues, until we come to the words, Then the devil left him: and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him.” This whole narrative is given also in a similar manner by Luke, although not in the same order. And this makes it uncertain which of the two latter temptations took place first: whether it was that the kingdoms of the world were shown Him first, and then that He Himself was taken up to the pinnacle of the temple thereafter; or whether it was that this latter act occurred first, and that the other scene followed it. It is, however, a matter of no real consequence, provided it be clear that all these incidents did take place. And as Luke sets forth the same events and ideas in different words, attention need not ever be called to the fact that no loss results thereby to truth. Mark, again, does indeed attest the fact that He was tempted of the devil in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights; but he gives no statement of what was said to Him, or of the replies He made. At the same time, he does not fail to notice the circumstance which is omitted by Luke, namely, that the angels ministered unto Him. John, however, has left out this whole passage.

34. Matthew’s narrative is continued thus: “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee.” Mark states the same fact, as also does Luke, only Luke says nothing in the present section as to John being cast into prison. The evangelist John, again, tells us that, before Jesus went into Galilee, Peter and Andrew were with Him one day, and that on that occasion the former had this name, Peter, given him, while before that period he was called Simon. Likewise John tells us, that on the day following, when Jesus was now desirous of going forth unto Galilee, He found Philip, and said to him that he should follow Him. Thus, too, the evangelist comes to give the narrative about Nathanael. Further, he informs us that on the third day, when He was yet in Galilee, Jesus wrought the miracle of the turning of the water into wine at Cana. All these incidents are left unrecorded by the other evangelists, who continue their narratives at once with the statement of the return of Jesus into Galilee. Hence we are to understand that there was an interval here of several days, during which those incidents took place in the history of the disciples which are inserted at this point by John. Neither is there anything contradictory here to that other passage where Matthew tells us how the Lord said to Peter, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church.” But we are not to understand that that was the time when he first received this name; but we are rather to suppose that this took place on the occasion when it was said to him, as John mentions, “Thou shall be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, A stone.” Thus the Lord could address him at that later period by this very name, when He said, “Thou art Peter.” For He does not say then, “Thou shalt be called Peter,” but, “Thou art Peter;” because on a previous occasion he had already been spoken to in this manner, “Thou shalt be called.”

35. After this, Matthew goes on with his narrative in these terms: “And leaving the city of Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capharnaum, which is upon the sea-coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim;” and so forth, until we come to the conclusion of the sermon which He delivered on the mount. In this section of the narrative, Mark agrees with him in attesting the calling of the disciples Peter and Andrew, and a little after that, the calling of James and John. But whereas Matthew introduces in this immediate context his account of that lengthened sermon which He delivered on the mount, after He cured a multitude, and when great crowds followed Him, Mark has inserted other matters at this point, touching His teaching in the synagogue, and the people’s amazement at His doctrine. Then, too, he has stated what Matthew also states, although not till after that lengthened sermon has been given, namely, that “He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.” He has likewise given us the account of the man out of whom the unclean spirit was cast; and after that the story of Peter’s mother-in-law. In these things, moreover, Luke is in accord with him. But Matthew has given us no notice of the evil spirit here. The story of Peter’s mother-in-law, however, he has not omitted, only he brings it in at a later stage.

36. In this paragraph, moreover, which we are at present considering, the same Matthew follows up his account of the calling of those disciples to whom, when they were engaged in fishing, He gave the command to follow Him, by a narrative to the effect that He went about Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, and preaching the gospel, and healing all manner of sickness; and that when multitudes had gathered about Him, He went up into a mountain, and delivered that lengthened sermon [already alluded to]. Thus the evangelist gives us ground for understanding that those incidents which are recorded by Mark after the election of those same disciples, took place at the period when He was going about Galilee, and teaching in their synagogues. We are at liberty also to suppose that what happened to Peter’s mother-in-law came in at this point; and that he has mentioned at a later stage what he has passed over here, although he has not indeed brought up at that later point, for direct recital, everything else which is omitted at the earlier.

37. The question may indeed be raised as to how John gives us this account of the calling of the disciples, which is to the effect that, certainly not in Galilee, but in the vicinity of the Jordan, Andrew first of all became a follower of the Lord, together with another disciple whose name is not declared; that, in the second place, Peter got that name from Him; and thirdly, that Philip was called to follow Him; whereas the other three evangelists, in a satisfactory concord with each other, Matthew and Mark in particular being remarkably at one here, tell us that the men were called when they were engaged in fishing. Luke, it is true, does not mention Andrew by name. Nevertheless, we can gather that he was in that same vessel, from the narrative of Matthew and Mark, who furnish a concise history of the manner in which the affair was gone about. Luke, however, presents us with a fuller and clearer exposition of the circumstances, and gives us also an account of the miracle which was performed there in the haul of fishes, and of the fact that previous to that the Lord spake to the multitudes when He was seated in the boat. There may also seem to be a discrepancy in this respect, that Luke records the saying, “From henceforth thou shalt catch men,” as if it had been addressed by the Lord to Peter alone, while the others have exhibited it as spoken to both the brothers. But it may very well be the case that these words were spoken first to Peter himself, when he was seized with amazement at the immense multitude of fishes which were caught, and this will then be the incident introduced by Luke; and that they were addressed to the two together somewhat later, which [second utterance] will be the one noticed by the other two evangelists. Therefore the circumstance which we have mentioned with regard to John’s narrative deserves to be carefully considered; for it may indeed be supposed to bring before us a contradiction of no slight importance. For if it be the case that in the vicinity of the Jordan, and before Jesus went into Galilee, two men, on hearing the testimony of John the Baptist, followed Jesus; that of these two disciples the one was Andrew, who at once went and brought his own brother Simon to Jesus; and that on this occasion that brother received the name Peter, by which he was thereafter to be called,—how can it be said by the other evangelists that He found them engaged in fishing in Galilee, and called them there to be His disciples? How can these diverse accounts be reconciled, unless it be that we are to understand that those men did not gain such a view of Jesus on the occasion connected with the vicinity of the Jordan as would lead them to attach themselves to Him for ever, but that they simply came to know who He was, and, after their first wonder at His Person, returned to their former engagements?

38. For [it is noticeable that] again in Cana of Galilee, after He had turned the water into wine, this same John tells us how His disciples believed on Him. The narrative of that miracle proceeds thus: “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there. And both Jesus was called and His disciples to the marriage.” Now, surely, if it was on this occasion that they believed on Him, as the evangelist tells us a little further on, they were not yet His disciples at the time when they were called to the marriage. This, however, is a mode of speech of the same kind with what is intended when we say that the Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia; for certainly he was not an apostle at that period. In like manner are we told here that the disciples of Christ were invited to the marriage, by which we are to understand, not that they were already disciples, but only that they were to be His disciples. For, at the time when this narrative was prepared and committed to writing, they were the disciples of Christ in fact; and that is the reason why the evangelist, as the historian of past times, has thus spoken of them.

39. But further, as to John’s statement, that “after this He went down to Capharnaum, He and His mother, and His brethren and His disciples; and they continued there not many days;” it is uncertain whether by this period these men had already attached themselves to Him, in particular Peter and Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee. For Matthew first of all tells us that He came and dwelt in Capharnaum, and then that He called them from their boats as they were engaged in fishing. On the other hand, John says that His disciples came with Him to Capharnaum. Now it may be the case that Matthew has but gone over here something he had omitted in its proper order. For he does not say, “After this, walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren,” but, without any indication of the strict consecution of time, simply, “And walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren,” and so forth: consequently it is quite possible that he has recorded at this later period not something which took place actually at that later time, but only something which he had omitted to introduce before; so that the men may be understood in this way to have come along with Him to Capharnaum, to which place John states that He did come, He and His mother and His disciples: or should we rather suppose that these were a different body of disciples, as He [may already have] had a follower in Philip, whom He called in this particular manner, by saying to him, “Follow me”? For in what order all the twelve apostles were called is not apparent from the narratives of the evangelists. Indeed, not only is the succession of the various callings left unrecorded; but even the fact of the calling is not mentioned in the case of all of them, the only vocations specified being those of Philip, and Peter and Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee, and Matthew the publican, who was also called Levi. The first and only person, however, who received a separate name from Him was Peter. For He did not give the sons of Zebedee their names individually, but He called them both together the sons of thunder.

40. Besides, we ought certainly to note the fact that the evangelical and apostolical Scriptures do not confine this designation of His “disciples” to those twelve alone, but give the same appellation to all those who believed on Him, and were educated under His instruction for the kingdom of heaven. Out of the whole number of such He chose twelve, whom He also named apostles, as Luke mentions. For a little further on he says: And He came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the concourse of His disciples and a great multitude of people. And surely he would not speak of a “concourse” [or “crowd”] of disciples if he referred only to twelve men. In other passages of the Scriptures also the fact is plainly apparent, that all those were called His disciples who were instructed by Him in what pertained to eternal life.

41. But the question may be asked, how He called the fishermen from their boats two by two, namely, calling Peter and Andrew first, and then going forward a little and calling other two, namely the sons of Zebedee, according to the narratives of Matthew and Mark; whereas Luke’s version of the matter is, that both their boats were filled with the immense haul of fishes. And his statement bears further, that Peter’s partners, to wit, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were summoned to the men’s help when they were unable to drag out their crowded nets, and that all who were there were astonished at the enormous draught of fishes which had been taken; and that when Jesus said to Peter, “Fear not, from henceforth thou shall catch men,” although the words had been addressed to Peter alone, they all nevertheless followed Him when they had brought their ships to land. Well, we are to understand by this, that what Luke introduces here was what took place first, and that these men were not called by the Lord on this occasion, but only that the prediction was uttered to Peter by himself, that he would be a fisher of men. That saying, moreover, was not intended to convey that they would never thereafter be catchers of fish. For we read that even after the Lord’s resurrection they were engaged again in fishing. The words, therefore, imported simply that thereafter he would catch men, and they did not bear that henceforth he would not catch fish. And in this way we are at perfect liberty to suppose that they returned to the catching of fish, according to their habit; so that those incidents which are related by Matthew and Mark might easily take place at a period subsequent to this. I refer to what occurred at the time when He called the disciples two by two, and Himself gave them the command to follow Him, at first addressing Peter and Andrew, and then the others, namely, the two sons of Zebedee. For on that occasion they did not follow Him only after they had drawn up their ships on shore, as with the intention of returning to them, but they went after Him immediately, as after one who summoned and commanded them to follow Him.

42. Furthermore, we must consider the question how the evangelist John, before there is any mention of the casting of John the Baptist into prison, tells us that Jesus went into Galilee. For, after relating how He turned the water into wine at Cana of Galilee, and how He came down to Capernaum with His mother and His disciples, and how they abode there not many days, he tells us that He went up then to Jerusalem on account of the passover; that after this He came into the land of Judaea along with His disciples, and tarried there with them, and baptized; and then in what follows at this point the evangelist says: “And John also was baptizing in AEnon, near to Salim, because there was much water there; and they came, and were baptized: for John was not yet cast into prison.” On the other hand, Matthew says: “Now when He had heard that John was cast into prison, Jesus departed into Galilee.” In like manner, Mark’s words are: “Now, after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee.” Luke, again, says nothing indeed about the imprisonment of John; but notwithstanding this, after his account of the baptism and temptation of Christ, he also makes a statement to the same effect with that of these other two, namely, that Jesus went into Galilee. For he has connected the several parts of his narrative here in this way: “And when all the temptation was ended, the devil departed from Him for a season; and Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about.” From all this, however, we may gather, not that these three evangelists have made any statement opposed to the evangelist John, but only that they have left unrecorded the Lord’s first advent in Galilee after His baptism; on which occasion also He turned the water into wine there. For at that period John had not yet been cast into prison. And we are also to understand that these three evangelists have introduced into the context of these narratives an account of another journey of His into Galilee, which took place after John’s imprisonment, regarding which return into Galilee the evangelist John himself furnishes the following notice: “When, therefore, Jesus knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus makes and baptizes more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples), he left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.” So, then, we perceive that by that time John had been already cast into prison; and further, that the Jews had heard that He was making and baptizing more disciples than John had made and baptized.

43. Now, regarding that lengthened sermon which, according to Matthew, the Lord delivered on the mount, let us at present see whether it appears that the rest of the evangelists stand in no manner of antagonism to it. Mark, it is true, has not recorded it at all, neither has he preserved any utterances of Christ’s in any way resembling it, with the exception of certain sentences which are not given connectedly, but occur here and there, and which the Lord repeated in other places. Nevertheless, he has left a space in the text of his narrative indicating the point at which we may understand this sermon to have been spoken, although it has been left unrecited. That is the place where he says: “And He was preaching in their synagogues, and in all Galilee, and was casting out devils.” Under the head of this preaching, in which he says Jesus engaged in all Galilee, we may also understand that discourse to be comprehended which was delivered on the mount, and which is detailed by Matthew. For the same Mark continues his account thus: “And there came a leper to Him, beseeching Him; and kneeling down to Him, said, If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.” And he goes on with the rest of the story of the cleansing of this leper, in such a manner as to make it intelligible to us that the person in question is the very man who is mentioned by Matthew as having been healed at the time when the Lord came down from the mount after the delivery of His discourse. For this is how Matthew gives the history there: “Now, when He was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him; and, behold, there came a leper, and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean;” and so on.

44. This leper is also referred to by Luke, not indeed in this order, but after the manner in which the writers are accustomed to act, recording at a subsequent point things which have been omitted at a previous stage, or bringing in at an earlier point occurrences which took place at a later period, according as they had incidents suggested to their minds by the heavenly influence, with which indeed they had become acquainted before, but which they were afterwards prompted to commit to writing as they came up to their recollection. This same Luke, however, has also left us a version of his own of that copious discourse of the Lord, in a passage which he commences just as the section in Matthew begins. For in the latter the words run thus: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;” while in the former they are put thus: “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.” Then, too, much of what follows in Luke’s narrative is similar to what we have in the other. And finally, the conclusion given to the sermon is repeated in both Gospels in its entire identity,—namely, the story of the wise man who builds upon the rock, and the foolish man who builds upon the sand; the only difference being, that Luke speaks only of the stream beating against the house, and does not mention also the rain and the wind, as they occur in Matthew. Accordingly, it might very readily be believed that he has there introduced the self-same discourse of the Lord, but that at the same time he has omitted certain sentences which Matthew has inserted; that he has also brought in other sayings which Matthew has not mentioned; and that, in a similar manner, he has expressed certain of these utterances in somewhat different terms, but without detriment to the integrity of the truth.

45. This we might very well suppose to have been the case, as I have said, were it not that a difficulty is felt to attach to the circumstance that Matthew tells us how this discourse was delivered on a mount by the Lord in a sitting posture; while Luke says that it was spoken on a plain by the Lord in a standing posture. This difference, accordingly, makes it seem as if the former referred to one discourse, and the latter to another. And what should there be, indeed, to hinder [us from supposing] Christ to have repeated elsewhere some words which He had already spoken, or from doing a second time certain things which He had already done on some previous occasion? However, that these two discourses, of which the one is inserted by Matthew and the other by Luke, are not separated by a long space of time, is with much probability inferred from the fact that, at once in what precedes and in what follows them, both the evangelists have related certain incidents either similar or perfectly identical, so that it is not unreasonably felt that the narrations of the writers who introduce these things are occupied with the same localities and days. For Matthew’s recital proceeds in the following terms: “And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan. And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain; and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;” and so forth. Here it may appear that His desire was to free Himself from the great crowds of people, and that for this reason He went up into the mountain, as if He meant to withdraw Himself from the multitudes, and seek an opportunity of speaking with His disciples alone. And this seems to be certified also by Luke, whose account is to the following effect: “And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called unto Him His disciples: and of them He chose twelve, whom also He named apostles; Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon, who is called Zelotes, Judas the brother of James, and Judas Scarioth, which was the traitor. And He came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of His disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea-coast of Tyre and Sidon, which had come to hear Him, and to be healed of their diseases; and they that were vexed with unclean spirits were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him; for there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all. And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of heaven;” and so on. Here the relation permits us to understand that, after selecting on the mountain twelve disciples out of the larger body, whom He also named apostles (which incident Matthew has omitted), He then delivered that discourse which Matthew has introduced, and which Luke has left unnoticed,—that is to say, the one on the mount; and that thereafter, when He had now come down, He spoke in the plain a second discourse similar to the first, on which Matthew is silent, but which is detailed by Luke; and further, that both these sermons were concluded in the same manner.

46. But, again, as regards what Matthew proceeds to state after the termination of that discourse—namely this, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine,”—it may appear that the speakers there were those multitudes of disciples out of whom He had chosen the twelve. Moreover, when the evangelist goes on immediately in these terms, “And when He was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him; and, behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him,” we are at libertyto suppose that that incident took place subsequently to both discourses,—not only after the one which Matthew records, but also after the one which Luke inserts. For it is not made apparent what length of time elapsed after the descent from the mountain. But Matthew’s intention was simply to indicate the fact itself, that after that descent there were great multitudes of people with the Lord on the occasion when He cleansed the leper, and not to specify what period of time had intervened. And this supposition may all the more readily be entertained, since [we find that] Luke tells us how the same leper was cleansed at a time when the Lord was now in a certain city,—a circumstance which Matthew has not cared to mention.

47. After all, however, this explanation may also be suggested,—namely, that in the first instance the Lord, along with His disciples and no others, was on some more elevated portion of the mountain, and that during the period of His stay there He chose out of the number of His followers those twelve; that then He came down in company with them, not indeed from the mountain itself, but from that said altitude on the mountain, into the plain—that is to say, into some level spot which was found on the slope of the mountain, and which was capable of accommodating great multitudes; and that thereafter, when He had seated Himself, His disciples took up their position next Him, and in these circumstances He delivered both to them and to the other multitudes who were present one discourse, which Matthew and Luke have both recorded, their modes of narrating it being indeed different, but the truth being given with equal fidelity by the two writers in all that concerns the facts and sayings which both of them have recounted. For we have already prefaced our inquiry with the position, which indeed ought of itself to have been obvious to all without the need of any one to give them counsel to that effect beforehand, that there is not [necessarily] any antagonism between writers, although one may omit something which another mentions; nor, again, although one states a fact in one way, and another in a different method, provided that the same truth is set forth in regard to the objects and sayings themselves. In this way, therefore, Matthew’s sentence, “Now when He was come down from the mountain,” may at the same time be understood to refer also to the plain, which there might very well have been on the slope of the mountain. And thereafter Matthew tells the story of the cleansing of the leper, which is also given in a similar manner by Mark and Luke.

48. After these things, Matthew proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “And when Jesus was entered into Capharnaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and he is grievously tormented;” and so forth, on to the place where it is said, “And his servant was healed in the self-same hour.” This case of the centurion’s servant is related also by Luke; only Luke does not bring it in, as Matthew does, after the cleansing of the leper, whose story he has recorded as something suggested to his recollection at a later stage, but introduces it after the conclusion of that lengthened sermon already discussed. For he connects the two sections in this way: “Now when He had ended all His sayings in the audience of the people, He entered into Capharnaum; and a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick and ready to die;” and so forth, until we come to the verse where it is said that he was healed. Here, then, we notice that it was not till after He had ended all His words in the hearing of the people that Christ entered Capharnaum; by which we are to understand simply that He did not make that entrance before He had brought these sayings to their conclusion; and we are not to take it as intimating the length of that period of time which intervened between the delivery of these discourses and the entrance into Capharnaum. In this interval that leper was cleansed, whose case is recorded by Matthew in its own proper place, but is given by Luke only at a later point.

49. Accordingly, let us proceed to consider whether Matthew and Luke are at one in the account of this servant. Matthew’s words, then, are these: “There came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, My servant lieth at home sick of the palsy.” Now this seems to be inconsistent with the version presented by Luke, which runs thus: “And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom He should do this: for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when He was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him, Lord, trouble not Thyself; for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof: wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.” For if this was the manner in which the incident took place, how can Matthew’s statement, that there “came to Him a certain centurion,” be correct, seeing that the man did not come in person, but sent his friends? The apparent discrepancy, however, will disappear if we look carefully into the matter, and observe that Matthew has simply held by a very familiar mode of expression. For not only are we accustomed to speak of one as coming even before he actually reaches the place he is said to have approached, whence, too, we speak of one as making small approach or making great approach to what he is desirous of reaching; but we also not unfrequently speak of that access, for the sake of getting at which the approach is made, as reached even although the person who is said to reach another may not himself see the individual whom he reaches, inasmuch as it may be through a friend that he reaches the person whose favour is necessary to him. This, indeed, is a custom which has so thoroughly established itself, that even in the language of every-day life now those men are called Perventores who, in the practice of canvassing, get at the inaccessible ears, as one may say, of any of the men of influence, by the intervention of suitable personages. If, therefore, access itself is thus familiarly said to be gained by the means of other parties, how much more may an approach be said to take place, although it be by means of others, which always remains something short of actual access! For it is surely the case, that a person may be able to do very much in the way of approach, but yet may have failed to succeed in actually reaching what he sought to get at. Consequently it is nothing out of the way for Matthew,—a fact, indeed, which may be understood by any intelligence,—when thus dealing with an approach on the part of the centurion to the Lord, which was effected in the person of others, to have chosen to express the matter in this compendious method, “There came a centurion to Him.”

