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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book II, Chapter 22

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book II

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Chapter 22. Of the Order of the Incidents Which are Recorded After This Section and of the Question Whether Matthew, Mark, and Luke are Consistent with Each Other in These.

53. Matthew, accordingly, continues his narration thus: Now when the evening had 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 evening had 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 various 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 various 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, You are Christ the Son of God. And He, rebuking them, allowed 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 had 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.

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Source. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>.

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