Chrysostom and the reason for the four-fold Gospel

What then? Was not one evangelist sufficient to tell all? One indeed was sufficient; but if there be four that write, not at the same times, nor in the same places, neither after having met together, and conversed one with another, and then they speak all things as it were out of one mouth, this becomes a very great demonstration of the truth.

He goes on to say…

But if there be anything touching times or places, which they have related differently, this does not injure the truth of what they have said. And these thing too, so far as God shall enable us, we will endeavor, as we proceed, to point out; requiring you, together with what we have mentioned, to observe, that in the chief heads, those which constitute our life and furnish our doctrine, nowhere is any of them found to have disagreed, no not ever so little.

He then gives a list of doctrines that they agree on:

  1. God became man
  2. He did miracles
  3. He was crucified, buried, rose again, and ascended
  4. He will judge
  5. He has given commandments pertaining to salvation
  6. He brought in a law not contrary to the Old Testament
  7. He is a Son
  8. He is only-begotten
  9. He is a true Son
  10. He is of the same substance with the Father

in Homilies on Matthew: Homily 1

2 thoughts on “Chrysostom and the reason for the four-fold Gospel

  1. Great coupled quotes. I find his testimony competing with modern gospel studies. "One indeed was sufficient; but if there be four that write, not at the same times, nor in the same places, neither after having met together, and conversed one with another, and then they speak all things as it were out of one mouth." No modern synoptic scholar says this because there were direct corroboration, adaptation, copying, correction, etc. with Mark. I wouldn’t mind holding to a Patristic view of the Gospels 🙂

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  2. I agree this is a good quote, but Watson interestingly points out that Augustine effectively ends up arguing against this earlier traditional way of thinking — both on the relationship of the Gospels to each other AND on the importance of harmonizing the accts together.

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