50. At the same time, however, we must be careful enough to discern a certain mystical depth in the phraseology adopted by the evangelist, which is in accordance with these words of the Psalm, “Come ye to Him, and be ye lightened.” For in this way, inasmuch as the Lord Himself commended the faith of the centurion, in which indeed his approach was really made to Jesus, in such terms that He declared, “I have not found so great faith in Israel,” the evangelist wisely chose to speak of the man himself as coming to Jesus, rather than to bring in the persons through whom he had conveyed his words. And furthermore, Luke has unfolded the whole incident to us just as it occurred, in a form constraining us to understand from his narrative in what manner another writer, who was also incapable of making any false statement, might have spoken of the man himself as coming. It is in this way, too, that the woman who suffered from the issue of blood, although she took hold merely of the hem of His garment, did yet touch the Lord more effectually than those multitudes did by whom He was thronged. For just as she touched the Lord the more effectually, in so far as she believed the more earnestly, so the centurion also came the more really to the Lord, inasmuch as he believed the more thoroughly. And now, as regards the rest of this paragraph, it would be a superfluous task to go over in detail the various matters which are recounted by the one and omitted by the other. For, according to the principle brought under notice at the outset, there is not to be found in these peculiarities any actual antagonism between the writers.

51. Matthew proceeds in the following terms: “And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.” Matthew has not indicated the date of this incident; that is to say, he has specified neither before what event nor after what occurrence it took place. For we are certainly under no necessity of supposing that, because it is recorded after a certain event, it must also have happened in actual matter of fact after that event. And unquestionably, in this case, we are to understand that he has introduced for record here something which he had omitted to notice previously. For Mark brings in this narrative before his account of that cleansing of the leper which he would appear to have placed after the delivery of the sermon on the mount; which discourse, however, he has left unrelated. And thus, too, Luke inserts this story of Peter’s mother-in-law after an occurrence which it follows likewise in Mark’s version, but also before that lengthened discourse, which has been reproduced by him, and which may appear to be one with the sermon which Matthew states to have been delivered on the mount. For of what consequence is it in what place any of them may give his account; or what difference does it make whether he inserts the matter in its proper order, or brings in at a particular point what was previously omitted, or mentions at an earlier stage what really happened at a later, provided only that he contradicts neither himself nor a second writer in the narrative of the same facts or of others? For as it is not in one’s own power, however admirable and trustworthy may be the knowledge he has once obtained of the facts, to determine the order in which he will recall them to memory (for the way in which one thing comes into a person’s mind before or after another is something which proceeds not as we will, but simply as it is given to us), it is reasonable enough to suppose that each of the evangelists believed it to have been his duty to relate what he had to relate in that order in which it had pleased God to suggest to his recollection the matters he was engaged in recording. At least this might hold good in the case of those incidents with regard to which the question of order, whether it were this or that, detracted nothing from evangelical authority and truth.

52. But as to the reason why the Holy Spirit, who divideth to every man severally as He will, and who therefore undoubtedly, with a view to the establishing of their books on so distinguished an eminence of authority, also governs and rules the minds of the holy men themselves in the matter of suggesting the things they were to commit to writing, has left one historian at liberty to construct his narrative in one way, and another in a different fashion, that is a question which any one may look into with pious consideration, and for which, by divine help, the answer also may possibly be found. That, however, is not the object of the work which we have taken in hand at present. The task we have proposed to ourselves is simply to demonstrate that not one of the evangelists contradicts either himself or his fellow-historians, whatever be the precise order in which he may have had the ability or may have preferred to compose his account of matters belonging to the doings and sayings of Christ; and that, too, at once in the case of subjects identical with those recorded by others, and in the case of subjects different from these. For this reason, therefore, when the order of times is not apparent, we ought not to feel it a matter of any consequence what order any of them may have adopted in relating the events. But wherever the order is apparent, if the evangelist then presents anything which seems to be inconsistent with his own statements, or with those of another, we must certainly take the passage into consideration, and endeavour to clear up the difficulty.

53. Matthew, accordingly, continues his narration thus: “Now when the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils; and He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” That this belongs in date to the same day, he indicates with sufficient clearness by these words which he subjoins, “Now when the even was come.” In a similar manner, after concluding his account of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law with the sentence, “And she ministered unto them,” Mark has appended the following statement: “And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed of the devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew Him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place.” Here Mark appears to have preserved the order in such wise, that after the statement conveyed in the words “And at even,” he gives this note of time: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day.” And although there is no absolute necessity for supposing either that, when we have the words “And at even,” the reference must be to the evening of the very same day, or that when the phrase “In the morning” meets us, it must mean the morning after the self-same night; still, however that may be, this order in the occurrences may fairly appear to have been preserved with a view to an orderly arrangement of the times. Moreover, Luke, too, after relating the story of Peter’s mother-in-law, while he does not indeed say expressly, “And at even,” has at least used a phrase which conveys the same sense. For he proceeds thus: “Now when the sun had set, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And He, rebuking them, suffered them not to speak: for they knew that He was Christ. And when it was day, He departed and went into a desert place.” Here, again, we see precisely the same order of times preserved as we discovered in Mark. But Matthew, who appears to have introduced the story of Peter’s mother-in-law not according to the order in which the incident itself took place, but simply in the succession in which he had it suggested to his mind after previous omission, has first recorded what happened on that same day, to wit, when even was come; and thereafter, instead of subjoining the notice of the morning, goes on with his account in these terms: “Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side of the lake.” This, then, is something new, differing from what is given in the context by Mark and Luke, who, after the notice of the even, bring in the mention of the morning. Consequently, as regards this verse in Matthew, “Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side of the lake,” we ought simply to understand that he has introduced here another fact which he has had brought to mind at this point,—namely, the fact that on a certain day, when Jesus had seen great multitudes about Him, He gave instructions to cross to the other side of the lake.

54. He next appends the following statement: “And a certain scribe came and said unto Him, Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever thou goest;” and so on, down to the words, “Let the dead bury their dead.” We have a narrative in similar terms also in Luke. But he inserts it only after a variety of other matters, and without any explicit note of the order of time, but after the fashion of one only bethinking himself of the incident at that point. He leaves us also uncertain whether he brings it in there as something previously omitted, or as an anticipatory notice of something which in actual fact took place subsequently to those incidents by which it is followed in the history. For he proceeds thus: “And it came to pass, that as they went in the way, a certain man said unto Him, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.” And the Lord’s answer is given here in precisely the same terms as we find recited in Matthew. Now, although Matthew tells us that this took place at the time when He gave commandment to depart unto the other side of the lake, and Luke, on the other hand, speaks of an occasion when they “went in the way,” there is no necessary contradiction in that. For it may be the case that they went in the way just in order to come to the lake. Again, in what is said about the person who begged to be allowed first to bury his father, Matthew and Luke are thoroughly at one. For the mere fact that Matthew has introduced first the words of the man who made the request regarding his father, and that he has put after that the saying of the Lord, “Follow me,” whereas Luke puts the Lord’s command, “Follow me,” first, and the declaration of the petitioner second, is a matter of no consequence to the sense itself. Luke has also made mention of yet another person, who said, “Lord, I will follow Thee, but let me first bid them farewell which are at home at my house;” of which individual Matthew says nothing. And thereafter Luke proceeds to another subject altogether, and not to what followed in the actual order of time. The passage runs: “And after these things, the Lord appointed other seventy-two also.” That this occurred “after these things” is indeed manifest; but at what length of time after these things the Lord did so is not apparent. Nevertheless, in this interval that took place which Matthew subjoins next in succession. For the same Matthew still keeps up the order of time, and continues his narrative, as we shall now see.

55. “And when He was entered into a ship, His disciples followed Him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea.” And so the story goes on, until we come to the words, “And He came into His own city.” Those two narratives which are told by Matthew in continuous succession,—namely, that regarding the calm upon the sea after Jesus was roused from His sleep and had commanded the winds, and that concerning the persons who were possessed with the fierce devil, and who brake their bands and were driven into the wilderness,—are given also in like manner by Mark and Luke. Some parts of these stories are expressed, indeed, in different terms by the different writers, but the sense remains the same. This is the case, for example, when Matthew represents the Lord to have said, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” while Mark’s version is, “Why are ye fearful? Is it that ye have no faith?” For Mark’s word refers to that perfect faith which is like a grain of mustard seed; and so he, too, speaks in effect of the “little faith.” Luke, again, puts it thus: “Where is your faith?” Accordingly, the whole utterance may perhaps have gone thus: “Why are ye fearful? Where is your faith, O ye of little faith?” And so one of them records one part, and another another part, of the entire saying. The same may be the case with the words spoken by the disciples when they awoke Him. Matthew gives us: “Lord, save us: we perish.” Mark has: “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” And Luke says simply, “Master, we perish.” These different expressions, however, convey one and the same meaning on the part of those who were awaking the Lord, and who were wishful to secure their safety. Neither need we inquire which of these several forms is to be preferred as the one actually addressed to Christ. For whether they really used the one or the other of these three phraseologies, or expressed themselves in different words, which are unrecorded by any one of the evangelists, but which were equally well adapted to give the like representation of what was meant, what difference does it make in the fact itself? At the same time, it may also possibly have been the case that, when several parties in concert were trying to awake Him, all these various modes of expression had been used, one by one person, and another by another. In the same way, too, we may deal with the exclamation on the stilling of the tempest, which, according to Matthew, was, “What manner of man is this, that the winds and the sea obey Him?” according to Mark, “What man, thinkest thou, is this, that both the wind and the sea obey Him?” and according to Luke, “What man, thinkest thou, is this? for He commandeth both the winds and the sea, and they obey Him.” Who can fail to see that the sense in all these forms is quite identical? For the expression, “What man, thinkest thou, is this?” has precisely the same import with the other, “What manner of man is this?” And where the words “He commandeth” are omitted, it can at least be understood as a matter of course that the obedience is rendered to the person commanding.

56. Moreover, with respect to the circumstance that Matthew states that there were two men who were afflicted with the legion of devils which received permission to go into the swine, whereas Mark and Luke instance only a single individual, we may suppose that one of these parties was a person of some kind of superior notability and repute, whose case was particularly lamented by that district, and for whose deliverance there was special anxiety. With the intention of indicating that fact, two of the evangelists have judged it proper to make mention only of the one person, in connection with whom the fame of this deed had been spread abroad the more extensively and remarkably. Neither should any scruple be excited by the different forms in which the words uttered by the possessed have been reproduced by the various evangelists. For we may either resolve them all into one and the same thing, or suppose them all to have been actually spoken. Nor, again, should we find any difficulty in the circumstance that with Matthew the address is couched in the plural number, but with Mark and Luke in the singular. For these latter two tell us at the same time, that when the man was asked what was his name, he answered that he was Legion, because the devils were many. Nor, once more, is there any discrepancy between Mark’s statement that the herd of swine was round about the mountain, and Luke’s, that they were on the mountain. For the herd of swine was so great that one portion of it might be on the mountain, and another only round about it. For, as Mark has expressly informed us, there were about two thousand swine.

57. Hereupon Matthew proceeds with his recital, still preserving the order of time, and connects his narrative in the following manner:—”And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city. And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed;” and so on down to where it is said, “But when the multitude saw it, they marvelled; and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.” Mark and Luke have also told the story of this paralytic. Now, as regards Matthew’s stating that the Lord said, “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee;” while Luke makes the address run, not as “son,” but as “man,”—this only helps to bring out the Lord’s meaning more explicitly. For these sins were [thus said to be] forgiven to the “man,” inasmuch as the very fact that he was a man would make it impossible for him to say, “I have not sinned;” and at the same time, that mode of address served to indicate that He who forgave sins to man was Himself God. Mark, again, has given the same form of words as Matthew, but he has left out the terms, “Be of good cheer.” It is also possible, indeed, that the whole saying ran thus: “Man, be of good cheer: son, thy sins are forgiven thee;” or thus: “Son, be of good cheer: man, thy sins are forgiven thee;” or the words may have been spoken in some other congruous order.

58. A difficulty, however, may certainly arise when we observe how Matthew tells the story of the paralytic after this fashion: “And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city. And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed;” whereas Mark speaks of the incident as taking place not in His own city, which indeed is called Nazareth, but in Capharnaum. His narrative is to the following effect:—”And again He entered into Capharnaum after some days; and it was noised that He was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and He spake a word unto them. And they came unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press, they uncovered the roof where He was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. And when Jesus saw their faith;” and so forth. Luke, on the other hand, does not mention the place in which the incident happened, but gives the tale thus: “And it came to pass on a certain day that He was sitting teaching, and there were Pharisees and doctors of the law also sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before Him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the house-top, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when He saw their faith, He said, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee;” and so forth. The question, therefore, remains one between Mark and Matthew, in so far as Matthew writes of the incident as taking place in the Lord’s city; while Mark locates it in Capharnaum. This question would be more difficult to solve if Matthew mentioned Nazareth by name. But, as the case stands, when we reflect that the state of Galilee itself might have been called Christ’s city, because Nazareth was in Galilee, just as the whole region which was made up of so many cities is yet called a Roman state; when, further, it is considered that so many nations are comprehended in that city, of which it is written, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God;” and also that God’s ancient people, though dwelling in so many cities, have yet been spoken of as one house, the house of Israel,—who can doubt that [it may be fairly said that] Jesus wrought this work in His own city [or, state], inasmuch as He did it in the city of Capharnaum, which was a city of that Galilee to which He had returned when He crossed over again from the country of the Gerasenes, so that when He came into Galilee He might correctly be said to have come into His own city [or, state], in which ever town of Galilee He might happen to be? This explanation may be vindicated more particularly on the ground that Capharnaum itself held a position of such eminence in Galilee that it was reckoned to be a kind of metropolis. But even were it altogether illegitimate to take the city of Christ in the sense either of Galilee itself, in which Nazareth was situated, or of Capharnaum, which was distinguished as in a certain sense the capital of Galilee, we might still affirm that Matthew has simply passed over all that happened after Jesus came into His own city until He reached Capharnaum, and that he has simply tacked on the narrative of the healing of the paralytic at this point; just as the writers do in many instances, leaving unnoticed much that intervenes, and, without any express indication of the omissions they are making, proceeding precisely as if what they subjoin, followed actually in literal succession.

59. Matthew next continues his narrative in the following terms:—”And as Jesus passed forth from thence, He saw a man named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed Him.” Mark gives this story also, and keeps the same order, bringing it in after the notice of the healing of the man who was sick of the palsy. His version runs thus: “And He went forth again by the sea-side; and all the multitude resorted unto Him, and He taught them. And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed Him.” There is no contradiction here; for Matthew is the same person with Levi. Luke also introduces this after the story of the healing of the same man who was sick of the palsy. He writes in these terms: “And after these things He went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him.” Now, from this it will appear to be the most reasonable explanation to say that Matthew records these things here in the form of things previously passed over, and now brought to mind. For certainly we must believe that Matthew’s calling took place before the delivery of the sermon on the mount. For Luke tells us that on this mountain on that occasion the election was made of all these twelve, whom Jesus also named apostles, out of the larger body of the disciples.

60. Matthew, accordingly, goes on to say: “And it came to pass, as He sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and His disciples;” and so on, down to where we read, “But they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” Here Matthew has not told us particularly in whose house it was that Jesus was sitting at meat along with the publicans and sinners. This might make it appear as if he had not appended this notice in its strict order here, but had introduced at this point, in the way of reminiscence, something which actually took place on a different occasion, were it not that Mark and Luke, who repeat the account in terms thoroughly similar, have made it plain that it was in the house of Levi—that is to say, Matthew—that Jesus sat at meat, and all these sayings were uttered which follow. For Mark states the same fact, keeping also the same order, in the following manner: “And it came to pass, as He sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus.” Accordingly, when he says, “in his house,” he certainly refers to the person of whom he was speaking directly before, and that was Levi. To the same effect, after the words, “He saith unto him, Follow me; and he left all, rose up, and followed Him,” Luke has appended immediately this statement: “And Levi made Him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.” And thus it is manifest in whose house it was that these things took place.

61. Let us next look into the words which these three evangelists have all brought in as having been addressed to the Lord, and also into the replies which were made by Him. Matthew says: “And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” This reappears very nearly in the same words in Mark: “How is it that He eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?” Only we find thus that Matthew has omitted one thing which Mark inserts—namely, the addition “and drinketh.” But of what consequence can that be, since the sense is fully given, the idea suggested being that they were partaking of a repast in company? Luke, on the other hand, seems to have recorded this scene somewhat differently. For his version proceeds thus: “But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against His disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?” But his intention in this certainly is not to indicate that their Master was not referred to on that occasion, but to intimate that the objection was levelled against all of them together, both Himself and His disciples; the charge, however, which was to be taken to be meant both of Him and of them, being addressed directly not to Him, but to them. For the fact is that Luke himself, no less than the others, represents the Lord as making the reply, and saying, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” And He would not have returned that answer to them, had not their words, “Why do ye eat and drink?” been directed very specially to Himself. For the same reason, Matthew and Mark have told us that the objection which was brought against Him was stated immediately to His disciples, because, when the allegation was addressed to the disciples, the charge was thereby laid all the more seriously against the Master whom these disciples were imitating and following. One and the same sense, therefore, is conveyed; and it is expressed all the better in consequence of these variations employed in some of the terms, while the matter of fact itself is left intact. In like manner we may deal with the accounts of the Lord’s reply. Matthew’s runs thus: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick; but go ye and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark and Luke have also preserved for us the same sense in almost the same words, with this exception, that they both fail to introduce that quotation from the prophet, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” Luke, again, after the words, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners,” has added the term, “unto repentance.” This addition serves to bring out the sense more fully, so as to preclude any one from supposing that sinners are loved by Christ, purely for the very reason that they are sinners. For this similitude also of the sick indicates clearly what God means by the calling of sinners,—that it is like the physician with the sick,—and that its object verily is that men should be saved from their iniquity as from disease; which healing is effected by repentance.

62. In the same way, we may subject what is said about the disciples of John to examination. Matthew’s words are these: “Then came to Him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft?” The purport of Mark’s version is similar: “And the disciples of John and the Pharisees used to fast. And they come and say unto Him, Why do the disciples of John and the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?” The only semblance of a discrepancy that can be found here, is in the possibility of supposing that the mention of the Pharisees as having spoken along with the disciples of John is an addition of Mark’s, while Matthew states only that the disciples of John expressed themselves to the above effect. But the words which were actually uttered by the parties, according to Mark’s version, rather indicate that the speakers and the persons spoken of were not the same individuals. I mean, that the persons who came to Jesus were the guests who were then present, that they came because the disciples of John and the Pharisees were fasting, and that they uttered the above words with respect to these parties. In this way, the evangelist’s phrase, “they come,” would not refer to the persons regarding whom he had just thrown in the remark, “And the disciples of John and the Pharisees were fasting.” But the case would be, that as those parties were fasting, some others here, who are moved by that fact, come to Him, and put this question to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?” This is more clearly expressed by Luke. For, evidently with the same idea in his mind, after stating what answer the Lord returned in the words in which He spoke about the calling of sinners under the similitude of those who are sick, he proceeds thus: “And they said unto Him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees, but thine eat and drink?” Here, then, we see that, as was the case with Mark, Luke has mentioned one party as speaking to this intent in relation to other parties. How comes it, therefore, that Matthew says, “Then came to Him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast?” The explanation may be, that those individuals were also present, and that all these various parties were eager to advance this charge, as they severally found opportunity. And the sentiments which sought expression on this occasion have been conveyed by the three evangelists under varied terms, but yet without any divergence from a true statement of the fact itself.

63. Once more, we find that Matthew and Mark have given similar accounts of what was said about the children of the bridegroom not fasting as long as the bridegroom is with them, with this exception, that Mark has named them the children of the bridals, while Matthew has designated them the children of the bridegroom. That, however, is a matter of no moment. For by the children of the bridals we understand at once those connected with the bridegroom, and those connected with the bride. The sense, therefore, is obvious and identical, and neither different nor contradictory. Luke, again, does not say, “Can the children of the bridegroom fast?” but, “Can ye make the children of the bridegroom fast, while the bridegroom is with them?” By expressing it in this method, the evangelist has elegantly opened up the self-same sense in a way calculated to suggest something else. For thus the idea is conveyed, that those very persons who were speaking would try to make the children of the bridegroom mourn and fast, inasmuch as they would [seek to] put the bridegroom to death. Moreover, Matthew’s phrase, “mourn,” is of the same import as that used by Mark and Luke, namely, “fast.” For Matthew also says further on, “Then shall they fast,” and not, “Then shall they mourn.” But by the use of this phrase, he has indicated that the Lord spoke of that kind of fasting which pertains to the lowliness of tribulation. In the same way, too, the Lord may be understood to have pictured out a different kind of fasting, which stands related to the rapture of a mind dwelling in the heights of things spiritual, and for that reason estranged in a certain measure from the meats that are for the body, when He made use of those subsequent similitudes touching the new cloth and the new wine, by which He showed that this kind of fasting is an incongruity for sensual and carnal people, who are taken up with the cares of the body, and who consequently still remain in the old mind. These similitudes are also embodied in similar terms by the other two evangelists. And it should be sufficiently evident that there need be no real discrepancy, although one may introduce something, whether belonging to the subject-matter itself, or merely to the terms in which that subject is expressed, which another leaves out; provided only that there be neither any departure from a genuine identity in sense, nor any contradiction created between the different forms which may be adopted for expressing the same thing.

