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carefully examined all the harmonies * that I could meet with, and weighed all the reasons produced by the writers of thein, for their disposition of every fact of consequence. The result of this examination will now and then appear in the following Observations, though I have made as little parade as possible of this kind of reading.
There is a very great difference in the manner of disposing and printing the different harmonies of the Gospel, and each of them may have its peculiar use. Mine will also be considerably different from any other that I have seen, and I flatter myself it will not be without its advantages. I have printed in a larger character what appears to me to be the most authentic and the most circumstantial account of every important incident, collected from all the Gospels promiscuously, placing the parallel accounts in separate columns, printed in a smaller character. By this means, any person who would choose to read the whole history, without interruption, may confine himself to the larger character, having recourse to the columns printed in the smaller character only when he has occasion to compare the different accounts of the same thing.
The reasons for my choice of particular histories for the larger character, may not always appear at first sight, but I have generally, all other circumstances being equal, given this preference to the Gospel of John, and in the next place to that of Matthew, before those of Mark and Luke. Where an authority in general is of an interior kind, I have sometimes given this preference to it, when the account has been much fuller and more circumstantial. But more frequently I have followed the best authority as far as it would go, and have taken from the inferior ones whatever was wanting to make it complete. In many cases, however, my choice was nearly balanced, and as the columns are printed, any person may please himself with considering that as the principal account of any discourse or transaction to which he himself shall give the preference. +
* Of which the learned Jeremiah Jones gives the following account: “ Tatian, the scholar of Justin Martyr, composed a Harmony in some part of the second century; Ammonius of Alexandria, in the beginning of the third; and Eusebius in the beginning of the fourth. In the last age great pains was taken in this work, by Chemnitius, Gerhard, Calvin, Dr. Lightfoot, and many others. M. Le Clerc, Mr. Whiston and Mr. Toinard, are (I think) the only persons who have done any thing considerable in this matter of late years." Vindication of St. Matthero's Gospel, 1719, p. 2.
† For the use of those who will choose to read the Gospels in the original, this Harmony will be printed in Greek. But for the sake of common readers, the Observations, and the English Harmony, accompanied with Illustrations of the difficult passuges, will be sold without the Greek. (P.) For the Preface to the English Harmvi y, see Appendix, No. IV.
HARMONY OF THE EVANGELISTS.
On the Time of the Birth of Christ. The time of the birth of Christ is not a subject of much importance, because no other very considerable event is connected with it; but the time of his death is of much moment in chronology, as the dates of many other great events depend upon it.
Both of them, however, have, from their relation to the history of Christianity, been the objects of laborious investigations by many critics and chronologers.
Without pretending to have taken so much pains with the subject as many others, (though I have carefully attended to what has been advanced by those who have preceded me in this discussion,) I shall briefly recite the sum of the evidence in favour of those dates to which I am inclined to give the preference; which are the year 7 before the commencement of the common Christian æra, U. C. 747, P. J. 4707 for the birth of Christ, and A. D. 29, U. C. 782, P. J. 4742 for the death of Christ.
According to Luke, Christ was born at a time when there was a general register or polling (anoypadn) of the Jewish nation by the order of Augustus. This the Romans called a census, and the Ancyran marbles * say, that Augustus took the census of the Romans three times, the first time with his colleague Agrippa, in the year corresponding to 28 B. C., the second in the year 8 B. C., in the consulship of
Marmor Ancyranum,“ an ancient marble found,” (about 1562,) by Busbequius, " in the city of Ancyra,” the capital of Galatia, now Anguri, of which Augustus was considered as a second founder. This marble has been supposed to contain “ great part of a journal of the most memorable actions of his life, which, by his last will, he ordered to be engraved on the pillars of brass which supported the frontispiece of the stately mausoleum which Angustus had built for himself between the Tiber and the Flaminian Way." See A. U. Hist. 1748, XIV. pp. 41, 43; Apthorp's Letters, 1778, pp. 345, 387; Gen. Biog. Dict. 1784, III. p. 51, Note.
