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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book III, Chapter 9

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book III

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Chapter 9. Of the Mockery Which He Sustained at the Hands of Pilate's Cohort, and of the Harmony Subsisting Among the Three Evangelists Who Report that Scene, Namely, Matthew, Mark, and John.

36. We have now reached the point at which we may study the Lord's passion, strictly so called, as it is presented in the narrative of these four evangelists. Matthew commences his account as follows: Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! At the same stage in the narrative, Mark delivers himself thus: And the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Prætorium; and they called together the whole band. And they clothed Him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and began to salute Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote Him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon Him, and, bowing their knees, worshipped Him. Here, therefore, we perceive that while Matthew tells us how they put on Him a scarlet robe, Mark speaks of purple, with which He was clothed. The explanation may be that the said scarlet robe was employed instead of the royal purple by these scoffers. There is also a certain red-colored purple which resembles scarlet very closely. And it may also be the case that Mark has noticed the purple which the robe contained, although it was properly scarlet. Luke has left this without mention. On the other hand, previous to stating how Pilate delivered Him up to be crucified, John has introduced the following passage: Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote Him with their hands. This makes it evident that Matthew and Mark have reported this incident in the way of a recapitulation, and that it did not actually take place after Pilate had delivered Him up to be crucified. For John informs us distinctly enough that these things took place when He yet was with Pilate. Hence we conclude that the other evangelists have introduced the occurrence at that particular point, just because, having previously passed it by, they recollected it there. This is also borne out by what Matthew proceeds next to relate. He continues thus: And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head. And after that they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him, and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. Here we are given to understand that the taking the robe off Him and the clothing Him with His own raiment were done at the close, when He was being led away. This is given by Mark, as follows: And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple from Him, and put His own clothes on Him.

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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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