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The Gospels in Four Part Harmony
By J. Clontz
Copyright 2001 by J. Clontz All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission of the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
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This book is based on an ancient manuscript known as MS Pepys 2498 of which one copy is known to exist and is kept at Cambridge University Library in England. The original source of MS Pepys 2498 (referred to as the Pepys Gospel or the Pepys Gospel Harmony) is unknown but some scholars have theorized that it may be as old as Christianity itself.
One of the more interesting conclusions concerning Jesus based on the Pepys Gospel Harmony (PGH) sequence is that Jesus was a North Palestinian Essene associated with the Damascus Covenant found at Qumran in Palestine and Genizah in Egypt. Furthermore, it has been proposed that Jesus held the office of Messiah defined in the Damascus Covenant and His goal as well as that of the other Damascus Covenant Essenes was to convert the Pharisaical Jews of Judea which they viewed as the lost sheep of Israel to the Essene sect of Judaism. The sequence of events in the gospels as depicted in the PGH shows John the Baptist and Jesus converting Judean Jews through baptism in the wilderness of Judea. Jesus has an altercation at the temple in Jerusalem and John is arrested. After John's arrest, Jesus heads north all the way to Capernaum where he gathers followers numbering in the thousands. After John's death, Jesus makes a final journey to Jerusalem and once more he and his followers from Northern Palestine convert Judean Jews. The Pharisaical leaders of the Judean Jews plot to kill Jesus and put an end to His teaching. Thus, the PGH sequence of the canonical gospels depicts what some scholars believe to have been a sectarian struggle between the Essenes who adhered to the Damascus Covenant in Northern Palestine and the Pharisaical Jews in Judea for religious leadership of all Israelites. The Pharisaical Jews in Judea were looking for a Messiah to vanquish their enemies, Rome and the Herodians, and therefore rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Whereas, the Essenes were looking for a Messiah to vanquish their enemies, death, poverty, disease and infirmity, and therefore hailed Jesus as their Messiah.
Below are some important academic notes concerning the PGH sequence of the gospels:
The PGH mentions the city of Gerasa which was an ancient city in Palestine which was destroyed by the 10th Roman legion Firensis in AD 70. Only the very oldest existing manuscripts of the canonical gospels mention the city of Gerasa while later manuscripts refer to the area as the land of the Gerasenes. Thus the author of the original source of the PGH may have lived prior to AD 70.
The sequence of the PGH also parallels many aspects of the theoretical "Q" text. The Greek texts of Matthew and Luke in some areas are letter for letter matches which have led some scholars to theorize that at one time a single text "Q" was formed from an early form of Matthew and of Luke and then later portions of our modern forms of Matthew and Luke were copied from this single gospel text. Additionally, in the modern text of Luke the "Parable of the Lamp" occurs in both Chapter 8 and Chapter 11. It has been theorized that an early text that contained Luke had only one "Parable of the Lamp" and that the parable was either cut in half or duplicated in our modern texts. The PGH sequence combines portions of Luke Ch. 8 and 11 and only has a single account of the "Parable of the Lamp" just as some scholars have theorized would've existed in the single gospel forerunner of the modern text of Luke.
Scholars have also theorized that the "Q" text would've been constructed into categories and composed of lists such as a list of parables. This idea was formulated in part based on the gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hammadi. The PGH does form the gospel account into categories or groupings and there are two major groupings of parables in its sequence just as theorized for the "Q" text.
The event sequence of the PGH also enhances the account of the four gospels. The sequence produces cause and effect relationships between events and the interactions of various individuals with each other and with Jesus. For instance, The PGH sequence contains both Mary Magdalene's conversion and subsequent discipleship (this is in the modern gospel texts but is somewhat obscured due to their non-chronological sequence). Thus Mary Magdalene plays a major role in the account of Jesus which is implied by many ancient sources such as the gospel of Thomas but not highlighted by the canonical gospels in their present sequence. The same is true for the significance of John the Baptist in Jesus' ministry. In the PGH sequence, John the Baptist is portrayed as an important ally of Jesus' ministry and his arrest and later death are both pivotal moments in Jesus ministry as portrayed by the PGH sequence. The importance of John the Baptist in the ministry of Jesus is implied by many ancient sources and that importance is vividly depicted in Jesus' ministry using the PGH sequence of the canonical gospels.
Moreover, the PGH is the only manuscript in existence which depicts an error free chronological sequence for the events in the life of Jesus as portrayed in the four canonical gospels. The four canonical gospels make no claim to being written in chronological sequence. There are historical/traditional accounts that indicate that the four canonical gospels were not written in chronological order. For instance, Papias (AD 135) indicated that Mark was not in any particular order. An engineered reconstruction of the chronological order of the gospels indicates that while several sequences are possible -- the sequence of the modern gospels is not in chronological order. For instance, the passage in Mark 3:13-19 not only precedes the passage in Mark 3:20-31 by over a dozen events but in fact several passages in Mark actually occur between Mark 3:13-19 and Mark 3:20- 31.
Also, while there have been many modern attempts to reconstruct the sequence of the events of Jesus life as narrated in the four canonical gospels none of these reconstructions has as many parallels to the theoretical "Q" text as the PGH. Furthermore the theory for the "Q" text was first proposed in the 1800's and the PGH manuscript predates the "Q" text theory by 400 years. Thus the best candidate to date for the "Q" text sequence is the PGH manuscript.
More importantly, the best manuscript for a chronological depiction of the actual sequence of events in the life of Jesus is The Pepys Gospel Harmony MS 2498.
The biblical text for this book is from The Common Edition of the New Testament by T. E. Clontz and I would like to thank my brother for allowing me to use his book.
Many of the section headings for this book come from The Pepysian Gospel Harmony, 1922 Oxford edition; Margery Goates, Editor. I am also deeply indebted to Margery Goates for her invaluable analytical summary of the Pepys Gospel Harmony. Her analytical summary of the entire work showing the parallel passages from the canonical gospels made this book possible.
I would also like to thank Yuri Kuchinsky -- author of The Magdalene Gospel and the moderator for firstname.lastname@example.org, an email group devoted in part to discussing the Pepys Gospel Harmony. Yuri's herculean efforts in maintaining a web site for the Pepys Gospel Harmony first brought my attention to the existence of this priceless manuscript and the marvels of its contents.
And finally, I would like to thank the unknown author of the Pepysian Gospel Harmony MS 2498 for bringing me joy.
About the Author
J. Clontz is an award winning writer and speaker who has been published in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Clontz is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America and A Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers.
Previous publications include: C. S. Lewis's Grief After the Death of Joy, 1998 Women and the Cross, 1997 Karl Barth's Moment, 1997 New Psalms, 1996 Karl Barth's Pontius Pilate, 1996
Table of Contents
Part 1 - IN THE BEGINNING
1.10 The Gospel LK 1:1-4 1.20 God Became Man in Jesus Christ JN 1:1-18 2.10 Gabriel appears to Zechariah LK 1:5-25 2.20 Gabriel visits the Virgin Mary LK 1:26-38 2.30 Mary Visits Elizabeth LK 1:39-56 2.50 Joseph is Reassured in a Dream MT1:18-25A 2.60 The Birth of John the Baptist LK 1:57-80
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