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The central person of Christianity is Jesus Christ. The bulk of what we know about Jesus Christ is found in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. An indispensable step toward a better understanding of these four books is to harmonize the separate accounts so as to assemble as many details as possible into a chronologically meaningful sequence.
This Harmony of the Gospels is introduced as a resource to encourage a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ, His life, death, and resurrection. Other harmonies have been produced in the past and are of value. Yet the study of the gospels has been so intensified in recent years that new information about them is becoming available at a very rapid pace. This creates the necessity for a new work incorporating the latest insights.
Another incentive for a new harmony is the recent availability of the New American Standard Bible. The editors of this Harmony, after investigating other possibilities, felt this translation -to be extremely well-suited to be the basic text for a harmony. Belonging to a tradition of English Bible translation dating back to William Tyndale early in the sixteenth century, this work provides a modern English translation of the gospels which is based on a more literal philosophy of translating the Greek text. Appreciation is expressed to the Lockman Foundation of La Habra, California, for permission to use the NASB.
A harmony of the gospels provides an important means for studying the four gospels at one time. Though it could never replace the four gospels studied individually, it is an indispensable tool for gaining a well-rounded overview of Jesus'life in all its facets. The editors have geared this work to provide such an overview for those studying in a college or seminary setting. Yet a serious student of Scripture studying privately and without a familiarity with New Testament Greek will easily be able to follow the discussion. It goes without saying therefore that detailed and technical issues belonging to more advanced levels of scholarship have not been included in the work.
Besides the text of the Harmony, a number of other features have been incorporated. An outline of the Harmony which follows the probable chronological sequence of Christ's life is found just after this Introduction. The same outline divides the body of the Harmony. This enables one to see at a glance when various events occurred in relation to one another. The geographical location or probable location of every happening is given in the body of the Harmony. The maps at the close of the volume provide a means for identifying these places in relation to the rest of Palestine. The sources of Old Testament quotations have also been included, as have the notes clarifying the translation of the Reference Edition of the New American Standard Bible.
Sections of the Harmony that bear a special resemblance to other sections have also been noted in the harmony proper. All section crossreferences are listed in the Table of Section Cross-references found toward the rear of the volume. This table also notes the points of similarity between sections. The next table facilitates locating any passage in the Harmony by listing the passages according to chapter and verse sequence. Time lines presenting overviews of various segments of Christ's life have been included just after the Tables for Finding Passages in the Harmony.
A rather extensive set of explanatory footnotes has been included with the text of the Harmony. These notes are designed to amplify the meaning of the text by touching on various problems of chronology, interpretation, harmonization, and history, or by simply commenting on some of the more significant features of the text.
The editors have selected twelve topics for special treatment. These topics, chosen because of their special relevance to a harmony of the gospels, are treated in essays which come just after the Harmony proper. When appropriate, a selected reading list appears at the conclusion of each essay. Those interested in researching any of the subjects further will find these lists beneficial.
A prolonged exposure to the person of Jesus Christ such as has been necessary in the preparation of this Harmony has served to increase our appreciation for Him more than ever before. This work is presented with the prayer that it will do the same for others when they study it.
Posted March 6, 2000
The research that goes into writing a book, is only as good as its found resources. This was the first Harmony of the Gospels that I purchased and returned, due to one error, that is the acid test on this topic, because it is written in stone and correlated with other research. For those of you familiar with David Davidson and Adam Rutherford's work on the Great Pyramid in Egypt, dates of Christ's birth and death are given, and confirmed by tracing the Jubilee years from the time of the Exodus, which proves that Adam Rutherford's dates were correct; therefore, Robert L. Thomas and Stanley N. Gundry's dates are obviously, incorrect.
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