The Unity Of Our Lord’s Discourses -- By: Frederic Gardiner

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 031:123 (Jul 1874)
Article: The Unity Of Our Lord’s Discourses
Author: Frederic Gardiner


The Unity Of Our Lord’s Discourses

Rev. Frederic Gardiner

The Synoptical Gospels contain the record of many events in the life of our Lord, of several series of parables and of miracles, and of various discourses; but in no two of them are these given in the same order. Either, therefore, they must have been repeated, or else the Evangelists — one or all of them — must have followed some other than the chronological order of arrangement. There is generally little or no difficulty in identifying the events, and from an examination of many instances the conclusion inevitably follows that, in arranging the detail of the narrative, at least two of these Evangelists have been guided by some other principle than that of chronological sequence. It does not matter to the present inquiry which of them have done so; but it cannot escape observation that the first of the Gospels is the least careful of them all in regard to the order of time.

As we pass from the ordinary events of our Lord’s life to his miracles, we begin to meet with some differences of opinion. Much the larger part of those narrated in common are identified without hesitation in whatever order they may be placed in the several narratives. The only difficulty arises in regard to a comparatively small number, marked by certain differences in the narratives themselves. The older harmonists were inclined to magnify such circumstances as the mention in one Gospel of one, and in another of two subjects of the miracle, as in the case of the demoniacs of Gadara or of the blind near Jericho, and were thus disposed to understand them of different incidents. The later tendency is undoubtedly to make larger allowance for differences

in narration, and hence to recognize the identity of the miracle. The soundness in general of the later view is established by reasons too familiar to’ require repetition. Suffice it to say, that, as the result of much controversy, there has now come to be a general agreement that in judging of such matters we are to be guided by the same principles of evidence and the same arguments as in the case of uninspired writings. The effect of inspiration is to assure us of the entire truthfulness of each of the accounts, not to obliterate the individuality of the writers, nor to destroy the value of those traces by which we recognize the same events under the modifications of various human reports. By this means, and as the result of prolonged discussion, a good degree of unanimity has been gradually attained in regard to the facts of the gospel story.

But the same principles are much more hesitatingly applied to the records of our Lord’s parables and discourses. It is alleged that these may have been...

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