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Gospel harmony

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Four Evangelists Jordaens Louvre Inv1404

The Four Evangelists by Jacob Jordaens, 1625–1630, Louvre.

A Gospel harmony is an attempt to merge or harmonize the canonical gospels of the Four Evangelists into a single gospel account, the earliest ancient example being the Diatesseron by Tatian in the second century. A gospel harmony may also establish a chronology for the events of the life of Jesus depicted in the four canonical gospels and how they relate to each other, see also Chronology of Jesus. Under modern scholarship, the effort has waned to portray any one harmony of events as totally correct. The process can also be hindered by discrepancies between various Gospels accounts of certain events.

The unique material of each gospel complicates the discernment of one, harmonized chronology. However, others consider the unique material crucial to narrowing down the possible chronological order. Some scholars have questioned the historicity of events in the canonical gospels.

Approaches to harmony

The terms harmony and synopsis have been used to refer to approaches that aim to achieve Gospel harmony, although they are different approaches. Technically, a "harmony" weaves together sections of scripture into a narrative, merging the four Gospels. There are four main types of harmony: radical, synthetic, sequential and parallel. A "synopsis", much like a parallel harmony focuses on key events and brings together similar texts or accounts in parallel format, usually in columns.[1]


Gospel of Mark, Book of Durrow, 7th century.

Tatian's Diatesseron harmony which dates to about 160AD was perhaps the very first harmony. In the third century the Christian Ammonius of Alexandria (Christian) developed the forrunner of modern synopsis as the Ammonian Sections in which he started with the text of Matthew and copied along parallel events. No other major Gospel harmonies appeared thereafter until the 15th century.

The 16th century witnessed a major increase in the introduction of Gospel harmonies. In this period the parallel column structure was introduced, partly in response to the rise in Biblical criticism. This new format was used to emphasize the trustworthiness of the Gospels. It is not clear who produced the very first parallel harmony, but Charles Dumoulin in 1565 and Gerhard Mercator in 1569 had used similar approaches. In terms of content and quality, Johann Jacob Griesbach's 1776 synopsis was a notable example.

In the 19th century, other "extract and merge" attempts were made, which were not technical harmonies, e.g. the 1819 Jefferson Bible which placed selected verses in chronological order, but removed large sections of text that Thomas Jefferson considered too supernatural.

W. G. Rushbrooke's 1880 Synopticon is at times considered a turning point in the history of the synopsis, for it was based on Markan priority, i.e. giving priority to the Gospel of Mark. Thirteen years later, John Broadus used historical accounts to assign priorities in his harmony, while previous approaches had used feasts as the major milestones for dividing the life of Christ.

In the 20th century, two separate books both titled Synopsis of the Four Gospels, one by Kurt Aland and the other by John Bernard Orchard became the standard texts in the field of Gospel harmony.[2][3]

A parallel harmony presentation

The following table, mainly events for which there is also a Wikipedia article, is an example of a parallel harmony. The order of events, especially during the ministry period, has been the subject of speculation and scholarly debate. While this harmony compares the work of several scholars, other harmonies may differ substantially on the placement of some events.