64. Still keeping by the order of time, Matthew next continues to the following effect: “While He spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped Him, saying, My daughter is even now dead; but come and lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live;” and so on, until we come to the words, “and the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.” The other two, namely, Mark and Luke, in like manner give this same account, only they do not keep by the same order now. For they bring up this narrative in a different place, and insert it in another connection; to wit, at the point where He crosses the take and returns from the country of the Gerasenes, after casting out the devils and permitting them to go into the swine. Thus Mark introduces it, after he has related what took place among the Gerasenes, in the following manner: “And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him: and He was nigh unto the sea. And there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet,” etc. By this, then, we are certainly to understand that the occurrence in connection with the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue did take place after Jesus had passed across the lake again in the ship. It does not, however, appear from the words themselves how long after that passage this thing happened. But that some time did elapse is clear. For had there not been an interval, no period would be left within which those circumstances might fall which Matthew has just related in the matter of the feast in his house. These, indeed, he has told after the fashion of the evangelists, as if they were the story of another person’s doings. But they are the story really of what took place in his own case, and at his own house. And after that narrative, what follows in the immediate context is nothing else than this notice of the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue. For he has constructed the whole recital in such a manner, that the mode of transition from one thing to the other has itself indicated with sufficient clearness that the words immediately following give the narrative of what actually took place in immediate consecution. For after mentioning, in connection with the former incident, those words which Jesus spake with respect to the new cloth and the new wine, he has subjoined these other words, without any interruption in the narrative, namely, “While He spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler.” And this shows that, if the person approached Him while He was speaking these things, nothing else either done or said by Him could have intervened. In Mark’s account, on the other hand, the place is quite apparent, as we have already pointed out, where other things [left unrecorded by him] might very well have come in. The case is much the same also with Luke, who, when he proceeds to follow up his version of the story of the miracle wrought among the Gerasenes, by giving his account of the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, does not pass on to that in any such way as to place it in antagonism with Matthew’s version, who, by his words, “While He yet spake these things,” gives us plainly to understand that the occurrence took place after those parables about the cloth and the wine. For when he has concluded his statement of what happened among the Gerasenes, Luke passes to the next subject in the following manner; “And it came to pass that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received Him; for they were all waiting for Him. And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue, and he fell down at Jesus’ feet,” and so on. Thus we are given to understand that the crowd did indeed receive Jesus forthwith on the said occasion: for He was the person for whose return they were waiting. But what is conveyed in the words which are directly added, “And, behold, there came a man whose name was Jairus,” is not to be taken to have occurred literally in immediate succession. On the contrary, the feast with the publicans, as Matthew records it, took place before that. For Matthew connects this present incident with that feast in such a way as to make it impossible for us to suppose that any other sequence of events can be the correct order.

65. In this narrative, then, which we have undertaken to consider at present, all these three evangelists indeed are unquestionably at one in the account which they give of the woman who was afflicted with the issue of blood. Nor is it a matter of any real consequence, that something which is passed by in silence by one of them is related by another; or that Mark says, “Who touched my clothes?” while Luke says, “Who touched me?” For the one has only adopted the phrase in use and wont, whereas the other has given the stricter expression. But for all that, both of them convey the same meaning. For it is more usual with us to say, “You are tearing me,” than to say, “You are tearing my clothes;” as, notwithstanding the term, the sense we wish to convey is obvious enough.

66. At the same time, however, there remains the fact that Matthew represents the ruler of the synagogue to have spoken to the Lord of his daughter, not merely as one likely to die, or as dying, or as on the very point of expiring, but as even then dead; while these other two evangelists report her as now nigh unto death, but not yet really dead, and keep so strictly to that version of the circumstances, that they tell us how the persons came at a later stage with the intelligence of her actual death, and with the message that for this reason the Master ought not now to trouble Himself by coming, with the purpose of laying His hand upon her, and so preventing her from dying,—the matter not being put as if He was one possessed of ability to raise the once dead to life. It becomes necessary for us, therefore, to investigate this fact lest it may seem to exhibit any contradiction between the accounts. And the way to explain it is to suppose that, by reason of brevity in the narrative, Matthew has preferred to express it as if the Lord had been really asked to do what it is clear He did actually do, namely, raise the dead to life. For what Matthew directs our attention to, is not the mere words spoken by the father about his daughter, but what is of more importance, his mind and purpose. Thus he has given words calculated to represent the father’s real thoughts. For he had so thoroughly despaired of his child’s case, that not believing that she whom he had just left dying, could possibly now be found yet in life, his thought rather was that she might be made alive again. Accordingly two of the evangelists have introduced the words which were literally spoken by Jairus. But Matthew has exhibited rather what the man secretly wished and thought. Thus both petitions were really addressed to the Lord; namely, either that He should restore the dying damsel, or that, if she was already dead, He might raise her to life again. But as it was Matthew’s object to tell the whole story in short compass, he has represented the father as directly expressing in his request what, it is certain, had been his own real wish, and what Christ actually did. It is true, indeed, that if those two evangelists, or one of them, had told us that the father himself spake the words which the parties who came from his house uttered,—namely, that Jesus should not now trouble Himself, because the damsel had died,—then the words which Matthew has put into his mouth would not be in harmony with his thoughts. But, as the case really stands, it is not said that he gave his consent to the parties who brought that report, and who bade the Master no more think of coming now. And together with this, we have to observe, that when the Lord addressed him in these terms, “Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole,” He did not find fault with him on the ground of his want of belief, but really encouraged him to a yet stronger faith. For this ruler had faith like that which was exhibited by the person who said, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.”

67. Seeing, then, that the case stands thus, from these varied and yet not inconsistent modes of statement adopted by the evangelists, we evidently learn a lesson of the utmost utility, and of great necessity,—namely, that in any man’s words the thing which we ought narrowly to regard is only the writer’s thought which was meant to be expressed, and to which the words ought to be subservient; and further, that we should not suppose one to be giving an incorrect statement, if he happens to convey in different words what the person really meant whose words he fails to reproduce literally. And we ought not to let the wretched cavillers at words fancy that truth must be tied somehow or other to the jots and tittles of letters; whereas the fact is, that not in the matter of words only, but equally in all other methods by which sentiments are indicated, the sentiment itself, and nothing else, is what ought to be looked at.

68. Moreover, as to the circumstance that some codices of Matthew’s Gospel contain the reading, “For the woman is not dead, but sleepeth,” while Mark and Luke certify that she was a damsel of the age of twelve years, we may suppose that Matthew has followed the Hebrew mode of speech here. For in other passages of Scripture, as well as here, it is found that not only those who had already known a man, but all females in general, including untouched virgins, are called women. That is the case, for instance, where it is written of Eve, “He made it into a woman;” and again, in the book of Numbers, where the women who have not known a man by lying with him, that is to say, the virgins, are ordered to be saved from being put to death. Adopting the same phraseology, Paul, too, says of Christ Himself, that He was “made of a woman.” And it is better, therefore, to understand the matter according to these analogies, than to suppose that this damsel of twelve years of age was already married, or had known a man.

69. Matthew proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed Him, crying and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us;” and so on, down to the verse where we read, “But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” Matthew is the only one who introduces this account of the two blind men and the dumb demoniac. For those two blind men, whose story is given also by the others, are not the two before us here. Nevertheless there is such similarity in the occurrences, that if Matthew himself had not recorded the latter incident as well as the former, it might have been thought that the one which he relates at present has also been given by these other two evangelists. There is this fact, therefore, which we ought to bear carefully in mind,—namely, that there are some occurrences which resemble each other. For we have a proof of this in the circumstance that the very same evangelist mentions both incidents here. And thus, if at any time we find any such occurrences narrated individually by the several evangelists, and discover some contradiction in the accounts, which seems not to admit of being solved [on the principle of harmonizing], it may occur to us that the explanation simply is, that this [apparently contradictory] circumstance did not take place [on that particular occasion], but that what did happen then was only something resembling it, or something which was gone about in a similar manner.

70. As to the events next related, it is true that their exact order is not made apparent by Matthew’s narrative. For after the notices of the two incidents in connection with the blind men and the dumb demoniac, he continues in the following manner: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the kingdom of the gospel, and healing every sickness and every disease. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they were troubled and prostrate, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest. And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits;” and so forth, down to the words, “Verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” This whole passage which we have now mentioned shows how He gave many counsels to His disciples. But whether Matthew has subjoined this section in its historical order, or has made its order dependent only on the succession in which it came up to his own mind, as has already been said, is not made apparent. Mark appears to have handled this paragraph in a succinct method, and to have entered upon its recital in the following terms: “And He went round about the villages, teaching in their circuit: and He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them by two and two, and gave them power over unclean spirits;” and so on, down to where we read, “Shake off the dust from your feet for a testimony against them.” But before narrating this incident, Mark has inserted, immediately after the story of the raising of the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, an account of what took place on that occasion on which, in His own country, the people were astonished at the Lord, and asked from whence He had such wisdom and such capabilities, when they perceived His judgment: which account is given by Matthew after these counsels to the disciples, and after a number of other matters. It is uncertain, therefore, whether what thus happened in His own country has been recorded by Matthew in the succession in which it came to mind, after having been omitted at first, or whether it has been introduced by Mark in the way of an anticipation; and which of them, in short, has kept the order of actual occurrence, and which of them the order of his own recollection. Luke, again, in immediate succession to the mention of the raising of the daughter of Jairus to life, subjoins this paragraph, bearing on the power and the counsels given to the disciples, and that indeed with as great brevity as Mark. This evangelist, however, does not, any more than the others, introduce the subject in such a way as to produce the impression that it comes in also in the strictly historical order. Moreover, with regard to the names of the disciples, Luke, who gives their names in another place,—that is to say, in the earlier passage, where they are [represented as being] chosen on the mountain,—is not at variance in any respect with Matthew, with the exception of the single instance of the name of Judas the brother of James, whom Matthew designates Thaddaeus, although some codices also read Lebbaeus. But who would ever think of denying that one man may be known under two or three names?

71. Another question which it is also usual to put is this: How comes it that Matthew and Luke have stated that the Lord said to His disciples that they were not to take a staff with them, whereas Mark puts the matter in this way: “And He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only;” and proceeds further in this strain, “no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:” thereby making it quite evident that his narrative belongs to the same place and circumstances with which the narratives of those others deal who have mentioned that the staff was not to be taken? Now this question admits of being solved on the principle of understanding that the staff which, according to Mark, was to be taken, bears one sense, and that the staff which, according to Matthew and Luke, was not to be taken with them, is to be interpreted in a different sense; just in the same way as we find the term “temptation” used in one meaning, when it is said, “God tempteth no man,” and in a different meaning where it is said, “The Lord your God tempteth [proveth] you, to know whether ye love Him.” For in the former case the temptation of seduction is intended; but in the latter the temptation of probation. Another parallel occurs in the case of the term “judgment,” which must be taken in one way, where it is said, “They that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment;” and in another way, where it is said, “Judge me, O God, and discern my cause, in respect of an ungodly nation.” For the former refers to the judgment of damnation, and the latter to the judgment of discrimination.

72. And there are many other words which do not retain one uniform signification, but are introduced so as to suit a variety of connections, and thus are understood in a variety of ways, and sometimes, indeed, are adopted along with an explanation. We have an example in the saying, “Be not children in understanding; howbeit in malice be ye little children, that in understanding ye may be perfect.” For here is a sentence which, in a brief and pregnant form, might have been expressed thus: “Be ye not children; howbeit be ye children.” The same is the case with the words, “If any man among you thinketh himself to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise.” For what else is the statement there but this: “Let him not be wise, that he may be wise”? Moreover, the sentences are sometimes so put as to exercise the judgment of the inquirer. An instance of this kind occurs in what is said in the Epistle to the Galatians: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so ye will fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man thinketh himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But it is meet that every man should prove his own work; and then shall he have rejoicing in himself, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.” Now, unless the word “burden” can be taken in different senses, without doubt one would suppose that the same writer contradicts himself in what he says here, and that, too, when the words are placed in such close neighbourhood in one paragraph. For when he has just said, “One shall bear another’s burdens,” after the lapse of a very brief interval he says, “Every man shall bear his own burden.” But the one refers to the burdens which are to be borne in sharing in one’s infirmity, the other to the burdens borne in the rendering of an account of our own actions to God: the former are burdens to be borne in our [duties of] fellowship with brethren; the latter are those peculiar to ourselves, and borne by every man for himself. And in the same way, once more, the “rod” of which the apostle spoke in the words, “Shall I come unto you with a rod?” is meant in a spiritual sense; while the same term bears the literal meaning when it occurs of the rod applied to a horse, or used for some other purpose of the kind, not to mention, in the meantime, also other metaphorical significations of this phrase.

73. Both these counsels, therefore, must be accepted as having been spoken by the Lord to the apostles; namely, at once that they should not take a staff, and that they should take nothing save a staff only. For when He said to them, according to Matthew, “Provide neither gold nor silver, nor money in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet a staff,” He added immediately, “for the workman is worthy of his meat.” And by this He makes it sufficiently obvious why it is that He would have them provide and carry none of these things. He shows that His reason was, not that these things are not necessary for the sustenance of this life, but because He was sending them in such a manner as to declare plainly that these things were due to them by those very persons who were to hear believingly the gospel preached by them; just as wages are the soldier’s due, and as the fruit of the vine is the right of the planters, and the milk of the flock the right of the shepherds. For which reason Paul also speaks in this wise: “Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?” For under these figures he was speaking of those things which are necessary to the preachers of the gospel. And so, a little further on, he says: “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others are partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power.” This makes it apparent that by these instructions the Lord did not mean that the evangelists should not seek their support in any other way than by depending on what was offered them by those to whom they preached the gospel (otherwise this very apostle acted contrary to this precept when he acquired a livelihood for himself by the labours of his own hands, because he would not be chargeable to any of them ), but that He gave them a power in the exercise of which they should know such things to be their due. Now, when any commandment is given by the Lord, there is the guilt of non-obedience if it is not observed; but when any power is given, any one is at liberty to abstain from its use, and, as it were, to recede from his right. Accordingly, when the Lord spake these things to the disciples, He did what that apostle expounds more clearly a little further on, when he says, “Do ye not know that they who minister in the temple live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things.” When he says, therefore, that the Lord ordained it thus, but that he did not use the ordinance, he certainly indicates that it was a power to use that was given him, and not a necessity of service that was imposed upon him.

74. Accordingly, as our Lord ordained what the apostle declares Him to have ordained,—namely, that those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel,—He gave these counsels to the apostles in order that they might be without the care of providing or of carrying with them things necessary for this life, whether great or the very smallest; consequently He introduced this term, “neither a staff,” with the view of showing that, on the part of those who were faithful to Him, all things were due to His ministers, who themselves, too, required nothing superfluous. And thus, when He added the words, “For the workman is worthy of his meat,” He indicated quite clearly, and made it thoroughly plain, how and for what reason it was that He spake all these things. It is this kind of power, therefore, that the Lord denoted under the term “staff,” when He said that they should “take nothing” for their journey, save a staff only. For the sentence might also have been briefly expressed in this way: “Take with you none of the necessaries of life, neither a staff, save a staff only.” So that the phrase “neither a staff” may be taken to be equivalent to “not even the smallest things;” while the addition, “save a staff only,” may be understood to mean that, in virtue of that power which they received from the Lord, and which was signified by the name “staff” [or, “rod”], even those things which were not carried with them would not be wanting to them. Our Lord therefore used both phrases. But inasmuch as one and the same evangelist has not recorded them both, the writer who has told us that the rod, as introduced in the one sense, was to be taken, is supposed to be in antagonism to him who has told us that the rod, as occurring again in the other sense, was not to be taken. After this explanation of the matter, however, no such supposition ought to be entertained.

75. In like manner, also, when Matthew tells us that the shoes were not to be carried with them on the journey, what is intended is the checking of that care which thinks that such things must be carried with them, because otherwise they might be unprovided. Thus, too, the import of what is said regarding the two coats is, that none of them should think of taking with him another coat in addition to the one in which he was clad, as if he was afraid that he might come to be in want, while all the time the power (which was received from the Lord) made him sure of getting what was needful. To the same effect, when Mark says that they were to be shod with sandals or soles, he gives us to understand that this matter of the shoe has some sort of mystical significance, the point being that the foot is to be neither covered, nor yet left bare to the ground; by which the idea may be conveyed that the gospel was neither to be concealed, nor yet made to depend on the good things of earth. And as to the fact that what is forbidden is neither the carrying nor the possessing of two coats, but more distinctly the putting of them on,—the words being, “and not put on two coats,”—what counsel is conveyed to them therein but this, that they ought to walk not in duplicity, but in simplicity?

76. Thus it is not by any means to be made a matter of doubt that the Lord Himself spake all these words, some of them with a literal import, and others of them with a figurative, although the evangelists may have introduced them only in part into their writings,—one inserting one section, and another giving a different portion. Certain passages, at the same time, have been recorded in identical terms either by some two of them, or by some three, or even by all the four together. And yet not even when this is the case can we take it for granted that everything has been committed to writing which was either uttered or done by Him. Moreover, if any one fancies that the Lord could not in the course of the same discourse have used some expressions with a figurative application and others with a literal, let him but examine His other addresses, and he will see how rash and inconsiderate such a notion is. For, then (to mention but a single instance which occurs meantime to my mind), when Christ gives the counsel not to let the left hand know what the right hand doeth, he may suppose himself under the necessity of accepting in the same figurative sense at once the almsgivings themselves referred to, and the other instructions offered on that occasion.

77. In good truth, I must repeat here once more an admonition which it behoves the reader to keep in mind, so as not to be requiring that kind of advice so very frequently, namely, that in various passages of His discourses, the Lord has reiterated much which He had uttered already on other occasions. It is needful, indeed, to call this fact to mind, lest, when it happens that the order of such passages does not appear to fit in with the narrative of another of the evangelists, the reader should fancy that this establishes some contradiction between them; whereas he ought really to understand it to be due to the fact that something is repeated a second time in that connection which had been already expressed elsewhere. And this is a remark that should be held applicable not only to His words, but also to His deeds. For there is nothing to hinder us from believing that the same thing may have taken place more than once. But for a man to impeach the gospel simply because he does not believe in the repeated occurrence of some incident, which no one [at least] can prove to be an impossible event, betrays mere sacrilegious vanity.

78. Matthew proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now, when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him, Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” and so on, until we come to the words, “And Wisdom is justified of her children.” This whole section relating to John the Baptist, touching the message which he sent to Jesus, and the tenor of the reply which those whom he despatched received, and the terms in which the Lord spoke of John after the departure of these persons, is introduced also by Luke. The order, however, is not the same. But it is not made clear which of them gives the order of his own recollections, and which keeps by the historical succession of the things themselves.

79. Thereafter Matthew goes on as follows: “Then began He to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not;” and so on, down to where we read, “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom at the day of judgment, than for you.” This section likewise is given by Luke, who reports it also as an utterence from the lips of the Lord in connection with a certain continuous discourse which He delivered. This circumstance makes it the rather appear that Luke has recorded these words in the strict consecution in which they were spoken by the Lord, while Matthew has kept by the order of his own recollections. Or if it is supposed that Matthew’s words, “Then began He to upbraid the cities,” must be taken in such a way as to imply that the intention was to express, by the term “then,” the precise point of time at which the saying was uttered, and not to signify in a somewhat broader way the period at which many of these things were done and spoken, then I say that any one entertaining that idea may equally well believe these sentences to have been pronounced on two different occasions. For if it is the fact that even in one and the same evangelist some things are found which the Lord utters twice over, as is the case with this very Luke in the instance of the counsel not to take a scrip for the journey, and so with other things in like manner which we find to have been spoken by the Lord in two different places,—why should it seem strange if some other word of the Lord, which was originally uttered on two separate occasions, may happen also to be recorded by two several evangelists, each of whom gives it in the order in which it was actually spoken, and if thus the order seems to be different in the two, simply because the sentences were uttered both on the occasion noticed by the one, and on that referred to by the other?

80. Matthew proceeds thus: “At that time Jesus answered and said, I make my acknowledgment to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent,” and so on, down to where we read, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This passage is also noticed by Luke, but only in part. For he does not give us the words, “Come unto me, all ye that labour,” and the rest. It is, however, quite legitimate to suppose that all this may have been said on one occasion by the Lord, and yet that Luke has not recorded the whole of what was said on that occasion. For Matthew’s phrase is, that “at that time Jesus answered and said;” by which is meant the time after His upbraiding of the cities. Luke, on the other hand, interposes some matters, although they are not many, after that upbraiding of the cities; and then he subjoins this sentence: “In that hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said.” Thus, too, we see that even if Matthew’s expression had been, not “at that time,” but “in that very hour,” still what Luke inserts in the interval is so little that it would not appear an unreasonable thing to give it as all spoken in the same hour.

