Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version)
Many Harmonies of the Gospel have been published since A.D. 140, in which the accounts of Jesus in the Four Gospels have been combined and redacted by devout Christian scholars into a single harmonious narrative. The most ancient and first one is the Diatessaron, so named from the Greek musical term meaning "out of four."
However, many of them have demonstrated defects and inconsistencies, even omissions, which render them less than satisfactory (see External links below). Many liberal textual critics, highlighting what they see as contradictory accounts in comparative parallel readings of the Gospels, consequently assume a priori (from the beginning) that the actual details of what Jesus did and the actual words that were said cannot be taken exactly as written. They are held to be as imprecise as ordinary testimony in a court of law, as when fallible witnesses give variant accounts of a single incident, and they are represented as unreliable anecdotal accounts equal to unsubstantiated rumor. Some go further and assert that this is evidence that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, and that the claims of Christianity are false, having no basis in reality. St. Paul said: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile." (1 Corinthians 15:17)
The Harmony of the Gospel provided here is presented as an encyclopedic illustration of an informed response and as a remedy. It is intended to provide an example of a more consistently accurate narrative, primarily as a demonstration that there are no contradictions and inconsistencies in the inspired narratives of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. It offers the believing Christian, and the inquiring reader and student, a means of understanding more fully the message, mission and person of Jesus Christ. The Acts of the Apostles, the General Epistles and the Letters of Saint Paul, and the Book of Revelation are included as proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also included are relevant accounts of the period of the first century from the writings of Eusebius, Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus and Cassius Dio, providing historical context and additional factual information.
The reader may view the Text without notes: Go directly to Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) shorter form.
- 1 Principles of redaction
- 1.1 Examples of redaction
- 1.2 Examples of additions and amplifications
- 1.2.1 First example: clarifying the meaning of various terms and phrases in the Gospels
- 1.2.2 Second example: "Nazarene" as a paronomasia on the "Branch" of the prophets
- 1.2.3 Third example: numbering the generations of the genealogy in Luke
- 1.2.4 Fourth example: fuller treatment of John the Baptist as Elijah to come
- 1.2.5 Fifth example: "hope" as "confident expectation"
- 1.3 Examples of word policy in this Harmony of the Gospel
- 2 Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation
- 3 The intervening years between Acts and Revelation
- 4 The Historical period covered by this Harmony of the Gospel
- 5 The text of this Harmony of the Gospel
- 6 Maps
- 7 Commentary
- 8 Purpose
- 9 copyright
- 10 Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version): two forms
- 11 Harmony of the Gospel narrative form
- 12 Course of Study
- 13 Private development of a Harmony of the Gospel
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Principles of redaction
The conservative redactor of scriptural texts is guided by several principles.
Among these is the principle that similarity of narrative does not prove identity of event, that two similar narratives are not necessarily relating the same identical event. One example is the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, and the Sermon on the Plain in Luke. The same teaching is given on two separate occasions, and thus cannot be expected to have been delivered verbatim (word-for-word) in exactly the same way the second time. Teachers in educational institutions are not criticised for not saying exactly the same words in exactly the same way, when they give the same material lesson to their students on different days of the week, month or year. Recorded and documented differences in delivering the same lesson on different days is not proof that no one knows with certainty what the instructor taught, or what the teacher actually said.
In many instances, a careful, comparative parallel reading of the Gospels, and a redaction of the texts, presents the textual critic with internal textual evidence that each of the Evangelists has recorded a single episode which is representative of the same teaching and work of mercy which a redaction of texts reveals occurred more than once. The conservative redactor, respecting the integrity of the whole of the biblical text, retains all of what the Evangelists recorded in a careful Harmony of the Gospel. A reader of the published result might possibly regard such a fully redacted text as presenting "unnecessary repetition". In fact each of the episodes, faithfully represented with every distinct detail intact, as recorded individually by the Evangelists, reveals by their differences that they are separate events.
The conservative redactor, in identifying and collecting those parallel texts which certainly do relate the same event, carefully identifies every line of the texts which relate similar or identical information. The redactor collates them one by one as parallel lines of text in sequence, and then initially combines them as a coherent and readable text. Every word is preserved, to discern the complete narrative, including duplicated elements. Unnecessary duplications of text can be removed without removing any element of the message, as, for example, with both Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22 saying, "You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased". The final stage of redaction is to blend the combined text as a whole, rendering it into a correct grammatical form for more natural ease of reading.
When English translations of a particular word or phrase in the Greek text appear divided and inconclusive, such as deciding to use either "in" or "with", the wording chosen for this Harmony of the Gospel is in favor of the majority opinion. When manuscripts differ, as for example in the text of Luke 4:44, which says either that Jesus was preaching "in the synagogues of Judea" or says that he was preaching "in the synagogues of Galilee", the text chosen is according to the majority of the earliest reliable manuscripts based on the findings of the best biblical scholarship.
In a full redaction of the separate texts, which combined may present some ambiguous or uncertain reading of the meaning related in them, even with all the elements of all the collated texts presented word-for-word without omission, some single words or minimal phrases may be added to preserve without distortion the meaning of the passage.
As a principle of conservative Christian redaction of the sacred text, when the wording of a quoted statement is similar but not identical to another quoted statement in the text of the New Testament, it should not be altered or removed as being an unnecessary duplication of a single utterance. Considering that the text is without error in its message, it is not impossible that there were two distinct utterances, or in some instances more than two, on the same occasion. For example, Matthew 3:17, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased", and Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."
According to a principle of conservative redaction, that of preserving the sequence and order of the narratives in each of the Gospels, no attempt is made to combine and rearrange the sequence of similarly narrated texts. When one narrative text appears earlier in the sequence of episodes presented in one Gospel, and another similar text appears much later in the sequence presented in another, the conservative redactor simply presents them in the body of the redacted text just as they appear in a parallel comparison reading, as two similar episodes separated chronologically by weeks or months or years. Many liberals among professional textual critics claim that the sequential ordering of events in the four Gospels is in many cases arranged artistically and dramatically by the authors for effect and not necessarily in actual chronological sequence. They propose that similarly narrated episodes which differ to a greater or lesser degree in some details, are simply varied accounts of the same identical episode offered by different individual witnesses. They will, for example, puzzle over why John places the account of the cleansing of the temple at the beginning of the public ministry, assuming that Jesus did this once only, near the end, before his final Passover, while conservative textual critics see no contradiction in Jesus cleansing the temple twice, once at the beginning and once at the end.
A strict chronological arrangement of the narrative elements in the Gospel of Christ is maintained throughout this Harmony of the Gospel. For example, in the account of the Gerasene demoniac in Mark's Gospel, the words Jesus "had been saying to him" as the demoniac ran shouting toward Jesus are here placed before what the demoniac said when he knelt down and worshiped (Mark 5:1-8). In Matthew's account of the arrest of Jesus, the sign Judas had given the chief priests and the elders and the great crowd with swords and clubs—"The one I shall kiss is the man" (Matthew 26:48)—is here related before the verse in which they came to Gethsemane, while Jesus was still speaking to his disciples after returning from prayer (Matthew 26:47).
