Lectionary Central


     Home      Back to Quinquagesima





St. Augustine on the Harmony of the Gospels 

(Chapters LXIV and LXV in Vol VI, NPNF (1st))
Chapter LXIV.-Of the Occasions on Which He Foretold His Passion in Private to His Disciples; And of the Time When the Mother of Zebedee's Children Came with Her Sons, Requesting that One of Them Should Sit on His Right Hand, and the Other on His Left Hand; And of the Absence of Any Discrepancy Between Matthew and the Other Two Evangelists on These Subjects.

124. Matthew continues his narrative in the following terms: "And Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him; and the third day He shall rise again. Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him;" and so on, down to the words, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."463 Here again Mark keeps the same order as Matthew, only he represents the sons of Zebedee to have made the request themselves; while Matthew has stated that it was preferred on their behalf not by their own personal application, but by their mother, as she had laid what was their wish before the Lord. Hence Mark has briefly intimated what was said on that occasion as spoken by them, rather than by her [in their name]. And to conclude with the matter, it is to them rather than to her, according to Matthew no less than according to Mark, that the Lord returned His reply. Luke, on the other hand, after narrating in the same order our Lord's predictions to the twelve disciples on the subject of His passion and resurrection, leaves unnoticed what the other two evangelists immediately go on to record; and after the interposition of these passages, he is joined by his fellow-writers again [at the point where they report the incident] at Jericho.464 Moreover, as to what Matthew and Mark have stated with respect to the princes of the Gentiles exercising dominion over those who are subject to them,-namely, that it should not be so with them [the disciples], but that he who was greatest among them should even be a servant to the others,-Luke also gives us something of the same tenor, although not in that connection;465 and the order itself indicates that the same sentiment was expressed by the Lord on a second occasion.

Chapter LXV.-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, thou Son of David;" and so on, down to the words, "And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him."466 Mark also records this incident, but mentions only one blind man.467 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.468 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.469 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 Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, 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 nigh unto Jericho;470 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 was come nigh 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.471 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.

463 Matt. xx. 17-28.

464 Luke xviii. 31-35.

465 Luke xxii. 24-27.

466 Matt. xx. 29-34. 

467 Mark x. 46-52.

468 See chap. xxiv. § 56.

469 Mark v. 22-43.

470 Luke xviii. 35-43.

471 [Various other solutions are suggested. Comp. Robinson's Greek Harmony, rev. ed. pp. 234, 235.-R.]