81. Matthew continues his history in the following terms: “At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath-day through the corn; and His disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat;” and so forth, on to the words, “For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath-day.” This is also given both by Mark and by Luke, in a way precluding any idea of antagonism. At the same time, these latter do not employ the definition “at that time.” That fact, consequently, may perhaps make it the more probable that Matthew has retained the order of actual occurrence here, and that the others have kept by the order of their own recollections; unless, indeed, this phrase “at that time” is to be taken in a broader sense, that is to say, as indicating the period at which these many and various incidents took place.

82. Matthew continues his account thus: “And when He was departed thence, He went into their synagogue: and, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered;” and so on, down to the words, “And it was restored whole, like as the other.” The restoring of this man who had the withered hand is also not passed over in silence by Mark and Luke. Now, the circumstance that this day is also designated a Sabbath might possibly lead us to suppose that both the plucking of the ears of corn and the healing of this man took place on the same day, were it not that Luke has made it plain that it was on a different Sabbath that the cure of the withered hand was wrought. Accordingly, when Matthew says, “And when He was departed thence, He came into their synagogue,” the words do indeed import that the said coming did not take place until after He had departed from the previously mentioned locality; but, at the same time, they leave the question undecided as to the number of days which may have elapsed between His passing from the aforesaid corn-field and His coming into their synagogue; and they express nothing as to His going there in direct and immediate succession. And thus space is offered us for getting in the narrative of Luke, who tells us that it was on another Sabbath that this man’s hand was restored. But it is possible that a difficulty may be felt in the circumstance that Matthew has told us how the people put this question to the Lord, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day?” wishing thereby to find an occasion for accusing Him; and that in reply He set before them the parable of the sheep in these terms: “What man shall there be among you that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath-day, will he not lay hold on it and lift it out? How much, then, is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath-days;” whereas Mark and Luke rather represent the people to have had this question put to them by the Lord, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath-day, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?” We solve this difficulty, however, by the supposition that the people in the first instance asked the Lord, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day?” that thereupon, knowing the thoughts of the men who were thus seeking an occasion for accusing Him, He set the man whom He had been on the point of healing in their midst, and addressed to them the interrogations which Mark and Luke mention to have been put; that, as they remained silent, He next put before them the parable of the sheep, and drew the conclusion that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath-day; and that, finally, when He had looked round about on them with anger, as Mark tells us, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch forth thine hand.”

83. Matthew continues his narrative, connecting it in the following manner with what precedes: “But the Pharisees went out and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him. But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew Himself from thence: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all; and charged them that they should not make Him known: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Esaias, saying;” and so forth, down to where it is said, “And in His name shall the Gentiles trust.” He is the only one that records these facts. The other two have advanced to other themes. Mark, it is true, seems to some extent to have kept by the historical order: for he tells us how Jesus, on discovering the malignant disposition which was entertained toward Him by the Jews, withdrew to the sea along with His disciples, and that then vast multitudes flocked to Him, and He healed great numbers of them. But, at the same time, it is not quite clear at what precise point He begins to pass to a new subject, different from what would have followed in strict succession. He leaves it uncertain whether such a transition is made at the point where he tells us how the multitudes gathered about Him (for if that was the case now, it might equally well have been the case at some other time), or at the point where He says that “He goeth up into a mountain.” It is this latter circumstance that Luke also appears to notice when he says, “And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray.” For by the expression “in those days,” he makes it plain enough that the incident referred to did not occur in immediate succession upon what precedes.

84. Matthew then goes on with his recital in the following fashion: “Then was brought unto Him one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb; and He healed him, insomuch that he both spake and saw.” Luke introduces this narrative, not in the same order, but after a number of other matters. He also speaks of the man only as dumb, and not as blind in addition. But it is not to be inferred, from the mere circumstance of his silence as to some portion or other of the account, that he speaks of an entirely different person. For he has likewise recorded what followed [immediately after that cure], as it stands also in Matthew.

85. Matthew proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils but in Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation;” and so on, down to the words, “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Mark does not bring in this allegation against Jesus, that He cast out devils in [the power of] Beelzebub, in immediate sequence on the story of the dumb man; but after certain other matters, recorded by himself alone, he introduces this incident also, either because he recalled it to mind in a different connection, and so appended it there, or because he had at first made certain omissions in his history, and after noticing these, took up this order of narration again. On the other hand, Luke gives an account of these things almost in the same language as Matthew has employed. And the circumstance that Luke here designates the Spirit of God as the finger of God, does not betray any departure from a genuine identity in sense; but it rather teaches us an additional lesson, giving us to know in what manner we are to interpret the phrase “the finger of God” wherever it occurs in the Scriptures. Moreover, with regard to other matters which are left unmentioned in this section both by Mark and by Luke, no difficulty can be raised by these. Neither can that be the case with some other circumstances which are related by them in somewhat different terms, for the sense still remains the same.

86. Matthew goes on and relates what followed thus: “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign of thee;” and so on, down to where we read, “Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” These words are recorded also by Luke in this connection, although in a somewhat different order. For he has mentioned the fact that they sought of the Lord a sign from heaven at an earlier point in his narrative, which makes it follow immediately on his version of the miracle wrought on the dumb man. He has not, however, recorded there the reply which was given to them by the Lord. But further on, after [telling us how] the people were gathered together, he states that this answer was returned to the persons who, as he gives us to understand, were mentioned by him in those earlier verses as seeking of Him a sign from heaven. And that reply he also subjoins, only after introducing the passage regarding the woman who said to the Lord, “Blessed is the womb that bare thee.” This notice of the woman, moreover, he inserts after relating the Lord’s discourse concerning the unclean spirit that goes out of the man, and then returns and finds the house garnished. In this way, then, after the notice of the woman, and after his statement of the reply which was made to the multitudes on the subject of the sign which they sought from heaven, he brings in the similitude of the prophet Jonas; and then, directly continuing the Lord’s discourse, he next instances what was said concerning the Queen of the South and the Ninevites. Thus he has rather related something which Matthew has passed over in silence, than omitted any of the facts which that evangelist has narrated in this place. And furthermore, who can fail to perceive that the question as to the precise order in which these words were uttered by the Lord is a superfluous one? For this lesson also we ought to learn, on the unimpeachable authority of the evangelists,—namely, that no offence against truth need be supposed on the part of a writer, although he may not reproduce the discourse of some speaker in the precise order in which the person from whose lips it proceeded might have given it; the fact being, that the mere item of the order, whether it be this or that, does not affect the subject-matter itself. And by his present version Luke indicates that this discourse of the Lord was of greater length than we might otherwise have supposed; and he records certain topics handled in it, which resemble those which are mentioned by Matthew in his recital of the sermon which was delivered on the mount. So that we take these words to have been spoken twice over, to wit, on that previous occasion, and again on this one. But on the conclusion of this discourse Luke proceeds to another subject, as to which it is uncertain whether, in the account which he gives of it, he has kept by the order of actual occurrence. For he connects it in this way: “And as He spake, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him.” He does not say, however, “as He spake these words,” but only “as He spake.” For if he had said, “as He spake these words,” the expression would of course have compelled us to suppose that the incidents referred to, besides being recorded by him in this order, also took place on the Lord’s part in that same order.

87. Matthew then proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “While He yet talked to the people, behold, His mother and His brethren stood without, desiring to speak to Him;” and so on, down to the words, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Without doubt, we ought to understand this to have occurred in immediate sequence on the preceding incidents. For he has prefaced his transition to this narrative by the words, “While He yet talked to the people;” and what does this term “yet” refer to, but to the very matter of which He was speaking on that occasion? For the expression is not, “When He talked to the people, Behold, His mother and His brethren;” but, “While He was yet speaking,” etc. And that phraseology compels us to suppose that it was at the very time when He was still engaged in speaking of those things which were mentioned immediately above. For Mark has also related what our Lord said after His declaration on the subject of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. He gives it thus: “And there came His mother and His brethren,” omitting certain matters which meet us in the context connected with that discourse of the Lord, and which Matthew has introduced there with greater fulness than Mark, and Luke, again, with greater fulness than Matthew. On the other hand, Luke has not kept the historical order in the report which he offers of this incident, but has given it by anticipation, and has narrated it as he recalled it to memory, at a point antecedent to the date of its literal occurrence. But furthermore, he has brought it in in such a manner that it appears dissociated from any close connection either with what precedes it or with what follows it. For, after reporting certain of the Lord’s parables, he has introduced his notice of what took place with His mother and His brethren in the following manner: “Then came to Him His mother and His brethren, and could not come at Him for the press.” Thus he has not explained at what precise time it was that they came to Him. And again, when he passes off from this subject, he proceeds in these terms: “Now it came to pass on one of the days, that He went into a ship with His disciples.” And certainly, when he employs this expression, “it came to pass on one of the days,” he indicates clearly enough that we are under no necessity of supposing that the day meant was the very day on which this incident took place, or the one following in immediate succession. Consequently, neither in the matter of the Lord’s words, nor in that of the historical order of the occurrences related, does Matthew’s account of the incident which occurred in connection with the mother and the brethren of the Lord, exhibit any want of harmony with the versions given of the same by the other two evangelists.

88. Matthew continues thus: “In that day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the seaside: and great multitudes were gathered together unto Him, so that He went into a ship and sat, and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And He spake many things unto them in parables, saying;” and so on, down to the words, “Therefore every scribe which is instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” That the things narrated in this passage took place immediately after the incident touching the mother and the brethren of the Lord, and that Matthew has also retained that historical order in his version of these events, is indicated by the circumstance that, in passing from the one subject to the other, he has expressed the connection by this mode of speech: “In that day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea-side; and great multitudes were gathered together unto Him.” For by adopting this phrase, “in that day” (unless perchance the word “day,” in accordance with a use and wont of the Scriptures, may signify simply “time”), he intimates clearly enough either that the thing now related took place in immediate succession on what precedes, or that much at least could not have intervened. This inference is confirmed by the fact that Mark keeps by the same order. Luke, on the other hand, after his account of what happened with the mother and the brethren of the Lord, passes to a different subject. But at the same time, in making that transition, he does not institute any such connection as bears the appearance of a want of consistency with this order. Consequently, in all those passages in which Mark and Luke have reported in common with Matthew the words which were spoken by the Lord, there is no questioning their harmony with one another. Moreover, the sections which are given by Matthew only are even much more beyond the range of controversy. And in the matter of the order of narration, although it is presented somewhat differently by the various evangelists, according as they have proceeded severally along the line of historical succession, or along that of the succession of recollection, I see as little reason for alleging any discrepancy of statement or any contradiction between any of the writers.

89. Matthew thence proceeds as follows: “And it came to pass that, when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed thence: and when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogues;” and so on, down to the words, “And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Thus he passes from the above discourse containing the parables, on to this passage, in such a way as not to make it absolutely necessary for us to take the one to have followed in immediate historical succession upon the other. All the more may we suppose this to be the case, when we see how Mark passes on from these parables to a subject which is not identical with Matthew’s directly succeeding theme, but quite different from that, and agreeing rather with what Luke introduces; and how he has constructed his narrative in such a manner as to make the balance of credibility rest on the side of the supposition, that what followed in immediate historical sequence was rather the occurrences which these two latter evangelists both insert in near connection [with the parables],—namely, the incidents of the ship in which Jesus was asleep, and the miracle performed in the expulsion of the devils in the country of the Gerasenes,—two events which Matthew has already recalled and introduced at an earlier stage of his record. At present, therefore, we have to consider whether [Matthew’s report of] what the Lord spoke, and what was said to Him in His own country, is in concord with the accounts given by the other two, namely, Mark and Luke. For, in widely different and dissimilar sections of his history, John mentions words, either spoken to the Lord or spoken by Him, which resemble those recorded in this passage by the other three evangelists.

90. Now Mark, indeed, gives this passage in terms almost precisely identical with those which meet us in Matthew; with the one exception, that what he says the Lord was called by His fellow-townsmen is, “the carpenter, and the son of Mary,” and not, as Matthew tells us, the “carpenter’s son.” Neither is there anything to marvel at in this, since He might quite fairly have have been designated by both these names. For in taking Him to be the son of a carpenter, they naturally also took Him to be a carpenter. Luke, on the other hand, sets forth the same incident on a wider scale, and records a variety of other matters which took place in that connection. And this account he brings in at a point not long subsequent to His baptism and temptation, thus unquestionably introducing by anticipation what really happened only after the occurrence of a number of intervening circumstances. In this, therefore, every one may see an illustration of a principle of prime consequence in relation to this most weighty question concerning the harmony of the evangelists, which we have undertaken to solve by the help of God,—the principle, namely, that it is not by mere ignorance that these writers have been led to make certain omissions, and that it is as little through simple ignorance of the actual historical order of events that they have [at times] preferred to keep by the order in which these events were recalled to their own memory. The correctness of this principle may be gathered most clearly from the fact that, at a point antecedent to any account given by him of anything done by the Lord at Capharnaum, Luke has anticipated the literal date, and has inserted this passage which we have at present under consideration, and in which we are told how His fellow-citizens at once were astonished at the might of the authority which was in Him, and expressed their contempt for the meanness of His family. For he tells us that He addressed them in these terms: “Ye will surely say unto me, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy country;” while, so far as the narrative of this same Luke is concerned, we have not yet read of Him as having done anything at Capharnaum. Furthermore, as it will not take up much time, and as, besides, it is both a very simple and a highly needful matter to do so, we insert here the whole context, showing the subject from which and the method in which the writer has come to give the contents of this section. After his statement regarding the Lord’s baptism and temptation, he proceeds in these terms: “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. And He taught in their synagogues, and was magnified of all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as his custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath-day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias: and when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me. He hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the accepted year of the Lord, and the day of retribution. And when He had closed the book, He gave it again to the minister, and sat down: and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And He said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy country.” And so he continues with the rest, until this entire section in his narrative is gone over. What, therefore, can be more manifest, than that he has knowingly introduced this notice at a point antecedent to its historical date, seeing it admits of no question that he knows and refers to certain mighty deeds done by Him before this period in Capharnaum, which, at the same time, he is aware he has not as yet narrated in detail? For certainly he has not made such an advance with his history from his notice of the Lord’s baptism, as that he should be supposed to have forgotten the fact that up to this point he has not mentioned any of the things which took place in Capharnaum; the truth being, that he has just begun here, after the baptism, to give us his narrative concerning the Lord personally.

91. Matthew continues: “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, and said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist: he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.” Mark gives the same passage, and in the same manner, but not in the same order. For, after relating how the Lord sent forth the disciples with the charge to take nothing with them on the journey save a staff only, and after bringing to its close so much of the discourse which was then delivered as has been recorded by him, he has subjoined this section. He does not, however, connect it in such a way as to compel us to suppose that what it narrates took place actually in immediate sequence on what precedes it in the history. And in this, indeed, Matthew is at one with him. For Matthew’s expression is, “at that time,” not “on that day,” or “at that hour.” Only there is this difference between them, that Mark refers not to Herod himself as the utterer of the words in question, but to the people, his statement being this: “They said that John the Baptist was risen from the dead;” whereas Matthew makes Herod himself the speaker, the phrase being: “He said unto his servants.” Luke, again, keeping the same order of narration as Mark, and introducing it also indeed, like Mark, in no such way as to compel us to suppose that his order must have been the order of actual occurrence, presents his version of the same passage in the following terms: “Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; and of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see Him.” In these words Luke also attests Mark’s statement, at least, so far as concerns the affirmation that it was not Herod himself, but other parties, who said that John was risen from the dead. But as regards his mentioning how Herod was perplexed, and his bringing in thereafter those words of the same prince: “John have I beheaded: but who is this of whom I hear such things?” we must either understand that after the said perplexity he became persuaded in his own mind of the truth of what was asserted by others, when he spoke to his servants, in accordance with the version given by Matthew, which runs thus: “And he said to his servants, This is John the Baptist: he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him;” or we must suppose that these words were uttered in a manner betraying that he was still in a state of perplexity. For had he said, “Can this be John the Baptist?” or, “Can it chance that this is John the Baptist?” there would have been no need of saying anything about a mode of utterance by which he might have revealed his dubiety and perplexity. But seeing that these forms of expression are not before us, his words may be taken to have been pronounced in either of two ways: so that we may either suppose him to have been convinced by what was said by others, and so to have spoken the words in question with a real belief [in John’s reappearance]; or we may imagine him to have been still in that state of hesitancy of which mention is made by Luke. Our explanation is favoured by the fact that Mark, who had already told us how it was by others that the statement was made as to John having risen from the dead, does not fail to let us know also that in the end Herod himself spoke to this effect: “It is John whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.” For these words may also be taken to have been pronounced in either of two ways,—namely, as the utterances either of one corroborating a fact, or of one in doubt. Moreover, while Luke passes on to a new subject after the notice which he gives of this incident, those other two, Matthew and Mark, take occasion to tell us at this point in what way John was put to death by Herod.

92. Matthew then proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “For Herod laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother’s wife;” and so on, down to the words, “And his disciples came and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.” Mark gives this narrative in similar terms. Luke, on the other hand, does not relate it in the same succession, but introduces it in connection with his statement of the baptism wherewith the Lord was baptized. Hence we are to understand him to have acted by anticipation here, and to have taken the opportunity of recording at this point an event which took place actually a considerable period later. For he has first reported those words which John spake with regard to the Lord—namely, that “His fan is in His hand, and that He will thoroughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn up with fire unquenchable;” and immediately thereafter he has appended his statement of an incident which the evangelist John demonstrates not to have taken place in direct historical sequence. For this latter writer mentions that, after Jesus had been baptized, He went into Galilee at the period when He turned the water into wine; and that, after a sojourn of a few days in Capharnaum, He left that district and returned to the land of Judaea, and there baptized a multitude about the Jordan, previous to the time when John was imprisoned. Now what reader, unless he were all the better versed in these writings, would not take it to be implied here that it was after the utterance of the words with regard to the fan and the purged floor that Herod became incensed against John, and cast him into prison? Yet, that the incident referred to here did not, as matter of fact, occur in the order in which it is here recorded, we have already shown elsewhere; and, indeed, Luke himself puts the proof into our hands. For if [he had meant that] John’s incarceration took place immediately after the utterance of those words, then what are we to make of the fact that in Luke’s own narrative the baptism of Jesus is introduced subsequently to his notice of the imprisonment of John? Consequently it is manifest that, recalling the circumstance in connection with the present occasion, he has brought it in here by anticipation, and has thus inserted it in his history at a point antecedent to a number of incidents, of which it was his purpose to leave us some record, and which, in point of time, were antecedent to this mishap that befell John. But it is as little the case that the other two evangelists, Matthew and Mark, have placed the fact of John’s imprisonment in that position in their narratives which, as is apparent also from their own writings, belonged to it in the actual order of events. For they, too, have told us how it was on John’s being cast into prison that the Lord went into Galilee; and then, after [relating] a number of things which He did in Galilee, they come to Herod’s admonition or doubt as to the rising again from the dead of that John whom he beheaded; and in connection with this latter occasion, they give us the story of all that occurred in the matter of John’s incarceration and death.

93. After stating how the report of John’s death was brought to Christ, Matthew continues his account, and introduces it in the following connection: “When Jesus heard of it, He departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed Him on foot out of the cities. And He went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.” He mentions, therefore, that this took place immediately after John had suffered. Consequently it was after this that those things took place which have been previously recorded—namely, the circumstances which alarmed Herod, and induced him to say, “John have I beheaded.” For it must surely be understood that these incidents occurred subsequently which report carried to the ears of Herod, so that he became anxious, and was in perplexity as to who that person possibly could be of whom he heard things so remarkable, when he had himself put John to death. Mark, again, after relating how John suffered, mentions that the disciples who had been sent forth returned to Jesus, and told Him all that they had done and taught; and that the Lord (a fact which he alone records) directed them to rest for a little while in a desert place, and that He went on board a vessel with them, and departed; and that the crowds of people, when they perceived that movement, went before them to that place; and that the Lord had compassion on them, and taught them many things; and that, when the hour was now advancing, it came to pass that all who were present were made to eat of the five loaves and the two fishes. This miracle has been recorded by all the four evangelists. For in like manner, Luke, who has given an account of the death of John at a much earlier stage in his narrative, in connection with the occasion of which we have spoken, in the present context tells us first of Herod’s perplexity as to who the Lord could be, and immediately thereafter appends statements to the same effect with those in Mark,—namely, that the apostles returned to Him, and reported to Him all that they had done; and that then He took them with Him and departed into a desert place, and that the multitudes followed Him thither, and that He spake to them concerning the kingdom of God, and restored those who stood in need of healing. Then, too, he mentions that, when the day was declining, the miracle of the five loaves was wrought.