Number Type Event Matthew Mark Luke John Other
0.5Nativity Genealogy of Jesus Matthew 01:02-16 Luke 03:23-38 1Chr 03:10-19
1Nativity Gabriel announces John's
birth to Zechariah
Luke 01:05-25
2Nativity Gabriel announces Mary's
motherhood to Jesus
Matthew 01:18 Luke 01:26-38
3Nativity Mary visits Elizabeth Luke 01:39-56
4Nativity Birth of Jesus: The Nativity Matthew 01:25b Luke 02:01-7
5Nativity Adoration of the Shepherds Luke 02:08-20
6Nativity Infant Jesus at the Temple Luke 02:21-38
7Nativity Star of Bethlehem Matthew 02:01-2
8Nativity Adoration of the Wise Men Matthew 02:03-12
9Nativity Flight into Egypt Matthew 02:13-15
10Nativity Massacre of the Innocents Matthew 02:16-18
11Herod the Great's death Matthew 02:19-20
12Youth Return to Nazareth Matthew 02:21-23 Luke 02:39b
13Youth Boy Jesus at Jerusalem Luke 02:41-51
14Pilate appointed Iudaea governor Antiquities of the Jews[4]
15Baptism of Jesus Matthew 03:13-17 Luke 03:21-23a
16 [5]Temptation of Jesus Matthew 04:1-11 Mark 01:12-13 Luke 04:1-13
17 [5]Miracles Wedding at Cana John 02:1-12
18 [5]Ministry Jesus & Nicodemus John 02:13-25
19 [5]Ministry Jesus returns to Galilee Matthew 04:12 Mark 01:14a John 04:1-3
20 [5]Ministry First Temple Cleansing John 03:1-21
21 [5]Ministry Samaritan Woman at the Well John 04:4-42
22 [5]Ministry Rejection of Jesus, Physician, heal thyself Matthew 04:13-16 Luke 04:16-31
23 [5]Ministry Calling of Matthew Matthew 09:09 Mark 02:13-14 Luke 05:27-28
24 [6]Parables New Wine into Old Wineskins Matthew 09:10-17 Mark 02:15-22 Luke 05:29-39
25 [5]Ministry Commissioning the Twelve Matthew 10:2-4 Mark 03:13-19 Luke 06:12-19 Acts 01:13
26 [5]Sermon on the Mount or on the Plain Beatitudes Matthew 05:03-12 Luke 06:20-23
27 [5]Sermon on the Mount or on the Plain Expounding of the Law Matthew 05:17-48 Luke 06:29-42
28 [5]Sermon on the MountDiscourse on Ostentation Matthew 06:01-18
29 [5]Sermon on the MountThe Lord's Prayer Matthew 06:09-13
30 [5]Sermon on the MountThe Birds of Heaven Matthew 06:25-34
31 [5]Sermon on the Mount or on the Plain Discourse on Judging Matthew 07:1-5 Luke 06:41-42
32 [5]Sermon on the MountDiscourse on the Two Ways Matthew 07:13-27
33 [5]Sermon on the MountThe Test of a Good Person Matthew 07:15-20
34 [5]Sermon on the Mount or on the Plain Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Builders Matthew 07:24-27 Luke 06:47-49
35Miracles Widow’s Son at Nain Raised Luke 07:11-17
36Parables Parable of the Two Debtors
at a Pharisees' House
Luke 07:36-50
37 [7]Parables Parable of the Strong Man Matthew 12:25-29 Mark 03:23-27
38 [7]Ministry Jesus' True Relatives Matthew 12:46-50 Mark 03:31-35
39 [5]Parables Parable of the Sower Matthew 13:1-23 Mark 04:1-25 Luke 08:04-18
40 [5]Parables Parable of the Tares Matthew 13:24–53
41 [5]Parables Parable of the Growing Seed Mark 04:26-34
42 [5]Parables Parable of the Hidden Treasure Matthew 13:44
43 [5]Parables Parable of the Pearl Matthew 13:45
44 [5]Parables Parable of Drawing in the Net Matthew 13:47–53)
45 [5]Miracles Legion (demon) Matthew 08:28-9:1 Mark 05:1-21 Luke 08:26-40
46Miracles Daughter of Jairus Matthew 09:18-26 Mark 05:22-43 Luke 08:41-56
47Ministry Rejection of Jesus Matthew 13:54-58 Mark 06:1-6a
48 [5]Ministry Beheading of St. John the Baptist Matthew 14:06-12 Mark 06:21-29
49 [6]Ministry But to bring a sword Matthew 10:34-36
50Miracles Feeding the multitude Matthew 14:13-21 Mark 06:30-44 Luke 09:10-17 John 06:1-14
51Miracles Walking on water Matthew 14:22-36 Mark 06:45-46 John 06:15-21
52Miracles The Blind Man of Bethsaida Mark 08:22-26
53Ministry Confession of Peter Matthew 16:13-20 Mark 08:27-30 Luke 09:18-21
54Miracles Transfiguration of Jesus Matthew 17:1-13 Mark 09:02-13 Luke 09:28-36
56 [5]Ministry The Little Children Matthew 18:01-6 Mark 09:33b-37 Luke 09:46-48
57 [6]Ministry Jesus and the woman taken in adultery John 08:02-11
58 [6]Ministry The Good Shepherd (Christianity) John 10:1-21
59 [5]Ministry Seventy Disciples Luke 10:1-12,16-24
60 [5]Parables Parable of the Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37
61Ministry Visits Martha and Mary Luke 10:38-42
62Ministry The Lord's Prayer Luke 11:02-4
63 [8]Parables Parable of the Strong Man Luke 11:17-22
64 [8]Ministry Jesus' True Relatives Luke 11:27-28
