Augustin Harm. Gospels 314
51. Matthew continues his narrative in the following terms: “Then were there two robbers crucified with Him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.”194 Mc and Lc give it also in a similar form.195 Neither does Jn raise any question of difficulty, although he has made no mention of those robbers. For he says, “And two other with Him, on either side one,and Jesus in the midst.”196 But there would have been a contradiction if Jn had spoken of these others as innocent, while the former evangelists called them robbers).
52. Matthew goes on in the following strain: “And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself: if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”197 Mark’s statement agrees with this almost to the letter. Then Matthew continues thus: “Likewise also the chief priests, mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save: if he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver him now, if He will: for he said, I am the Son of God.”198 Mc and Luke, although they report the words differently, nevertheless agree in conveying the same meaning, although the one passes without notice something which the other mentions.199 For they are both really at one on the subject of the chief priests, giving us to understand that they insulted the Lord when He was crucified. The only difference is, that Mark does not specify the elders, while Luke, who has instanced the rulers, has not added the designation “of the priests,” and thus has rather comprehended the whole body of the leading men under the general designation; so that we may fairly take both the scribes and the elders to be included in his description.
AND OF THE QUESTION REGARDING THE ABSENCE OF ANY DISCREPANCY BETWEEN MATTHEW AND MARK ON THE ONE HAND, AND LUKE ON THE OTHER, WHEN THE LAST-NAMED EVANGELIST STATES THAT ONE OF THE TWO MOCKED HIM, AND THAT THE OTHER BELIEVED ON HIM.
53. Matthew continues his narrative in these terms: “The robbers also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth.”200 Mc is quite in harmony with Matthew here, giving the same statement in different words.201 On the other hand, Lc may be thought to contradict this, unless we be careful not to forget a certain mode of speech which is sufficiently familiar. For Luke’s narrative runs thus: “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”202 And then the same writer proceeds to introduce into the same context the following recital: “But the other answering, rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, To-day thou shall be with me in paradise.”203 The question then is, how we can reconcile either Matthew’s report, “The robbers also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth,” or Mark’s, namely, “And they that were crucified with Him reviled Him,” with Luke’s testimony, which is to the effect that one of them reviled Christ, but that the other arrested him and believed on the Lord. The explanation will be, that Matthew and Mark, presenting a concise version of the passage under review, have employed the plural number instead of the singular; as is the case in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where we find the statement given in the plural form, that “they stopped the mouths of lions,”204 while Daniel alone is understood to be referred to. Again, the plural number is adopted where it is said that they “were sawn asunder,”205 while that manner of death is reported only of Isaiah. In the same way, when it is said in the Psalm, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers took counsel together,” etc.,206 the plural number is employed instead of the singular, according to the exposition given of the passage in the Ac of the Apostles. For those who have made use of the testimony of the said Psalm in that book take the kings to refer to Herod, and the princes to Pilate.207 But further, inasmuch as the pagans are in the habit of bringing such slanderous charges against the Gospel, I would ask them to consider how their own writers have spoken of Phaedras and Medeas and Clytemnestras, when there really was but a single individual reputed trader each of these names. And what is more common, for example, than for a person to say, “The rustics also behave insolently to me,” even although it should only be one that acted rudely? In short, no real discrepancy would be created by the restriction of Luke’s report to one of the two robbers, unless the other evangelists had declared expressly that “both” the malefactors reviled the Lord; for in that case it would not be possible for us to suppose only one individual intended under the plural number. Seeing, however, that the phrase employed is “the robbers,” or “those who were crucified with Him,” and the term “both” is not added, the expression is one which might have been used if both these men had been engaged in the thing, but which might equally well be adopted if one of the two had been implicated in it,—that fact being then conveyed by the use of the plural number, according to a familiar method of speech.
