Synoptical Study Of The Gospels, And Recent Literature Pertaining To It -- By: H. B. Hackett

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:9 (Feb 1846)
Article: Synoptical Study Of The Gospels, And Recent Literature Pertaining To It
Author: H. B. Hackett

Synoptical Study Of The Gospels, And Recent Literature Pertaining To It

H. B. Hackett

[With special reference to Dr. Robinson’s New Harmony of the Greek Gospels.1 ]

Strictly speaking, a distinction should be made between a Synopsis of the Gospels, a Harmony of the Gospels, and a Life of Christ. A Synopsis of the Gospels contents itself with ascertaining what passages or sections in the different Evangelists are probably parallel to each other, that is, have reference to the same occurrences or subjects ; but it makes no attempt to arrange them in their chronological order. In this case, the credibility of the sacred historians may be denied, and the endeavor to synchronize their accounts discarded as futile, because what they wrote rests in fact upon no historical basis; or their credibility may be admitted, and yet our means for ascertaining the exact order of events may be considered as so deficient as to render all labor for this purpose of no avail.

A Harmony of the Gospels aims at something more positive than this. It proposes to discover not only what narratives in the different Evangelists correspond to each other, but in what order the events and instructions recorded took place or were delivered; and how the scriptural text should be arranged so as to exhibit

this result. In other words, a Harmony assumes, first, that the narratives of the Evangelists, though diverse to some extent in style and contents, yet constitute essentially the same history; secondly, that they are composed according to no uniform method, but upon a plan in each case more or less dissimilar; and, thirdly, that they contain at the same time various chronological data which enable us to combine their histories into a connected and consistent whole.

A History of the Saviour coincides with a Harmony, so far as the latter extends, but embraces more. The Harmonist is expected to confine himself to the materials which the Evangelists have furnished. Having formed his judgment as to the place which these should occupy in his arrangement, he has accomplished his work. The Biographer moves in a wider sphere. His object is to reproduce as nearly as possible the entire, original history. The imagination has here an important office to discharge, as well as the judgment. In a Life of Christ, the writer is at liberty to expand the simple hints and statements of the Evangelists into greater fulness of representation. He is to spread around us the external scenery, amid which the Saviour lived and moved. The actions of life always owe much of their significancy to that which is transient and momentary at the time of their performance, The skilful Biogr...

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