Gospel harmony  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A Gospel harmony is an attempt to merge or harmonize the canonical gospels of the Four Evangelists into a single gospel account. The earliest known example is the Diatesseron by Tatian in the 2nd century.

A harmony may be undertaken by scholars to establish a chronology for the events of the life of Jesus depicted in the four canonical gospels to better understand how the accounts relate to each other, identify features of a shared source document, or to establish events in the life of a Historical Jesus. Harmonies may also be undertaken to create narratives for artistic purposes, as in the creation of text for an oratorio or a script for a film.

The scholarly process is complicated by issues of text (such as the endings of Mark), discrepancies in details given about certain events (as in the empty tomb narratives), the place if any to be assigned non-canonical gospels of great antiquity such as the Gospel of Thomas, and issues of literary character (the pronounced differences between the Gospel of John and the Synoptics). Unique material in each Gospel resists distillation into a single harmonized chronology, as the variety of readings that appear in multiple harmony efforts attests. However, exploration of the unique material in Gospel accounts plays an important role in settling questions of authorship date, and an understanding of parallels helps to set these unique features in relief. The historical reliability of the Gospels continues to be a subject of debate.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gospel harmony" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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