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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book II, Chapter 53

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book II

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Chapter 53. Of the Occasion on Which He Asked the Disciples Whom Men Said that He Was; And of the Question Whether, with Regard Either to the Subject-Matter or the Order, There are Any Discrepancies Between Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

108. Matthew continues thus: And Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi; and He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? And they said, Some say that You are John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets; and so on, down to the words, And whatsoever you shall 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, You are 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: You shall 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.

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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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