94. But John, again, who differs greatly from those three in this respect, that he deals more with the discourses which the Lord delivered than with the works which He so marvellously wrought, after recording how He left Judaea and departed the second time into Galilee, which departure is understood to have taken place at the time to which the other evangelists also refer when they tell us that on John’s imprisonment He went into Galilee,—after recording this, I say, John inserts in the immediate context of his narrative the considerable discourse which He spake as He was passing through Samaria, on the occasion of His meeting with the Samaritan woman whom He found at the well; and then he states that two days after this He departed thence and went into Galilee, and that thereupon He came to Cana of Galilee, where He had turned the water into wine, and that there He healed the son of a certain nobleman. But as to other things which the rest have told us He did and said in Galilee, John is silent. At the same time, however, he mentions something which the others have left unnoticed,—namely, the fact that He went up to Jerusalem on the day of the feast, and there wrought the miracle on the man who had the infirmity of thirty-eight years standing, and who found no one by whose help he might be carried down to the pool in which people afflicted with various diseases were healed. In connection with this, John also relates how He spake many things on that occasion. He tells us, further, that after these events He departed across the sea of Galilee, which is also the sea of Tiberias, and that a great multitude followed Him; that thereupon He went away to a mountain, and there sat with His disciples,—the passover, a feast of the Jews, being then nigh; that then, on lifting up His eyes and seeing a very great company, He fed them with the five loaves and the two fishes; which notice is given us also by the other evangelists. And this makes it certain that he has passed by those incidents which form the course along which these others have come to introduce the notice of this miracle into their narratives. Nevertheless, while different methods of narration, as it appears, are prosecuted, and while the first three evangelists have thus left unnoticed certain matters which the fourth has recorded, we see how those three, on the one hand, who have been keeping nearly the same course, have found a direct meeting-point with each other at this miracle of the five loaves; and how this fourth writer, on the other hand, who is conversant above all with the profound teachings of the Lord’s discourses, in relating some other matters on which the rest are silent, has sped round in a certain method upon their track, and, while about to soar off from their pathway after a brief space again into the region of loftier subjects, has found a meeting-point with them in the view of presenting this narrative of the miracle of the five loaves, which is common to them all.

95. Matthew then proceeds and carries on his narrative in due consecution to the said incident connected with the five loaves in the following manner: “And when it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat;” and so forth, down to where we read, “And the number of those who ate was five thousand men, besides women and children.” This miracle, therefore, which all the four evangelists record, and in which they are supposed to betray certain discrepancies with each other, must be examined and subjected to discussion, in order that we may also learn from this instance some rules which will be applicable to all other similar cases in the form of principles regulating modes of statement in which, however diverse they may be, the same sense is nevertheless retained, and the same veracity in the expression of matters of fact is preserved. And, indeed, this investigation ought to begin not with Matthew, although that would be in accordance with the order in which the evangelists stand, but rather with John, by whom the narrative in question is told with such particularity as to record even the names of the disciples with whom the Lord conversed on this subject. For he gives the history in the following terms: “When Jesus than lifted up His eyes, and saw a very great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this He said to prove him; for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto Him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are they among so many? Jesus said therefore, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. And when they were filled, He said unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that they be not lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.”

96. The inquiry which we have here to handle does not concern itself with a statement given by this evangelist, in which he specifies the kind of loaves; for he has not omitted to mention, what has been omitted by the others, that they were barley loaves. Neither does the question deal with what he has left unnoticed,—namely, the fact that, in addition to the five thousand men, there were also women and children, as Matthew tells us. And it ought now by all means to be a settled matter, and one kept regularly in view in all such investigations, that no one should find any difficulty in the mere circumstance that something which is unrecorded by one writer is related by another. But the question here is as to how the several matters narrated by these writers may be [shown to be] all true, so that the one of them, in giving his own peculiar version, does not put out of court the account offered by the other. For if the Lord, according to the narrative of John, on seeing the multitudes before Him, asked Philip, with the view of proving him, whence bread might be got to be given to them, a difficulty may be raised as to the truth of the statement which is made by the others,—namely, that the disciples first said to the Lord that He should send the multitudes away, in order that they might go and purchase food for themselves in the neighbouring localities, and that He made this reply to them, according to Matthew: “They need not depart; give ye them to eat.” With this last Mark and Luke also agree, only that they leave out the words, “They need not depart.” We are to suppose, therefore, that after these words the Lord looked at the multitude, and spoke to Philip in the terms which John records, but which those others have omitted. Then the reply which, according to John, was made by Philip, is mentioned by Mark as having been given by the disciples,—the intention being, that we should understand Philip to have returned this answer as the mouthpiece of the rest; although they may also have put the plural number in place of the singular, according to very frequent usage. The words here actually ascribed to Philip—namely, “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little”—have their counterpart in this version by Mark, “Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?” The expression, again, which the same Mark relates to have been used by the Lord, namely, “How many loaves have ye?” has been passed by without notice by the rest. On the other hand, the statement occurring in John, to the effect that Andrew made the suggestion about the five loaves and the two fishes, appears in the others, who use here the plural number instead of the singular, as a notice referring the suggestion to the disciples generally. And, indeed, Luke has coupled Philip’s reply together with Andrew’s answer in one sentence. For when he says, “We have no more but five loaves and two fishes,” he reports Andrew’s response; but when he adds, “except we should go and buy meat for all this people,” he seems to carry us back to Philip’s reply, only that he has left unnoticed the “two hundred pennyworth.” At the same time, that [sentence about the going and buying meat] may also be understood to be implied in Andrew’s own words. For after saying, “There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two fishes,” he likewise subjoined, “But what are they among so many?” And this last clause really means the same as the expression in question, namely, “except we should go and buy meat for all this people.”

97. From all this variety of statement which is found in connection with a genuine harmony in regard to the matters of fact and the ideas conveyed, it becomes sufficiently clear that we have the wholesome lesson inculcated upon us, that what we have to look to in studying a person’s words is nothing else than the intention of the speakers; in setting forth which intention all truthful narrators ought to take the utmost pains when they record anything, whether it may relate to man, or to angels, or to God. For the subjects’ mind and intention admit of being expressed in words which should leave no appearance of any discrepancies as regards the matter of fact.

98. In this connection, it is true, we ought not to omit to direct the reader’s attention to certain other matters which may turn out to be of a kindred nature with those already considered. One of these is found in the circumstance that Luke has stated that they were ordered to sit down by fifties, whereas Mark’s version is that it was by hundreds and by fifties. This difference, however, creates no real difficulty. The truth is, that the one has reported simply a part, and the other has given the whole. For the evangelist who has introduced the notice of the hundreds as well as the fifties has just mentioned something which the other has left unmentioned. But there is no contradiction between them on that account. If, indeed, the one had noticed only the fifties, and the other only the hundreds, they might certainly have seemed to be in some antagonism with each other, and it might not have been easy to make it plain that both instructions were actually uttered, although only the one has been specified by the former writer, and the other by the latter. And yet, even in such a case, who will not acknowledge that when the matter was subjected to more careful consideration, the solution should have been discovered? This I have instanced now for this reason, that matters of that kind do often present themselves, which, while they really contain no discrepancies, appear to do so to persons who pay insufficient attention to them, and pronounce upon them inconsiderately.

99. Matthew goes on with his account in the following terms: “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit;” and so on, down to the words, “They came and worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.” In like manner, Mark, after narrating the miracle of the five loaves, gives his account of this same incident in the following terms: “And when it was late, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He alone on the land. And He saw them toiling in rowing: for the wind was contrary to them,” and so on. This is similar to Matthew’s version, except that nothing is said as to Peter’s walking upon the waters. But here we must see to it, that no difficulty be found in what Mark has stated regarding the Lord, namely, that, when He walked upon the waters, He would also have passed by them. For in what way could they have understood this, were it not that He was really proceeding in a different direction from them, as if minded to pass those persons by like strangers, who were so far from recognizing Him that they took Him to be a spirit? Who, however, is so obtuse as not to perceive that this bears a mystical significance? At the same time, too, He came to the help of the men in their perturbation and outcry, and said to them, “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid.” What is the explanation, therefore, of His wish to pass by those persons whom nevertheless He thus encouraged when they were in terror, but that that intention to pass them by was made to serve the purpose of drawing forth those cries to which it was meet to bear succour?

100. Furthermore, John still tarries for a little space with these others. For, after his recital of the miracle of the five loaves, he also gives us some account of the vessel that laboured, and of the Lord’s act in walking upon the sea. This notice he connects with his preceding narrative in the following manner: “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force and make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone. And when it became late, His disciples went down unto the sea; and when they had entered into a ship, they came over the sea to Capharnaum: and it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew,” and so on. In this there cannot appear to be anything contrary to the records preserved in the other Gospels, unless it be the circumstance that Matthew tells us how, when the multitudes were sent away, He went up into a mountain, in order that there He might pray alone; while John states that He was on a mountain with those same multitudes whom He fed with the five loaves. But seeing that John also informs us how He departed into a mountain after the said miracle, to preclude His being taken possession of by the multitudes, who wished to make Him a king, it is surely evident that they had come down from the mountain to more level ground when those loaves were provided for the crowds. And consequently there is no contradiction between the statements made by Matthew and John as to His going up again to the mountain. The only difference is, that Matthew uses the phrase “He went up,” while John’s term is “He departed.” And there would be an antagonism between these two, only if in departing He had not gone up. Nor, again, is any want of harmony betrayed by the fact that Matthew’s words are, “He went up into a mountain apart to pray;” whereas John puts it thus: “When He perceived that they would come to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone.” Surely the matter of the departure is in no way a thing antagonistic to the matter of prayer. For, indeed, the Lord, who in His own person transformed the body of our humiliation in order that He might make it like unto the body of His own glory, hereby taught us also the truth that the matter of departure should be to us in like manner grave matter for prayer. Neither, again, is there any defect of consistency proved by the circumstance that Matthew has told us first how He commanded His disciples to embark in the little ship, and to go before Him unto the other side of the lake until He sent the multitudes away, and then informs us that, after the multitudes were sent away, He Himself went up into a mountain alone to pray; while John mentions first that He departed unto a mountain alone, and then proceeds thus: “And when it became late, His disciples came down unto the sea; and when they had entered into a ship,” etc. For who will not perceive that, in recapitulating the facts, John has spoken of something as actually done at a later point by the disciples, which Jesus had already charged them to do before His own departure unto the mountain; just as it is a familiar procedure in discourse, to revert in some fashion or other to any matter which otherwise would have been passed over? But inasmuch as it may not be specifically noted that a reversion, especially when done briefly and instantaneously, is made to something omitted, the auditors are sometimes led to suppose that the occurrence which is mentioned at the later stage also took place literally at the later period. In this way the evangelist’s statement really is, that to those persons whom he had described as embarking in the ship and coming across the sea to Capharnaum, the Lord came, walking toward them upon the waters, as they were toiling in the deep; which approach of the Lord of course took place at the earlier point, during the said voyage in which they were making their way to Capharnaum.

101. On the other hand, Luke, after the record of the miracle of the five loaves, passes to another subject, and diverges from this order of narration. For he makes no mention of that little ship, and of the Lord’s pathway over the waters. But after the statement conveyed in these words, “And they did all eat, and were filled, and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets,” he has subjoined the following notice: “And it came to pass, as He was alone praying, His disciples were with Him; and He asked them, saying, Who say the people that I am?” Thus he relates in this succession something new, which is not given by those three who have left us the account of the manner in which the Lord walked upon the waters, and came to the disciples when they were on the voyage. It ought not, however, on this account, to be supposed that it was on that same mountain to which Matthew has told us He went up in order to pray alone, that He said to His disciples, “Who say the people that I am?” For Luke, too, seems to harmonize with Matthew in this, because his words are, “as He was alone praying;” while Matthew’s were, “He went up unto a mountain alone to pray.” But it must by all means be held to have been on a different occasion that He put this question, since [it is said here, both that] He prayed alone, and [that] the disciples were with Him. Thus Luke, indeed, has mentioned only the fact of His being alone, but has said nothing of His being without His disciples, as is the case with Matthew and John, since [according to these latter] they left Him in order to go before Him to the other side of the sea. For with unmistakeable plainness Luke has added the statement that “His disciples also were with Him.” Consequently, in saying that He was alone, he meant his statement to refer to the multitudes, who did not abide with Him.

102. Matthew proceeds as follows: “And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Genesar. And when the men of that place had knowledge of Him, they sent out unto all that country round about, and brought unto Him all that were diseased, and besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. Then came to Him scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread,” and so on, down to the words, “But to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” This is also related by Mark, in a way which precludes the raising of any question about discrepancies. For anything expressed here by the one in a form differing from that used by the other, involves at least no departure from identity in sense. John, on the other hand, fixing his attention, as his wont is, upon the Lord’s discourses, passes on from the notice of the ship, which the Lord reached by walking upon the waters, to what took place after they disembarked upon the land, and mentions that He took occasion from the eating of the bread to deliver many lessons, dealing pre-eminently with divine things. After this address, too, his narrative is again borne on to one subject after another, in a sublime strain. At the same time, this transition which he thus makes to different themes does not involve any real want of harmony, although he exhibits certain divergencies from these others, with the order of events presented by the rest of the evangelists. For what is there to hinder us from supposing at once that those persons, whose story is given by Matthew and Mark, were healed by the Lord, and that He delivered this discourse which John recounts to the people who followed Him across the sea? Such a supposition is made all the more reasonable by the fact that Capharnaum, to which place they are said, according to John, to have crossed, is near the lake of Genesar; and that, again, is the district into which they came, according to Matthew, on landing.

103. Matthew, accordingly, proceeds with his narrative, after the notice of that discourse which the Lord delivered in the presence of the Pharisees on the subject of the unwashed hands. Preserving also the order of the succeeding events, as far as it is indicated by the transitions from the one to the other, he introduces this account into the context in the following manner: “And Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But He answered her not a word,” and so on, down to the words, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” This story of the woman of Canaan is recorded also by Mark, who keeps the same order of events, and gives no occasion to raise any question as to a want of harmony, unless it be found in the circumstance that he tells us how the Lord was in the house at the time when the said woman came to Him with the petition on behalf of her daughter. Now we might readily suppose that Matthew has simply omitted mention of the house, while nevertheless relating the same occurrence. But inasmuch as he states that the disciples made the suggestion to Him in these terms, “Send her away, for she crieth after us,” he seems to imply distinctly that the woman gave utterance to these cries of entreaty behind the Lord as He walked on. In what sense, then, could it have been “in the house,” unless we are to take Mark to have intimated the fact, that she had gone into the place where Jesus then was, when he mentioned at the beginning of the narrative that He was in the house? But when Matthew says that “He answered her not a word,” he has given us also to understand what neither of the two evangelists has related explicitly,—namely, the fact that during that silence which He maintained Jesus went out of the house. And in this manner all the other particulars are brought into a connection which from this point onwards presents no kind of appearance of discrepancy. For as to what Mark records with respect to the answer which the Lord gave her, to the effect that it was not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it unto the dogs, that reply was returned only after the interposition of certain sayings which Matthew has not left unrecorded. That is to say, [we are to suppose that] there came in first the request which the disciples addressed to Him in regard to the woman’s case, and the answer He gave them, to the effect that He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel; that next there was her own approach, or, in other words, her coming after Him, and worshipping Him, saying, “Lord, help me;” and that then, after all these incidents, those words were spoken which have been recorded by both the evangelists.

104. Matthew proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “And when Jesus had departed from thence, He came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto Him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them; insomuch that the multitudes wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. Then Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat,” and so on, down to the words, “And they that did eat were four thousand men, besides women and children.” This other miracle of the seven loaves and the few little fishes is recorded also by Mark, and that too in almost the same order; the exception being that he inserts before it a narrative given by no other,—namely, that relating to the deaf man whose ears the Lord opened, when He spat and said, “Effeta,” that is, Be opened.

105. In the case of this miracle of the seven loaves, it is certainly not a superfluous task to call attention to the fact that these two evangelists, Matthew and Mark, have thus introduced it into their narrative. For if one of them had recorded this miracle, who at the same time had taken no notice of the instance of the five loaves, he would have been judged to stand opposed to the rest. For in such circumstances, who would not have supposed that there was only the one miracle wrought in actual fact, and that an incomplete and unveracious version of it had been given by the writer referred to, or by the others, or by all of them together; so [that we must have imagined] either that the one evangelist, by a mistake on his own part, had been led to mention seven loaves instead of five; or that the other two, whether as having both presented an incorrect statement, or as having been misled through a slip of memory, had put the number five for the number seven. In like manner, it might have been supposed that there was a contradiction between the twelve baskets and the seven baskets, and again, between the five thousand and the four thousand, expressing the numbers of those who were fed. But now, since those evangelists who have given us the account of the miracle of the seven loaves have also not failed to mention the other miracle of the five loaves, no difficulty can be felt by any one, and all can see that both works were really wrought. This, accordingly, we have instanced, in order that, if in any other passage we come upon some similar deed of the Lord’s, which, as told by one evangelist, seems so utterly contrary to the version of it given by another that no method of solving the difficulty can possibly be found, we may understand the explanation to be simply this, that both incidents really took place, and that they were recorded separately by the two several writers. This is precisely what we have already recommended to attention in the matter of the seating of the multitudes by hundreds and by fifties. For were it not for the circumstance that both these numbers are found noted by the one historian, we might have supposed that the different writers had made contradictory statements.

106. Matthew continues as follows: “And He sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magedan;” and so on, down to the words, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” This has already been recorded in another connection by the same Matthew. Hence again and again we must hold by the position that the Lord spake the same words on repeated occasions; so that when any completely irreconcilable difference appears between statements of His utterances, we are to understand the words to have been spoken twice over. In this case, indeed, Mark also keeps the same order; and after his account of the miracle of the seven loaves, subjoins the same intimation as is given us in Matthew, only with this difference, that Matthew’s expression for the locality is not Dalmanutha, as is read in certain codices, but Magedan. There is no reason, however, for questioning the fact that it is the same place that is intended under both names. For most codices, even of Mark’s Gospel, give no other reading than that of Magedan. Neither should any difficulty be felt in the fact that Mark does not say, as Matthew does, that in the answer which the Lord returned to those who sought after a sign, He referred to Jonah, but mentions simply that He replied in these terms: “There shall no sign be given unto it.” For we are given to understand what kind of sign they asked—namely, one from heaven. And he has simply omitted to specify the words which Matthew has introduced regarding Jonas.

107. Matthew proceeds: “And He left them, and departed. And when His disciples were come to the other side, they forgot to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees;” and so forth, down to where we read, “Then understood they that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” These words are recorded also by Mark, and that likewise in the same order.

108. Matthew continues thus: “And Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi; and He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets;” and so on, down to the words, “And whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Mark relates this nearly in the same order. But he has brought in before it a narrative which is given by him alone,—namely, that regarding the giving of sight to that blind man who said to the Lord, “I see men as trees walking.” Luke, again, also records this incident, inserting it after his account of the miracle of the five loaves; and, as we have already shown above, the order of recollection which is followed in his case is not antagonistic to the order adopted by these others. Some difficulty, however, may be imagined in the circumstance that Luke’s representation bears that the Lord put this question, as to whom men held Him to be, to His disciples at a time when He was alone praying, and when His disciples were also with Him; whereas Mark, on the other hand, tells us that the question was put by Him to the disciples when they were on the way. But this will be a difficulty only to the man who has never prayed on the way.

109. I recollect having already stated that no one should suppose that Peter received that name for the first time on the occasion when He said to Him, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” For the time at which he did obtain this name was that referred to by John, when he mentions that he was addressed in these terms: “Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, Peter.” Hence, too, we are as little to think that Peter got this designation on the occasion to which Mark alludes, when he recounts the twelve apostles individually by name, and tells us how James and John were called the sons of thunder, merely on the ground that in that passage he has recorded the fact that He surnamed him Peter. For that circumstance is noticed there simply because it was suggested to the writer’s recollection at that particular point, and not because it took place in actual fact at that specific time.

110. Matthew proceeds in the following strain: “Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples how that He must go into Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes;” and so on, down to where we read, “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Mark and Luke add these passages in the same order. Only Luke says nothing about the opposition which Peter expressed to the passion of Christ.

111. Matthew continues thus: “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me;” and so on, down to the words, “And then He shall reward every man according to his work.” This is appended also by Mark, who keeps the same order. But he does not say of the Son of man, who was to come with His angels, that He is to reward every man according to his work. Nevertheless, he mentions at the same time that the Lord spoke to this effect: “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” And this may be taken to bear the same sense as is expressed by Matthew, when he says, that “He shall reward every man according to his work.” Luke also adds the same statements in the same order, slightly varying the terms indeed in which they are conveyed, but still showing a complete parallel with the others in regard to the truthful reproduction of the self-same ideas.

112. Matthew proceeds thus: “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom. And after six days, Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into an high mountain;” and so on, down to where we read, “Tell the vision to no man until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” This vision of the Lord upon the mount in the presence of the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, on which occasion also the testimony of the Father’s voice was borne Him from heaven, is related by the three evangelists in the same order, and in a manner expressing the same sense completely. And as regards other matters, they may be seen by the readers to be in accordance with those modes of narration of which we have given examples in many passages already, and in which there are diversities in expression without any consequent diversity in meaning.

