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93. After stating how the report of John’s death was brought to Christ, Matthew continues his account, and introduces it in the following connection: “When Jesus heard of it, He departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed Him on foot out of the cities. And He went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.”391 He mentions, therefore, that this took place immediately after John had suffered. Consequently it was after this that those things took place which have been previously recorded—namely, the circumstances which alarmed Herod, and induced him to say,“Jn have I beheaded.”392 For it must surely I be understood that these incidents occurred subsequently which report carried to the ears of Herod, so that he became anxious, and was inperplexity as to who that person possibly could be of whom he heard things so remarkable, when he had himself put Jn to death. Mark, again, after relating how Jn suffered, mentions that the disciples who had been sent forth returned to Jesus, and told Him all that they had done and taught; and that the Lord (a fact which he alone records) directed them to rest for a little while in a desert place, and that He went on board a vessel with them, and departed; and that the crowds of people, when they perceived that movement, went before them to that place; and that the Lord had compassion on them, and taught them many things; and that, when the hour was now advancing, it came to pass that all who were present were made to eat of the five loaves and the two fishes.393 This miracle has been recorded by all the four evangelists. For in like manner, Luke, who has given an account of the death of Jn at a much earlier stage in his narrative,394 in connection with the occasion of which we have spoken, in the present context tells us first of Herod’s perplexity as to who the Lord could be, and immediately thereafter appends statements to the same effect with those in Mark,—namely, that the apostles returned to Him, and reported to Him all that they had done; and that then He took them with Him and departed into a desert place, and that the multitudes followed Him thither, and that He spake to them concerning the kingdom of God, and restored those who stood in need of healing. Then, too, he mentions that, when the day was declining, the miracle of the five loaves was wrought.395

94. But John, again, who differs greatly from those three in this respect, that he deals more with the discourses which the Lord delivered than with the works which He so marvellously wrought, after recording how He left Judaea and departed the second time into Galilee, which departure is understood to have taken place at the time to which the other evangelists also refer when they tell us that on John’s imprisonment He went into Galilee,—after recording this, I say, Jn inserts in the immediate context of his narrative the considerable discourse which He spake as He was passing through Samaria, on the occasion of His meeting with the Samaritan woman whom He found at the well; and then he states that two days after this He departed thence and went into Galilee, and that thereupon He came to Cana of Galilee, where He had turned the water into wine, and that there He healed the son of a certain nobleman.396 But as to other things which the rest have told us He did and said in Galilee, Jn is silent. At the same time, however, he mentions something which the others have left unnoticed,—namely, the fact that He went up to Jerusalem on the day of the feast, and there wrought the miracle on the man who had the infirmity of thirty-eight years standing, and who found no one by whose help he might be carried down to the pool in which people afflicted with various diseases were healed.397 In connection with this, Jn also relates how He spake many things on that occasion. He tells us, further, that after these events He departed across the sea of Galilee, which is also the sea of Tiberias, and that a great multitude followed Him; that thereupon He went away to a mountain, and there sat with His disciples,—the passover, a feast of the Jews, being then nigh; that then, on lifting up His eyes and seeing a very great company, He fed them with the five loaves and the two fishes;398 which notice is given us also by the other evangelists. And this makes it certain that he has passed by those incidents which form the course along which these others have come to introduce the notice of this miracle into their narratives. Nevertheless, while different methods of narration, as it appears, are prosecuted, and while the first three evangelists have thus left unnoticed certain matters which the fourth has recorded, we see how those three, on the one hand, who have been keeping nearly the same course, have found a direct meeting-point with each other at this miracle of the five loaves; and how this fourth writer, on the other hand, who is conversant above all with the profound teachings of the Lord’s discourses, in relating some other matters on which the rest are silent, has sped round in a certain method upon their track, and, while about to soar off from their pathway after a brief space again into the region of loftier subjects, has found a meeting-point with them in the view of presenting this narrative of the miracle of the five loaves, which is common to them all.


95. Matthew then proceeds and carries on his narrative in due consecution to the said incident connected with the five loaves in the following manner: “And when it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat;” and so forth, down to where we read, “And the number of those who ate was five thousand men, besides women and children.”399 This miracle, therefore, which all the four evangelists record,400 and in which they are supposed to betray certain discrepancies with each other, must be examined and subjected to discussion, in order that we may also learn from this instance some rules which will be applicable to all other similar cases in the form of principles regulating modes of statement in which, however diversethey may be, the same sense is nevertheless retained, and the same veracity in the expressionof matters of fact is preserved. And, indeed, this investigation ought to begin not with Matthew, although that would be in accordance with the order in which the evangelists stand, but rather with John, by whom the narrative in question is told with such particularity as to record even the names of the disciples with whom the Lord conversed on this subject. For he gives the history in the following terms: “When Jesus than lifted up His eyes, and saw a very great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this He said to prove him; for He Himselfknew what He would do. Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto Him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are they among so many? Jesus said therefore, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. And when they were filled, He said unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that they be not lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.”401

96. The inquiry which we have here to handle does not concern itself with a statement given by this evangelist, in which he specifies the kind of loaves; for he has not omitted to mention, what has been omitted by the others, that they were barley loaves. Neither does the question deal with what he has left unnoticed,—namely, the fact that, in addition to the five thousand men, there were also women and children, as Matthew tells us. And it ought now by all means to be a settled matter, and one kept regularly in view in all such investigations, that no one should find any difficulty in the there circumstance that something which is unrecorded by one writer is related by another. But the question here is as to how the several matters narrated by these writers may be [shown to be] all true, so that the one of them, in giving his own peculiar version, does not put out of court the account offered by the other. For if the Lord, according to the narrative of John, on seeing the multitudes before Him, asked Philip,with the view of proving him, whence bread might be got to be given to them, a difficulty may be raised as to the truth of the statement which is made by the others,—namely, that the disciples first said to the Lord that He should send the multitudes away, in order that they might go and purchase food for themselves in the neighbouring localities, and that He made this reply to them, according to Matthew: “They need not depart; give ye them to eat.”402 With this last Mc and Lc also agree, only that they leave out the words, “They need not depart.” We are to suppose, therefore, that after these words the Lord looked at the multitude, and spoke to Philip in the terms which Jn records, but which those others have omitted. Then the reply which, according to John, was made by Philip, is mentioned by Mc as having been given by the disciples, —the intention being, that we should understand Philip to have returned this answer as the mouthpiece of the rest; although they may also have put the plural number in place of the singular, according to very frequent usage. The words here actually ascribed to Philip—namely, “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little”403 —have their counterpart in this version by Mark, “Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?”404 The expression, again, which the same Mc relates to have been used by the Lord, namely, “How many loaves have ye?” has been passed by without notice by the rest. On the other hand, the statement occurring in John, to the effect that Andrew made the suggestion about the five loaves and the two fishes, appears in the others, who use here the plural number instead of the singular, as a notice referring the suggestion to the disciples generally. And, indeed, Lc has coupled Philip’s reply together with Andrew’s answer in one sentence. For when he says, “We have no more but five loaves and two fishes,” he reports Andrew’s response; but when he adds, “except we should go and buy meat for all this people,” he seems to carry us back to Philip’s reply, only that he has left unnoticed the “two hundred pennyworth.” At the same time, that [sentence about the going and buying meat] may also be understood to be implied in Andrew’s own words. For after saying, “There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two fishes,” he likewise subjoined, “But what are they among so many?” And this last clause really means the same as the expression in question, namely, “except we should go and buy meat for all this people.”

97. From all this variety of statement which is found in connection with a genuine harmony in regard to the matters of fact and the ideas conveyed, it becomes sufficiently clear that we have the wholesome lesson inculcated upon us, hat what we have to look to in studying a person’s words is nothing else than the intention of the speakers; in setting forth which intention all truthful narrators ought to take the utmost pains when they record anything, whether it may relate to man, or to angels, or to God. For the subjects’ mind and intention admit of being expressed in words which should leave no appearance of any discrepancies as regards the matter of fact.

98. In this connection, it is true, we ought not to omit to direct the reader’s attention to certain other matters which may turn out to be of a kindred nature with those already considered. One of these is found in the circumstance that Lc has stated that they were ordered to sit down by fifties, whereas Mark’s version is that it was by hundreds and by fifties. This difference, however, creates no real difficulty. The truth is, that the one has reported simply a part, and the other has given the whole. For the evangelist who has introduced the notice of the hundreds as well as the fifties has just mentioned something which the other has left unmentioned. But there is no contradiction between them on that account. If, indeed, the one had noticed only the fifties, and the other only the hundreds, they might certainly have seemed to be in some antagonism with each other, and it might not have been easy to make it plain that both instructions were actually uttered, although only the one has been specified by the former writer, and the other by the latter. And yet, even in such a case, who will not acknowledge that when the matter was subjected to more careful consideration, the solution should have been discovered? This I have instanced now for this reason, that matters of that kind do often present themselves, which, while they really contain no discrepancies, appear to do so to persons who pay insufficient attention to them, and pronounce upon them inconsiderately.


99. Matthew goes on with his account in the following terms: “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit;” and so on, down to the words, “They came and worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.”405 In like manner, Mark, after narrating the miracle of the five loaves, gives his account of this same incident in the following terms: “And when it was late, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He alone on the land. And He saw them toiling in rowing: for the wind was contrary to them,” and so on.406 This is similar to Matthew’s version, except that nothing is said as to Peter’s walking upon the waters. But here we must see to it, that no difficulty be found in what Mc has stated regarding the Lord, namely, that, when He walked upon the waters, He would also have passed by them. For in what way could they have understood this, were it not that He was really proceeding in a different direction from them, as if minded to pass those persons by like strangers, who were so far from recognizing Him that they took Him to be a spirit? Who, however, is so obtuse as not to perceive that this bears a mystical significance? At the same time, too, He came to the help of the men in their perturbation and outcry, and said to them, “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid.” What is the explanation, therefore, of His wish to pass by those persons whom nevertheless He thus encouraged when they were in terror, but that that intention to pass them by was made to serve the purpose of drawing forth those cries to which it was meet to bear succour?

100. Furthermore, Jn still tarries for a little space with these others. For, after his recital of the miracle of the five loaves, he also gives us some account of the vessel that laboured, and of the Lord’s act in walking upon the sea. This notice he connects with his preceding narrative in the following manner: “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force and make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone. And when it became late, His disciples went down unto the sea; and when they had entered into a ship, they came over the sea to Capharnaum: and it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew,” and so on.407 In this there cannot appear to be anything contrary to the records preserved in the other Gospels, unless it be the circumstance that Matthew tells us how, when the multitudes were sent away, He went up into a mountain, in order that there He might pray alone; while Jn states that He was on a mountain with those same multitudes whom He fed with the five loaves.408 But seeing that Jn also informs us how He departed into a mountain after the said miracle, to preclude His being taken possession of by the multitudes, who wished to make Him a king, it is surely evident that they had come down from the mountain to more level ground when those loaves were provided for the crowds. And consequently there is no contradiction between the statements made by Matthew and Jn as to His going up again to the mountain. The only difference is, that Matthew uses the phrase “He went up,” while John’s term is “He departed.” And there would be an antagonism between these two, only if in departing He had not gone up. Nor, again, is any want of harmony betrayed by the fact that Matthew’s words are, “He went up into a mountain apart to pray;” whereas Jn puts it thus: “When He perceived that they would come to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone.” Surely the matter of the departure is in no way a thing antagonistic to the matter of prayer. For, indeed, the Lord, who in His own person transformed the body of our humiliation in order that He might make it like unto the body of His own glory,409 hereby taught us also the truth that the matter of departure should be to us in like manner grave matter for prayer. Neither, again, is there any defect of consistency proved by the circumstance that Matthew has told us first how He commanded His disciples to embark in the little ship, and to go before Him unto the other side of the lake until He sent the multitudes away, and then informs us that, after the multitudes were sent away, He Himself went up into a mountain alone to pray; while Jn mentions first that He departed unto a mountain alone, and then proceeds thus: “And when it became late, His disciples came down unto the sea; and when they had entered into a ship,” etc. For who will not perceive that, in recapitulating the facts, Jn has spoken of something as actually done at a later point by the disciples, which Jesus had already charged them to do before His own departure unto the mountain; just as it is a familiar procedure in discourse, to revert in some fashion or other to any matter which otherwise would have been passed over But inasmuch as it may not be specifically noted that a reversion, especially when done briefly and instantaneously, is made to something omitted, the auditors are sometimes led to suppose that the occurrence which is mentioned at the later stage also took place literally at the later period. In this way the evangelist’s statement really is, that to those persons whom he had described as embarking in the ship and coming across the sea to Capharnaum, the Lord came, walking toward them upon the waters, as they were toiling in the deep; which approach of the Lord of course took place at the earlier point, during the said voyage in which they were making their way to Capharnaum.410

101. On the other hand, Luke, after the record of the miracle of the five loaves, passes to another subject, and diverges from this order of narration. For he makes no mention of that little ship, and of the Lord’s pathway over the waters. But after the statement conveyed in these words, “And they did all eat, and were filled, and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets,” he has subjoined the following notice: “And it came to pass, as He was alone praying, His disciples were with Him; and He asked them, saying, Who say the people that I am?”411 Thus he relates in this succession something new, which is not given by those three who have left us the account of the manner in which the Lord walked upon the waters, and came to the disciples when they were on the voyage. It ought not, however, on this account, to be supposed that it was on that same mountain to which Matthew has told us He went up in order to pray alone, that He said to His disciples, “Who say the people that I am?” For Luke, too, seems to harmonize with Matthew in this, because his words are, “as He was alone praying;” while Matthew’s were, “He went up unto a mountain alone to pray.” But it must by all means be held to have been on a different occasion that He put this question, since [it is said here, both that] He prayed alone, and [that] the disciples were with Him. Thus Luke, indeed, has mentioned only the fact of His being alone, but has said nothing of His being without His disciples, as is the case with Matthew and John, since [according to these latter] they left Him in order to go before Him to the other side of the sea. For with unmistakeable plainness Lc has added the statement that “His disciples also were with Him.” Consequently, in saying that He was alone, he meant his statement to refer to the multitudes, who did not abide with Him.


102. Matthew proceeds as follows: “And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Genesar. And when the men of that place had knowledge of Him, they sent out unto all that country round about, and brought unto Him all that were diseased, and besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. Then came to Him scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread,” and so on, down to the words, “But to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”412 This is also related by Mark, in a way which precludes the raising of any question about discrepancies. For anything expressed here by the one in a form differing from that used by the other, involves at least no departure from identity in sense. John, on the other hand, fixing his attention, as his wont is, upon the Lord’s discourses, passes on from the notice of the ship, which the Lord reached by walking upon the waters, to what took place after they disembarked upon the land, and mentions that He took occasion from the eating of the bread to deliver many lessons, dealing pre-eminently with divine things. After this address, too, his narrative is again borne on to one subject after another, in a sublime strain.413 At the same time, this transition which he thus makes to different themes does not involve any real want of harmony, although he exhibits certain divergencies from these others, with the order of events presented by the rest of the evangelists. For what is there to hinder us from supposing at once that those persons, whose story is given by Matthew and Mark, were healed by the Lord, and that He delivered this discourse which Jn recounts to the people who followed Him across the sea? Such a supposition is made all the more reasonable by the fact that Capharnaum, to which place they are said, according to John, to have crossed, is near the take of Genesar; and that, again, is the district into which they came, according to Matthew, on landing).


103. Matthew, accordingly, proceeds with his narrative, after the notice of that discourse which the Lord delivered in the presence of the Pharisees on the subject of the unwashed hands. Preserving also the order of the succeeding events, as far as it is indicated by the transitions from the one to the other, he introduces this account into the context in the following manner: “And Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But He answered her not a word,” and so on, down to the words, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”414 This story of the woman of Canaan is recorded also by Mark, who keeps the same order of events, and gives no occasion to raise any question as to a want of harmony, unless it be found in the circumstance that he tells us how the Lord was in the house at the time when the said woman came to Him with the petition on behalf of her daughter.415 Now we might readily suppose that Matthew has simply omitted mention of the house, while nevertheless relating the same occurrence. But inasmuch as he states that the disciples made the suggestion to Him in these terms, “Send her away, for she crieth after us,” he seems to imply distinctly that the woman gave utterance to these cries of entreaty behind the Lord as He walked on. In what sense, then, could it have been “in the house,” unless we are to take Mc to have intimated the fact, that she had gone into the place where Jesus then was, when he mentioned at the beginning of the narrative that He was in the house? But when Matthew says that “He answered her not a word,” he has given us also to understand what neither of the two evangelists has related explicitly,—namely, the fact that during that silence which He maintained Jesus went out of the house. And in this manner all the other particulars arebrought into a connection which from this point onwards presents no kind of appearance of discrepancy. For as to what Mc records with respect to the answer which the Lord gave her, to the effect that it was not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it unto the dogs, that, reply was returned only after the interposition of certain sayings which Matthew has not left unrecorded. That is to say, [we are to suppose that] there came in first the request which the disciples addressed to Him in regard to the woman’s case, and the answer He gave them, to the effect that He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel; that next there was her own approach, or, in other words, her coming after Him, and worshipping Him, saying, “Lord, help me;” and that then, after all these incidents, those words were spoken which have been recorded by both the evangelists.


104. Matthew proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “And when Jesus had departed from thence, He came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto Him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them; insomuch that the multitudes wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. Then Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat,” and so on, down to the words, “And they that did eat were four thousand men, besides women and children.”416 This other miracle of the seven loaves and the few little fishes is recorded also by Mark, and that too in almost the same order; the exception being that he inserts before it a narrative given by no other,—namely, that relating to the deaf man whose ears the Lord opened, when He spat and said, “Effeta,” that is, Be opened.417

105. In the case of this miracle of the seven loaves, it is certainly not a superfluous task to call attention to the fact that these two evangelists, Matthew and Mark, have thus introduced it into their narrative. For if one of them had recorded this miracle, who at the same time had taken no notice of the instance of the five loaves, he would have been judged to stand opposed to the rest. For in such circumstances, who would not have supposed that there was only the one miracle wrought in actual fact, and that an incomplete and unveracious version of it had been given by the writer referred to, or by the others, or by all of them together; so [that we must have imagined] either that the one evangelist, by a mistake on his own part, had been led to mention seven loaves instead of five; or that the other two, whether as having both presented an incorrect statement, or as having been misled through a slip of memory, had put the number five for the number seven. In like manner, it might have been supposed that there was a contradiction between the twelve baskets418 and the seven baskets,419 and again, between the five thousand and the four thousand, expressing the numbers of those who were fed. But now, since those evangelists who have given us the account of the miracle of the seven loaves have also not failed to mention the other miracle of the five loaves, no difficulty can be felt by any one, and all can see that both works were really wrought. This, accordingly, we have instanced, in order that, if in any other passage we come upon some similar deed of the Lord’s, which, as told by one evangelist, seems so utterly contrary to the version of it given by another that no method of solving the difficulty can possibly be found, we may understand the explanation to be simply this, that both incidents really took place, and that they were recorded separately by the two several writers. This is precisely what we have already recommended to attention in the matter of the seating of the multitudes by hundreds and by fifties. For were it not for the circumstance that both these numbers are found noted by the one historian, we might have supposed that the different writers had made contradictory statements.420


106. Matthew continues as follows: “And He sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magedan;” and so on, down to the words, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it but the sign of the prophet Jonas.”421 This has already been recorded in another connection by the same Matthew.422 Hence again and again we must hold by the position that the Lord spake the same words on repeated occasions; so that when any completely irreconcilable difference appears between statements of His utterances, we are to understand the words to have been spoken twice over. In this case, indeed, Mc also keeps the same order; and after his account of the miracle of the seven loaves, subjoins the same intimation as is given us in Matthew, only with this difference, that Matthew’s expression for the locality is not Dalmanutha, as is read in certain codices, but Magedan.423 There is no reason, however, for questioning the fact that it is the same place that is intended under both names. For most codices, even of Mark’s Gospel, give no other reading than that of Magedan.424 Neither should any difficulty be felt in the fact that Mc does not say, as Matthew does, that in the answer which the Lord returned to those who sought after a sign, He referred to Jonah, but mentions simply that He replied in these terms: “There shall no sign be given unto it.” For we are given to understand what kind of sign they asked—namely, one from heaven. And he has simply omitted to specify the words which Matthew has introduced regarding Jonas.

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