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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book II, Chapter 74

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book II

Chapter 74. Of the Passage in Which the Jews are Asked to Say Whose Son They Suppose Christ to Be; And of the Question Whether There is Not a Discrepancy Between Matthew and the Other Two Evangelists, in So Far as He States the Inquiry to Have Been, What Think You of Christ? Whose Son is He? And Tells Us that to This They Replied, The Son of David; Whereas the Others Put It Thus, How Say the Scribes that Christis David's Son?

143. Matthew goes on thus: Now when the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He? They say unto Him, The son of David. He says unto them, How then does David in Spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit on my right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool? If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son? And no man was able to answer Him a word, neither dared any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions. This is given also by Mark in due course, and in the same order. Luke, again, only omits mention of the person who asked the Lord which was the first commandment in the law, and, after passing over that incident in silence, observes the same order once more as the others, narrating just as these, do this question which the Lord put to the Jews concerning Christ, as to how He was David's son. Neither is the sense at all affected by the circumstance that, as Matthew puts it, when Jesus had asked them what they thought of Christ, and whose son He was, they [the Pharisees] replied, The son of David, and then He proposed the further query as to how David then called Him Lord; whereas, according to the version presented by the other two, Mark and Luke, we do not find either that these persons were directly interrogated, or that they made any answer. For we ought to take this view of the matter, namely, that these two evangelists have introduced the sentiments which were expressed by the Lord Himself after the reply made by those parties, and have recorded the terms in which He spoke in the hearing of those whom He wished profitably to instruct in His authority, and to turn away from the teaching of the scribes, and whose knowledge of Christ amounted then only to this, that He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, while they did not understand that He was God, and on that ground also the Lord even of David. It is in this way, therefore, that in the accounts given by these two evangelists, the Lord is mentioned in a manner which makes it appear as if He was discoursing on the subject of these erroneous teachers to men whom He desired to see delivered from the errors in which these scribes were involved. Thus, too, the question, which is presented by Matthew in the form, What do you say? is to be taken not as addressed directly to these [Pharisees], but rather as expressed only with reference to those parties, and directed really to the persons whom He was desirous of instructing.

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Source. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1602274.htm>.

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