113. But with respect to the circumstance that Mark, along with Matthew, tells us how the event took place after six days, while Luke states that it was after eight days, those who find a difficulty here do not deserve to be set aside with contempt, but should be enlightened by the offering of explanations. For when we announce a space of days in these terms, “after so many days,” sometimes we do not include in the number the day on which we speak, or the day on which the thing itself which we intimate beforehand or promise is declared to take place, but reckon only the intervening days, on the real and full and final expiry of which the incident in question is to occur. This is what Matthew and Mark have done. Leaving out of their calculation the day on which Jesus spoke these words, and the day on which He exhibited that memorable spectacle on the mount, they have regarded simply the intermediate days, and thus have used the expression, “after six days.” But Luke, reckoning in the extreme day at either end, that is to say, the first day and the last day, has made it “after eight days,” in accordance with that mode of speech in which the part is put for the whole.

114. Moreover, the statement which Luke makes with regard to Moses and Elias in these terms, “And it came to pass, as they departed from Him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here,” and so forth, ought not to be considered antagonistic to what Matthew and Mark have subjoined to the same effect, as if they made Peter offer this suggestion while Moses and Elias were still talking with the Lord. For they have not expressly said that it was at that time, but rather they have simply left unnoticed the fact which Luke has added,—namely, that it was as they went away that Peter made the suggestion to the Lord with respect to the making of three tabernacles. At the same time, Luke has appended the intimation that it was as they were entering the cloud that the voice came from heaven,—a circumstance which is not affirmed, but which is as little contradicted, by the others.

115. Matthew goes on thus: “And His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist.” This same passage is given also by Mark, who keeps also the same order; and although he exhibits some diversity of expression, he makes no departure from a truthful representation of the same sense. He has not, however, added the statement, that the disciples understood that the Lord had referred to John the Baptist in saying that Elias was come already.

116. Matthew goes on in the following terms: “And when He was come to the multitude, there came to Him a certain man, kneeling down before Him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son; for he is lunatic, and sore vexed;” and so on, down to the words, “Howbeit this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.” Both Mark and Luke record this incident, and that, too, in the same order, without any suspicion of a want of harmony.

117. Matthew continues thus: “And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men; and they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall rise again. And they were exceeding sorry.” Mark and Luke record this passage in the same order.

118. Matthew continues in these terms: “And when they were come to Capharnaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said to him, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes;” and so on, down to where we read: “Thou shall find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” He is the only one who relates this occurrence, after the interposition of which he follows again the order which is pursued also by Mark and Luke in company with him.

119. The same Matthew then proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “In that hour came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who, thinkest Thou, is the greater in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven;” and so on, down to the words, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Of this somewhat lengthened discourse which was spoken by the Lord, Mark, instead of giving the whole, has presented only certain portions, in dealing with which he follows meantime the same order. He has also introduced some matters which Matthew does not mention. Moreover, in this complete discourse, so far as we have taken it under consideration, the only interruption is that which is made by Peter, when he inquires how often a brother ought to be forgiven. The Lord, however, was speaking in a strain which makes it quite clear that even the question which Peter thus proposed, and the answer which was returned to him, belong really to the same address. Luke, again, records none of these things in the order here observed, with the exception of the incident with the little child whom He set before His disciples, for their imitation when they were thinking of their own greatness. For if he has also narrated some other matters of a tenor resembling those which are inserted in this discourse, these are sayings which he has recalled for notice in other connections, and on occasions different from the present: just as John introduces the Lord’s words on the subject of the forgiveness of sins,—namely, those to the effect that they should be remitted to him to whom the apostles remitted them, and that they should be retained to him to whom they retained them, as spoken by the Lord after His resurrection; while Matthew mentions that in the discourse now under notice the Lord made this declaration, which, however, the self-same evangelist at the same time affirms to have been given on a previous occasion to Peter. Therefore, to preclude the necessity of having always to inculcate the same rule, we ought to bear in mind the fact that Jesus uttered the same word repeatedly, and in a number of different places,—a principle which we have pressed so often upon your attention already; and this consideration should save us from feeling any perplexity, even although the order of the sayings may be thought to create some difficulty.

120. Matthew continues giving his narrative in the following manner: “And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, He departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; and great multitudes followed Him; and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came unto Him, tempting Him, and saying, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” And so on, down to the words, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Mark also records this, and observes the same order. At the same time, we must certainly see to it that no appearance of contradiction be supposed to arise from the circumstance that the same Mark tells us how the Pharisees were asked by the Lord as to what Moses commanded them, and that on His questioning them to that effect they returned the answer regarding the bill of divorcement which Moses suffered them to write; whereas, according to Matthew’s version, it was after the Lord had spoken those words in which He had shown them, out of the law, how God made male and female to be one flesh, and how, therefore, those [thus joined together of Him] ought not to be put asunder by man, that they gave the reply, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” To this interrogation, also [as Matthew puts it], He says again in reply, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” There is no difficulty, I repeat, in this; for it is not the case that Mark makes no kind of mention of the reply which was thus given by the Lord, but he brings it in after the answer which was returned by them to His question relating to the bill of divorcement.

121. As far as the order or method of statement here adopted is concerned, we ought to understand that it in no way affects the truth of the subject itself, whether the question regarding the permission to write a bill of divorcement given by the said Moses, by whom also it is recorded that God made male and female to be one flesh, was addressed by these Pharisees to the Lord at the time when He was forbidding the separation of husband and wife, and confirming His declaration on that subject by the authority of the law; or whether the said question was conveyed in the reply which the same persons returned to the Lord, at the time when He asked them about what Moses had commanded them. For His intention was not to offer them any reason for the permission which Moses thus granted them until they had first mentioned the matter themselves; which intention on His part is what is indicated by the inquiry which Mark has introduced. On the other hand, their desire was to use the authority of Moses in commanding the giving of a bill of divorcement, for the purpose of stopping His mouth, so to speak, in the matter of forbidding, as they believed He undoubtedly would do, a man to put away his wife. For they had approached Him with the view of saying what would tempt Him. And this desire of theirs is what is indicated by Matthew, when, instead of stating how they were interrogated first themselves, he represents them as having of their own accord put the question about the precept of Moses, in order that they might thereby, as it were, convict the Lord of doing what was wrong in prohibiting the putting away of wives. Wherefore, since the mind of the speakers, in the service of which the words ought to stand, has been exhibited by both evangelists, it is no matter how the modes of narration adopted by the two may differ, provided neither of them fails to give a correct representation of the subject itself.

122. Another view of the matter may also be taken, namely, that, in accordance with Mark’s statement, when these persons began by questioning the Lord on the subject of the putting away of a wife, He questioned them in turn as to what Moses commanded them; and that, on their replying that Moses suffered them to write a bill of divorcement and put the wife away, He made His answer to them regarding the said law which was given by Moses, reminding them how God instituted the union of male and female, and addressing them in the words which are inserted by Matthew, namely, “Have ye not read that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female?” and so on. On hearing these words, they repeated in the form of an inquiry what they had already given utterance to when replying to His first interrogation, namely the expression, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” Then Jesus showed that the reason was the hardness of their heart; which explanation Mark brings in, with a view to brevity, at an earlier point, as if it had been given in reply to that former response of theirs, which Matthew has passed over. And this he does as judging that no injury could be done to the truth at whichever point the explanation might be introduced, seeing that the words, with a view to which it was returned, had been uttered twice in the same form; and seeing also that the Lord, in any case, had offered the said explanation in reply to such words.

123. Matthew proceeds thus: “Then were there brought unto Him little children, that He should put His hands on them, and pray; and the disciples rebuked them;” and so on, down to where we read, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Mark has followed the same order here as Matthew. But Matthew is the only one who introduces the section relating to the labourers who were hired for the vineyard. Luke, on the other hand, first mentions what He said to those who were asking each other who should be the greatest, and next subjoins at once the passage concerning the man whom they had seen casting out devils, although he did not follow Him; then he parts company with the other two at the point where he tells us how He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem; and after the interposition of a number of subjects, he joins them again in giving the story of the rich man, to whom the word is addressed, “Sell all that thou hast,” which individual’s case is related here by the other two evangelists, but still in the succession which is followed by all the narratives alike. For in the passage referred to in Luke, that writer does not fail to bring in the story of the little children, just as the other two do immediately before the mention of the rich man. With regard, then, to the accounts which are given us of this rich person, who asks what good thing he should do in order to obtain eternal life, there may appear to be some discrepancy between them, because the words were, according to Matthew, “Why askest thou me about the good?” while according to the others they were, “Why callest thou me good?” The sentence, “Why askest thou me about the good?” may then be referred more particularly to what was expressed by the man when he put the question, “What good thing shall I do?” For there we have both the name “good” applied to Christ, and the question put. But the address “Good Master” does not of itself convey the question. Accordingly, the best method of disposing of it is to understand both these sentences to have been uttered, “Why callest thou me good?” and, “Why askest thou me about the good?”

124. Matthew continues his narrative in the following terms: “And Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him; and the third day He shall rise again. Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him;” and so on, down to the words, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Here again Mark keeps the same order as Matthew, only he represents the sons of Zebedee to have made the request themselves; while Matthew has stated that it was preferred on their behalf not by their own personal application, but by their mother, as she had laid what was their wish before the Lord. Hence Mark has briefly intimated what was said on that occasion as spoken by them, rather than by her [in their name]. And to conclude with the matter, it is to them rather than to her, according to Matthew no less than according to Mark, that the Lord returned His reply. Luke, on the other hand, after narrating in the same order our Lord’s predictions to the twelve disciples on the subject of His passion and resurrection, leaves unnoticed what the other two evangelists immediately go on to record; and after the interposition of these passages, he is joined by his fellow-writers again [at the point where they report the incident] at Jericho. Moreover, as to what Matthew and Mark have stated with respect to the princes of the Gentiles exercising dominion over those who are subject to them,—namely, that it should not be so with them [the disciples], but that he who was greatest among them should even be a servant to the others,—Luke also gives us something of the same tenor, although not in that connection; and the order itself indicates that the same sentiment was expressed by the Lord on a second occasion.

125. Matthew continues thus: “And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And, behold, two blind men sitting by the wayside heard that Jesus passed by, and cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David;” and so on, down to the words, “And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.” Mark also records this incident, but mentions only one blind man. This difficulty is solved in the way in which a former difficulty was explained which met us in the case of the two persons who were tormented by the legion of devils in the territory of the Gerasenes. For, that in this instance also of the two blind men whom he [Matthew] alone has introduced here, one of them was of pre-eminent note and repute in that city, is a fact made clear enough by the single consideration, that Mark has recorded both his own name and his father’s; a circumstance which scarcely comes across us in all the many cases of healing which had been already performed by the Lord, unless that miracle be an exception, in the recital of which the evangelist has mentioned by name Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, whose daughter Jesus restored to life. And in this latter instance this intention becomes the more apparent, from the fact that the said ruler of the synagogue was certainly a man of rank in the place. Consequently there can be little doubt that this Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, had fallen from some position of great prosperity, and was now regarded as an object of the most notorious and the most remarkable wretchedness, because, in addition to being blind, he had also to sit begging. And this is also the reason, then, why Mark has chosen to mention only the one whose restoration to sight acquired for the miracle a fame as widespread as was the notoriety which the man’s misfortune itself had gained.

126. But Luke, although he mentions an incident altogether of the same tenor, is nevertheless to be understood as really narrating only a similar miracle which was wrought in the case of another blind man, and as putting on record its similarity to the said miracle in the method of performance. For he states that it was performed when He was coming nigh unto Jericho; while the others say that it took place when He was departing from Jericho. Now the name of the city, and the resemblance in the deed, favour the supposition that there was but one such occurrence. But still, the idea that the evangelists really contradict each other here, in so far as the one says, “As He was come nigh unto Jericho,” while the others put it thus, “As He came out of Jericho,” is one which no one surely will be prevailed on to accept, unless those who would have it more readily credited that the gospel is unveracious, than that He wrought two miracles of a similar nature and in similar circumstances. But every faithful son of the gospel will most readily perceive which of these two alternatives is the more credible, and which the rather to be accepted as true; and, indeed, every gainsayer too, when he is advised concerning the real state of the case, will answer himself either by the silence which he will have to observe, or at least by the tenor of his reflections should he decline to be silent.

127. Matthew goes on with his narrative in the following terms: “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the Mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her;” and so on, down to the words, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” Mark also records this occurrence, and inserts it in the same order. Luke, on the other hand, tarries a space by Jericho, recounting certain matters which these others have omitted,—namely, the story of Zacchaeus, the chief of the publicans, and some sayings which are couched in parabolic form. After instancing these things, however, this evangelist again joins company with the others in the narrative relating to the ass on which Jesus sat. And let not the circumstance stagger us, that Matthew speaks both of an ass and of the colt of an ass, while the others say nothing of the ass. For here again we must bear in mind the rule which we have already introduced in dealing with the statements about the seating of the people by fifties and by hundreds on the occasion on which the multitudes were fed with the five loaves. Now, after this principle has been brought into application, the reader should not feel any serious difficulty in the present case. Indeed, even had Matthew said nothing about the colt, just as his fellow-historians have taken no notice of the ass, the fact should not have created any such perplexity as to induce the idea of an insuperable contradiction between the two statements, when the one writer speaks only of the ass, and the others only of the colt of the ass. But how much less cause then for any disquietude ought there to be, when we see that the one writer has mentioned the ass to which the others have omitted to refer, in such a manner as at the same time not to leave unnoticed also the colt of which the rest have spoken! In fine, where it is possible to suppose both objects to have been included in the occurrence, there is no real antagonism, although the one writer may specify only the one thing, and another only the other. How much less need there be any contradiction, when the one writer particularizes the one object, and another instances both!

128. Again, although John tells us nothing as to the way in which the Lord despatched His disciples to fetch these animals to Him, nevertheless he inserts a brief allusion to this colt, and cites also the word of the prophet which Matthew makes use of. In the case also of this testimony from the prophet, the terms in which it is reproduced by the evangelists, although they exhibit certain differences, do not fail to express a sense identical in intention. Some difficulty, however, may be felt in the fact that Matthew adduces this passage in a form which represents the prophet to have made mention of the ass; whereas this is not the case, either with the quotation as introduced by John, or with the version given in the ecclesiastical codices of the translation in common use. An explanation of this variation seems to me to be found in the fact that Matthew is understood to have written his Gospel in the Hebrew language. Moreover, it is manifest that the translation which bears the name of the Septuagint differs in some particulars from the text which is found in the Hebrew by those who know that tongue, and by the several scholars who have given us renderings of the same Hebrew books. And if an explanation is asked for this discrepancy, or for the circumstance that the weighty authority of the Septuagint translation diverges in many passages from the rendering of the truth which is discovered in the Hebrew codices, I am of opinion that no more probable account of the matter will suggest itself, than the supposition that the Seventy composed their version under the influence of the very Spirit by whose inspiration the things which they were engaged in translating had been originally spoken. This is an idea which receives confirmation also from the marvellous consent which is asserted to have characterized them. Consequently, when these translators, while not departing from the real mind of God from which these sayings proceeded, and to the expression of which the words ought to be subservient, gave a different form to some matters in their reproduction of the text, they had no intention of exemplifying anything else than the very thing which we now admiringly contemplate in that kind of harmonious diversity which marks the four evangelists, and in the light of which it is made clear that there is no failure from strict truth, although one historian may give an account of some theme in a manner different indeed from another, and yet not so different as to involve an actual departure from the sense intended by the person with whom he is bound to be in concord and agreement. To understand this is of advantage to character, with a view at once to guard against what is false, and to pronounce correctly upon it; and it is of no less consequence to faith itself, in the way of precluding the supposition that, as it were with consecrated sounds, truth has a kind of defence provided for it which might imply God’s handing over to us not only the thing itself, but likewise the very words which are required for its enunciation; whereas the fact rather is, that the theme itself which is to be expressed is so decidedly deemed of superior importance to the words in which it has to be expressed, that we would be under no obligation to ask about them at all, if it were possible for us to know the truth without the terms, as God knows it, and as His angels also know it in Him.

129. Matthew goes on with his narrative in the following terms: “And when He was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple;” and so on, down to where we read, “But ye have made it a den of thieves.” This account of the multitude of sellers who were cast out of the temple is given by all the evangelists; but John introduces it in a remarkably different order. For, after recording the testimony borne by John the Baptist to Jesus, and mentioning that He went into Galilee at the time when He turned the water into wine, and after he has also noticed the sojourn of a few days in Capharnaum, John proceeds to tell us that He went up to Jerusalem at the season of the Jews’ passover, and when He had made a scourge of small cords, drove out of the temple those who were selling in it. This makes it evident that this act was performed by the Lord not on a single occasion, but twice over; but that only the first instance is put on record by John, and the last by the other three.

130. Matthew continues thus: “And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, they were sore displeased, and said unto Him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise? And He left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and He lodged there. Now in the morning, as He returned into the city, He hungered. And when He saw a single fig-tree in the way, He came to it, and found nothing thereon but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig-tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig-tree withered away! But Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig-tree; but also, if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

131. Mark also records this occurrence in due succession. He does not, however, follow the same order in his narrative. For first of all, the fact which is related by Matthew, namely, that Jesus went into the temple, and cast out those who sold and bought there, is not mentioned at that point by Mark. On the other hand, Mark tells us that He looked round about upon all things, and, when the eventide was now come, went out into Bethany with the twelve. Next he informs us that on another day, when they were coming from Bethany, He was hungry, and cursed the fig-tree, as Matthew also intimates. Then the said Mark subjoins the statement that He came into Jerusalem, and that, on going into the temple, He cast out those who sold and bought there, as if that incident took place not on the first day specified, but on a different day. But inasmuch as Matthew puts the connection in these terms, “And He left them, and went out of the city into Bethany,” and tells us that it was when returning in the morning into the city that He cursed the tree, it is more reasonable to suppose that he, rather than Mark, has preserved the strict order of time so far as regards the incident of the expulsion of the sellers and buyers from the temple. For when he uses the phrase, “And He left them, and went out,” who can be understood by those parties whom He is thus said to have left, but those with whom He was previously speaking,—namely, the persons who were so sore displeased because the children cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David”? It follows, then, that Mark has omitted what took place on the first day, when He went into the temple; and in mentioning that He found nothing on the fig-tree but leaves, he has introduced what He called to mind only there, but what really occurred on the second day, as both evangelists testify. Then, further, his account bears that the astonishment which the disciples expressed at finding how the fig-tree had withered away, and the reply which the Lord made to them on the subject of faith, and the casting of the mountain into the sea, belonged not to this same second day on which He said to the tree, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever,” but to a third day. For in connection with the second day, the said Mark has recorded the incident of the casting of the sellers out of the temple, which he had omitted to notice as belonging to the first day. Accordingly, it is in connection with this second day that he tells us how Jesus went out of the city, when even was come, and how, when they passed by in the morning, the disciples saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots, and how Peter, calling to remembrance, said unto Him, “Master, behold the fig-tree which Thou cursedst is withered away.” Then, too, he informs us that He gave the answer relating to the power of faith. On the other hand, Matthew recounts these matters in a manner importing that they all took place on this second day; that is to say, both the word addressed to the tree, “Let no fruit grow on thee from henceforward for ever,” and the withering that ensued so speedily in the tree, and the reply which He made on the subject of the power of faith to His disciples when they observed that withering and marvelled at it. From this we are to understand that Mark, on his side, has recorded in connection with the second day what he had omitted to notice as occurring really on the first,—namely, the incident of the expulsion of the sellers and buyers from the temple. On the other hand, Matthew, after mentioning what was done on the second day,—namely, the cursing of the fig-tree as He was returning in the morning from Bethany into the city,—has omitted certain facts which Mark has inserted, namely, His coming into the city, and His going out of it in the evening, and the astonishment which the disciples expressed at finding the tree dried up as they passed by in the morning; and then to what had taken place on the second day, which was the day on which the tree was cursed, he has attached what really took place on the third day,—namely, the amazement of the disciples at seeing the tree’s withered condition, and the declaration which they heard from the Lord on the subject of the power of faith. These several facts Matthew has connected together in such a manner that, were we not compelled to turn our attention to the matter by Mark’s narrative, we should be unable to recognise either at what point or with regard to what circumstances the former writer has left anything unrecorded in his narrative. The case therefore stands thus: Matthew first presents the facts conveyed in these words, “And He left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and He lodged there. Now in the morning, as He returned into the city, He hungered; and when He saw a single fig-tree in the way, He came to it, and found nothing thereon but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever; and presently the fig-tree withered away.” Then, omitting the other matters which belonged to that same day, he has immediately subjoined this statement, “And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is it withered away!” although it was on another day that they saw this sight, and on another day that they thus marvelled. But it is understood that the tree did not wither at the precise time when they saw it, but presently when it was cursed. For what they saw was not the tree in the process of drying up, but the tree already dried completely up; and thus they learned that it had withered away immediately on the Lord’s sentence.

