Harmony of the Gospels


It has been exceedingly difficult to harmonise the gospel of John with Matthew, Mark and Luke during the time of Jesus’ early ministry. This is because the synoptic gospels miss out the time from his temptation unto his Galilean ministry. They jump straight from in the wilderness in Judea to Galilee. John, on the other hand, details several months between in Judea and Samaria.

Here is a diagram that is easy to follow. I hope it helps anyone who might have problems with so-called contradictions in the New Testament.



People must realize that the Gospels were not written as all inclusive narratives of Jesus and His ministry. They were written for certain groups, in different styles and for different purposes depending upon the particular audience. While the gospels are an invaluable treasure, they are not the core of what it means to part of the Church of Christ.


Yes, we need not struggle to harmonize or reconcile the details as though they were news accounts.


But, if they can be harmonised, why not?


Like Michael said, we need not “struggle” to harmonize them. There have been more than a few people here on CAF on the verge of abandoning the faith because of their fear that the Bible might not be “true” or “100% accurate.” When it comes to that, there is a problem.


Okay, no one needs to “struggle.” All Im saying is that St. John’s sequence of events flows with the synoptic gospels better than appears at first sight.


And that’s great but ultimately, it doesn’t really mean or change anything about the subject.


Yes, some people do seem to have a faith crisis I’d they come to realize that the entire Bible does not need to be takes as literal historical “fact”. That is not to say some of it isn’t. It is a mixture, a rich mixture.


This question is often used as a reason to disbelieve the New Testament. This is my observation: When a crime is committed or a serious car accident happens, detectives will interview a number of witnesses. If the witnesses all tell the exact story the detective know that the witnesses have been talking to each other to get their story straight.

The fact that the New Testament is not always exact shows me that these men all experienced Christ from their own vantage point. For instance, Jesus may have preached the same sermon on the plain and on a mountain and the story was recorded from that experience.

I would be skeptical if each of these men told the exact same word for word story.


never read it but maybe the diatessaron by tatian would interest you. It is one of the earliest perhaps the first gospel harmony compiled.



I’d like to see his notes on Jesus first year. Is Tatian online?


Contrary to those who depreciate John’s value as an historical book, his gospel provides a very useful historical date. When Jesus spoke of the temple, *“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews answered, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” (John 2:20) *

Herod’s building projects are well documented in history, and in the case of his famed temple, it started in 20 BC. Therefore Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem in his early ministry, as shown on the map, would have been April AD 27. That’s pretty accurate.

So, if it’s good enough of John to leave a date, it must be good enough for us to use it? Finding a reliable harmony of the gospels is a good place to start. Yes?


Actually it was April AD 28. -19+46=27 But there is no zero year so AD 28.




You are counting from 19 BC and I am counting from 20 BC. There are fine point arguments here, but I won’t quibble about it on this thread. My point here is that St. Johns gospel is a reliable historical book - not just a theological one.


I had a work published that goes into serious fine detail in the harmony of the Gospels. I drew from many Catholic sources. Here it is on Amazon. amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1511608129/ref=mp_s_a_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1489495787&sr=8-9&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=john+litteral

I would be happy to send you a free PDF if you like. email me at jlitteral29@gmail.com


What you don’t seem to understand is that some Gospel accounts seem to positively contradict other accounts! For someone who is not interested in little details, or just has a breezy idea of Gospel accounts, no it doesn’t matter. But for most Christians it is VERY important to have a harmony of the Gospels. I saved Cyberseeker’s map, as it is one you won’t see anywhere else! :wink:


I do understand that some Gospel accounts seem to positively contradict other accounts and have no problem with it.

“The freedom to move and reposition material in this way does not mean that the essential historicity of the Gospels is compromised. Not at all. One must keep in mind that the Gospel writers, in addition to preserving the memory of Christ’s actions and teachings, were also preachers of the Good News. Their interests as authors were evangelical and catechetical as well as historical. The result is that chronology is sometimes subordinate to theology in the narrative presentation of Jesus’ life.”


Theology has priority over historicity in some cases.


I mean I don’t see a need to reconcile everything that seems a contradiction. It does not bother me if contradictions exist. I read each Gospel in its own world to connect with Jesus.


However, if there were a good reasonable explanation for the seeming contradiction, it would be welcomed, wouldn’t it? :slight_smile:

I understand what you are saying though. I am somewhat the same. If I see a contradiction, I assume that I do not understand the text enough, so I leave it for the time being, and will not let it disturb my reading of that text. IOW, I am sure it can be reconciled with a proper understanding. But that is why I consider Harmonies of the Gospel to be VERY helpful and welcome.

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