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Edward Robinson Professor of Biblical Theology
The Union Theological Seminary, New York



Copyright, 1904
By Charles Scribner's Sons

All rights reserved
Published, February, 1904











THIS volume does not propose to give a
new life of Jesus Christ our Saviour ; but
to give a new light upon the life of our Lord
which has come to the author in his recent
studies. In the term 1861-62 of the Union
Theological Seminary, it was my privilege to
study with my classmates the Greek Harmony
of the Gospels under the greatest of American
Biblical scholars, Edward Robinson. An entire
year was given to this study at that time. Sub-
sequently in 1867 and 1868 I renewed this
study, but from a more historical point of view,
at the University of Berlin, under the guidance
of one of the greatest theologians of the past cen-
tury, Isaac Dorner. I then reviewed the entire
literature of the Life of Jesus in those troublous
times which were dominated by the negative
criticism of Strauss, Baur, Renan, Schenkel, and
Keim. As a result of these studies I made a
revision of Robinson's Harmony for my private


use. My studies for many years, from 1874-
1891 were concentrated upon the Old Testa-
ment, because I was called to use my utmost
endeavors in battling for the rights of the
Higher Criticism and in the work of reconstruct-
ing the Old Testament material in the light of
that Criticism. In 1891 when I was transferred
from the Hebrew chair to the new chair of
Biblical Theology, it was necessary for me to
renew my New Testament studies and to con-
centrate my attention upon them. It was in-
evitable that 1 should apply the same rigorous
methods of Criticism to the New Testament
that I had applied for many years to the Old
Testament. I had the advantage of coming to
the New Testament afresh from studies in the
Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures, and so was
prepared to investigate and discern the Sem-
itic originals at the basis of the New Testa-

The Harmony of Robinson was based on the
chronological order of the Gospel of John. This
order I abandoned many years ago. But it was
only gradually that my confidence in the chrono-
logical order of Mark was weakened. One of
these pre-suppositions, or both, are at the basis
of the Harmonies of the Gospels and Lives of


Jesus of modern times. So soon as these pre-
suppositions were abandoned, and I felt as free
to study the whole material as Tatian, the earli-
est harmonist, did, a cloud was lifted from the
Gospels and a number of questions sprang up
which pressed for a solution. The most essential
of these were :

1. When did Jesus begin His Ministry ?
2. Where was Jesus during the absence of the
Twelve? The answer to these two questions
which came to me flooded the Gospels with new
light. I saw that there was a Galilean Ministry
of Jesus prior to the arrest of John the Bap-
tist, and that while five pairs of the Twelve
were absent on a Mission in Galilee, Jesus witli
James and John, one pair of the Twelve, was
carrying on His ministry in Jerusalem, and at
intervals with another pair, Thomas and Mat-
thew, in Perasa ; and so the order of the ministry
became altogether different from that pre-sup-
posed in the modern Harmonies and Lives of

At first the result w T as startling, but I was
encouraged by finding that my results were in
many respects in accord with that ancient har-
monist, Tatian, and by recalling that the ordinary
arrangement of the Life of Jesus is indeed quite


modern. It was not, however, until I began to
trace the consequences of this new arrangement
of the ministry in all its details, and I saw the
material of the Gospels take its place with so
much ease, so much propriety, and with such
simplicity and beautiful harmony, that I was
convinced that the essential problems of the
Gospels had been solved.

Ten years ago I said : "We would prefer
some chronological scheme. But such a chrono-
logical scheme is sufficiently difficult in the
study of the life of the Messiah. It is still more
difficult when we have to put His discourses in
their historical relations. Any attempt to do
this burdens us with numberless questions of
historical criticism where it is impossible at pres-
ent to attain definite results in some of the
most important passages. Many attempts have
been made to trace a development in the Mes-
sianic consciousness of Jesus, and in His doctrine
of the kingdom of God, but none of these has
found favor. It seems impracticable in the
present stage of the criticism of the Gospels to
give an accurate and comprehensive statement of
such a development. It is sufficiently difficult
if the study is limited to the Synoptics. It is at
present impossible if the Gospel of John is in-


eluded in the study." (Messiah of the Gospels,
pp. 72-73.)