Liberal textual critics assume a priori against Christian tradition that the actual details of what Jesus did and the actual words that were said cannot be taken exactly as written. They are held to be as imprecise as ordinary testimony in a court of law when fallible witnesses give variant accounts of a single incident, and are represented by them as unreliable anecdotal accounts equal to unsubstantiated rumor. And they hold as a principle that similarity of narrative demonstrates or even proves identity of event. A conservative textual critic, rejecting this a priori assumption, takes the weight of the collective textual witnesses together as being carefully transmitted historical documented testimony, trustworthy and reliable in every detail as recounted in the Gospels, in accordance with Jesus' promise in John 14:26. The texts are approached as being in fact "eyewitness" testimony. The cultivation of retentive, even photographic, memory in the world of first century Palestine is accepted as a contributing factor in support of the assumed reliability of the texts. Attention is given to the smallest distinguishing details. The conservative textual critic thus holds as a principle that similarity of narrative does not necessarily prove identity of event: just because it sounds the same does not mean it is the same, especially where the details differ. This principle is used throughout this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version).
And finally, some substantial elements may be added to the redacted text for the purpose of necessary clarification. This can be done without any violation of the warning in Revelation 22:18-19. See Eisegesis. The redacted text of the particular Harmony of the Gospel presented here is amplified by the addition of directly relevant texts of scripture from the Letters or Epistles of the New Testament, and by the addition of directly relevant texts of passages from the Old Testament, without in any way altering the content or message of the Gospel, as a means of shedding more light on the meaning of certain passages.
One example is the addition in Luke 2:42-47 of four canonical scripture sayings of Jesus in the account of finding him "sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were astonished". The four texts are Matthew 12:11-12; Matthew 12:3-5; Luke 20:41-44; Mark 12:28-31. (Debates concerning what is permitted by the law of Moses and the tradition of the elders has always been a primary feature of instruction of the youth of Israel. It is also a primary feature of the rabbinical sayings collected in the Talmud.) The four canonical accounts of the Gospel consistently show Jesus as the incarnate Word of God superior in wisdom to the teachers of the law; it is not impossible that he said these things to them at the age of twelve. This gives the reader an explicit illustration of his profound knowledge of scripture even from infancy (see 2 Timothy 3:15), which he manifested to those of his hometown, "increasing in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52), and demonstrated to the priests, scribes and Pharisees during his public ministry (Matthew 22:33-34, 46; Luke 20:26), and to the people who "heard him with delight" (Mark 12:37). Another example is the addition to Matthew 6:19 and Luke 6:31-32 of the saying of Jesus, which Paul quoted as a reminder to the elders of Ephesus after they had come to him in Miletus, as found in Acts 20:35, "It is more blessed to give than to receive".
Some individual passages in the Gospel narrative have also been expanded with particular brief and specific historical and geographical facts relevant for understanding each particular setting, such as the geographical meanings of "the other side" and "beyond the Jordan". For example, "the other side" in Matthew 14:22 with Mark 6:45-46, and Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:16-17, which according to the context is the other side of the Lake of Galilee, or the other side of the River Jordan. And "beyond the Jordan", meaning east of the Jordan River from Judea and Galilee, as in Matthew 4:25 and 19:1, Mark 3:8 and 10:1, and John 1:28 and 3:26 and 10:40; also returning "from the Jordan" and going west beyond it into the wilderness of Judea, from Galilee, as in Luke 4:1. Or "beyond Jordan" meaning west of the Jordan River from the region of Gilead at the time and place of the writing of the prophet being quoted, as in Matthew 4:14-16, and west of the Jordan in Matthew 19:1 when Jesus came back into Judea from northeastern Galilee.
For reader verification of the integrity of the redacted text, the addition of a column of marginal Bible text references and links to online Bible versions for comparison is provided, with links to online sources offering multiple translations of any Bible verse and multiple commentaries on any Bible verse, together with some explanatory notes. The listing of Biblical text references also provides the reader a useful guide for constructing from any version of the Bible a private Harmony of the Gospel for personal reading.
Examples of redaction
Baptism of Jesus
Example of text lines collated for redaction here are from the World English Bible (WEB) version, in the public domain:
21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying. The sky was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on him; and a voice came out of the sky, saying “You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased.”
16 Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water: and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming on him. 17 Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
10 Immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens parting, and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 A voice came out of the sky, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
- /Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying. Lk 3:21a
- /Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water: Mt 3:16a
- /Immediately coming up from the water, Mk 1:10a
- /The sky was opened, Lk 3:21b
- /he saw the heavens parting, Mk 1:10b
- /and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, Mt 3:16b
- /and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. Mk 1:10c
- /and coming on him. Mt 3:16c
- /and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on him, Lk 3:22a
- /A voice came out of the sky, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mk 1:11
- /and a voice came out of the sky, saying "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased." Lk 3:22b
- /Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Mt 3:17
Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying. Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water: Immediately coming up from the water, The sky was opened. he saw the heavens parting, and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and the Spirit descending on him like a dove, and coming on him. and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on him, A voice came out of the sky, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” and a voice came out of the sky, saying, "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased." Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”In the combined texts above a comma has been changed to a period (Lk 3:21b), and a period to a comma (Mk 1:10c). Now some grammatical punctuation can be revised, corrected and added, and some minor, grammatically unnecessary words removed, for improved reading as follows:
Now when all the people were baptized, and Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying, Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water. Immediately coming up from the water, the sky was opened. He saw the heavens parting, and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, the Spirit descending on him like a dove, and coming on him. The Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on him. A voice came out of the sky, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And a voice came out of the sky, saying, "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased." Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”The next step is to compare the text of the WEB version with more literal translations such as the DR, KJV, ASV, RSV, NAB, ESV, revise accordingly, remove any unnecessary duplication from the combined text, without removing any element of the text, and make minor grammatical revisions of particular words, for more improved reading, as follows:
- compare multiple English readings (translations) of Mark 1:11
- "with whom I am well pleased"
- "with thee/with you I am well pleased"
- "in thee/in you I am well pleased" (majority)
- compare multiple English readings (translations) of Luke 3:22
- "in whom I am well pleased"
- "with you I am well pleased"
- "in thee/in you I am well pleased" (majority)
The majority of multiple English readings (translations) of the Greek text of Mark and Luke favor the Douay-Rheims (DR), King James (KJV), and Revised Standard (RSV) versions "in thee/in you I am well pleased". These represent a more literal rendering of both Mark and Luke in identical English phrasing faithfully reflecting the identical Greek phrasing. The conservative textual redactor is able by careful comparative reading to judiciously replace the difference in the World English Bible (WEB) phrasing of the Gospel of Mark 1:11 "with whom" and the Gospel of Luke 3:22 "in you". By updating to "you" from the more archaic DR / KJV / RSV "thee", it is possible to combine as one the utterance from the heavens, "In you I am well pleased", as found in both Mark and Luke. The text in a Harmony of the Gospel can then be redacted as follows:
