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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book III, Chapter 17

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book III

Chapter 17. Of the Harmony of the Four Evangelists in Their Notices of the Draught of Vinegar.

54. Matthew proceeds in the following terms: Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. The same fact is attested by two others of the evangelists. Luke adds, however, a statement of the cause of the darkness, namely, that the sun was darkened. Again, Matthew continues thus: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani! That is to say, My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? And some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calls for Elias. Mark's agreement with this is almost complete, so far as regards the words, and not only almost, but altogether complete, so far as the sense is concerned. Matthew next makes this statement: And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink. Mark presents it in a similar form: And one ran, and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take Him down. Matthew, however, has represented these words about Elias to have been spoken, not by the person who offered the sponge with the vinegar, but by the rest. For his version runs thus: But the rest said, Let be; let us see whether Elias will come to save Him; — from which, therefore, we infer that both the man specially referred to and the others who were there expressed themselves in these terms. Luke, again, has introduced this notice of the vinegar previous to his report of the robber's insolence. He gives it thus: And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying, If you be the King of the Jews, save yourself. It has been Luke's purpose to embrace in one statement what was done and what was said by the soldiers. And we ought to feel no difficulty in the circumstance that he has not said explicitly that it was one of them who offered the vinegar. For, adopting a method of expression which we have discussed above, he has simply put the plural number for the singular. Moreover, John has also given us an account of the vinegar, where he says: After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth. But although the said John thus informs us that Jesus said I thirst, and also mentions that there was a vessel full of vinegar there, while the other evangelists leave these things unspecified, there is nothing to marvel at in this.

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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/1602317.htm>.

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