Quit Trying to Harmonize the Gospels

Accept them as they are.  Appreciate their diversity.  Don’t try to ruin their uniqueness.  They should be taken on their own terms.  Perhaps quoting a NT scholar or two will add weight to what I’m saying here?  I don’t think so.

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12 Responses to Quit Trying to Harmonize the Gospels

  1. Jon Hughes says:

    Amen, brother!

    I’m preaching through Mark at the moment, and the differences are abundantly clear when comparing a given passage in Mark with that of Matthew and Luke. I’ve sought to focus specifically on Mark’s distinctive features compared with the other Gospels as I’ve gone along. Currently in chapter six.

  2. Lon says:

    Without their uniqueness, they couldn’t be harmonious as they are. ;)

  3. TC says:

    Jon, I’m reading through Mark right now. I like your approach.

    Lon, nice spin. ;-)

  4. Simon says:

    Unfortunately I think harmonisation attempts will continue as long as people subscribe to something like the Chicago Statement. We’ve got to have a more robust understanding of what Scripture is.

    • Jon Hughes says:

      Hi Simon,

      On this very subject, Vern Poythress put out a book just last year called: “Inerrancy and the Gospels: A God-Centered Approach to the Challenges of Harmonization”.

      I considered buying it, but it just seemed too tedious. I often find that books on inerrancy and harmonization attempts are the theological equivalent of watching paint dry. It would be good for evangelicals to throw off the shackles and be free of the burden.

  5. Scott says:

    TC -

    Here is another: Quit trying to harmonise Gen 1:1-2:3 and Gen 2:4-25. :)

    The harmonisation efforts can easily flow from a more systematic approach to Scripture than taking the biblical narrative as is. We’ve got 66 different writings, which highlight different points. Of course they are all going to be shaped just a bit differently.

  6. TC says:

    Simon, you’re onto something. What do you propose?

    Scott, yeah and give those Bibologos fellows a break. ;-)

    Well, the interesting thing to note is that while acknowledging diversity in the various writers, we’re still bent on harmonization.

  7. Kyle Phillips says:

    Harmonization is deeply entrenched the Enlightenment worldview. When folks get hooked into the “truth as proposition” mind set, it silences the deeper hearing of God’s voice in the Word. One task at hand is simply to teach people in the church to read well.

  8. Colin says:

    “We’ve got 66 different writings, which highlight different points. Of course they are all going to be shaped just a bit differently.”

    I like Scott’s point here. Applied to the Gospels we have 4 authors writing to draw out what they sensed their readers/hearers needed to read/hear. They selected those aspects of what they knew of the total story to make those points they consideredd central to their aim. The analogy of a road accident may be relevant. 4 witnesses seeing it from 4 different angles will not per se all see and consider important the same things. Put their testimony together and you get the bigger story. I love them all, especially the punchy action centered Mark.

    Incidentally I like the way Michael Green in “The Empty Cross of Jesus” puts toether the 4 ressurection narratives. They fit!

    But to draw on Kyle’s point is there a danger of approaching Scripture from a too rationalisitc western scientific worldview?

  9. David Beirne says:

    So much of the harmonization effort seems to be to try and answer the accusations of contradictions. But contradiction is such a strong word. As pointed out above, viewpoints and purpose are the issues. Contradiction seems to almost inflammatory as used by those trying to disparage/disprove the Word.

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