132. Matthew continues his narrative in the following terms: “And when He was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto Him as He was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it?” and so on, down to the words, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” The other two, Mark and Luke, have also set forth this whole passage, and that, too, in almost as many words. Neither does there appear to be any discrepancy between them in regard to the order, the only exception being found in the circumstance of which I have spoken above,—namely, that Matthew omits certain matters belonging to a different day, and has constructed his narrative with a connection which, were our attention not called [otherwise] to the fact, might lead to the supposition that he was still treating of the second day, where Mark deals with the third. Moreover, Luke has not appended his notice of this incident, as if he meant to go over the days in orderly succession; but after recording the expulsion of the sellers and buyers from the temple, he has passed by without notice all that is contained in the statements above—His going out into Bethany, and His returning to the city, and what was done to the fig-tree, and the reply touching the power of faith which was made to the disciples when they marvelled. And then, after all these omissions, he has introduced the next section of his narrative in these terms: “And He taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests, and the scribes, and the chief of the people sought to destroy Him; and could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear Him. And it came to pass, that on one of these days, as He taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon Him, with the elders, and spake unto Him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things?” and so on; all which the other two evangelists record in like manner. From this it is apparent that he is in no antagonism with the others, even with regard to the order; since what he states to have taken place “on one of those days,” may be understood to belong to that particular day on which they also have reported it to have occurred.

133. Matthew goes on thus: “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard. But he answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir; and went not;” and so on, down to the words, “And whosoever shall fall upon this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Mark and Luke do not mention the parable of the two sons to whom the order was given to go and labour in the vineyard. But what is narrated by Matthew subsequently to that,—namely, the parable of the vineyard which was let out to the husbandmen, who persecuted the servants that were sent to them, and afterwards put to death the beloved son, and thrust him out of the vineyard,—is not left unrecorded also by those two. And in detailing it they likewise both retain the same order, that is to say, they bring it in after that declaration of their inability to tell which was made by the Jews when interrogated regarding the baptism of John, and after the reply which He returned to them in these words: “Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

134. Now no question implying any contradiction between these accounts rises here, unless it be raised by the circumstance that Matthew, after telling us how the Lord addressed to the Jews this interrogation, “When the lord, therefore, of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?” adds, that they answered and said, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” For Mark does not record these last words as if they constituted the reply returned by the men; but he introduces them as if they were really spoken by the Lord immediately after the question which was put by Him, so that in a certain way He answered Himself. For [in this Gospel] He speaks thus: “What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.” But it is quite easy for us to suppose, either that the men’s words are subjoined herewithout the insertion of the explanatory clause “they said,” or “they replied,” that being left to be understood; or else that the said response is ascribed to the Lord Himself rather than to these men, because when they answered with such truth, He also, who is Himself the Truth, really gave the same reply in reference to the persons in question.

135. More serious difficulty, however, may be created by the fact that Luke not only does not speak of them as the parties who made that answer (for he, as well as Mark, attributes these words to the Lord), but even represents them to have given a contrary reply, and to have said, “God forbid.” For his narrative proceeds in these terms: “What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. And He beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?” How then is it that, according to Matthew’s version, the men to whom He spake these words said, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out this vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons;” whereas, according to Luke, they gave a reply inconsistent with any terms like these, when they said, “God forbid”? And, in truth, what the Lord proceeds immediately to say regarding the stone which was rejected by the builders, and yet was made the head of the corner, is introduced in a manner implying that by this testimony those were confuted who were gainsaying the real meaning of the parable. For Matthew, no less than Luke, records that passage as if it were intended to meet the gainsayers, when he says, “Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?” For what is implied by this question, “Did ye never read,” but that the answer which they had given was opposed to the real intention [of the parable]? This is also indicated by Mark, who gives these same words in the following manner: “And have ye not read this scripture, The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner?” This sentence, therefore, appears to occupy in Luke, rather than the others, the place which is properly assignable to it as originally uttered. For it is brought in by him directly after the contradiction expressed by those men when they said, “God forbid.” And the form in which it is cast by him,—namely, “What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?”—is equivalent in sense to the other modes of statement. For the real meaning of the sentence is indicated equally well, whichever of the three phrases is used, “Did ye never read?” or, “And have ye not read?” or, “What is this, then, that is written?”

136. It remains, therefore, for us to understand that among the people who were listening on that occasion, there were some who replied in the terms related by Matthew, when he writes thus: “They say unto Him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen;” and that there were also some who answered in the way indicated by Luke, that is to say, with the words, “God forbid.” Accordingly, those persons who had replied to the Lord to the former effect, were replied to by these other individuals in the crowd with the explanation, “God forbid.” But the answer which was really given by the first of these two parties, to whom the second said in return, “God forbid,” has been ascribed both by Mark and by Luke to the Lord Himself, on the ground that, as I have already intimated, the Truth Himself spake by these men, whether as by persons who knew not that they were wicked, in the same way that He spake also by Caiaphas, who when he was high priest prophesied without realizing what he said, or as by persons who did understand, and who had come by this time both to knowledge and to belief. For there was also present on this occasion that multitude of people at whose hand the prophecy had already received a fulfilment, when they met Him in a mighty concourse on His approach, and hailed Him with the acclaim, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

137. Neither should we stumble at the circumstance that the same Matthew has stated that the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the Lord, and asked Him by what authority He did these things, and who gave Him this authority, on the occasion when He too, in turn, interrogated them concerning the baptism of John, inquiring whence it was, whether from heaven or of men; to whom also, on their replying that they did not know, He said, “Neither do I tell you by what authority I do those things.” For he has followed up this with the words introduced in the immediate context, “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons,” and so forth. Thus this discourse is brought into a connection which is continued, uninterrupted by the interposition either of any thing or of any person, down to what is related regarding the vineyard which was let out to the husbandmen. It may, indeed, be supposed that He spake all these words to the chief priests and the elders of the people, by whom He had been interrogated with regard to His authority. But then, if these persons had indeed questioned Him with a view to tempt Him, and with a hostile intention, they could not be taken for men who had believed, and who cited the remarkable testimony in favour of the Lord which was taken from a prophet; and surely it is only if they had the character of those who believed, and not of those who were ignorant, that they could have given a reply like this: “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen.” This peculiarity [of Matthew’s account], however, should not by any means so perplex us as to lead us to imagine that there were none who believed among the multitudes who listened at this time to the Lord’s parables. For it is only for the sake of brevity that the same Matthew has passed over in silence what Luke does not fail to mention,—namely, the fact that the said parable was not spoken only to the parties who had interrogated Him on the subject of His authority, but to the people. For the latter evangelist puts it thus: “Then began He to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard,” and so on. Accordingly, we may well understand that among the people then assembled there might also have been persons who could listen to Him as those did who before this had said, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord;” and that either these, or some of them, were the individuals who replied in the words, “He will miserably destroy these wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen.” The answer actually returned by these men, moreover, has been attributed to the Lord Himself by Mark and Luke, not only because their words were really His words, inasmuch as He is the Truth that ofttimes speaks even by the wicked and the ignorant, moving the mind of man by a certain hidden instinct, not in the merit of man’s holiness, but by the right of His own proper power; but also because the men may have been of a character admitting of their being reckoned, not without reason, as already members in the true body of Christ, so that what was said by them might quite warrantably be ascribed to Him whose members they were. For by this time He had baptized more than John, and had multitudes of disciples, as the same evangelists repeatedly testify; and from among these followers He also drew those five hundred brethren, to whom the Apostle Paul tells us that He showed Himself after His resurrection. And this explanation of the matter is supported by the fact that the phrase which occurs in the version by this same Matthew,—namely, “They say unto Him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men,”—is not put in a form necessitating us to take the pronoun illi in the plural number, as if it was intended to mark out the words expressly as the reply made by the persons who had craftily questioned Him on the subject of His authority; but the clause, “They say unto Him,” is so expressed that the term illi should be taken for the singular pronoun, and not the plural, and should be held to signify “unto Him,” that is to say, unto the Lord Himself, as is made clear in the Greek codices, without a single atom of ambiguity.

138. There is a certain discourse of the Lord which is given by the evangelist John, and which may help us more readily to understand the statement I thus make. It is to this effect: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in my word, then ye shall be my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. And they answered Him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the Son abideth for ever. If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.” Now surely it is not to be supposed that He spake these words, “Ye seek to kill me” to those persons who had already believed on Him, and to whom He had said, “If ye abide in my word, then shall ye be my disciples indeed.” But inasmuch as He had spoken in these latter terms to the men who had already believed on Him, and as, moreover, there was present on that occasion a multitude of people, among whom there were many who were hostile to Him, even although the evangelist does not tell us explicitly who those parties were who made the reply referred to, the very nature of the answer which they gave, and the tenor of the words which thereupon were rightly directed to them by Him, make it sufficiently clear what specific persons were then addressed, and what words were spoken to them in particular. Precisely, therefore, as in the multitude thus alluded to by John there were some who had already believed on Jesus, and also some who sought to kill Him, in that other concourse which we are discussing at present there were some who had craftily questioned the Lord on the subject of the authority by which He did these things; and there were also others who had hailed Him, not in deceit, but in faith, with the acclaim, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” And thus, too, there were persons present who could say, “He will destroy those men, and will give his vineyard to others.” This saying, furthermore, may be rightly understood to have been the voice of the Lord Himself, either in virtue of that Truth which in His own Person He is Himself, or on the ground of the unity which subsists between the members of His body and the head. There were also certain individuals present who, when these other parties gave that kind of answer, said to them, “God forbid,” because they understood the parable to be directed against themselves.

139. Matthew goes on as follows: “And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard His parables, they perceived that He spake of them: and when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitude, because they took Him for a prophet. And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding, and they would not come;” and so on, down to the words, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” This parable concerning the guests who were invited to the wedding is related only by Matthew. Luke also records something which resembles it. But that is really a different passage, as the order itself sufficiently indicates, although there is some similarity between the two. The matters introduced, however, by Matthew immediately after the parable concerning the vineyard, and the killing of the son of the head of the house,—namely, the Jews’ perception that this whole discourse was directed against them, and their beginning to contrive treacherous schemes against Him,—are attested likewise by Mark and Luke, who also keep the same order in inserting them. But after this paragraph they proceed to another subject, and immediately subjoin a passage which Matthew has also indeed introduced in due order, but only subsequently to this parable of the marriage, which he alone has put on record here.

140. Matthew then continues in these terms: “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they send out unto Him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man; for thou regardest not the person of men: tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” and so on, down to the words, “And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at His doctrine.” Mark and Luke give a similar account of these two replies made by the Lord,—namely, the one on the subject of the coin, which was prompted by the question as to the duty of giving tribute to Caesar; and the other on the subject of the resurrection, which was suggested by the case of the woman who had married the seven brothers in succession. Neither do these two evangelists differ in the matter of the order. For after the parable which told of the men to whom the vineyard was let out, and which also dealt with the Jews (against whom it was directed), and the evil counsel they were devising (which sections are given by all three evangelists together), these two, Mark and Luke, pass over the parable of the guests who were invited to the wedding (which only Matthew has introduced), and thereafter they join company again with the first evangelist, when they record these two passages which deal with Caesar’s tribute, and the woman who was the wife of seven different husbands, inserting them in precisely the same order, with a consistency which admits of no question.

141. Matthew then proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. And one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” This is recorded also by Mark, and that too in the same order. Neither should there be any difficulty in the statement made by Matthew, to the effect that the person by whom the question was put to the Lord tempted Him; whereas Mark says nothing about that, but tells us at the end of the paragraph how the Lord said to the man, as to one who answered discreetly, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” For it is quite possible that, although the man approached Him with the view of tempting Him, he may have been set right by the Lord’s response. Or we need not at any rate take the tempting referred to in a bad sense, as if it were the device of one who sought to deceive an adversary; but we may rather suppose it to have been the result of caution, as if it were the act of one who wished to have further trial of a person who was unknown to him. For it is not without a good purpose that this sentence has been written, “He that is hasty to give credit is light-minded, and shall be impaired.”

142. Luke, on the other hand, not indeed in this order, but in a widely different connection, introduces something which resembles this. But whether in that passage he is actually recording this same incident, or whether the person with whom the Lord [is represented to have] dealt in a similar manner there on the subject of those two commandments is quite another individual, is altogether uncertain. At the same time, it may appear right to regard the person who is introduced by Luke as a different individual from the one before us here, not only on the ground of the remarkable divergence in the order of narration, but also because he is there reported to have replied to a question which was addressed to him by the Lord, and in that reply to have himself mentioned those two precepts. The same opinion is further confirmed by the fact that, after telling us how the Lord said to him, “This do, and thou shall live,”—thus instructing him to do that great thing which, according to his own answer, was contained in the law,—the evangelist follows up what had passed with the statement, “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” Thereupon, too [according to Luke], the Lord told the story of the man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers. Consequently, considering that this individual is described at the outset as tempting Christ, and is represented to have repeated the two commandments in his reply; and considering, further, that after the counsel which was given by the Lord in the words, “This do, and thou shalt live,” he is not commended as good, but, on the contrary, has this said of him, “But he, willing to justify himself,” etc., whereas the person who is mentioned in parallel order both by Mark and by Luke received a commendation so marked, that the Lord spake to him in these terms, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God,”—the more probable view is that which takes the person who appears on that occasion to be a different individual from the man who comes before us here.

143. Matthew goes on thus: “Now when the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He? They say unto Him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in Spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool? If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son? And no man was able to answer Him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions.” This is given also by Mark in due course, and in the same order. Luke, again, only omits mention of the person who asked the Lord which was the first commandment in the law, and, after passing over that incident in silence, observes the same order once more as the others, narrating just as these, do this question which the Lord put to the Jews concerning Christ, as to how He was David’s son. Neither is the sense at all affected by the circumstance that, as Matthew puts it, when Jesus had asked them what they thought of Christ, and whose son He was, they [the Pharisees] replied, “The son of David,” and then He proposed the further query as to how David then called Him Lord; whereas, according to the version presented by the other two, Mark and Luke, we do not find either that these persons were directly interrogated, or that they made any answer. For we ought to take this view of the matter, namely, that these two evangelists have introduced the sentiments which were expressed by the Lord Himself after the reply made by those parties, and have recorded the terms in which He spoke in the hearing of those whom He wished profitably to instruct in His authority, and to turn away from the teaching of the scribes, and whose knowledge of Christ amounted then only to this, that He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, while they did not understand that He was God, and on that ground also the Lord even of David. It is in this way, therefore, that in the accounts given by these two evangelists, the Lord is mentioned in a manner which makes it appear as if He was discoursing on the subject of these erroneous teachers to men whom He desired to see delivered from the errors in which these scribes were involved. Thus, too, the question, which is presented by Matthew in the form, “What say ye?” is to be taken not as addressed directly to these [Pharisees], but rather as expressed only with reference to those parties, and directed really to the persons whom He was desirous of instructing.

144. Matthew proceeds with his account, observing the following order of narration: “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not;” and so on, down to the words, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Luke also mentions a similar discourse which was spoken by the Lord in opposition to the Pharisees and the scribes and the doctors of the law, but reports it as delivered in the house of a certain Pharisee, who had invited Him to a feast. In order to relate that passage, he has made a digression from the order which is followed by Matthew, about the point at which they have both put on record the Lord’s sayings respecting the sign of the three days and nights in the history of Jonas, and the queen of the south, and the unclean spirit that returns and finds the house swept. And that paragraph is followed up by Matthew with these words: “While He yet talked to the people, behold, His mother and His brethren stood without, desiring to speak with Him.” But in the version which the third Gospel presents of the discourse then spoken by the Lord, after the recital of certain sayings of the Lord which Matthew has omitted to notice, Luke turns off from the order which he had been observing in concert with Matthew, so that his immediately subsequent narrative runs thus: “And as He spake, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him: and He went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that He had not first washed before dinner. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and platter.” And after this, Luke reports other utterances which were directed against the said Pharisees and scribes and teachers of the law, which are of a similar tenor to those which Matthew also recounts in this passage which we have taken in hand at present to consider. Wherefore, although Matthew records these things in a manner which, while it is true indeed that the house of that Pharisee is not mentioned by name, yet does not specify as the scene where the words were spoken any place entirely inconsistent with the idea of His having been in the house referred to; still the facts that the Lord by this time [i.e. according to Matthew’s Gospel] had left Galilee and come into Jerusalem, and that the incidents alluded to above, on to the discourse which is now under review, are so arranged in the context after His arrival as to make it only reasonable to understand them to have taken place in Jerusalem, whereas Luke’s narrative deals with what occurred at the time when the Lord as yet was only journeying towards Jerusalem, are considerations which lead me to the conclusion that these are not the same, but only two similar discourses, of which the former evangelist has reported the one, and the latter the other.

145. This is also a matter which requires some consideration,—namely, the question how it is said here, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord,” when, according to this same Matthew, they had already expressed themselves to this effect. Besides, Luke likewise tells us that a reply containing these very words had previously been returned by the Lord to the persons who had counselled Him to leave their locality, because Herod sought to kill Him. That evangelist represents these self-same terms, which Matthew records here, to have been employed by Him in the declaration which He directed on that occasion against Jerusalem itself. For Luke’s narrative proceeds in the following manner: “The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto Him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And He said unto them, Go ye and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I am perfected. Nevertheless, I must walk to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house shall be left unto you desolate: and I say unto you, that ye shall not see me until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” There does not seem, however, to be anything contradictory to the narration thus given by Luke in the circumstance that the multitudes said, when the Lord was approaching Jerusalem, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” For, according to the order which is followed by Luke, He had not yet come to the scene in question, and the words had not been uttered. But since he does not tell us that He did actually leave the place at that time, not to return to it until the period came when such words would be spoken by them (for He continues on His journey until he arrives at Jerusalem; and the saying, “Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I am perfected,” is to be taken to have been uttered by Him in a mystical and figurative sense: for certainly He did not suffer at a time answering literally to the third day after the present occasion; nay, He immediately goes on to say, “Nevertheless, I must walk to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following”), we are indeed constrained also to put a mystical interpretation upon the sentence, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord,” and to understand it to refer to that advent of His in which He is to come in His effulgent brightness; it being thereby also implied, that what He expressed in the declaration, “I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I am perfected,” bears upon His body, which is the Church. For devils are cast out when the nations abandon their ancestral superstitions and believe on Him; and cures are wrought when men renounce the devil and this world, and live in accordance with His commandments, even unto the consummation of the resurrection, in which there shall, as it were, be realized that perfecting on the third day; that is to say, the Church shall be perfected up to the measure of the angelic fulness through the realized immortality of the body as well as the soul. Therefore the order followed by Matthew is by no means to be understood to involve a digression to another connection. But we are rather to suppose, either that Luke has antedated the events which took place in Jerusalem, and has introduced them at this point simply as they were here suggested to his recollection, before his narrative really brings the Lord to Jerusalem; or that the Lord, when drawing near the same city on that occasion, did actually reply to the persons who counselled Him to be on His guard against Herod, in terms resembling those in which Matthew represents Him to have spoken also to the multitudes at a period when He had already arrived in Jerusalem, and when all these events had taken place which have been detailed above.

146. Matthew proceeds with his history in the following terms: “And Jesus went out and departed from the temple; and His disciples came to Him for to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another which shall not be thrown down.” This incident is related also by Mark, and nearly in the same order. But he brings it in after a digression of some small extent, which is made with a view to mention the case of the widow who put the two mites into the treasury, which occurrence is recorded only by Mark and Luke. For [in proof that Mark’s order is essentially the same as Matthew’s, we need only notice that] in Mark’s version also, after the account of the Lord’s discussion with the Jews on the occasion when He asked them how they held Christ to be David’s son, we have a narrative of what He said in warning them against the Pharisees and their hypocrisy,—a section which Matthew has presented on the amplest scale, introducing into it a larger number of the Lord’s sayings on that occasion. Then after this paragraph, which has been handled briefly by Mark, and treated with great fulness by Matthew, Mark, as I have said, introduces the passage about the widow who was at once so extremely poor, and yet abounded so remarkably. And finally, without interpolating anything else, he subjoins a section in which he comes again into unison with Matthew,—namely, that relating to the destruction of the temple. In like manner, Luke first states the question which was propounded regarding Christ, as to how He was the son of David, and then mentions a few of the words which were spoken in cautioning them against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Thereafter he proceeds, as Mark does, to tell the story of the widow who cast the two mites into the treasury. And finally he appends the statement, which appears also in Matthew and Mark, on the subject of the destined overthrow of the temple.

147. Matthew continues in the following strain: “And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered, and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many;” and so on, down to where we read, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” We have now, therefore, to examine this lengthened discourse as it meets us in the three evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. For they all introduce it in their narratives, and that, too, in the same order. Here, as elsewhere, each of these writers gives some matters which are peculiar to himself, in which, nevertheless, we have not to apprehend any suspicion of inconsistency. But what we have to make sure of is the proof that, in those passages which are exact parallels, they are nowhere to be regarded as in antagonism with each other. For if anything bearing the appearance of a contradiction meets us here, the simple affirmation that it is something wholly distinct, and uttered by the Lord in similar terms indeed, but on a totally different occasion, cannot be deemed a legitimate mode of explanation in a case like this, where the narrative, as given by all the three evangelists, moves in the same connection at once of subjects and of dates. Moreover, the mere fact that the writers do not all observe the same order in the reports which they give of the same sentiments expressed by the Lord, certainly does not in any way affect either the understanding or the communication of the subject itself, provided the matters which are represented by them to have been spoken by Him are not inconsistent the one with the other.