Now when all the people were baptized, and Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying, Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water. Immediately coming up from the water, the sky was opened. He saw the heavens parting, and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, the Spirit descending on him like a dove, and alighting on him. The Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on him. And a voice came out of the sky, saying, "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased." Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”The next step is an initial redaction, which may include moving or repositioning some words and phrases, for improved readability, without changing the meaning, as follows:
Now when all the people were baptized, and Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying, when he was baptized, Jesus went up directly from the water. Immediately coming up from the water, the sky was opened. He saw the heavens parting, and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, the Spirit descending on him like a dove, and alighting on him. The Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on him. And a voice came out of the sky, saying, "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased." Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”The final step for the conservative redactor is to judge how best to render the text for a natural grammatical reading, without altering the meaning of the message by adding to or taking away from the meaning of the actual text of the Bible itself:
Now when all the people were baptized, and Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying; when he was baptized, Jesus went up directly from the water. Immediately coming up from the water, the sky was opened. He saw the heavens parting, and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit descending as a dove, the Spirit of God, descending on him like a dove, and alighting on him. The Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove on him. And a voice came out of the sky, saying, "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased." Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”With all elements thus included according to their sequence in the source texts, a more natural rendering can be grammatically obtained, by revising the sequence. This can be done by moving a single phrase, by removing a duplicate phrase, by editing the punctuation, and by retaining as much as possible the phrasing of parallel source texts by allowing for parallel construction in accordance with biblical poetic form. The redactor is thus required to use some personal judgment of style of expression, according to his or her ability. The result can be awkward or smoothly fluid, and may be restricted by a respect for the particular grammatical structure of the source texts. For example, the conservative redactor of the English text is restrained from combining the words "descending" and "descended". The phrase "descending like a dove / descending as a dove" is not combined with the phrase "descended in a bodily form as a dove". A more liberalist approach, in spite of the differences in expression, freely combines them in order to render the text in abbreviated form as follows:
- "He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, descending in a bodily form as a dove, and alighting on him."
- "He saw the Spirit of God descending in a bodily form like a dove, and alighting on him."
Now when all the people were baptized, and Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying; when Jesus was baptized, he went up directly from the water. Immediately on coming up from the water, the sky was opened. He saw the heavens parting, and behold, the heavens were opened to him! He saw the Spirit, the Spirit of God descending like a dove, descending as a dove and alighting on him! The Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove on him, and a voice came out of the sky, saying, "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased." Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”A less conservative redaction renders a more abbreviated form of the text which subtly does take away from the words of the Gospel, altering its meaning:
Now when all the people were baptized, and Jesus also was baptized, and was praying, he went up directly from the water. Immediately on coming up from the water, behold, the sky was opened to him! He saw the heavens parting, and, behold, the Spirit of God descending in a bodily form like a dove, and alighting on him! And a voice came out of the sky, saying, "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased." Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”This omits to say the Spirit of God descended as a dove, saying only that He descended "like" a dove, which is not the same thing. The last sentence is preserved here in both versions of this final redaction as representing an additional attestation and announcement from God the Father, either simultaneously at that moment to John himself as witness, which he alone heard, or audibly to all who were present there at the Jordan. There is no internal textual evidence that the voice from heaven gave forth only one utterance when Jesus was baptized. Some duplication of the textual accounts of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus is retained as representing the astonishment and impact of seeing the heaven suddenly opened and the Spirit descending on him, an impression of the striking impact of the event more readily evident to the reader of the Greek text of the Gospel.
A more abbreviated version of the text can be rendered, as follows, which is not properly a redaction:
Now when all the people were baptized, and Jesus was baptized, and praying, he went up directly from the water. On coming up from the water, behold, immediately the sky was opened to him! He saw the heavens parting, and the Spirit of God descending in bodily form as a dove, and alighting on him! And a voice came out of the sky from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased.”This is not a redacted text but a condensed version in which some elements have been lost, most especially the words, "You are my beloved Son."
The conservative redactor seeks to retain all of the essential elements of the redacted texts without distortion or omission. This is the general editorial policy adopted for the text of this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version).
Departure to Bethsaida after death of John the Baptist
As demonstrated above, the redacting of texts for a Harmony of the Gospel frequently involves dividing the text of individual verses into distinct parts to be collated and then combined. Textual critics in commentaries and marginal notes or footnotes conventionally designate separate elements of a verse with lower case letters; for example, three distinct parts of Matthew 14:13 as 14:13abc, etc., as presented here in the collated texts of the Gospel which relate the departure of Jesus with his apostles toward a deserted place to rest and grieve in a private retreat near the town of Bethsaida after the death of John the Baptist:
- Matthew 14:13a Now when Jesus heard this,
- Mark 6:30 The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught.
- Luke 9:10a The apostles, when they had returned, told him what things they had done.
- Mark 6:31 He said to them, “You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile.” For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
- Luke 9:10b He took them and withdrew apart to go to a desert region of a city called Bethsaida.
- Matthew 14:13b he withdrew from there in a boat, to a deserted place apart.
- Mark 6:32 They went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
- Luke 9:11a But the multitudes, perceiving it, followed him.
- Matthew 14:13c When the multitudes heard it, they followed him on foot from the cities.
- Mark 6:33 They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him.
- Matthew 14:14a Jesus went out, and he saw a great multitude.
- Mark 6:34a Jesus came out, saw a great multitude,
- Matthew 14:14b He had compassion on them, and healed their sick.
- Luke 9:11b He welcomed them, spoke to them of God’s Kingdom, and he cured those who needed healing.
- Mark 6:34b and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
This form of collating the texts of the Four Gospels has much to recommend it as a means of studying and understanding their relationship, and their fundamental unity as reliable textual witnesses to the person, mission, and ministry of Jesus Christ. Students of scripture have often benefited from such a project as an exercise of Christian apologetics, which can be a help to affirm the reasonableness of their faith, and enrich their hearing and reading of the canonical Gospels in public worship and in private devotion. Others find this particular collated form of Harmony difficult and distracting to read, and they prefer a smoother blending of the texts of the Gospels into a single, unified narrative for ease of reading and understanding, as presented here by way of example (Chapter fifteen) in this illustrative encyclopedic Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version).
- Now when Jesus heard this, the apostles, when they returned, gathered themselves together to Jesus; the apostles told him what things they had done, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had Taught.
- He said to them, “You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile.”
- For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
- He took them and withdrew from there in a boat. They went away in the boat to go to a deserted place apart by themselves, to a city called Bethsaida, to a desert region of the Jordan, west of the city, which is situated across from it on the east side, the other side of the Jordan river; from Capernaum a distance of about seven miles. But the multitudes, perceiving it, followed him. When the multitudes heard it, they followed him on foot from the cities. They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him at an open and deserted area on the western side of the Jordan river.
