The Barnabas Ministry
Book Review

A Harmony of the Gospels: With Explanations and Essays: Using the New American Standard Bible
By Robert L. Thomas Editor, Stanley N. Grundy, Associate Editor. (Moody Press, Chicago, IL. 1978, 1986.)

If you spend any time studying the gospels, sooner or later you are going to be concerned about doing a study of the life of Jesus. You will be interested in taking parallel elements of the gospels into account, paying attention to the proper sequence of events and considering the historical context of the various specific elements of the gospels. A Harmony of the Gospels by Robert L. Thomas and Stanley N. Grundy is a tremendously useful tool towards this end.

One might wonder if God truly intended for the gospels to be harmonized; after all, we have four different gospels, with each having its own thrust. But with all the historical and contextual information provided in the gospels, they invite harmonization to the Bible student concerned about the historical context of the life, ministry and teachings of Jesus.

This is not to say that there are not difficulties in harmonizing the gospels. Thomas and Grundy handle all such questions and concerns with respect for detail and various possibilities on unclear matters. There are extensive notes on each page of the harmony discussing elements related to the history or context of the various gospel elements. In addition, there are quality essays on various topics related to the endeavor:

  1. Is a Harmony of the Gospels Legitimate?
  2. A History of Harmonies
  3. Source Criticism
  4. Form Criticism
  5. Redaction Criticism
  6. Criticism of the Gospel of John
  7. Problems and Principles of Harmonization
  8. The Languages Jesus Spoke
  9. The Genealogies in Matthew and Luke
  10. The Day and Year of Christ's Crucifixion
  11. Chronology of the Life of Christ
  12. The Arrest and Trial of Jesus
The bulk of the volume of this book is a parallel version of the gospels in the New American Standard version, broken into context-sensitive sections. Accordingly, one can read through the life and ministry of Jesus in the correct order of events, with parallel passages side by side. There is an Outline of the Harmony for easy reference. The book also contains other Scripture cross-reference tables, time-lines of the life of Christ, and maps of Palestine.

All in all, the reader will immediately consider A Harmony of the Gospels to be an indispensable work for all sorts of studies within the gospels.

Copyright © 2002 John Engler. All rights reserved.

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