148. Again, what Matthew states in this form, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come,” is given also in the same connection by Mark in the following manner: “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” Mark has not added the words, “and then shall the end come;” but he indicates what they express, when he uses the phrase “first “in the sentence, “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” For they had asked Him about the end. And therefore, when He addresses them thus, “The gospel must first be published among all nations,” the term “first” clearly suggests the idea of something to be done before the consummation should come.

149. In like manner, what Matthew states thus, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, whoso readeth let him understand,” is put in the following form by Mark: “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, let him that readeth understand.” But though the phrase is thus altered, the sense conveyed is the same. For the point of the clause “where it ought not,” is that the abomination of desolation ought not to be in the holy place. Luke’s method of putting it, again, is neither, “And when ye shall see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place,” nor “where it ought not,” but, “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with an army, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” At that time, therefore, will the abomination of desolation be in the holy place.

150. Again, what is given by Matthew in the following terms: “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains; and let him which is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of his house; neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes,” is reported also by Mark almost in so many words. On the other hand, Luke’s version proceeds thus: “Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains.” Thus far he agrees with the other two. But he presents what is subsequent to that in a different form. For he goes on to say, “And let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto: for these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Now these statements seem to present differences enough between each other. For the one, as it occurs in the first two evangelists, runs thus: “Let him which is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of his house;” whereas what is given by the third evangelist is to this effect: “And let them which are in the midst of it depart out.” The import, however, may be, that in the great agitation which will arise in the face of so mighty an impending peril, those shut up in the state of siege (which is expressed by the phrase, “they which are in the midst of it”) will appear upon the housetop [or “wall”], amazed and anxious to see what terror hangs over them, or what method of escape may open. Still the question rises, How does this third evangelist say here, “let them depart out,” when he has already used these terms: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with an army”? For what is brought in after this—namely, the sentence, “And let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto”—appears to form part of one consistent admonition; and we can perceive how those who are outside the city are not to enter into it; but the difficulty is to see how those who are in the midst of it are to depart out, when the city is already compassed with an army. Well, may not this expression, “in the midst of it,” indicate a time when the danger will be so urgent as to leave no opportunity open, so far as temporal means are concerned, for the preservation of this present life in the body, and that the fact that this will be a time when the soul ought to be ready and free, and neither taken up with, nor burdened by, carnal desires, is imported by the phrase employed by the first two writers—namely, “on the house-top,” or, “on the wall”? In this way the third evangelist’s phraseology, “let them depart out” (which really means, let them no more be engrossed with the desire of this life, but let them be prepared to pass into another life), is equivalent in sense to the terms used by the other two,” let him not come down to take anything out of his house” (which really means, “let not his affections turn towards the flesh, as if it could yield him anything to his advantage then”). And in like manner the phrase adopted by the one, “And let not them that are in the countries enter thereunto” (which is to say, “Let not those who, with good purpose of heart, have already placed themselves outside it, indulge again in any carnal lust or longing after it”), denotes precisely what the other two evangelists embody in the sentence, “Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes,” which is much the same as to state that he should not again involve himself in cares of which he had been unburdened.

151. Moreover, Matthew proceeds thus: “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath-day.” Part of this is given and part omitted by Mark, when he says, “And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.” Luke, on the other hand, leaves this out entirely, and instead of it introduces something which is peculiar to himself, and by which he appears to me to have cast light upon this very clause which has been set before us somewhat obscurely by these others. For his version runs thus: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass.” This is to be understood to be the same flight as is mentioned by Matthew, which should not be taken in the winter or on the Sabbath-day. That “winter,” moreover, refers to these “cares of this life” which Luke has specified directly; and the “Sabbath-day” refers in like manner to the “surfeiting and drunkenness.” For sad cares are like a winter; and surfeiting and drunkenness drown and bury the heart in carnal delights and luxury—an evil which is expressed under the term “Sabbath-day,” because of old, as is the case with them still, the Jews had the very pernicious custom of revelling in pleasure on that day, when they were ignorant of the spiritual Sabbath. Or, if something else is intended by the words which thus appear in Matthew and Mark, Luke’s terms may also be taken to bear on something else, while no question implying any antagonism between them need be raised for all that. At present, however, we have not undertaken the task of expounding the Gospels, but only that of defending them against groundless charges of falsehood and deceit. Furthermore, other matters which Matthew has inserted in this discourse, and which are common to him and Mark, present no difficulty. On the other hand, with respect to those sections which are common to him and Luke, [it is to be remarked that] these are not introduced into the present discourse by Luke, although in regard to the order of narration here they are at one. But he records sentences of like tenor in other connections, either reproducing them as they suggested themselves to his memory, and thus bringing them in by anticipation so as to relate at an earlier point words which, as spoken by the Lord, belong really to a later; or else, giving us to understand that they were uttered twice over by the Lord, once on the occasion referred to by Matthew, and on a second occasion, with which Luke himself deals.

152. Matthew continues thus: “And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, He said unto His disciples, Ye know that after two days will be the feast of the passover, and the Son of man shall be betrayed to be crucified.” This is attested in like manner by the other two,—namely, Mark and Luke,—and that, too, with a thorough harmony on the subject of the order of narration. They do not, however, introduce the sentence as one spoken by the Lord Himself. They make no statement to that effect. At the same time, Mark, speaking in his own person, does tell us that “after two days was the feast of the passover and of unleavened bread.” And Luke likewise gives this as his own affirmation: “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the passover;” that is to say, it “drew nigh” in this sense, that it was to take place after two days’ space, as the other two are more apparently at one in expressing it. John, on the other hand, has mentioned in three several places the nearness of this same feast-day. In the two earlier instances the intimation is made when he is engaged in recording certain matters of another tenor. But on the third occasion his narrative appears clearly to deal with those very times, in connection with which the other three evangelists also notice the subject,—that is to say, the times when the Lord’s passion was actually imminent.

153. But to those who look into the matter without sufficient care, there may seem to be a contradiction involved in the fact that Matthew and Mark, after stating that the passover was to be after two days, have at once informed us how Jesus was in Bethany on that occasion, on which the account of the precious ointment comes before us; whereas John, when he is about to give us the same narrative concerning the ointment, begins by telling us that Jesus came to Bethany six days before the passover. Now, the question is, how the passover could be spoken of by those two evangelists as about to be celebrated two days after, seeing that we find them, immediately after they have made this statement, in company with John, giving us an account of the scene with the ointment in Bethany; while in that connection the last-named writer informs us, that the feast of the passover was to take place six days after. Nevertheless, those who are perplexed by this difficulty simply fail to perceive that Matthew and Mark have brought in their account of the scene which was enacted in Bethany really in the form of a recapitulation, not as if the time of its occurrence was actually subsequent to the [time indicated in the] announcement made by them on the subject of the two days’ space, but as an event which had already taken place at a date when there was still a period of six days preceding the passover. For neither of them has appended his account of what took place at Bethany to his statement regarding the celebration of the passover after two days’ space in any such terms as these: “After these things, when He was in Bethany.” But Matthew’s phrase is this: “Now when Jesus was in Bethany.” And Mark’s version is simply this: “And being in Bethany,” etc.; which is a method of expression that may certainly be taken to refer to a period antecedent to the utterance of what was said two days before the passover. The case, therefore, stands thus: As we gather from the narrative of John, Jesus came to Bethany six days before the passover; there the supper took place, in connection with which we get the account of the precious ointment; leaving this place, He came next to Jerusalem, sitting upon an ass; and thereafter happened those things which they relate to have occurred after this arrival of His in Jerusalem. Consequently, even although the evangelists do not mention the fact, we understand that between the day on which He came to Bethany, and which witnessed the scene with the ointment, and the day to which all these deeds and words which are at present before us belonged, there elapsed a period of four days, so that at this point might come in the day which the two evangelists have defined by their statement as to the celebration of the passover two days after. Further, when Luke says, “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh,” he does not indeed make any express mention of a two days’ space; but still, the nearness which he has instanced ought to be accepted as made good by this very space of two days. Again, when John makes the statement that “the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand,” he does not intend a two days’ space to be understood thereby, but means that there was a period of six days before the passover. Thus it is that, on recording certain matters immediately after this affirmation, with the intention of specifying what measure of nearness he had in view when he spoke of the passover as nigh at hand, he next proceeds in the following strain: “Then Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus had died, whom Jesus raised from the dead; and there they made Him a supper.” This is the incident which Matthew and Mark introduce in the form of a recapitulation, after the statement that after two days would be the passover. In their recapitulation they thus come back upon the day in Bethany, which was yet a six days’ space off from the passover, and give us the account which John also gives of the supper and the ointment. Subsequently to that scene, we are to suppose Him to come to Jerusalem, and then, after the occurrence of the other things recorded, to reach this day, which was still a two days’ space from the passover, and from which these evangelists have made this digression, with the object of giving a recapitulatory notice of the incident with the ointment in Bethany. And after the completion of that narrative, they return once more to the point from which they made the digression; that is to say, they now proceed to record the words spoken by the Lord two days before the passover. For if we remove the notice of the incident at Bethany, which they have introduced as a digression from the literal order, and have given in the form of a recollection and recapitulation inserted at a point subsequent to its actual historical position, and if we then set the narrative in its regular connection, the recital will go on as follows;—according to Matthew, the Lord’s words coming in thus: “Ye know that after two days shall be the feast of the passover, and the Son of man shall be betrayed to be crucified. Then assembled together the chief priests and the elders of the people unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill Him. But they said, Not on the feast-day, lest there be an uproar among the people. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Scarioth, went unto the chief priests,” etc. For between the place where it is said, “lest there be an uproar among the people,” and the passage where we read, “then one of the disciples, called Judas, went,” etc., that notice of the scene at Bethany intervenes, which they have introduced by way of recapitulation. Consequently, by leaving it out, we have established such a connection in the narrative as may make our conclusion satisfactory, that there is no contradiction here in the matter of the order of times. Again, if we deal with Mark’s Gospel in like manner, and omit the account of the same supper at Bethany, which he also has brought in as a recapitulation, his narrative will proceed in the following order: “Now after two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by craft, and put Him to death. For they said, Not on the feast-day, lest there be an uproar of the people. And Judas Scariothes, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray Him.” Here, again, the incident at Bethany which these evangelists have inserted, by way of recapitulation, is placed between the clause, “lest there be an uproar of the people,” and the verse which we have attached immediately to that, namely, “And Judas Scariothes, one of the twelve.” Luke, on the other hand, has simply omitted the said occurrence at Bethany. This is the explanation which we give in reference to the six days before the passover, which is the space mentioned by John when narrating what took place at Bethany, and in reference to the two days before the passover, which is the period specified by Matthew and Mark when presenting their account, in direct sequence upon the statement thus made, of that same scene in Bethany which has been recorded also by John.

154. Matthew, then, continuing his narrative from the point up to which we had concluded its examination, proceeds in the following terms: “Then assembled together the chief priests and the elders of the people unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty and kill Him: but they said, Not on the feast-day, lest there be an uproar among the people. Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of precious ointment, and poured it on His head as He sat at meat;” and so on down to the words, “there shall also this that this woman hath done be told for a memorial of her.” The scene with the woman and the costly ointment at Bethany we have now to consider, as it is thus detailed. For although Luke records an incident resembling this, and although the name which he assigns to the person in whose house the Lord was supping might also suggest an identity between the two narratives (for Luke likewise names the host “Simon”), still, since there is nothing either in nature or in the customs of men to make the case an incredible one, that as one man may have two names, two men may with all the greater likelihood have one and the same name, it is more reasonable to believe that the Simon in whose house [it is thus supposed, according to Luke’s version, that] this scene at Bethany took place, was a different person from the Simon [named by Matthew]. For Luke, again, does not specify Bethany as the place where the incident which he records happened. And although it is true that he in no way particularizes the town or village in which that occurrence took place, still his narrative does not seem to deal with the same locality. Consequently, my opinion is, that there is but one interpretation to be put upon the matter. That is not, however, to suppose that the woman who appears in Matthew was an entirely different person from the woman who approached the feet of Jesus on that occasion in the character of a sinner, and kissed them, and washed them with her tears, and wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with ointment, in reference to whose case Jesus also made use of the parable of the two debtors, and said that her sins, which were many, were forgiven her because she loved much. But my theory is, that it was the same Mary who did this deed on two separate occasions, the one being that which Luke has put on record, when she approached Him first of all in that remarkable humility, and with those tears, and obtained the forgiveness of her sins. For John, too, although he has not given the kind of recital which Luke has left us of the circumstances connected with that incident, has at least mentioned the fact, in commending the same Mary to our notice, when he has just begun to tell the story of the raising of Lazarus, and before his narrative brings the Lord to Bethany itself. The history which he offers us of that transaction proceeds thus: “Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary, and her sister Martha. It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.” By this statement John attests what Luke has told us when he records a scene of this nature in the house of a certain Pharisee, whose name was Simon. Here, then, we see that Mary had acted in this way before that time. And what she did a second time in Bethany is a different matter, which does not belong to Luke’s narrative, but is related by three of the evangelists in concert, namely, John, Matthew, and Mark.

155. Let us therefore notice how harmony is maintained here between these three evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and John, regarding whom there is no doubt that they record the self-same occurrence at Bethany, on occasion of which the disciples also, as all three mention, murmured against the woman, ostensibly on the ground of the waste of the very precious ointment. Now the further fact that Matthew and Mark tell us that it was the Lord’s head on which the ointment was poured, while John says it was His feet, can be shown to involve no contradiction, if we apply the principle which we have already expounded in dealing with the scene of the feeding of the multitudes with the five loaves. For as there was one writer who, in giving his account of that incident, did not fail to specify that the people sat down at once by fifties and by hundreds, although another spoke only of the fifties, no contradiction could be supposed to emerge. There might indeed have seemed to be some difficulty, if the one evangelist had referred only to the hundreds, and the other only to the fifties; and yet, even in that case, the correct finding should have been to the effect that they were seated both by fifties and by hundreds. And this example ought to have made it plain to us, as I pressed it upon my readers in discussing that section, that even where the several evangelists introduce only the one fact each, we should take the case to have been really, that both things were elements in the actual occurrence. In the same way, our conclusion with regard to the passage now before us should be, that the woman poured the ointment not only upon the Lord’s head, but also on His feet. It is true that some person may possibly be found absurd and artful enough to argue, that because Mark states that the ointment was poured out only after the alabaster vase was broken there could not have remained in the shattered vessel anything with which she could anoint His feet. But while a person of that character, in his endeavours to disprove the veracity of the Gospel, may contend that the vase was broken, in a manner making it impossible that any portion of the contents could have been left in it, how much better and more accordant with piety must the position of a very different individual appear, whose aim will be to uphold the truthfulness of the Gospel, and who may therefore contend that the vessel was not broken in a manner involving the total outpouring of the ointment! Moreover, if that calumniator is so persistently blinded as to attempt to shatter the harmony of the evangelists on this subject of the shattering of the vase, he should rather accept the alternative, that the [Lord’s] feet were anointed before the vessel itself was broken, and that it thus remained whole, and filled with ointment sufficient for the anointing also of the head, when, by the breakage referred to, the entire contents were discharged. For we allow that there is a due regard to the several parts of our nature when the act commences with the head, but [we may also say that] an equally natural order is preserved when we ascend from the feet to the head.

156. The other matters belonging to this incident do not seem to me to raise any question really involving a difficulty. There is the circumstance that the other evangelists mention how the disciples murmured about the [wasteful] outpouring of the precious ointment, whereas John states that Judas was the person who thus expressed himself, and tells us, in explanation of the fact, that “he was a thief.” But I think it is evident that this same Judas was the person referred to under the [general] name of the disciples, the plural number being used here instead of the singular, in accordance with that mode of speech of which we have already introduced an explanation in the case of Philip and the miracle of the five loaves. It may also be understood in this way, that the other disciples either felt as Judas felt, or spoke as he did, or were brought over to that view of the matter by what Judas said, and that Matthew and Mark consequently have expressed in word what was really the mind of the whole company; but that Judas spoke as he did just because he was a thief, whereas what prompted the rest was their care for the poor; and further, that John has chosen to record the utterance of such sentiments only in the instance of that one [among the disciples] whose habit of acting the thief he believed it right to bring out in connection with this occasion.

157. Matthew proceeds thus: “Then one of the twelve, who is called Judas [of] Scarioth, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver;” and so on down to the words, “And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them, and they made ready the passover.” Nothing in this section can be supposed to stand in any contradiction with the versions of Mark and Luke, who record this same passage in a similar manner. For as regards the statement given by Matthew in these terms, “Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand: I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples,” it just indicates the person whom Mark and Luke name the “goodman of the house,” or the “master of the house,” in which the dining-room was shown them where they were to make ready the passover. And Matthew has expressed this by simply bringing in the phrase, “to such a man,” as a brief explanation introduced by himself with the view of succinctly giving us to understand who the person referred to was. For if he had said that the Lord addressed them in words like these: “Go into the city, and say unto him [or “it”], The Master saith, My time is at hand, I will keep the passover at thy house,” it might have been supposed that the terms were intended to be directed to the city itself. For this reason, therefore, Matthew has inserted the statement, that the Lord bade them go “to such a man,” not, however, as a statement made by the Lord, whose instructions he was recording, but simply as one volunteered by himself, with the view of avoiding the necessity of narrating the whole at length, when it seemed to him that this was all that required to be mentioned in order to bring out with sufficient accuracy what was really meant by the person who gave the order. For who can fail to see that no one naturally speaks to others in such an indefinite fashion as this, “Go ye to such a man”? If, again, the words had been, “Go ye to any one whatsoever,” or “to any one you please,” the mode of expression might have been correct enough, but the person to whom the disciples were sent would have been left uncertain: whereas Mark and Luke present him as a certain definitely indicated individual, although they pass over his name in silence. The Lord Himself, we may be sure, knew to what person it was that He despatched them. And in order that those also whom He was thus sending might be able to discover the individual meant, He gave them, before they set out, a particular sign which they were to follow,—namely, the appearance of a man bearing a pitcher or a vessel of water,—and told them, that if they went after him, they would reach the house which He intended. Hence, seeing that it was not competent here to employ the phraseology, “Go to any one you please,” which is indeed legitimate enough, so far as the demands of linguistic propriety are concerned, but which an accurate statement of the matter dealt with here renders inadmissible in this passage, with how much less warrant could an expression like this have been used here (by the speaker Himself), “Go to such a man,” which the usage of correct language can never admit at all? But it is manifest that the disciples were sent by the Lord, plainly, not to any man they pleased, but to “such a man,” that is to say, to a certain definite individual. And that is a thing which the evangelist, speaking in his own person, could quite rightly have related to us, by putting it in this way: “He sent them to such a man, in order to say to him, I will keep the passover at thy house.” He might also have expressed it thus: “He sent them to such a man, saying, Go, say to him, I will keep the passover at thy house.” And thus it is that, after giving us the words actually spoken by the Lord Himself, namely, “Go into the city,” he has introduced this addition of his own, “to such a man,” which he does, however, not as if the Lord had thus expressed Himself, but simply with the view of giving us to understand, although the name is left unrecorded, that there was a particular person in the city to whom the Lord’s disciples were sent, in order to make ready the passover. Thus, too, after the two [or three] words brought in that manner as an explanation of his own, he takes up again the order of the words as they were uttered by the Lord Himself, namely, “And say unto him, The Master saith.” And if you ask now “to whom” they were to say this, the correct reply is given [at once] in these terms, To that particular man to whom the evangelist has given us to understand that the Lord sent them, when, speaking in His own person, he introduced the clause, “to such a man.” The clause thus inserted may indeed contain a rather unusual mode of expression, but still it is a perfectly legitimate phraseology when it is thus understood. Or it may be, that in the Hebrew language, in which Matthew is reported to have written, there is some peculiar usage which might make it entirely accordant with the laws of correct expression, even were the whole taken to have been spoken by the Lord Himself. Whether that is the case, those who understand that tongue may decide. Even in the Latin language itself, indeed, this kind of expression might also be used, in terms like these: “Go into the city to such a man as may be indicated by a person who shall meet you carrying a pitcher of water.” If the instructions were conveyed in such words as these, they could be acted upon without any ambiguity. Or again, if the terms were anything like these, “Go into the city to such a man, who resides in this or the other place, in such and such a house,” then the note thus given of the place and the designation of the house would make it quite possible to understand the commission delivered, and to execute it. But when these instructions, and all others of a similar order, are left entirely untold, the person who in such circumstances uses this kind of address, “Go to such a man, and say unto him,” cannot possibly be listened to intelligently for this obvious reason, that when he employs the terms, “to such a man,” he intends a certain particular individual to be understood by them, and yet offers us no hint by which he may be identified. But if we are to suppose that the clause referred to is one introduced as an explanation by the evangelist himself, [we may find that] the requirements of brevity will render the expression somewhat obscure, without, however, making it incorrect. Moreover, as to the fact, that where Mark speaks of a pitcher of water, Luke mentions a vessel, the simple explanation is, that the one has used a word indicative of the kind of vessel, and the other a term indicative of its capacity, while both evangelists have nevertheless preserved the real meaning actually intended.

158. Matthew proceeds thus: “Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve disciples; and as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say, Lord, is it I?” and so on, down to where we read, “Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.” In what we have now presented for consideration here, the other three evangelists, who also record such matters, offer nothing calculated to raise any question of serious difficulty.

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