A Gospel Harmony ( Latin harmonia evangelica , harmonia evangeliorum ) tries to tell a unified life and impact history of Jesus taking into account all data about the life and work of Jesus , which are mentioned in the four canonical gospels .
Not to be confused with a gospel harmony is the parallel arrangement of the individual gospels in separate columns, a tool of modern gospel research to simplify scientific comparisons, which is called synopsis . The Gospel harmonies found a literary development in the Messiads in the course of the 18th century.
The most famous Gospel harmony of antiquity , the Diatessaron ( ancient Greek τὸ διὰ τεσσάρων "through four", "from four") was written by Tatian around 170 . It was used in Syrian congregations as the only Gospel text. They were still used in Edessa for church services around the middle of the 4th century . Later it was condemned as heretical - less because of its own content than because of Tatian's other writings - so that around 400, Bishop Theodoret had all copies confiscated and destroyed in his parish . So the Diatessaron was lost. We know most of its content in Syriac from a commentary written by Ephraem . It adheres to the chronology of the Gospel of John and begins with its opening words. The Diatessaron seems to have handled the text of the Gospels relatively freely, but is not a paraphrase . With the exception of the two family trees of Jesus , which can hardly be harmonized , it seems to have processed all passages of the four Gospels.
The original language of the Diatessaron is unclear. It is mostly assumed that Tatian wrote it there in Syrian after returning from Rome to Syria . A fragment from Dura Europos has been preserved in Greek, but grammatical deviations from the Greek NT text suggest a back translation. A Syrian text edition only exists in a modern attempt at reconstruction on the basis of Ephraem's Diatessaron commentary.
This Diatessaron has been translated several times, so it appeared in 544 in a Latin, but heavily modified edition by Viktor von Capua. This in turn was translated into Old High German in the Fulda Monastery in the 9th century ( Old High German Tatian ) - this was the oldest German Gospel Harmony. An Arabic translation from the 9th / 10th centuries is also important. Century and a medieval Persian translation.
Further gospel harmonies
Ammonius of Alexandria worked on a second Diatessaron in the 3rd century, using the Gospel according to Matthew as a basis and referring to the other Gospels by means of marginal notes. Ammonios' work was written in Greek. At the time of Constantine the Great (306–337), Juvencus wrote a Gospel harmony in about 3200 hexameters , which is also mainly based on Matthew.
Independent harmonistic works in German are the Gospel Book (Liber Evangeliorum) by the monk Otfrid von Weißenburg and the old Saxon Heliand , both from the 9th century. Augustine gave a scientific directive for such efforts in his work De consensu evangelistarum .
More specific principles have been strived for since the Reformation (including Johannes Calvin , Martin Chemnitz ). At that time, the term "Gospel Harmony" was first used for the arrangement of the four Gospels begun by Martin Chemnitz and completed by Johann Gerhard .
Jakob Beringer, vicar at Speyer Cathedral , published a complete New Testament in German in 1526 , in which, however, he had combined the four Gospels into a Gospel Harmony. He leaned on the German translation by Martin Luther . Further editions appeared in 1529 and 1532.
Attempts to write a chronology of the life of Jesus on a pre-enlightened basis also came from the Lutheran reformer Andreas Osiander . Osiander argued for a harmonia evangeliorum that does not allow any contradictions between the text versions of the four gospels on the chronology of the life of Jesus. However, this argument forced the claim that some “apparently parallel and identical processes” were not identical and occurred several times. This view was later abandoned in favor of the search for a gospel which best preserved the actual chronology of events.
- Adolf Jülicher : Diatessaron . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume V, 1, Stuttgart 1903, Col. 348 f.
- Dietrich Wünsch: Gospel harmony . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 10, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1982, ISBN 3-11-008575-5 , pp. 626-636.
- Theodor Zahn : Research on the history of the New Testament canon and early church literature. Part 1. Tatian's Diatessaron . Deichert, Erlangen 1881.
- William L. Petersen: Tatian's Diatessaron. Its creation, dissemination, significance and history in scholarship . Brill, Leiden u. a. 1994, ISBN 90-04-09469-5 .
- Ulrich B. Schmid : Unum ex quattuor. A History of the Latin Tatian Lore . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau et al. 2005, ISBN 3-451-21955-7 .
- Jakob Beringer: Gospel Harmony . Edited by Petra Hörner. Frank & Timme, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86596-308-6
- Karl-Heinz Vanheiden : Gospel Harmony "The Jesus Chronicle" Text basis: New evangelistic translation from 2007 (pdf; 937 kB)
- Wolfgang Molzahn: A Harmony of the Four Gospels . Text basis: Revised Elberfeld Bible from 1985. 2nd edition. Schwandorf 2018, ISBN 978-1-73081-813-4 .
- John W. McGarvey, Philip Y. Pendleton: Four-Fold Gospel . The Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati 1914 (Gospel Harmony, English)
- Johannes Peter Lange (1844) The life of Jesus according to the Gospels. Second book: The unified presentation of the story of the life of Jesus. Part One. University bookstore Karl Winter, Heidelberg. (Original quotation therein from S. Erhard, Scientific Critique, p. 41)