- Jesus came out, and he saw a great multitude. Jesus went out, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He welcomed them, and he began to Teach them many things, spoke to them of God’s Kingdom, and healed their sick, and he cured those who needed healing.
Examples of additions and amplifications
First example: clarifying the meaning of various terms and phrases in the Gospels
Boldface emphasis of "Lord"
In the Greek New Testament the word Kyrios in all its forms designates God as "Lord" 700 times. Throughout this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) the word "Lord" and "the Lord" is emphasized in boldface print to highlight the fact that it is always the same word Kyrios (God) with the same meaning each time throughout the entire New Testament. In the Orthodox and Catholic rituals of worship it is included in the phrase "Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy on us)".
The boldface emphasis of "Lord" and "the Lord" in this encyclopedic feature is to emphasize the Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ is Lord and God. This is the testimony in John 20:28, as one example among many. The New Testament emphasis on Jesus as the Lord appears to implicitly support the development of the doctrine of the Trinity.
The genealogy of Joseph, and Nazareth as "his own city"Matthew 1:24-25; Luke 2:1-5, 3:23b-31:
Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took his wife to himself; and didn’t know her sexually at any time before she had given birth to her firstborn son. He named him Jesus (which means, God saves).
Now this is an account of the ancestry of Joseph, son of David. Jacob was the father of Joseph, who was the son of Heli, according to what is written in the law of the Lord, "If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies, and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed in the name of his brother who is dead, that his name not be blotted out of Israel."
And this is the genealogy of Joseph, son of David. The sons of David, who were born to him in Hebron: Amnon, Daniel, Absalom, Adonijah, Shephatiah, Ithream, six; and these were born to him in Jerusalem: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishama, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet, nine. All these were the sons of David.
David became the father of Solomon. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam. Rehoboam became the father of Abijah. Abijah became the father of Asa. Asa became the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat became the father of Joram. Joram became the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham. Jotham became the father of Ahaz. Ahaz became the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh. Manasseh became the father of Amon. Amon became the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah. Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel. Shealtiel became the father of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel became the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim. Eliakim became the father of Azor. Azor became the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim. Achim became the father of Eliud. Eliud became the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan. Matthan became the father of Jacob. And Jacob became the father of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David.Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. Joseph moreover went up from Galilee, out of his own city, the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant.
"till" / "before"
In Matthew 1:25 the phrase "at any time before" is used in this Harmony of the Gospel. This is according to the more literal actual biblical archaic meaning of the words "till", "until", Greek ἕως heos. See Strong's number 2193: "even (until, unto), (hither-, un-, up) to". The Greek text says, καὶ οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν αὐτὴν ἕως οὗ ἔτεκε τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐκάλεσε τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν. The Greek word ἕως here in Matthew 1:25 signifies nothing about what occurs afterward, which is utterly unlike the meaning that the English word "until" has in modern American English usage, a meaning which does signify what occurs afterward. Compare
- Matthew 5:18 KJV "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." RSVCE "till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished." Before heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter, not the smallest stroke of a letter, will pass from the law before all is accomplished;
Matthew 10:23 KJV "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come." RSVCE "you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes";
Matthew 13:33 KJV "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened" Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) "The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, not stopping before it was all leavened." Here there is no fundamental difference in meaning, but the policy of avoiding in this Harmony all forms of "til", "until", has in some few places produced awkward wording like this;
Matthew 16:28 KJV "which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" RSVCE "who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom";
Matthew 22:44 KJV "The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool." When his enemies are made his footstool, will the Lord then no longer sit on the LORD's right hand?
Compare Genesis 28:15 KJV and Genesis 48:15 KJV. God says to Jacob, "I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of" (until God had brought him "back to this land"). But God did not leave him. Decades afterward, in Egypt, Jacob, past the age of 130 years, testifies that God did not abandon him, "God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day". God did not leave Jacob before bringing him back to Haran and Beer-sheba in Palestine. And after bringing him back home, God still remained with Jacob, sustaining him all his lifelong, even days after Jacob's blessing of Joseph in Egypt, until he died in Egypt. And even after his death God did not leave Jacob; for Jesus himself testified to the Sadducees about Jacob with God's words to Moses, in Matthew 22:32, Mark 12:26-27, Luke 20:37-38, that the LORD is Jacob's God, and that Jacob is not dead but living. He did not leave Jacob after bringing him "back to this land". The biblical meaning of the Hebrew or Greek word translated "till", "until" does not imply what followed afterward. Thus Matthew 1:25 according to the biblical usage is a doctrinal statement about both the virginal conception of Jesus in Mary's womb, without any human sexual intercourse, and the chastity of Joseph and Mary during the entire period of her pregnancy from the very moment of conception. It is not a statement about what Joseph did immediately after Jesus was born.
fear of the Lord
Joseph is a "righteous man / just man" (more literally, "a just"), one who "fears the Lord" (see Deuteronomy 10:12-21; Job 1:8; Acts 10:22). Consider in this context the fact that the angel of the Lord himself had told him, "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit". See especially, with regard to the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary, and the Word of God becoming flesh in her womb, the word of Numbers 18:32b,
- "You shall not profane the holy things of the people of Israel, lest you die.",
and Ezekiel 44:2,
- "This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut."
This was the interpretation of Saint Augustine and many others in defense of the Catholic doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity before the time of the Protestant Reformation. All Fundamentalists and most Evangelicals firmly reject this centuries-old tradition of interpretation because of texts which speak of Jesus' brothers (Greek ἀδελφοὶ adelphoi, literally "from the womb"), texts such as Matthew 12:46-47, 13:55; Mark 3:31-32; Luke 8:19-20; John 2:12, 7:3-10. Joseph and Mary are thus seen as husband and wife subsequently having legitimate sexual relations with each other soon after Jesus the Son of God was born, because Mary had been lawfully betrothed to be married to Joseph and he now had full freedom according to the law to exercise his marital rights with her as his wife. But according to the law of Moses, a woman who legitimately conceives and gives birth to a child, and afterward has sexual relations with a man who is not the father, while the father of the living child is alive, commits adultery, and the man who has sexual relations with a woman who has given birth to a child while the father of that living child is alive also commits adultery: it would be an abomination in Israel (Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Matthew 5:31-32). See Romans 7:2-3,
- "Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress."
also 1 Corinthians 7:37
- "But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well".
See also the prophesy of Isaiah 54:5
- "For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called."
The Father of Jesus did not die after His Son was born. It is highly improbable that Joseph, "being just", knowing the scriptures, and knowing that the child conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit, would commit adultery with the mother of the Son of a Father who is still alive. It is most probable, according to the ancient Christian tradition in the east and in the west, that he as her chosen guardian, and her husband by law, determined to keep Mary as his betrothed virgin, in accordance with her words to the angel, "I know not man", as interpreted by St. Augustine and others. This fully accords with the prophetic words of Genesis 39:4 as anciently applied to Joseph:
- "And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put into his hand."
