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NPNF1-06. St. Augustine: Sermon on the Mount; Harmony of the Gospels; Homilies on the Gospels
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Chapter XLII.—Of His Coming into His Own Country, and of the Astonishment of the People at His Doctrine, as They Looked with Contempt Upon His Lineage; Of Matthew’s Harmony with Mark and Luke in This Section; And in Particular, of the Question Whether the Order of Narration Which is Presented by the First of These Evangelists Does Not Exhibit Some Want of Consistency with that of the Other Two.

89. Matthew thence proceeds as follows: “And it came to pass that, when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed thence: and when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogues;”10291029     Three mss., however, give in synagoga eorum—in their synagogue—as in our version. and so on, down to the words, “And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”10301030     Matt. xiii. 53–58. Thus he passes from the above discourse containing the parables, on to this passage, in such a way as not to make it absolutely necessary for us to take the one to have followed in immediate historical succession upon the other. All the more may we suppose this to be the case, when we see how Mark passes on from these parables to a subject which is not identical with Matthew’s directly succeeding theme, but quite different from that, and agreeing rather with what Luke introduces; and how he has constructed his narrative in such a manner as to make the balance of credibility rest on the side of the supposition, that what followed in immediate historical sequence was rather the occurrences which these two latter evangelists both insert in near connection [with the parables],—namely, the incidents of the ship in which Jesus was asleep, and the miracle performed in the expulsion of the devils in the country of the Gerasenes,10311031     Mark iv. 35, v. 17; Luke viii. 22–37. [On the variations in the name, see critical editions of Greek text. Comp. Revised Version. The Latin versions generally read “Gerasenes” in all three accounts.—R.] —two events which Matthew has already recalled and introduced at an earlier stage of his record.10321032     Matt. viii. 23–34. At present, therefore, we have to consider whether [Matthew’s report of] what the Lord spoke, and what was said to Him in His own country, is in concord with the accounts given by the other two, namely, Mark and Luke. For, in widely different and dissimilar sections of his history, John mentions words, either spoken to the Lord or spoken by Him,10331033     John vi. 42. which resemble those recorded in this passage by the other three evangelists.

90. Now Mark, indeed, gives this passage in terms almost precisely identical with those which meet us in Matthew; with the one exception, that what he says the Lord was called by His fellow-townsmen is, “the carpenter, and the son of Mary,”10341034     Mark vi. 1–6. and not, as Matthew tells us, the “carpenter’s son.” Neither is there anything to marvel at in this, since He might quite fairly have have been designated by both these names. For in taking Him to be the son of a carpenter, they naturally also took Him to be a carpenter. Luke, on the other hand, sets forth the same incident on a wider scale, and records a variety of other matters which took place in that connection. And this account he brings in at a point not long subsequent to His baptism and temptation, thus unquestionably introducing by anticipation what really happened only after the occurrence of a number of intervening circumstances. In this, therefore, every one may see an illustration of a principle of prime consequence in relation to this most weighty question concerning the harmony of the evangelists, which we have undertaken to solve by the help of God,—the principle, namely, that it is not by mere ignorance that these writers have been led to make certain omissions, and that it is as little through simple ignorance of the actual historical order of events that they have [at times] preferred to keep by the order in which these events were recalled to their own memory. The correctness of this principle may be gathered most clearly from the fact that, at a point antecedent to any account given by him of anything done by the Lord at Capharnaum, Luke has anticipated the literal date, and has inserted this passage which we have at present under consideration, and in which we are told how His fellow-citizens at once were astonished at the might of the authority which was in Him, and expressed their contempt for the meanness of His family. For he tells us that He addressed them in these terms: “Ye will surely say unto me, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy country;”10351035     Luke iv. 23. while, so far as the narrative of this same Luke is concerned, we have not yet read of Him as having done anything at Capharnaum. Furthermore, as it will not take up much time, and as, besides, it is both a very simple and a highly needful matter to do so, we insert here the whole context, showing the subject from which and the method in which the writer has come to give the contents of this section. After his statement regarding the Lord’s baptism and temptation, he proceeds in these terms: “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. And He taught in their synagogues, and was magnified of all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as his custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath-day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias: and when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me. He hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the accepted year of the Lord, and the day of retribution. And when He had closed the book, He gave it again to the minister, and sat down: and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And He said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy country.”10361036     Luke iv. 13–23. And so he continues with the rest, until this entire section in his narrative is gone over. What, therefore, can be more manifest, than that he has knowingly introduced this notice at a point antecedent to its historical date, seeing it admits of no question that he knows and refers to certain mighty deeds done by Him before this period in Capharnaum, which, at the same time, he is aware he has not as yet narrated in detail? For certainly he has not made such an advance with his history from his notice of the Lord’s baptism, as that he should be supposed to have forgotten the fact that up to this point he has not mentioned any of the things which took place in Capharnaum; the truth being, that he has just begun here, after the baptism, to give us his narrative concerning the Lord personally.10371037     [The question of the identity of the visits to Nazareth is still an open one. But there are some points ignored by Augustin which indicate that Luke refers to an earlier visit.—R.]


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