65 [8]Ministry The Rich Fool Luke 12:16-21
66 [8]Ministry The Birds of Heaven Luke 12:22-34
67 [8]Parables Parable of the Faithful Servant Luke 12:35-48
68 [5]Parables Parable of the Friend at Night Luke 11:05-10
69 [5]Parables Parable of the Mustard Seed Luke 13:18-19
70Parables Parable of the Leaven Luke 13:20-21
71Parables Parable of the Lost Sheep Matthew 18:12-14 Luke 15:01-7
72Parables Parable of the Lost Coin Luke 15:08-10
73Parables Parable of the Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32
74Parables Parable of the Unjust Steward Luke 16:1-15
75Parables Lazarus and Dives Luke 16:19-31
75.5Parables Parable of the Unmerciful Servant Matthew 18:21-35 Luke 17:03-4
76Ministry The Master and Servant Luke 17:07-10
77 [9]Miracles Raises Lazarus from the dead; Jesus wept John 11:1-44
78Parables Parable of the Unjust Judge Luke 18:01-8
79Parables Pharisee and the Publican Luke 18:09-14
80Ministry The Little Children Matthew 19:13-15 Mark 10:13-16 Luke 18:15-17
81Ministry Evangelical counsels Matthew 19:10-22 Mark 10:17-22 Luke 18:18-25
82 [5]Parables Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard Matthew 20:1-16
83 [5]Miracles Bartimaeus (Biblical) Matthew 20:29-34 Mark 10:46-52 Luke 18:36-43
84Ministry Talks to Zacchaeus Luke 19:2-28
85Ministry The Triumphal Entry Matthew 21:1-11,14-17 Mark 11:1-11 Luke 19:29-44 John 12:12-19
86Miracles Fig tree is cursed Matthew 21:18-19 Mark 11:12-14
86.5[5]Ministry Second Temple Cleansing Matthew 21:12-13 Mark 11:15-18 Luke 19:45-48
87[5]Ministry The Grain of Wheat John 12:24-26
87.5Ministry Authority of Jesus Questioned Matthew 21:23-27 Mark 11:27-33 Luke 20:01-08
88Parables Parable of the Two Sons Matthew 21:28-32
89Parables Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen Matthew 21:33-46 Mark 12:1-12 Luke 20:9-19
90Parables Parable of the Wedding Feast Matthew 22:1–14
91Ministry Render unto Caesar... Matthew 22:15-22 Mark 12:1-12x Luke 20:20-26
92Ministry Woes of the Pharisees Matthew 23:1-39 Mark 12:35-37a Luke 20:45-47
94Olivet Discourse Second Coming Prophecy Matthew 24:1-31 Mark 13:1-27 Luke 21:05-36
95Olivet Discourse:
Parable of the Ten Virgins Matthew 24:32-25:46
96Olivet Discourse:
Parable of the Talents Matthew 25:14-30
97Olivet Discourse:
The Sheep and the Goats Matthew 25:31–46
98 [5]Ministry Anointing Matthew 26:01-16 Mark 14:03-9 Luke 22:1-6 John 12:02-8
99 [5]Ministry Last Supper Matthew 26:26-29 Mark 14:18-21 Luke 22:17-20
100 [5]Ministry Promising a ParacleteGethsemane John 15:1-16:33
101 [5]The PassionThe kiss of Judas Matthew 26:47-49 Mark 14:43-45 Luke 22:47-48 John 18:02-9
102 [5]The PassionArrest of Jesus Matthew 26:50-56 Mark 14:46-52 Luke 22:49-53 John 18:10-12
103The PassionSanhedrin Trial of Jesus Matthew 27:1-2 Mark 14:54,66-72 Luke 22:66-23:1 John 18:28a
104The PassionBlood curse Matthew 27:24-25
105The PassionCrucifixion of Jesus Matthew 27:27-44 Mark 15:1 Luke 23:26-43 John 19:16-27
106The PassionCrucifixion eclipse Matthew 27:45-56 Mark 15:2-5 Luke 23:44-49 John 19:28-37
107The PassionDescent from the Cross Matthew 27:57-61 Mark 15:33-42a Luke 23:50-56 John 19:38-42
Resurrection of Jesus Matthew 28:01-10 Luke 24:1-8 John 20:01-02
Jesus: Empty tomb Mark 16:01-7 John 20:03-10
Mary Magdalene, Myrrhbearers Mark 16:08-11 Luke 24:09-12
Noli me tangere John 20:17
Doubting Thomas Mark 16:12-18 Luke 24:13-49 John 20:19-29
Catch of 153 fish Matthew 28:16 John 21:1-24
Great Commission Matthew 28:17-20
Ascension of Jesus Mark 16:19-20 Luke 24:50-53 Acts 01:3-12
117Matthias replaced JudasActs 1:12-26
118The Day of PentecostActs 2:1-41
119Ananias and SapphiraActs 5:1-11
120Seven Greeks appointedActs 6:1-7
121The Stoning of StephenActs 6:8-7:60
122Persecution of Christians in the New Testament Acts 8:1-3
123Preaching of Philip the EvangelistActs 8:4-40
124Simon the SorcererActs 8:9-24
125Paul's ConversionActs 9
126Conversion of CorneliusActs 10:1-48
127James, son of Zebedee executed12:1-2 NIV
128Death of Herod Agrippa I (in 44)Acts 12:20-25
129Mission of Barnabas and PaulActs 13-14
130The Council at JerusalemActs 15:1-35
1312nd and 3rd missions of PaulActs 16-20
132Paul before FelixActs 24
133Paul before FestusActs 25
134Paul before Agrippa IIActs 26
135Trip to JerusalemActs 27-28
136Chronology of Revelation Revelation 1