But now I have arranged the Life of Jesus in
a simple and orderly chronological scheme. I
have also traced the Messianic idea from its
origin in a historical situation, in its development
in accordance with historical circumstances, even
to its climax. I have also traced in a volume
soon to be published an orderly development in
the entire Ethical Teaching of Jesus.

This new light solves most of the difficult
problems of the Gospels, fills up the chasm be-
tween the Synoptists and the Gospel of John,
and satisfies the most searching inquiries of
modern Higher Criticism and Historical Criti-
cism. I have subjected these results to the
most careful criticism that I could apply to my
own work, again and again. It may be that I
have myself been to some extent blinded by the
new light. If so I shall be glad to be corrected.
The book must go into the fires of criticism, the
hotter the better. If the light is a true light it
will abide. The question is submitted with
confidence to Christian scholars and to the
Christian public.

The references to the author's previous works
are given without mention of his name. He


has avoided discussions of the opinions of other
scholars, not because he undervalues them but
to make the volume as untechnical as possible
and to set forth distinctly the new view he pro-

Chapters I., III., and IV. were printed as arti-
cles in the Expository Times, September, Octo-
ber, and November, 1903, and are reprinted with
few additions.



I. When did Jesus begin His Ministry ? . 1

II. Jesus and John the Baptist 17

III. The Twelve and the Seventy 31

IV. Where was Jesus during the Absence of the

Twelve ? 40

v. how many and what feasts did jesus


VI. The Per^ean Ministry 64

VII. Jesus and the Pharisees 79

VIII. When did^Jesus First Declare his Messiah-
ship ? 91

IX. The Order of Events in Passion Week . .101
X. The Forty Days of the Risen Jesus . . .110

XI. The Synoptic Problem 125

XII. The Composition of the Gospel of John . .140

XIII. The Gospel of the Infancy 159

XIV. Outline of the Life of Jesus 167

Index 193




ONE of the most difficult questions con-
nected with the early ministry of Jesus
is : when Jesus began His ministry. The four
Gospels differ in their statements. According
to the Gospel of Mark " after that John was
delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching
the gospel of God, and saying, The time is ful-
filled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent
ye, and believe in the gospel" 1 It is a sure result
of the modern criticism of the Gospels, that the
Gospels of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a
source, but with freedom, usually condensing,
but sometimes enlarging and explaining. In
Matthew we find : "Now when he heard that
John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee ;

1 Marki. 14, 15.


[and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in
Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the borders of
Zebulun and Naphtali : that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken by Isaiah. . . . ] From
that time began Jesus to preach, and to say,
Repent ye ; for the kingdom of heaven is at
hand" 1 It is evident that all the material in
brackets 2 is an addition to the source. The
other verses give essentially the same as Mark,
but with important modifications, which we
shall consider later on. Luke tells us: "And
Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into
Galilee: [and a fame went out concerning him
through all the region round about. And he
taught in their synagogues, being glorified of
a//."] 3 It is evident that the bracketed material 4
is an addition to the source, and that while the
phrase "in the power of the Spirit" is unique, the
reference to the agency of the Spirit is charac-
teristically Lukan, and is original with this Gos-
pel. There remains, therefore, as derived from
the Markan source, only "and Jesus returned into
Galilee " ; the reference to the arrest of John the
Baptist being omitted altogether. Luke is com-

