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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book II, Chapter 69

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book II

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Chapter 69. Of the Harmony Between the First Three Evangelists in Their Accounts of the Occasion on Which the Jews Asked the Lord by What Authority He Did These Things.

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

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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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