The Line by Line Harmony of the Gospels is most detailed comparison and harmony available of the four New Testament Gospels in one account. Its side-by-side 4 columns are unique in arrangement in that it gives far more detail, line by line, sometimes even word-to-word of the different gospels.
This work was born out of a need for a more detailed harmony of the gospels than currently available. This was especially true in detailed attention to the matching of individual words and lines of the gospels. An extended effort was being made examining the nature of “inspiration” in the revelation of God to man. Available Gospel harmonies were not sufficient for this purpose.
There are other good books on the harmony of the gospels available such as A.T. Robertson’s “A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ,” in the Revised Version. Johnston M. Cheney’s “The Life of Christ in Stereo” is also a valuable resource – especially in some instances of determining the chronology of John’s gospel. Cheney’s understanding of John’s early chronology, blending it with the other gospel writers, presents a more accurately combined gospel organization than other works. We produced The Line by Line Harmony of the Gospels because of its more detailed usefulness as a study resource.
Word-for-Word, or “Inspired”?
When more than one of the gospel writers gave an account of the same event, did they agree on all things, or were there any items of disagreement? We wondered if the gospels would survive a detailed accounting of the comparison of their stories. Would they be a unified story in which we might have even more confidence in? The answer has been a very confident and reassuring “Yes”!
However, for those few willing to look at evidence in formulating their theology of the nature of inspiration, a detailed harmony of the gospels does present some challenges in the word-for-word approach to the Bible. Regardless of a person’s persuasion, the existence of these differences is real. They make it painfully clear that word-for-word accuracy in not necessarily the case in the entire Bible! However, it is equally clear that all theological declarations and principles are in agreement in the Gospels.
There are also those who believe the Bible was inspired by God, but not necessarily in a word-for-word fashion. There are explanations and conclusions that can be made on both sides of the issue. This work was an effort to simply line up the gospels so as to be able to compare them better. The results also spawned another work, The History and Inspiration of the Bible – which is incorporated in the Putting the Pieces Together seminar materials.
A more gratifying surprise was in discovering that this Harmony of the Gospels has brought assurance to Christians who believe the Bible is inspired by God but not necessarily accurate in every word. They are learning that reading the Bible is a process of being before God to find what He will quicken to their heart. The Bible is a tool, God is the Creator and Savior and our faith belongs towards Him. (All this can certainly lead to interesting discussions for those willing to think.)
References in Harmony
For students of the Bible, the Table of Scripture References at the end is a valuable resource. There are also sections in the Appendix about the methodology used in evaluating the Four Gospel Writers and a listing of possible Differences in the Gospels.
Terry Roshau is a graduate of Ministries Institute and holds lifetime ordinations in The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and Calvary Ministries. He was involved in Home Missions, starting churches and pastoring.
He founded, and was president of Ministries in Training Bible College, offering ministry preparation training and an associate degree in different areas of ministry. He taught classes in systematic theology, practical ministry and surveys through the Old and New Testament. He founded Inspired Nutrition and is now focusing on physical health research as well as spiritual research and seminars.