54. Matthew proceeds in the following terms: “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.”208 The same fact is attested by two others of the evangelists.209 Lc adds, however, a statement of the cause of the darkness, namely, that “the sun was darkened.” Again, Matthew continues thus: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani! that is to say, My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.”210 Mark’s agreement with this is almost complete, so far as regards the words, and not only almost, but altogether complete, so far as the sense is concerned. Matthew next makes this statement: “And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink.”211 Mark presents it in a similar form: “And one ran, and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take Him down.”212 Matthew, however, has represented these words about Elias to have been spoken, not by the person who offered the sponge with the vinegar, but by the rest. For his version runs thus: “But the rest said, Let be; let us see whether Elias will come to save Him;”213 —from which, therefore, we infer that both the man specially referred to and the others who were there expressed themselves in these terms. Luke, again, has introduced this notice of the vinegar previous to his report of the robber’s insolence. He gives it thus: “And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself.”214 It has been Luke’s purpose to embrace in one statement what was done and what was said by the soldiers. And we ought to feel no difficulty in the circumstance that he has not said explicitly that it was “one” of them who offered the vinegar. For, adopting a method of expression which we have discussed above,215 he has simply put the plural number for the singular.216 Moreover, Jn has also given us an account of the vinegar, where he says: “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth.”217 But although the said Jn thus informs us that Jesus said “I thirst,” and also mentions that there was a vessel full of vinegar there, while the other evangelists leave these things unspecified, there is nothing to marvel at in this.
AND OF THE QUESTION WHETHER MATTHEW AND MARK ARE IN HARMONY WITH LUKE IN THEIR REPORTS OF THESE SAYINGS, AND ALSO WHETHER THESE THREE EVANGELISTS ARE IN HARMONY WITH JOHN.
55. Matthew proceeds as follows: “And Jesus, crying again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”218 In like manner, Mark says, “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.”219 Luke, again, has told us what He said when that loud voice was uttered. For his version is thus: “And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit: and saying this, He gave up the ghost.”220 John, on the other hand, as he has left unnoticed the first voice, which Matthew and Mc have reported—namely, “Eli, Eli”—has also passed over in silence the one which has been recited only by Luke, while the other two have referred to it under the designation of the “loud voice.” I allude to the cry, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Lc has also attested the fact that this exclamation was uttered with a loud voice; and hence we may understand this particular cry to be identified with the loud voice which Matthew and Mc have specified. But Jn has stated a fact which is noticed by none of the other three, namely, that He said “It is finished,” after He had received the vinegar. This cry we take to have been uttered previous to the loud voice referred to. For these are John’s words: “When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished; and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.”221 In the interval elapsing between this cry, “It is finished,” and what is referred to in the subsequent sentence, “and He bowed His head and gave up the ghost,” the voice was uttered which Jn himself has passed over without record, but which the other three have noticed. For the precise succession appears to be this, namely, that He said first “It is finished,” when what had been prophesied regarding Him was fulfilled in Him, and that thereafter—as if He had been waiting for this, like one, indeed, who died when He willed it to be so—He commended His spirit [to His Father], and resigned it.222 But, whatever the order may be in which a person may consider it likely that these words were spoken, he ought above all things to guard against entertaining the notion that any one of the evangelists is in antagonism with another, when one leaves unmentioned something which another has repeated, or particularizes something which another has passed by in silence.
AND OF THE QUESTION WHETHER MATTHEW AND MARK REALLY HARMONIZE WITH LUKE WITH RESPECT TO THE ORDER IN WHICH THAT INCIDENT TOOK PLACE.
56. Matthew proceeds thus: “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”223 Mark’s version is also as follows: “And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”224 Lc likewise gives a statement in similar terms: “And the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.”225 He does not introduce it, however, in the same order. For, with the intention of attaching miracle to miracle, he has told us first how “the sun was darkened,” and then has deemed it right to subjoin the said sentence in immediate succession, namely, “And the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.” Thus it would appear that he has introduced at an earlier point this incident, which really took place when the Lord expired, so as to give us there a summary description of the circumstances relating to the drinking of the vinegar, and the loud voice, and the death itself, which are understood to have taken place previous to the rending of the veil, and after the darkness had come in. For Matthew has inserted this sentence, “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent,” in immediate succession to the statement, “And Jesus, crying again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost;” and has thus given us clearly to understand that the time when the veil was rent was after Jesus had given up His spirit. If, however, he had not added the words, “And behold,” but had said simply, “And the veil of the temple was rent,” it would have been uncertain whether Mc and he had narrated the incident in the form of a recapitulation, while Lc had kept the exact order, or whether Lc had given the summary account of what these others had introduced in the correct historical succession.
ON THE SUBJECT OF THE ASTONISHMENT FELT BY THE CENTURION AND THOSE WHO WERE WITH HIM.
