Re: Harmonization of Gospels

From: Paul R. Zellmer (
Date: Sun Jun 28 1998 - 02:44:41 EDT (David Palmer) wrote:
> Carl Conrad wrote:
> "... harmonization, an idea which I personally think does more
> harm than good because it neutralizes the distinct and valuable
> perspectives that each evangelist brings to bear on the Jesus narrative."
> I can see how this would be a concern if by virtue of the existence of such
> harmonizations the four separate gospels would be banned or cease to be
> available for reading.
> Jim West wrote:
> "Such harmonizations are, to my mind, unproductive, as they flatten out the
> differences and thus represent documents and ideas that never really existed."
> I think the gospel of Luke is is a harmonization, and it is not unproductive.
> Though he wasn't an eyewitness to the events he recorded, I am glad he made
> his account, gathered from many sources, even though, by his own admission,
> "many have taken the task in hand" before him. The ideas Luke wrote, he said,
> were "fully assured" or "surely believed" among us, even though they may be
> expressed in a number of ways.

[snip, because his main points have been expressed]


There is a distinction to be made on writing a history and writing a
harmony. Luke, while he had many sources, as indicated by his own
testimony, wrote as a historian. He weighed the reliability of the
reports that he gleaned in his investigation and determined their value
to the points he was bringing out, then he wrote a unified document. A
harmony, on the other hand, does not determine if one source is more
reliable than another, nor is its purpose to result in a unified
document. For there to be "harmony," there needs be difference. If
there is no difference, you end up with unity or agreement.

If the distinction between the sources are not somehow maintained, then
the resulting work must be deemed a history (whether accurate or
inaccurate, that is undetermined). If the work is single-column yet
still a harmony, some sort of indication of sources must be made to
prevent totally incorrect presentation of the facts, like the six
denials previously mentions.


Paul and Dee Zellmer, Jimmy Guingab, Geoffrey Beltran
Ibanag Translation Project
Cabagan, Isabela, Rep. of Philippines

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