"brothers" / "brethren"
The biblical meaning of the word "brother" is not restricted to those born of the same womb. The New Testament also applies the same Greek plural ἀδελφοὶ adelphoi (KJV "brethren") to persons not born of the same womb:
- Matthew 5:47; John 20:17, 21:23; Acts 1:16, 2:29 and 37, 3:17 and 22, 6:3, 7:2 and 37, 9:30, 10:23, 11:1 and 29, 13:15 and 26, 15:13 and 23, 22:1 and 5, 23:1-6, 28:21; all the letters of Paul, James, Peter, John; and the Book of Revelation 6:11, 12:10, 19:10, 22:9. Compare Psalm 22:22.
The scriptural and biblical meaning of "brothers", unlike the narrow meaning of the American English word, includes cousins, other relatives, members of the same clan, same tribe, same people, also military comrades, like-minded members and associates who promote, defend and champion a cause having a social and fraternal dynamic, and members of the Church (born of the Spirit). See Strong's Concordance "BRETHREN", with reference to Strong's number 251 אָח 'ach: used in the widest sense of both literal relationship and metaphorical affinity or resemblance (as a profound figure of speech); and Strong's number 80 ἀδελφός adelphos: a- from, delphus the womb, "from the womb", that is, "(born) from the (same) womb", literally a brother but more widely meaning a brother near or remote (literally or figuratively).
Interpreters who restrict the word "brothers" to the most narrow literal meaning of "siblings from the same womb" are applying an eisegetical interpretation against the scriptures in place of a textually critical exegetical reading. In place of such generally misleading American English words, this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) uses the most critically based words for translation according to the context of sacred scripture. The word "brethren" replaces "brothers", with an explanatory marginal note, and the word "before" is used instead of the word "until". See the detailed Protestant analysis supporting this interpretation in The Brethren of the Lord, J. B. Lightfoot, 1865, Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul, Dissertation.
According to Luke 2:39, Nazareth was Joseph and Mary's "own city". And according to Luke 1:26-27, "In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary." The rather ambiguous word "also" in the phrase, "Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth", can thus be read as "moreover" , "adding to this", "in addition", rather than reading as "likewise", "like them", "similarly", "also obediently". The lines which say,
- "All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee",
could possibly be rendered as follows:
- "All went to be enrolled, everyone to his own city. But Joseph moreover went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth...".
ἀνέβη "went up"–δὲ "moreover"–καὶ "but"–Ἰωσὴφ "Joseph":literally, "went up moreover, But Joseph", and in grammatical English, "But Joseph moreover went up". See Strong's 2532 καὶ "kai", which is rendered by the KJV translators variously in English according to what they perceived to be the textual context as: "and", "also", "both", "but", "even", "for", "if", "indeed", "likewise", "moreover", "or", "so", "that", "then", "therefore", "when", "yea", "yet". See Strong's 1161 δὲ de, rendered variously as: "also", "and", "but", "moreover", "now"
"Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. But Joseph moreover went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant."Even with this reading, the reader may not remember or be immediately aware that Nazareth is Joseph and Mary's "own city", and that the text contains no indication that whole populations of villages, towns and cities were required by either law or custom to move themselves to other villages, towns and cities in Palestine to be enrolled. They simply went "everyone to his own city" to be enrolled, in much the same way that each of us who is an eligible voter in America goes to our own precincts to vote in the general presidential election. Joseph and Mary responded differently from the rest of the country. Because Nazareth is in fact their "own city" this Harmony of the Gospel specifies explicitly, by the insertion of a brief additional text phrase, that Joseph went up from Galilee, out of his own city, the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David's city, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David. Neither the first century historian Josephus in Antiquities 18.1.1 and Wars 7.8.1, nor the fourth century historian Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History Book 1, chapters 6 through 8, say anywhere in their histories that multitudes, forced by the required enrollment or tax, responded by moving to their "ancestral places of origin" or to their families' "ancient capitals" in order to be enrolled. They say no such thing. Medieval dramas and "pilgimmage plays" from the 12th century and afterward, as performed in European towns and villages even to this day, also have no such scenes. This baseless perception of the shifting of whole populations is an example of eisegesis, of "reading into the text" of Luke 2:3-5 a very recent and totally fictitious interpretation popularized by 20th century novelists, dramatists and screenwriters.
See also Luke and the Census.
Regarding the possibility that the inn in Bethlehem had no room for them because of the census, marginal notes accompanying the text point out and emphasize that it was "while they were there" (Luke 2:6) that "the time came for her to be delivered", and not the very hour of the day or night when they arrived in Bethlehem. At some unspecified moment during the days, weeks or months "while they were there" in Bethlehem "the time came for her to be delivered". This Harmony of the Gospel also explains in the text, with passages inserted as additions from the law of Moses (Leviticus 12:2-5, 15:20-23), that a woman who gives birth to a child is unclean and renders unclean anything on which she sits or reclines, and that whoever even touches her or touches anything she sits or reclines upon or has sat or reclined upon also becomes unclean for seven days, and would also render unclean anyone he or she touched. The possibility existed that if she had given birth inside the inn she could in this way unintentionally render everyone in the inn ritually unclean, and for this reason alone there was no longer any room for them in the inn, not necessarily because it was filled to capacity with guests, but rather to avoid the possibility of making any of the guests and members of the staff of the inn unclean. A place set apart in the stable was provided for them.
Even today, orthodox Jews have a dedicated place set apart on their property, or attached to their houses, where a man or woman who has become unclean, or will become unclean, can go and remain for the period of their unclean status, to avoid making even accidental contact with those who are clean, and to avoid touching whatever they use, to maintain ritual purity within the family household and in the extended community where they live.
All textual additions to the scriptural text in this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) are strictly for the sole purpose of clarifying the meaning of the text, and supporting the literal sense of scripture, based on the conservative exegetical principle that Scripture interprets Scripture. The above explanations pertaining to Luke 2:1-7 are only one example among many of the general editorial purpose of additions to the Gospel text in making this Harmony of the Gospel.
Second example: "Nazarene" as a paronomasia on the "Branch" of the prophetsAn amplification of the text that states, "He came and lived in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.” Luke 2:39; Matthew 2:23; Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15; Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12
When they had accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. He came and lived in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene” (which means "Branch"). As it is written in Isaiah, "A shoot will come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots will bear fruit." And in Jeremiah, “'Behold, the days come,' says Yahweh, 'that I will raise to David a righteous Branch',” and “In those days and at that time, I will cause a Branch of righteousness to grow up to David.” And Zechariah: "Behold, I will bring out my servant, the Branch"; “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: and he shall grow up out of his place; and he shall build Yahweh’s temple”
A marginal note explains the paronomasia or biblical word-play on the name "Nazareth" as related to the Hebrew words for "branch", netzer, and for "nazirite", nazir.