57. Matthew proceeds thus: “And the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after the resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”226 There is no reason to fear that these facts, which have been related only by Matthew, may appear to be inconsistent with the narratives presented by any one of the rest. The same evangelist then continues as follows: “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”227 Mc offers this version: “And when the centurion which stood over against Him saw that He so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this was the Son of God.”228 Luke’s report runs thus: “Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.”229 Here Matthew says that it was when they saw the earthquake that the centurion and those who were with him were thus astonished, whereas Luke represents the man’s amazement to have been drawn forth by the fact that Jesus uttered such a cry, and then gave up the ghost; thus making it clear how He had it in His own power to determine the time for His dying. But this involves no discrepancy. For as the said Matthew not only tells us how the centurion “saw the earthquake,” but also appends the words, “and those things that were done,” he has indicated that there was room enough for Lc to represent the Lord’s death as itself the thing which called forth the centurion’s wonder. For that event is also one of the things which were done in so marvellous a manner then. At the same time, even although Matthew had not added any such statement, it would still have been perfectly legitimate to suppose, that as many astonishing things did take place at that time, and as the centurion and those who were with him may well have looked upon them all with amazement, the historians were at liberty to select for narration any particular incident which they were severally disposed to instance as the subject of the man’s wonder. And it would not be fair to impeach them with inconsistency, simply because one of them may have specified one occurrence as the immediate cause of the centurion’s amazement, while another introduces a different incident. For all these events together had really been matters for the man’s astonishment. Again, the mere fact that one evangelist tells us that the centurion said, “Truly this was the Son of God,” while another informs us that the words were, “Truly this man was the Son of God,” will create no difficulty to any one who has retained some recollection of the numerous statements and discussions bearing upon similar cases, which have already been given above. For these different versions of the words both convey precisely the same sense and although one writer introduces the wore “man” while another does not, that implies no kind of contradiction. A greater appearance of discrepancy may be supposed to be created by the circumstance, that the words which Lc reports the centurion to have uttered are not “This was the Son of God,” but “This was a righteous man.” But we ought to suppose either that both things were actually said by the centurion, and that two of the evangelists have recorded the one expression, and the third the other; or else perhaps that it was Luke’s intention to bring out the exact idea which the centurion had in view when he said that Jesus was the Son of God. For it may be the case that the centurion did not really understand Him to be the Only-begotten, equal with the Father; but that he called Him the Son of God simply because he believed Him to be a righteous man, as many righteous men have been named sons of God. Moreover, when Lc says, “Now when the centurion saw what was done,” he has really used terms which cover all the marvellous things which occurred on that occasion, commemorating a single deed of wonder, so to speak, of which all those miraculous incidents were, as we may say, members and parts. But, once more, as regards the circumstance that Matthew has also referred to those who were with the centurion, while the others have left these parties unnoticed, to whom will this not explain itself on the well-understood principle that there is no contradiction necessarily involved in the mere fact that one writer records what another passes by without mention? And, finally, as to Matthew’s having told us that “they feared greatly,” while Lc has said nothing about the man being afraid, but has informed us that “he glorified God,” who can fail to understand that he glorified [God] just by the fear which he exhibited?
WHO HAVE STATED THAT THEY STOOD AFAR OFF, ARE IN ANTAGONISM WITH JOHN, WHO HAS MENTIONED THAT ONE OF THEM STOOD BY THE CROSS.
58. Matthew proceeds thus: “And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee: among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.”230 Mc gives it in this form: “There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joseph, and Salome (who also, when He was in Galilee, followed Him, and ministered unto Him); and many other women which came up with Him unto Jerusalem.”231 I see nothing which can be supposed to constitute a discrepancy between these writers here. For in what way can the truth be affected by the fact that some of these women are named in both lists, while others are referred to only in the one? Lc has likewise connected his narrations as follows: “And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. And all His acquaintance and the women that followed Him from Galilee stood afar off beholding these things.”232 Here we perceive that he is quite in harmony with the former two as far as regards the presence of the women, although he does not mention any of them by name. On the subject of the multitude of people who were also present, and who, as they beheld the things which were done, smote their breasts and returned, he is in like manner at one with Matthew, although that evangelist has introduced into the context this distinct statement: “Now the centurion and they that were with him.” Thus it simply appears that Lc is the only one who has spoken expressly of His “acquaintance” who stood afar off. For Jn has also noticed the presence of the women before the Lord gave up the ghost. His narrative runs thus: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”233 Now, as regards this statement, had not Matthew and Mc at the same time mentioned Mary Magdalene most explicitly by name, it might have been possible for us to say that there was one company of women afar off, and another near the cross. For none of these writers has mentioned the Lord’s mother here but Jn himself. The question, therefore, which rises now is this, How can we understand the same Mary Magdalene both to have stood afar off along with other women, as the accounts of Matthew and Mc bear, and to have been by the cross, as Jn tells us, unless it be the case that these women were at such a distance as made it quite legitimate to say at once that they were near, because they were at hand there in the sight of Him, and also afar off in comparison with the crowd of people who were standing round about in closer vicinity along with the centurion and the soldiers? It is open for us, then, to suppose that those women who were present at the scene along with the Lord’s mother, after He commended her to the disciple, began then to retire with the view of extricating themselves from the dense mass of people, and of looking on at what remained to be done from a greater distance. And in this way the rest of the evangelists, who have introduced their notices of these women only after the Lord’s death, have properly reported them to be standing by that time afar off.
WHO BEGGED THE LORD'S BODY FROM PILATE, AND WHETHER JOHN'S VERSION CONTAINS ANY STATEMENTS AT VARIANCE WITH EACH OTHER.
59. Matthew proceeds as follows: “Now when the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.”234 Mc presents it in this form: “And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable councillor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if He were already dead: and, calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether He had been any while235 dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.”236 Luke’s report runs in these terms: “And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a councillor; and he was a good man, and a just (the same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them): he was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.”237 John, on the other hand, first narrates the breaking of the legs of those who had been crucified with the Lord, and the piercing of the Lord’s side with the lance (which whole passage has been recorded by him alone), and then subjoins a statement which is of the same tenor with what is given by the other evangelists. It proceeds in these terms: “And after this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.”238 There is nothing here to give any one of them the appearance of being in antagonism with another. But some one may perhaps ask whether Jn is not inconsistent with himself, when he at once unites with the rest in telling us how Joseph begged the body of Jesus, and comes forward as the only one who states here that Joseph had been a disciple of Jesus secretly for fear of the Jews. For the question may reasonably be raised as to how it happened that the man who had been a disciple secretly for fear had the courage to beg His body—a thing which not one of those who were His open followers was bold enough to do. We must understand, however, that this man did so in the confidence which his dignified position gave him, the possession of which rendered it possible for him to make his way on familiar terms into Pilate’s presence. And we must suppose, further, that in the performance of that last service relating to the interment, he cared less for the Jews, however he tried in ordinary circumstances, when hearing the Lord, to avoid exposing himself to their enmity.
60. Matthew proceeds thus: “And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.”239 Mark’s version is as follows: “And he bought fine linen,240 and took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen, and laid Him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.”241 Lc reports it in those terms: “And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.”242 So far as these three narratives are concerned, no allegation of a want of harmony can possibly be raised. John, however, tells us that the burial of the Lord was attended to not only by Joseph, but also by Nicodemus. For he begins with Nicodemus in due connection with what precedes, and goes on with his narrative as follows: “And there came also Nicodemus (which at the first came to Jesus by night), and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.”243 Then, introducing Joseph again at this point, he continues in these terms: “Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus, therefore, because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”244 But there is really as little ground for supposing any discrepancy here as there was in the former case, if we take a correct view of the statement. For those evangelists who have left Nicodemus unnoticed have not affirmed that the Lord was buried by Joseph alone, although he is the only one introduced into their records. Neither does the fact, that these three are all at one in informing us how the Lord was wrapped in the linen cloth by Joseph, preclude us from entertaining the idea that other linen stuffs may have been brought by Nicodemus, and added to what was given by Joseph, so that Jn may be perfectly correct in his narrative, especially as what he tells us is that the Lord was wrapped not in a linen cloth, but in linen clothes.245 At the same time, when we take into account the handkerchief which was used for the head, and the bandages with which the whole body was swathed, and consider that all these were made of linen, we can see how, even although there was really but a single linen cloth [of the kind referred to by the first three evangelists] there, it could still have been stated with the most perfect truth that “they wound Him in linen clothes.” For the phrase, linen clothes, is one applied generally to all textures made of flax.
61. Matthew proceeds thus: “And there was there Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.”246 This is givenby Mc as follows: “And Mary Magdalene,and Mary the mother of Joseph, beheld where He was laid.”247 So far it is evident that there is no kind of inconsistency between the accounts.
62. Matthew continues in these terms: “Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate. saying, Sir, we have remembered that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risenfrom the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”248 This narrative is given only by Matthew. Nothing, however, is stated by any of the others which can have the appearance of contrariety.
63. Again, the same Matthew carries on his recital as follows: “Now, in the evening of the Sabbath,249 when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week,250 came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And, behold, them was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. And his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay: And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you.”251 Mc is in harmony with this. It is possible, however, that some difficulty may be felt in the circumstance that, according to Matthew’s version, the stone was already rolled away from the sepulchre, and the angel was sitting upon it. For Mc tells us that the women entered into the sepulchre, and there saw a young man sitting on the right side, covered with a long white garment, and that they were affrighted.252 But the explanation may be, that Matthew has simply said nothing about the angel whom they saw when they entered into the sepulchre, and that Mc has said nothing about the one whom they saw sitting outside upon the stone. In this way they would have seen two angels, and have got two separate angelic reports relating to Jesus,—namely, first one from the angel whom they saw sitting outside upon the stone, and then another from the angel whom they saw sitting on the right side when they entered into the sepulchre. Thus, too, the injunction given them by the angel who was sitting outside, and which was conveyed in the words, “Come, and see the place where the Lord lay,” would have served to encourage them to go within the tomb; on coming to which, as has been said, and venturing within it, we may suppose then, to have seen the angel concerning whom Matthew tells us nothing, but of whom Mc discourses, sitting on the right side, from whom also they heard things of like tenor to those they had previously listened to. Or if this explanation is not satisfactory, we ought certainly to accept the theory that, as they entered into the sepulchre, they came within asection of the ground where, it is reasonable to suppose, a certain space had been by that time securely enclosed, extending a little distance in front of the rock which had been cut out in order to construct the place of sepulture; so that, according to this view, what they. really beheld was the one angel sitting on the right side, in the space thus referred to, which same angel Matthew also represents to have been sitting upon the stone which he had rolled away from the mouth of the tomb when the earthquake took place, that is to say, from the place which had been dug out in the rock for a sepulchre.
64. It may also be asked how it is that Mc says: “And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they anything to any man; for they were afraid;”253 whereas Matthew’s statement is in these terms: “And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, and did run to bring His disciples word.254 The explanation, however, may be that the women did not venture to tell either of the angels themselves,—that is, they had not courage enough to say anything in reply to what they had heard from the angels. Or, indeed, it may be that they were not bold enough to speak to the guards whom they saw lying there; for the joy which Matthew mentions is not inconsistent with the fear of which Mark takes notice. Indeed, we ought to have supposed that both feelings had possession of their minds, even although Matthew himself had said nothing about the fear. But now, when this evangelist also particularizes it, saying, “They departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy,” he allows nothing to remain which can occasion any question of difficulty on this subject.
65. At the same time, a question, which is not to be dealt with lightly, does arise here with respect to the exact hour at which the women came to the sepulchre. For when Matthew says, “Now, on the evening of the Sabbath, when it was dawning toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre,” what are we to make of Mark’s statement, which runs thus: “And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun”?255 It is to be observed that in this Mc states nothing inconsistent with the reports given by other two of the evangelists, namely, Lc and John. For when Lc says, “Very early in the morning,” and when Jn puts it thus, “Early, when it was yet dark,” they convey the same sense which Mc is understood to express when he says, “Very early, at the rising of the sun;” that is to say, they all refer to the period when the heavens were now beginning to brighten in the east, which, of course, does not take place but when the sunrise is at hand. For it is the brightness which is diffused by the rising sun that is familiarly designated by the name of the dawn.256 Consequently, Mc does not contradict the other evangelist who uses the phrase, “When it was yet dark;” for as the day breaks, what remains of the darkness [of the night] passes away just in proportion as the sun continues to rise. And this phrase, “Very early in the morning,” need not be taken to mean that the sun itself was actually seen by this time [blazing] over the lands; but it is rather to be taken as like the kind of expression which we are in the habit of employing when speaking to people to whom we wish to intimate that something should be done more betimes than usual. For when we have used the term, “Early in the morning,”257 if we wish to keep the persons addressed from supposing that we refer directly to the time when the sun is already conspicuously visible over earth, we usually add the word “very,” and say, “very early in the morning,” in order that they may clearly understand that we allude to the time which is also called the daybreak.258 At the same time, it is also customary for men, after the cockcrow has been repeatedly heard, and when they begin to surmise that the day is now approaching, to say, “It is now early in the morning;”259 and when after this they weigh their words and observe that, as the sun now rises,—that is to say, as it now makes its immediate advent into these parts,—the sky is just beginning to redden, or to brighten, those who said, “It is early in the morning,” then amplify their expression and say, “It is very early in the morning.” But what does it matter, provided only that, whichever method of explanation be preferred, we understand that what is meant by Mark, when he uses the terms “early in the morning,”260 is just the same as is intended by Lc when he adopts the phrase, “in the morning;”261 and that the whole expression employed by the former—namely, “very early in the morning”262 —amounts to the same as that which we find in Luke—namely, “very early in the dawn,”263 —and as that which is chosen by Jn when he says, “early, when it was yet dark”?264 Moreover, when Mc speaks of the “rising of the sun,” he just means that by its rising the sun was now beginning to bring the light in upon the sky. But the question now is this: how can Matthew be in harmony with these three when he says neither “in the early morning” nor “early in the morning,” but “in the evening of the Sabbath, when it was beginning to dawn toward the first day of the week”? This is a matter which must be carefully investigated.265 Now, under that first part of the night, which is [here called] the evening, Matthew intended to refer to this particular night, at the close of which the women came to the sepulchre. And we understand his reason for so referring to the said night to have been this: that by the time of the evening it was lawful for them to bring the spices, because the Sabbath was then indeed over. Consequently, as they were hindered by the Sabbath from doing so previously, he has given a designation of the night, taken from the time at which it began to be a lawful thing for them to do what they did at any period of the same night which pleased them. Thus, therefore, the phrase “in the evening of the Sabbath” is used, as if what was said had been “in the night of the Sabbath,” or in other words, in the night which follows the day of the Sabbath. The express words which he employs thus indicate this with sufficient clearness. For his terms are these: “Now, in the evening of the Sabbath, when it began to dawn toward the first day of the week;” and that could not be the case if what we had to understand to be denoted by the mention of the “evening” was simply the first short space of the night, or in other words, only the beginning of the night. For what can be said “to begin to dawn toward the first day of the week” is not explicitly the beginning [of the night], but the night itself, as it commences to be brought to its close by the advance of the light. For the terminus of the first part of the night is just the beginning of the second part, but the terminus of the whole night is the light. Hence we could not speak of the evening as dawning toward the first day of the week unless under the term “evening” we should understand the night itself to be meant, which, as a whole, is brought to its close by the light. It is also a familiar method of speech in divine Scripture to express the whole under the part; and thus, under the word “evening” here, the evangelist has denoted the whole night, which finds its extreme point in the dawn.266 For it was in the dawn that those women came to the sepulchre; and in this way they really came on the night, which is here indicated by the term “evening.” For, as I have said, the night as a whole is denoted by that word; consequently, at whatever period of that night they might have come, they certainly did come in the said night. And, accordingly, if they came at the latest point in that night, it is still unquestionably the case that they did come in the said night. But it could not be said to be on “the evening, when it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,” unless the night as a whole can be understood under that expression. Accordingly, the women who came in the night referred to, came in the evening specified. And if they came at any period, even the latest during that night, they surely came in the night itself.
66. For the space of three days, which elapsed between the Lord’s death and resurrection, cannot be correctly understood except in the light of that form of expression according to which the part is dealt with as the whole.267 For He said Himself, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”268 Now, in whichever way we reckon the times, whether from the point when He yielded up the ghost, or from the date of his burial, the sum does not come out clearly, unless we take the intermediate day, that is to say, the Sabbath, as a complete day—in other words, a full day along with its night,—and, on the other hand, understand those days between which that one intervenes—that is to say, the day of the preparation and the first day of the week, which we designate the Lord’s day—to be dealt with on the principle of the part standing for the whole. For of what avail is it that some, hard pressed by these difficulties, and not knowing the very large part which the mode of expression referred to—namely, that which takes the part as the whole—plays in the matter of solving the problems presented in the Holy Scriptures, have struck out the idea of reckoning as a distinct night those three hours, namely, from the sixth hour to the ninth, during which the sun was darkened, and as a distinct day the other three hours, during which the sun was restored again to the lands, that is to say, from the ninth hour on to its setting? For the night connected with the coming Sabbath follows, and if we compute it along with its day, there will then be two days and two nights. But, further, after the Sabbath there comes in the night connected with the first day of the week, that is to say, with the dawning of the Lord’s day, which was the time when the Lord arose. Consequently, the result to which this mode of calculation leads us will be just two days and two nights, and one night, even supposing it possible to take the last as a complete night, and taking it for granted that we were not to show that the said dawn was in reality the ultimate portion of the same. Thus it would appear that, even although we were to compute these six hours in that fashion, during three of which the sun was darkened, and during the other three of which it shone forth again, we would not establish a satisfactory reckoning of three days and three nights. In accordance, therefore, with the usage which meets us so frequently in the language of the Scriptures, and which deals with the part as the whole, it remains for us to hold the time of the preparation to constitute the day at the one extremity,269 on which the Lord was crucified and buried, and, from that limit, to find one whole day along with its night which was fully spent. In this way, too, we must take the intermediate member, that is to say the day of the Sabbath, not as calculated simply from the part, but as a really complete day. The third day, again, must be computed from its first part; that is to say, calculating from the night, we must look upon it as making up a whole day when its day-portion is connected with it. Thus we shall get a space of three days, on the analogy of a case already considered, namely, those eight days after which the Lord went up into a mountain; with respect to which period we find that Matthew and Mark, fixing their attention simply on the complete days intervening, have put it thus, “After six days,” whereas Luke’s representation of the same is this, “An eight days after.”270
67. Let us now proceed, therefore, to look into the rest of this passage, and see how in other respects these statements are quite consistent with what is given by Matthew. For Lc tells us, with the utmost plainness, that two angels were seen by those women who came to the sepulchre. One of these angels we have understood to be referred to by each of the first two evangelists; that is to say, one of them is noticed by Matthew, namely, the one who was sitting outside upon the stone, and a second by Mark, namely, the one who was sitting within the sepulchre on the right side. But Luke’s version of the scene is to the following effect: “And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women which had come with Him from Galilee beheld the sepulchre, and how His body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath-day, according to the commandment.271 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared.272 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments; and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered His words. And they returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.”273 The question, therefore, is this, how can these angels have been seen sitting each one separately,—namely, one outside upon the stone, according to Matthew, and another within upon the right side, according to Mark,—if Luke’s report of the same bears that the two stood beside those women, although the words ascribed to them are similar? Well, it is still possible for us to suppose that one angel was seen by the women in the position assigned by Matthew, and in the circumstances indicated by Mark, as we have already explained. In this way, we may understand the said women to have entered into the sepulchre, that is to say, into a certain space which had been fenced off within a kind of enclosure, in such a manner that an entrance might be said to be made when they came in front of the rocky place in which the sepulchre was constructed; and there we may take them to have beheld the angel sitting upon the stone which had been rolled away from the tomb, as Matthew tells us, or in other words, the angel sitting on the right side, as Mc expresses it.274 And then we may further surmise that the said women, after they had gone within, and when they were looking at the place where the body of the Lord lay, saw other two angels standing, as Lc informs us, by whom they were addressed in similar terms, with a view to animate their minds and edify their faith.275
68. But let us also examine John’s version, and see whether or in what manner its consistency with these others is apparent. John, then, narrates these incidents as follows: “Now the first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciples whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid Him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and they came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he, stooping down, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and, as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. They say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing Him to be the gardener, saith unto Him, Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto Him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told, the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and, that He had spoken these things unto her.”276 In the narrative thus given by John, the statement of the day or time when the sepulchre wascome to agrees with the accounts presented by the rest. Again, in the report of two angels who were seen, he is also at one with Luke. But when we observe how the one evangelist tells us that these angels were seen standing, while the other says that they were sitting; when we notice, also, that there are certain other things which are left unrecorded by these two writers; and, further, when we consider how questions are thus raised regarding the possibility of proving the consistency of the one set of historians with the other on these subjects, and of fixing the order in which those said things took place,we see that, unless we submit the whole to a careful examination, there may easily appear to be contradictions here between the several narratives.
69. This being the case, therefore, let us, so far as the Lord may help us, take all these incidents, which took place about the time of the Lord’s resurrection, as they are brought before us in the statements of all the evangelists together, and let us arrange them in one connected narrative, which will exhibit them, precisely as they may have actually occurred. It was in the early morning of the first day of the week, as all the evangelists are at one in attesting, that the women came to the sepulchre. By that time, all that is recorded by Matthew alone had already taken place; that is to say, in regard to the quaking of the earth, and the rolling away of the stone, and the terror of the guards, with which they were so stricken, that in some part they lay like dead men. Then, as Jn informs us, came Mary Magdalene, who unquestionably was surpassingly more ardent in her love than these other women277 who had ministered to the Lord; so that it was not unreasonable in Jn to make mention of her alone, leaving those others unnamed, who, however, were along with her, as we gather from the reports given by others of the evangelists. She came accordingly; and when she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre, without pausing to make any more minute investigation, and never doubting but that the body of Jesus had been removed from the tomb, she ran, as the same Jn states, and told the state of matters to Peter and to John himself. For Jn is himself that disciple whom Jesus loved. They then set out running to the sepulchre; and John, reaching the spot first, stooped down and saw the linen clothes lying, but he did not go within. But Peter followed up, and went into the sepulchre, and saw the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, which had been about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then Jn entered also, and saw in like manner, and believed what Mary had told him, namely, that the Lord had been taken away from the sepulchre. “For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping,”278 —that is to say, before the place in the rock in which the sepulchre was constructed, but at the same time within that space into which they had now entered; for there was a garden there, as the same Jn mentions.279 Then they saw the angel sitting on the right side, upon the stone which was rolled away from the sepulchre; of which angel both Matthew and Mark discourse. “Then he said unto them, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay: and go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you.”280 In Mc we also find a passage similar in tenor to the above. At these words, Mary, still weeping, bent down and looked forwards into the sepulchre, and beheld the two angels, who are introduced to us in John’s narrative, sitting in white raiment, one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been deposited. “They say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.”281 Here we are to suppose the angels to have risen up, so that they could be seen standing, as Lc states that they were seen, and then, according to the narrative of the same Luke, to have addressed the women, as they were afraid and bowed down their faces to the earth. The terms were these: “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise. And they remembered His words.”282 It was after this that, as we learn from John, “Mary turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing Him to be the gardener, saith unto Him, Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto Him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”283 Then she departed from the sepulchre, that is to say, from the ground where there was space for the garden in front of the stone which had been dug out. Along with her there were also those other women, who, as Mark tells us, were surprised with fear and trembling. And they told nothing to any one. At this point we next take up what Matthew has recorded in the following passage: “Behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail! And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him.”284 For thus we gather that, on coming to the sepulchre, they were twice addressed by the angels; and, again, that they were also twice addressed by the Lord Himself, namely, at the point at which Mary took Him to be the gardener, and a second time at present, when He meets them on the way, with a view to strengthen them by such a repetition, and to bring them out of their state of fear. “Then, accordingly, said He unto them, Be not afraid: go, tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”285 “Then came Mary Magdalene, and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things unto her;”286 —not herself alone, however, but with her also those other women to whom Lc alludes when he says, “Which told these things unto the eleven disciples, and all the rest. And their words seemed to them like madness, and they believed them not.”287 Mc also attests these facts; for, after telling us how the women went out from the sepulchre, trembling and amazed, and said nothing to any man, he subjoins the statement, that the Lord rose early the first day of the week, and appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils, and that she went and told them who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept, and that they, when they heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.288 It is further to be observed, that Matthew has also introduced a notice to the effect that, as the women who had seen and heard all these things were going away, there came likewise into the city some of the guards who had been lying like dead men, and that these persons reported to the chief priests all the things that were done, that is to say, those of them which they were themselves also in a position to observe. He tells us, moreover, that when they were assembled with the elders and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, and bade them say that His disciples came and stole Him away while they slept, promising at the same time to secure them against the governor, who had given those guards. Finally, he adds that they took the money, and did as they had been taught, and that this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.289
Augustin Harm. Gospels 314