1 Matt. iv. 12-17. 2 Verses 13-16.

3 Luke iv. 14, 15. * Verses 14b, 15.


monly recognized to be the best historian in the
New Testament, the writer from whom we
would expect historical data more than from any
other. It is contrary to this characteristic that
he should omit such a definite statement as that
given in Mark with reference to John the Bap-
tist, if he regarded it as a correct historical state-
ment. We are compelled to the opinion that
Luke did not think the ministry of Jesus in
Galilee began subsequent to the arrest of John
the Baptist. In this he is sustained by the
Gospel of John, 1 which gives a ministry of Jesus
in Galilee and Judsea prior to the arrest of John,
and gives another motive for departing into
Galilee a second time. This is the statement:
" When therefore the Lord knew how that the
Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and
baptizing more disciples than John, . he

left Judcea, and departed again into Galilee. 2

On the surface of the statements of the Gos-
pels there are grave discrepancies in which Mark
and Matthew, on the one side, seem to date the
beginning of the Galilean ministry subsequent to
the arrest of the Baptist, while Luke and John
do not ; the latter asserting a ministry in Galilee

1 John 2, 3. 2 John iv. 1-3.


prior to that event. Those harmonists who
regard the Gospel of John as unhistorical, build
on the statement of Mark and make the Galilean
ministry begin in fact after the arrest of the
Baptist, without giving the silence of Luke its
due value. Those who accept the historicity of
the Gospel of John endeavor to arrange an
earlier Galilean ministry, so far as the statements
of that Gospel are concerned ; but put all the
Synoptic material subsequent to the arrest of
the Baptist. This does not, however, escape the
difficulty, but only makes the discrepancy more
glaring. If we build on the statement of Luke,
there is no reason why we should not put a con-
siderable amount of the Synoptic material before
the arrest of the Baptist. If the statement of
Mark is invalid as to the ministry reported by
the Gospel of John, it is no less invalid as to the
Galilean ministry of Luke's report, and should be
no barrier to the consideration of any evidence
that may lead to a larger Galilean ministry before
the arrest of the Baptist, even to the inclusion of
a considerable amount of material given by Mark
himself subsequent to his statement. It has
been a serious mistake to make this statement of
Mark the key to the early ministry of our Lord.
It is impossible to make any satisfactory har-


mony of the Gospels on that basis. It is much
safer to build on the statement of Luke.

There are several possible explanations of the
relation of Luke's statement to that of Mark.
The statement of Mark was before Luke in its
present form, and he either (1) rejected it as un-
historical, or (2) interpreted it as not referring
to the real beginning of the Galilean ministry.
(8) Having related the arrest of John, 1 he saw
no reason to refer to it again here. (4) The
statement of Mark in its present form is not that
of the original Mark which Luke used, but the
reference to the Baptist is one of the additions
made to the primitive Gospel. We shall con-
sider these in the inverse order.

It is recognized by all critics that the Greek
canonical Mark has some material which was
not in the original Mark at the basis of the Gos-
pels. How much this material may be, and
what in particular may be regarded as additional,
depends upon careful criticism. Certainly there
is no evidence that Luke had this statement as
to John the Baptist before him, or that the
author of the Gospel of John knew of it. Did
Matthew's Gospel build on the present text of

Luke iii. 19-


Mark? This is possible, but by no means cer-
tain. It is difficult to see why Matthew should
change the statement of the fact in Mark to the
hearing about it. The structure of the sentence
is quite different in Matthew from Mark, al-
though, apart from the addition of healing, both
might be regarded as translations of a common
Hebrew original. It is altogether probable that
" the gospel of God" and " and believe in the gos-
pel " of Mark are additions to the original Mark.
They are not in Matthew. The original Gospel
gave only "preaching and saying, The kingdom
of God is at hand: repent ye." Resch thinks
that the previous clause, "the time is fulfilled "
was there also. That is quite possible. In any
case, the Greek Mark has at least two clauses of
additions to the original Hebrew Gospel, and if
so, 1 why not also in the reference to John's ar-
rest ? The most that can be said therefore is
that it is not certain whether the clause, " after
that John was delivered up" was in the original
Mark or not.

If it were in the original Mark how could
Luke the historian destroy its historical impor-
tance by omitting it here and giving the arrest of

1 Mark i. 14b, 15.


John a topical order in the previous chapter ?
The question then remains, was it designed to
state the actual beginning of the Galilean minis-
try, and if so, was it so understood by Luke ?
The statement is in the protasis of a temporal
clause, whose apodosis is a general statement as
to the substance of the preaching of Jesus in
Galilee, namely, the proclamation of the advent
of the kingdom of God and the call to repent-
ance, which was also essentially the message of
the Baptist. This is as much as to say that
after the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus went
into Galilee to preach the same message that the
Baptist had preached. It does not necessarily
imply that Jesus did not teach or work miracles
before the arrest of John, unless we suppose that
this was designed as a comprehensive statement
of His entire work. But that opinion cannot be
sustained. The statement might be interpreted
as a general introductory statement with refer-
ence to His ministry in Galilee as a whole, with-
out the necessary implication that all the events
mentioned subsequently, even in Mark, actually
followed the arrest of the Baptist; unless we in-
sist upon strict chronological order for all the
material of this Gospel. But the modern view,
that the order of Mark is the norm for the life of


Jesus, has been so shattered by recent criticism,
that it can no longer be regarded as a decisive
test in any question. In fact, none of the Gos-
pels can be relied upon for chronological order.
They are all dominated by didactic considera-
tions, which make the topical order prevail over
the chronological. The ambiguity of the sen-
tence in Mark involving the possibility that it
might be interpreted as making the ministry of
Jesus in Galilee begin with the arrest of the
Baptist, would be a sufficient motive for Luke
to omit it.

Matthew's statement is: " From that time (de-
fined not only by the arrest of the Baptist and
Jesus' withdrawal to Galilee, but also by the
leaving Nazareth to dwell in Capernaum) began
Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent ye ; for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand,'" This represents
that there was a real beginning, not simply with
the arrest of the Baptist, but in connection with
this removal to Capernaum after the arrest of the
Baptist. If we could distinguish between the
ministry of preaching the kingdom and an earlier
ministry of teaching and miracle-working, then
this would be a second stage in the Galilean
ministry of Jesus, which would by no means
exclude an earlier ministry of a simpler kind.


There are reasons for regarding this distinction
as in a measure correct, although it is not clear
in fact to any of the evangelists. Prior to the
death of the Baptist, Jesus naturally was in his
shadow. The Baptist was in the public eye the
principal ; Jesus appeared rather as his most
prominent disciple. It might well be, therefore,
that Mark, and even his authority, Peter, con-
ceived of the earlier ministry of Jesus as intro-
ductory and relatively unimportant, and that
His own real independent ministry began after
the death of the Baptist. At all events, there
is a dilemma, so far as I can see, for those who
regard the statements of John 2-3 as historical.
They must either give these statements of Mark
some such explanation as those suggested above,
or else regard the reference to the arrest of John
in this connection as unhistorical. We should
not shrink from this latter alternative, if the
other could not be sustained. 1

The story of Luke is intrinsically most proba-
ble. The baptism by the Divine Spirit was im-

1 It is noteworthy that Tatian, the earliest harmonist of
the Gospels, does not hesitate to ignore this statement of
Mark. This fact had escaped my attention until after I had
made up my mind on the subject. I was gratified to be sus-
tained by so early and so great an authority.


mediately followed by an ecstatic condition of
fasting in the wilderness, at the conclusion of
which Jesus endures the great temptation. Re-
turning from the wilderness, He goes under the
power of the Spirit to undertake His ministry in

The statements of the Gospel of John are en-
tirely harmonious with this. It was natural that
on His way to Galilee He should stop at the Jor-
dan side to revisit the one who had baptized Him
and given Him the anointing for His ministry.

The recognition of His Messiahship by the
Baptist, and the transfer of two of his disciples,
Andrew and probably John, to Jesus, and the
call of Philip the next day, are altogether in
place. With these three disciples He attends a
marriage feast at Cana of Galilee on the third
day afterward, and then goes down to Caper-
naum. 1 The naming of Peter 2 and the call of
Nathanael 3 were evidently inserted for topical
reasons. They belong to a much later date, as
I have shown elsewhere. 4

1 John i. 29-ii. 12. ■ John i. 41, 42.

* John i. 45-51.

4 General Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture, pp.
514 seq. The Apostolic Commission, Art. i. in Studies in Honor
of B. L, Gildersleeve.


We have now to consider the material of the
Galilean ministry given by the Synoptists subse-
quent to the statements considered above. So
far as Luke is concerned, there is no reason why
all of this should be subsequent to the arrest of
the Baptist. We have seen that the statements
of Mark and Matthew should not compel us to
that opinion. Luke gives first of all in the Gal-
ilean ministry Jesus' rejection at Nazareth. 1 But
this is only a variation of the story of His rejec-
tion given in Mark and Matthew 2 at a much
later date. Jesus could not have challenged His
townsmen to accept Him as Messiah so early in
His ministry. Luke placed this crisis at Naza-
reth at the beginning of the Galilean ministry for
topical reasons. We should not hesitate to place
it later, as do Mark and Matthew.

The call of the four fishermen comes first in
Mark, 3 and it fits on appropriately to the calls
mentioned in John. This is followed by the
Sabbath day in Capernaum, 4 and a tour of teach-
ing and miracle-working in Galilee. 5 The Syn-
optists differ slightly in the order of these events.

1 Luke iv. 16-30. * Mark vi. l-6a.; Matt. xiii. 54-58.

3 Mark i. 16-20; Matt. iv. 18-22; Luke v. I— 11.

* Mark i. 21-34; Matt. viii. 14-17; Luke iv. 31-41.

6 Mark i. 35-45; Matt. iv. 23, viii. 1-4; Luke iv. 42-v. 16.


But all give them at this time. Then comes a
second Sabbath in Capernaum. 1 This is followed
by the call of Matthew, making the sixth disci-
ple. 2 All this material seems to belong to the
earlier Galilean ministry, before the arrest of the

The next item in the Synoptists 3 is of some
importance, because it is related in some way to
the narrative of John. 4 The words of Jesus ad-
dressed to the disciples of the Baptist with refer-
ence to fasting are : " Can the sons of the bride-
chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them ?
as long as they have the bridegroom with them,
they cannot fast. But the days will come, when
the bridegroom shall be taken away from them,
and then will they fast in that day. " 5 These words
seem to imply the word of the Baptist himself :
" He that hath the bride is the bridegroom : but
the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth arid
heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bride-
grooms voice : this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
He must increase, but I must decrease." 6

Jesus justifies Himself and His disciples over

1 Mark ii. 1-12; Matt. ix. 1-8; Luke v. 17-26.

2 Mark ii. 13-17; Matt. ix. 9-13; Luke v. 27-32.

3 Mark ii. 18-22; Matt. ix. 14-17; Luke v. 33-39-

4 John iii. 22-30. 5 Mark ii. 19, 20. 6 John iii. 29, 30.


against the disciples of the Baptist by using the
very figure of speech with reference to Himself
that the Baptist had used. The discussion be-
tween the disciples of Jesus and the disciples of
the Baptist as to fasting implies the same essen-
tial situation as the discussion as to purifying.
Both imply that Jesus was followed by disciples.
The disciples present at this time * can hardly be
explained, unless we suppose that at least several
had been previously called. It seems altogether
probable, therefore, that Jesus soon after the
call of Matthew departed from Galilee to Ju-
daea, and came into connection with the Baptist
again, 2 and that in the same region the discus-
sion about fasting took place, as well as that
about purification.

The next incident given by Mark 3 and by
Luke, 4 although given by Matthew at a later
date, 5 is doubtless in its place in Mark. It gives
additional evidence of great importance. The
disciples on a sabbath day, passing through the

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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