Third example: numbering the generations of the genealogy in LukeThe numerical summary of the generations from Joseph, the son of Heli, back to Adam, the son of God.
So all the generations from Adam to Jesus are seventy-seven generations: from Adam to Enoch seven generations, and from Enoch to Shelah seven generations, and from Shelah to Abraham seven generations, and from Abraham to Admin seven generations, and from Admin to David seven generations, and from David through Nathan to Joseph seven generations, and from Joseph to Joshua seven generations, and from Joshua to Shealtiel seven generations, and from Shealtiel through Rhesa son of Zerubbabel to Mattathias seven generations, and from Mattathias to Joseph seven generations, and from Joseph to Jesus seven generations.
Fourth example: fuller treatment of John the Baptist as Elijah to comeIn the section relating the preaching of John the Baptist, a paragraph is added stating that John is Elijah "who is to come" (from Matthew 11:14).
"I indeed baptize you in water for repentance, but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.”If you are willing to receive it, John is Elijah, "who is to come". As it is written in the book of the prophet Malachi, “'Behold, the day comes, it burns as a furnace; and all the proud, and all who work wickedness, will be stubble; and the day that comes will burn them up,' says Yahweh of Armies, 'that it shall leave them neither root nor branch'.” And, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Thus, it is as the angel Gabriel sent from God declared to Zechariah concerning John before he was conceived, “He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to prepare a people prepared for the Lord.”
Fifth example: "hope" as "confident expectation"
The Christian virtue of hope is not the same as the wishful thinking or longing desire of ordinary people who "hope" that this or that will happen, who "hope" everything will turn out for the best, who dream of the day when perhaps their hopes and aspirations might be fulfilled, but without any certain confidence of an absolute guarantee of a good outcome, totally free of any doubt or disappointment or betrayal.
According to the New Testament and Christian Apostolic Tradition, hope in God, and the hope of salvation from the wrath that will come on the sinner, the disobedient and the wicked, with the hope of rewards God has promised for repentance and conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ, for faithfulness, righteousness, justice and virtue, are absolutely certain of fulfillment beyond any doubt, because the promises of God are sure and certain. This is what many Christians mean when they say, "have faith in God"—complete confidence, the trust of a child free of fear.
In this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) the word "hope", when used in the context of total, trusting confidence in Christ as each individual's personal Savior, and the Savior of all mankind, and the absolutely infallible certainty of the fulfillment of all the promises of God, who will render to each according to their works, is revised to "confident expectation" and to "expectation", as an amplification and clarification of its true Christian meaning.
Examples of word policy in this Harmony of the Gospel
When English translations of a particular word or phrase in the Greek text appear divided and inconclusive, the wording of the World English Bible (WEB) text as used in this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) is altered in favor of the majority opinion. This is the general editorial policy adopted for the wording of the text of this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version).
For example, the translation used by several versions, "baptize in water", as in the World English Bible (WEB) and the Douay-Rheims Bible (DR), has the connotation in English of "immerse (in) water". For many readers this has doctrinal implications opposing as unbiblical the ancient baptismal forms of aspersion (sprinkling), affusion (pouring over the head), and the partial immersion also called submersion (standing in water while water is poured over the head). The translation used by several other versions, "baptize with water", which is the rendering in the King James Bible (KJV), has the more general connotation in English of "use(ing) water" (or baptizing "by means of water"), which does not exclude the meaning of immersion in water. The difference in translating these two different English phrases (back) into Greek is clear:
- "baptize in water" translated into Greek is βαφτίσει με νερό
- "baptize with water" translated into Greek is βαφτίσει στο νερό.
The actual Greek text of this phrase as found in Matthew 3:11 is ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν (mechanically literal word-for-word rendering: I indeed you baptize in water to repentance). See multiple examples of the Greek text at biblehub.com. The majority opinion appears in favor of more dynamically rendering the actual meaning and intent of the phrase in English as "I baptize you with water to/unto/for repentance". The example of Matthew 3:11 (WEB) is accordingly changed from the mechanically formal literalist rendering "I baptize you in water for repentance" to the dynamically rendered, interpretive translation of its actual meaning according to the majority, "I baptize you with water for repentance".
Where particular words or terms translated into English offer only ambiguous, vague or misleading meanings the more dynamic translation or reading is provided in place of the formal word-for-word equivalent reading. For example, the English word "beam" in Matthew 7:3-5, sometimes rendered "log", is dynamically amplified as "wooden beam" for clarity. The Greek word dokos according to Strong's number 1385 means a stick of timber:—beam.
The majority rendering of the Tetragrammaton as "LORD" in quoted Old Testament texts is used in this Harmony of the Gospel in place of the World English Bible rendering, "Yahweh". An extensive analysis of the debate over the form is found in the article by Michael Marlowe (2011) "The Translation of the Tetragrammaton".
And finally, as a matter of form and style, all informal casual colloquial English contractions, such as "isn't", "didn't", "don't", "can't", and "won't", are revised according to the normal form of translating the Greek text into English.
See online conservative Christian article "Dynamic and Formal Equivalence Definition".
Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation
Almost all editors, compilers and redactors of published Harmonies of the Gospel strictly limit themselves to the four canonical Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Book of Acts, and the Canonical Letters of Paul, James, Peter and John, together with Hebrews and The Revelation, are here included along with the four canonical Gospels in this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) as expressing the Full Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
God has made known his purpose of salvation through everything Jesus did and said. However, after his resurrection the Lord Christ continues to speak to his Church by means of revelations such as those made to Saint Paul, and to Saint John in the Book of Revelation. These bring the Christian revelation to completion and apply the saving action of Jesus to concrete situations in the life of the Christian Community of the Church and exalt him as Lord. When revelations reach mankind through an inspired writer they have universal validity for all time, which means they are "public" revelation to the whole world and are an integral part of the message of salvation entrusted to his apostles to proclaim to all nations. For this reason, the whole of the New Testament is included in this Harmony of the Gospel as the fullness of the Gospel.
According to constant Christian tradition since the first century, public divine Revelation ceased with the death of the last apostle. This is the doctrine of the whole of Christianity, the entire Church, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Independent, from the first century to the present day. No Christian is required to believe any claim of any supernatural revelation that is not presented in the whole of the Bible itself, whether explicitly expressed, or implicitly contained within its meaning as a direct consequence of its doctrines. This is the official position of the Orthodox and Catholic churches. Even the Roman Catholic Church does not dogmatically demand that any of the faithful accept as genuine any of the reported apparitions of Jesus, or of Mary the Mother of Jesus, or of any of the other saints of Christianity, or any of the documented reports of supernatural miracles done by God, after the time of the apostles (see Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 4 "we now await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ").
The intervening years between Acts and Revelation
A sixteen-part summary of the intervening years between the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul under Nero and the writing of the New Testament works of the Epistle of Jude, the Book of Revelation and the Letters of John the Apostle is included in Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version). Sources are linked below under Historical sources.
Historians and Bible scholars disagree on the precise dates of the intervening years. But in general they do agree that the entire historical period extends from about A.D. 67 through 90.
The text of chapters Forty-six through Sixty-three of this Harmony of the Gospel is a redaction of the informative sources listed below, rearranged, chronologically sequenced, collated, condensed, combined and adapted, while seeking to preserve much of their expressive language, and in some instances updating and improving both their translations and the written copy. This accounts for the several apparent repetitions, parallel constructions and duplications in the text, which have been kept to a minimum as far as possible without loss of information. Compare the method proposed by the Documentary Hypothesis. An attempt has been made to simplify the wordy, complex, convoluted, often reiterative, turgid literary styles of Josephus and Tacitus.
Included in the history of the period A.D. 67–90 are revised translations of the following texts:
Translations from the original languages of any of the scriptures, of the whole Bible itself, and of the works of ancient writers, and parallel and even identical phraseology and wording of legitimate translations and paraphrases in English, both formal and dynamic, are not regarded by legitimate scholars as mutual plagiarisms and violations of copyright restrictions by either the various writers of these source materials among themselves, or by the contributor of this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version).
For example, the translation of the works of Josephus by William Makepeace Thackeray is not held to be a plagiarized version of the translation of the same works by William Whiston, and the publisher of Whiston's translation is not petitioned for permission by the publisher of Thackeray's translation. Moreover, neither of these translators and neither of these publishers apparently attempted to seek permission from the original author and publisher, Josephus. The historical text presented here in chapters Forty-six through Fifty-four likewise represents neither plagiarism nor violation of copyright.
The reader is invited to access the linked sources below, to observe how the authors of both the representations of the original historical material, and their often copyrighted original historical summary accounts of what happened, in many instances closely parallel each other, without their authors apparently seeking permission of other copyright owners, and without their being charged with plagiarism or violation of copyright for what they have written. The same right they have to freely express without permission what occurred in history, and what contemporaries of the times thought about the events, is likewise asserted here.
The Historical period covered by this Harmony of the Gospel
The widest historical range covered by the text of this feature is approximately 120 years: about 12 B.C. to A.D. 110, from the Betrothal of Mary to St. Joseph and the annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Zechariah through to the death of John the Apostle and the ministry of Ignatius of Antioch. This includes the Roman imperial reigns of Augustus Caesar through Emperor Trajan, and the Bishops of Rome up to St. Alexander I (A.D. 105-115).
Hebrew Calendar Converter See exact equivalents of Gregorian Calendar dates.
Maps of Paul's journeys:
- Paul's travels after his conversion
- Interactive maps of Paul's journeys
- Paul's first missionary journey
- Paul's second missionary journey
- Paul's third missionary journey
- Paul's fourth missionary journey
- Paul's fifth missionary journey
- Apostle Paul: all cities visited
Timeline of the Apostle Paul (blueletterbible.org). Datings according to the majority of Bible scholars and historians.
Suetonius: Twelve Caesars: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by C. Suetonius Tranquilus; To which are added His Lives of the Grammarians, Rhetoricians, and Poets. The Translation of Alexander Thomson, M.D., Revised and corrected by T. Forester, Esq., A.M. (Gutenberg.org)
Table of LXX quotes and allusions in the New Testament - article Septuagint (conservapedia.com)
The text of this Harmony of the Gospel
The text presented here on a parchment colored background with marginal text references and notes is redacted from and in general accordance with the World English Bible (WEB), in the public domain, based on the Byzantine text. It is adapted and compared with the Douay-Rheims Bible and the King James Version, for accuracy and ease of reading, with exact parallel texts on white background from the Conservapedia Conservative Bible (CV) version based on the King James Version provided for comparison.
Changes to the text of the World English Bible resulting from the process of redaction, and from the usage of individual particular words more literal in translation, which are drawn from comparative readings of other more literal translations, present a text that is not a direct verbatim representation of the text of the World English Bible. Thus, in accordance with the formal statement of Permission to Use the World English Bible, the text of the Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) presented here is not the text of the World English Bible.
For the text of the World English Bible translation see
For the ancient Eastern apostolic Greek version of these texts with parallel English translation see
- Greek original text prepared by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (1904/12), with corrections of typos made by the Church of Greece, English version King James (ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/new-testament).
For the ancient Western Latin Vulgate version of these texts with parallel English translation see
For the New Revised Standard Version (NRS or NRSV) of these texts see
- New Revised Standard online (biblestudytools.com).
"updating the language of the RSV, by replacing archaic forms of speech addressed to God (Thee, Thou, wast, dost, etc.), and by replacing words whose meaning has changed significantly since the RSV translation"
"making it clear where the original texts intend to include all humans, male and female, and where they intend to refer only to the male or female gender."
See also Conservapedia article Bible.
For the official Catholic position on translations of the Bible:
See online text of Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): Article 3: Sacred Scripture, numbers 101-143 (after accessing the CCC site, proceed page by page to read CCC paragraph numbers 101 to 143 by clicking "next" near the top of the text.)
- 133 The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful... to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."
Access to colored Bible maps is provided in the marginal column of each chapter of this Harmony with an online link to Bible maps (http://bibleatlas.org/). Each place name in the text is also directly linked to the particular full page map of its location. For example, Nazareth, Caesarea Philippi, Magadan and Decapolis.
Encyclopedic commentary on the text has been provided in the marginal column from historical, doctrinal, scriptural, textual, exegetical, controversial, conservative and logical points of view. Representative sources have also been provided to the reader with external links to articles offering direct access to an encyclopedic spectrum of opinions and facts pro and con for consideration and evaluation solely on the basis of their comparative merits. Various doctrinal positions and controversies are evaluated also from the basis of both sola scriptura and documented historical Christian tradition. Abundant links to relevant Bible texts are offered to the reader for immediate access. Contradictions, Prejudices and Logical fallacies inherent in various arguments are highlighted in an objective manner. In some rare instances, where expert scholars and Bible commentaries are evidently being dishonest, this fact is also noted.
Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, textual critical, anthropological, psychological, and even New Age, agnostic, sceptical, atheistic, articles of commentary and controversy are listed and linked for comparison and contrast. The entire emphasis throughout is an appeal to more fully informed common sense and an a priori understanding of objective standards of truth, in contrast to stubbornly subjective ignorance. (See Proverbs 12:15)
Occasionally, the following disclaimer is posted:
- Note: Conservapedia cannot tell the reader what to believe. Every attempt has been made here to present in a balanced encyclopedic form all of the relevant information together with a representative spectrum of variant interpretations and their logical conclusions based on comparisons with scripture. Contradictions and consistencies of reasoning are not always self-evident, and historically there has never been a universal consensus on the meaning of every text of the Bible. The reader is invited to assess the above points of view and logical conclusions on their own merit, and to have recourse to authoritative and reliable sources of historical exegesis, and to reliable sources of verified authoritative interpretation according to authentic Christian doctrinal teaching authority.
This Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) is presented as an illustrative encyclopedic example of redactive biblical textual criticism or analysis. It is offered primarily as a tool for increased understanding of the New Testament, and may also serve as a form of devotional reading. It has been prepared with utmost reverence and respect for the text of the Bible as the truthfully revealed written Word of God defended and preserved by the Holy Spirit through his people in the Christian Church from the time of the apostles. No claim is made that this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) is inspired.
The text of Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) including the main introductory article and the whole of each and all of the linked Sections and chapters of the redacted text of the Gospel with marginal references and notes as presented here in two forms may be copied, reprinted and distributed free of charge only in its entirety, in strict accordance with the copyright policies of the Conservapedia Copyright and eBible.org Copyright. This work is made available free of charge to all readers. Any attempt to publish or make available any part of this work for fee or profit is absolutely prohibited.
Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version): two forms
This Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) is presented in two forms:
- a longer form on a parchment colored background, with side-margin Bible text references and notes, together with exact parallel Conservative Bible version texts on white background;
- a shorter form on a parchment colored background, without Conservative Bible version texts, and without notes, presenting the same redacted text with side-margin Bible references only, for simple reading.
- Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) narrative form - Introduction for audio computer Read aloud
- Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) narrative form of Chapters 1-7, adapted for audio computer Read aloud
- Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) narrative form of Chapters 8-14, adapted for audio computer Read aloud
- Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) narrative form of Chapters 15-21, adapted for audio computer Read aloud
- Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) narrative form of Chapters 22-28, adapted for audio computer Read aloud
- Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) narrative form of Chapters 29-35, adapted for audio computer Read aloud
- Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) narrative form of Chapters 36-42, adapted for audio computer Read aloud
- Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) narrative form of Chapters 43-49, adapted for audio computer Read aloud
- Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) narrative form of Chapters 50-56, adapted for audio computer Read aloud
- Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) narrative form of Chapters 57-63, adapted for audio computer Read aloud
Course of Study
The material presented in this Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) is High School and College Level, without atheistic and liberalist distortions, in accordance with the Conservative Christian principles of Conservapedia editorial policy. The reader who wishes to use it as a course of study (without academic credit or accreditation) will profit from the following method according to this sequence:
- Read the Shorter Form straight through as an overview of the text as a whole.
- Read the Longer Form by individual chapters:
- A. Read the redacted text of the chapter without consulting the marginal notes
- B. Read the redacted Conservative Bible text of the chapter
- C. Read the marginal notes of the chapter without accessing the linked material
- D. Read the redacted text and the Conservative Bible redacted text in direct sequence for comparison
- E. Read the marginal notes with the linked material—skip over nothing, read every word of each link; if necessary read it more than once until the material is familiar and all distortions, omissions and misrepresentations are noticed; be willing to put aside erroneous opinions honestly based on unintentionally acquired misinformation and lack of knowledge (ignorance and prejudice)—be "honest to God"
- F. Read the redacted text of the chapter again, this time consulting the marginal notes
- G. Read the redacted Conservative Bible text of the chapter again by itself.
- H. Keep a notebook of observations, objections and questions to be researched
- I. Explore and become familiar with the general tools and resources provided at the head of each marginal column
- J. Look up in a Bible each chapter-and-verse reference listed as the source texts for the chapter at the top of the marginal column of the chapter
- K. Read the shorter form of the text without notes
- Read the New Testament of a regular Bible straight through
The student will best benefit from this course of study by adopting a disciplined pattern of regular, dedicated study times and days of the week, in a place that is secure from physical and mental distractions and interruptions, and has adequate ventilation to remove sleep-inducing carbon dioxide build-up from around the student's face. Begin with a humble prayer for enlightenment and understanding. Experts in the dynamics of educational study recommend for the average student an optimum of four days of study of any one subject per week and a study period of four hours per day of study, with breaks of 10 minutes at least once every 2 hours. Setting aside the first day of the week free of study (Sunday), the optimum pattern of four days of study per week are two days separated by one day: Monday and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; or Tuesday and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; Sunday afternoons are suggested, beginning about 2 PM.
- Dead links
A multitude of linked source material has been provided, representing a spectrum of view points and facts. It is possible that some external linked sources will no longer be accessible. Simply copy the title of the link and do a search online. It may still be available through another online address offering the same title with the same text or a revised edition of the text by the same writer or group. If it cannot be found, it may have been withdrawn or is no longer available, and in that case other equivalent sources on the same topic will usually be available, but occasionally not always presenting the same viewpoint as that represented by the particular linked source in the marginal notes of the chapter.
Private development of a Harmony of the Gospel
Developing a harmony of the Gospels responsibly as a personal and private exercise requires a solid background of understanding of middle eastern history and culture together with reliance on expert and orthodox conservative biblical scholarship firmly based on the centuries-old tradition of Christian understanding and interpretation of the Bible, as well as a mature and commonsense knowledge of basic human nature. The New Testament testifies that many in relying on their own opinions "have made shipwreck of their faith" and ruined both themselves and those who listen to them. Keep in mind the warnings in Proverbs 18:2; 2 Peter 1:20; 3:16; Ecclesiasticus / Sirach 3:24
- "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion."
- "First of all you must understand this, that no prophesy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation."
- "There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction."
- "Their own opinion has misled many, and false reasoning unbalanced their judgment."
It is better to adjust our understanding to the scriptures, than to adjust the scriptures to our understanding.
When a harmony of the Gospel is developed and written with the right motivation, there will be a resulting visible increase in the seven gifts and the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit in the life of the student-researcher, and a greater love of the whole Christian community and of God by embracing and practicing the three great commandments, Mark 12:29-31 and John 13:34; 1 John 3:16-18.
- "Jesus answered, 'The first is, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one: and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.' "
- "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
- "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But if any one has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth."
Not all readers of the Bible, not all scholars and biblical researchers, are truly wise and understanding.
|“||Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18||”|
—Michael Paul Heart
- Andreas Osiander (1498-1552), a German Bible scholar of the Protestant Reformation, was the first person to use the phrase “harmony of the gospels” for a parallel organization of gospel texts which he designed. By choosing a musical term as a metaphor for his columnar arrangement, Osiander likened the total picture of Jesus supplied by all four gospels to the sound of several musical notes being played together in one chord. —Harmony of the Gospels (studylight.org)
- Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition: Matthew i
- What is the Christian's hope? - Got Questions (gotquestions.org)
Hope: A Theological Virtue (thoughtco.com)
Catholic Doors Ministry presents the Bible Course: "The Theological Virtue of Hope" (catholicdoors.com)
- eBible.org World English Bible copyright, in the public domain
- NAB Sirach 3:23
Ad Gloriam Dei, 31 January 2019—developed by Michael Paul Heart and the editors of Conservapedia.