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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton
The Fourfold Gospel (1914)


      We feel in placing this work before the public we should accompany it with some words of explanation. It is unique, presenting a combination of features never before collected in one work. Harmonies and Fourfold Gospels are plentiful, and we have examined a large number of them, beginning with the pioneer work of Tatian. We have sought to utilize all the good features employed by others, and to introduce several new and helpful inventions of our own.


      Believing fully and firmly that the Scriptures are the word of God, we have sought to preserve all that is contained in them, and have, in combining them, regarded it as wrong to take liberties with them. To carry out this reverential idea we have introduced the variant readings of each Gospel, enclosing them in braces, so that they will not confuse the reader. By doing this we have, according to our count, except in the cases of a few redundant pronouns, only omitted five words of the text, which, if we remember correctly, are three "ands," and "but" and one "with." To accomplish this almost absolute conservation of the word of the text without involving the reader in hopeless confusion, has been no easy task, especially in cases where all four Gospels are combined in a single section.


      Then, to enable the reader to discriminate as he reads, we have indicated the particular Gospel from which our word or words are taken, by the several superior letters; namely: a, b, c, and d, which stand respectively for the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We have followed the punctuation of each Gospel as we have used its words, also giving the punctuation mark which followed the last word taken.


      To illustrate our method of combination, let us take Section 36, which is a fitting together of the following passages, namely:

      9 And as Jesus passed by from thence, he saw a man, called Matthew, sitting at the place of toll: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.--Matt. ix. 9.
      13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.   14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphæus sitting at the place of toll, and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.--Mark ii. 13, 14.
      27 And after these things he went forth, and beheld a publican named Levi, sitting at the place of toll, and said unto him, Follow me.   28 And he forsook all, and rose up and followed him.--Luke v. 27, 28.

      Which three passages are combined as follows:

      c27 And after these things he went forth, bagain by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.   14 And as he aJesus passed by from thence, he saw cand beheld aa man, ca publican, named {acalled} Matthew, cLevi, bthe son of Alphæus sitting at the place of toll, and he saith {csaid} unto him, