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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VI:
The Harmony of the Gospels.: Chapter XXIV

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXIV.—Of the Lord’s Crossing the Lake on that Occasion on Which He Slept in the Vessel, and of the Casting Out of Those Devils Whom He Suffered to Go into the Swine; And of the Consistency of the Accounts Given by Matthew, Mark, and Luke of All that Was Done and Said on These Occasions.

55. “And when He was entered into a ship, His disciples followed Him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea.” And so the story goes on, until we come to the words, “And He came into His own city.” 892 Those two narratives which are told by Matthew in continuous succession,—namely, that regarding the calm upon the sea after Jesus was roused from His sleep and had commanded the winds, and that concerning the persons who were possessed with the fierce devil, and who brake their bands and were driven into the wilderness,—are given also in like manner by Mark and Luke. 893 Some parts of these stories are expressed, indeed, in different terms by the different writers, but the sense remains the same. This is the case, for example, when Matthew represents the Lord to have said, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” 894 while Mark’s version is, “Why are ye fearful? Is it that ye have no faith?” 895 For Mark’s word refers to that perfect faith which is like a grain of mustard seed; and so he, too, speaks in effect of the “little faith.” Luke, again, puts it thus: “Where is your faith?” 896 Accordingly, the whole utterance may perhaps have gone thus: “Why are ye fearful? Where is your faith, O ye of little faith?” And so one of them records one part, and another another part, of the entire saying. The same may be the case with the words spoken by the disciples when they awoke Him. Matthew gives us: “Lord, save us: we perish.” 897 Mark has: “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” 898 And Luke says simply, “Master, we perish.” 899 These different expressions, however, convey one and the same meaning on the part of those who were awaking the Lord, and who were wishful to secure their safety. Neither need we inquire which of these several forms is to be preferred as the one actually addressed to Christ. For whether they really used the one or the other of these three phraseologies, or expressed themselves in different words, which are unrecorded by any one of the evangelists, but which were equally well adapted to give the like representation of what was meant, what difference does it make in the fact itself? At the same time, it may also possibly have been the case that, when several parties in concert were trying to awake Him, all these various modes of expression had been used, one by one person, and another by another. In the same way, too, we may deal with the exclamation on the stilling of the tempest, which, according to Matthew, was, “What manner of man is this, that the winds and the sea obey Him?” 900 according to Mark, “What man, thinkest thou, is this, 901 that both the wind p. 130 and the sea obey Him?” 902 and according to Luke, “What man, thinkest thou, is this? 903 for He commandeth both the winds and the sea, 904 and they obey Him.” Who can fail to see that the sense in all these forms is quite identical? For the expression, “What man, thinkest thou, is this?” has precisely the same import with the other, “What manner of man is this?” 905 And where the words “He commandeth” are omitted, it can at least be understood as a matter of course that the obedience is rendered to the person commanding.

56. Moreover, with respect to the circumstance that Matthew states that there were two men who were afflicted with the legion of devils which received permission to go into the swine, whereas Mark and Luke instance only a single individual, we may suppose that one of these parties was a person of some kind of superior notability and repute, whose case was particularly lamented by that district, and for whose deliverance there was special anxiety. With the intention of indicating that fact, two of the evangelists have judged it proper to make mention only of the one person, in connection with whom the fame of this deed had been spread abroad the more extensively and remarkably. Neither should any scruple be excited by the different forms in which the words uttered by the possessed 906 have been reproduced by the various evangelists. For we may either resolve them all into one and the same thing, or suppose them all to have been actually spoken. Nor, again, should we find any difficulty in the circumstance that with Matthew the address is couched in the plural number, but with Mark and Luke in the singular. For these latter two tell us at the same time, that when the man was asked what was his name, he answered that he was Legion, because the devils were many. Nor, once more, is there any discrepancy between Mark’s statement that the herd of swine was round about the mountain, 907 and Luke’s, that they were on the mountain. 908 For the herd of swine was so great that one portion of it might be on the mountain, and another only round about it. For, as Mark has expressly informed us, there were about two thousand swine.



Matt. 8:23-9:1.


Mark 4:36, Luke 8:22.


Matt. viii. 16.


Mark iv. 40. [The variations in the Greek text are numerous. Augustin gives necdum, which represents the rending followed in the Revised Version.—R.]


Luke viii. 25.


Matt. viii. 25.


Mark iv. 38.


Luke viii. 24.


Matt. viii. 27.


Quis putas est iste.


Mark iv. 41. [The Greek text in Mark and Luke has nothing corresponding to “thinkest thou.” The Authorized Version, given above, has an unnecessary variation; “that,” “that,” “for.” The Greek particle is the same, and Augustin gives quia three times.—R.]


Quis putas hic est.




Qualis est hic.


Or, the devils—dæmonum.


Circa montem. [The correct Greek text is rendered “on the mountain side” in the Revised Version.—R.]


In monte.

Next: Chapter XXV

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