Censorinus and Asinius, as Lipsius and others explain it; and the third time with Tiberius, in the year 14 after Christ.
The second of these censuses being the only one for our present purpose, it is evident that our Lord could not have been born before the year 8 B. C. The last census is evidently out of the question, because, according to Matthew, our Lord was born before the death of King Herod.
This census was taken by Quirinius, who was afterwards governor of Syria; but at a time when Sentius Saturninus was governor of that province. For this we have the testimony of Tertullian, who appeals to the records of the Roman empire. His words are, “ Sed et census constat actos sub Augusto, tunc in Judæâ per Sentium Saturninum, apud quos genus ejus inquirere potuissent.”+ As this Quirinius afterwards took another census of Judea, viz. upon the death of Archelaus, Luke distinguishes the two, by calling this the first census that was taken by this governor, as Dr. Lardner, with great probability, renders the passage : auton y apoypaon πρωτη εγενετο ηγεμονευοντG- της Συρίας Κυρηνι8. Luke ii. 2.:
As this census was taken at Rome, in the year 8 B, C., it seems probable that it was not taken in the distant provinces till the year 7 B. C. And for this, another reason will be suggested presently.
The birth of Christ could not be later than this date, viz. 7 B. C., because, as is inferred from some Syrian coins, produced by Cardinal Noris, & Varus, who succeeded Saturninus, was governor of Syria the year following. ||
It was the general opinion of the Christian fathers, that Christ was born when all the world was at peace, which was the case in the year 8 B. C.; and Orosius says, that the temple of Janus continued shut (i. e. that the peace lasted) twelve years. Now Augustus, who was proclaimed emperor upon every victory, was proclaimed emperor the fifteenth time, twelve years after this date, so that it is probable that this peace had commenced with that year.
• Mr. Mann conjectures, that “ both might be governors of Syria at the same time, with commissions of a different nature.” He adds, that “ the larger provinces under the Cæsars had usually two governors at a time, one a senator, if not a consular man, commander of the military forces, with the title of Proconsul or Proprætor ; the other of inferior rapk, superintendant of the revenues, with the title of Procurator Cæsaris, but not inferior in power, as having often the secret of the court.” True Years, p. 48.
† Against Marcion (L. iv. C. vii.), ibid. pp. 47, 48.
| “This first taxing (or enrolment) was made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria." Works, I. p. 292. See Early Opinions, (in Vol. VII.,) B. iii. Ch. xx. Sect. vi.
$ " In his book De Epochis Syro-Macedorum, p. 211." Mann, p. 64. i See Mann's Dissertations, pp. 64, 65. (P.)
Paul Orosius, of Catalonia, a pupil of St. Augustin in 414. He wrote in seven books “ Historia adversus Paganos;" from the beginning of the world to A. D. 816. According to a French biographer, this history, of which there are two editions, (1615 and 1738,) is “ plus dogmatique qu' historique, plein d'inexactitudes et de bruits populaires." See Nouv. Dict. Hist. 1772, IV. p. 802.
It is thought probable, from many circumstances, † that the Magi visited Judea in the year 6 B. C.; and as Herod's order for the execution of the infants comprehended those from two years old and under, it may be presumed that this tyrant, in order to make sure of his victim, would take in a year more than was absolutely necessary; and on this account it is more probable that the year 7 B. C. is the true date of the birth of Christ, than the year 8 B. C.
It has been pretty sufficiently proved by Dr. Lardner and Magnan, that Herod died in the year 4 before Christ. & This is also inferred from the computation of an eclipse of the moon, which Josephus says, ş happened in Herod's last illness, and which has been found to have been on the 13th of March in this year. Upon this event, Christ returned from Egypt, and there is a tradition that he stayed there two years ; which, allowing for the journey, the visit of the Magi, and other circumstances, almost fixes the date to the
Luke says, that when Christ was baptized, he was about (CEI) thirty years of age; but as this is by no means a de
year 7 B. C.
