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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book II, Chapter 65

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book II

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Chapter 65. Of the Absence of Any Antagonism Between Matthew and Mark, or Between Matthew and Luke, in the Account Offered of the Giving of Sight to the Blind Men of Jericho.

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, you 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 Bartimæus, the son of Timæus, 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 near 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 had come near 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.

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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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