See also


Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Gospel harmony. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

  • Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub.
  • R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub.
  • Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster
  • Henry Rutter, Evangelical harmony Keating and Brown, London 1803.
  • Steven L. Cox, Kendell H Easley, 2007 Harmony of the Gospels ISBN 0805494448


This article incorporates work from A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek by Edward Robinson, a publication now in the public domain.
  1. Steven L. Cox, 2007 Harmony of the Gospels B&H Publishing ISBN 0805494448 page 3
  2. Kurt Aland, 1982 Synopsis of the Four Gospels United Bible Societies ISBN 0826705006
  3. John Bernard Orchard, 1983 Synopsis of the Four Gospels T&T Clark Publishers ISBN 056709331X
  4. by Flavius Josephus
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 5.23 5.24 5.25 5.26 5.27 5.28 5.29 5.30 5.31 5.32 5.33 5.34 5.35 5.36 5.37 5.38 5.39 This placement of follows Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster and Orville Daniel: "A Harmony of the Four Gospels", 2nd Ed., pub. by Baker Books
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 This placement of follows Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub. and R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub. but is placed later by Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster
  7. 7.0 7.1 This placement of follows Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub. and R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub. but Luke 11:17-28 is placed with it by Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 This placement of follows Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub. and R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub. but it is placed with Mark 3:23-35 by Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster
  9. This placement of follows Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed., Baker Books Pub. and R. Thomas & S. Gundry: The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, HarperCollins Pub. but is placed earlier by Edward Robinson: A Harmony of the Gospels in Greek, Revised Ed., pub. by Crocker & Brewster

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