• See Magnan. (P.) * Problema de anno Nativitatis Christi, ubi, occasionem offerente vetere Herodis Antipæ nummo, in nummophylacio Clementis XIV. P. O. M. asservato, demonstratur Christum natum esse anno VIII. ante æram vulgarem, cootra veteres omues et recentiores Chronologos. Auctore P. Dominico Magnan Ordinis Minimorum Presbytero, Philosophiæ Theologiæque Lectore emerito, necnon Academiarum Regio-Metensis ac Etrusco-Cortonensis Socio. Romæ, 1772. -Superiorum Facultate."
This work, controverting a long-established decision of the Church, was published by authority of the Pope's Licenser of the Press, and with most honourable testimonies of approbation from eminent dignitaries of the Papal Court. Such was the liberal policy of Ganganelli's too short pontificate. See Vol. X. p. 468, Note 1.
The passage of Magnan to which Dr. Priestley here refers is, I apprehend, the following, adopted from “ Tillemont ut Tom. I. u. 458 :" " Augustus porrò duodecim tantùm post annos Imperator XV. appellatus est." Problema, p. 30.
† For which see Mann and Magnan. (P.) See True Years, pp. 40–45.
Magnan's third proposition is the following : “ Magi, Christum adoraturi, venerunt Hierosolymam, exeunte anno VI. ante æram vulgarem." Problema, pp. 235-260.
Magnan maintains, at considerable length, his 1st proposition: “ Herodes Magnus mortuus est anno IV. ante æram vulgarem." Ibid. pp. 40—229. Dr. Lardoer is not so decided. Having stated two opinions of Herod's death as baving happened “ three years and nine months,” or “ about two years and nine months before the vulgar Christiau æra,” he adds, “ which is the truth, I am not able to determine." Works, I. p. 428.
Antiq. B. xvii. Ch. vi. Sect. iv. (P.) See Whiston's Note.
finite expression, it will agree well enough with his baptism falling on the year 28, as he would then be thirty-five.
The time of the year in which was the course of Abia, of which Zacharias was, affords a datum for the time of the conception of John the Baptist, and consequently for the birth of Christ. From the time of David, the priests were divided into twenty-four courses, to attend the service of the temple in their turns, each serving a week at a time. After the return from Babylon, the number of courses was still twenty-four; and the temple being set on fire in the course of Joiarib, in the month Ab, or August, according to Josephus, Mr. Whiston* computes that the course of Abia fell in September. Concluding, therefore, that John the Baptist was conceived in the beginning of September, he supposes that our Saviour must have been born about the latter end of October in the year following. For as soon as Elizabeth had conceived, she hid herself five Jewish months, and immediately after that, or in the beginning of the sixth month, the Virgin Mary conceived Christ. This must have been about the end of January, and nine months afterwards, viz. the latter end of October, in the same year, it is most probable that he was born.
On the Time of the Death of Christ. Tuat Christ died in the year 29, when the two Gemini were consuls, is so expressly asserted by several of the ancient fathers, persons who lived nearest to the time of Christ, and who were under no imaginable bias to depart from the truth, that I do not see how it can well be called in question ; especially as this date is sufficiently consistent with every other criterion by which it can be determined. I shall briefly recite this evidence chiefly from M. Le Clerc, to whose first dissertation, subjoined to his Harmony, t I refer my reader for the words of the originals.
See his Harmony, p. 158. (P.) 7. “ Harmonia Evangelica Græco-Latina.- Accesserunt tres Dissertationes, de annis Christi, déque concordia et auctoritate Evangeliorum," 1699. This Har. mony, which Le Clerc describes as a favourite work, he dedicated to Archbishop Sharp, and both appear to have incurred some censures on the occasion. See J. Clerici Vita et Opera, 1711, pp. 100—103, 255.
An English translation of the Harmony and Dissertations appeared in 1701. (See pp. 576-579.) In the dedication, the author thus happily describes a very natural result of his Christian occupation : “ Whilst I was compiling this my Har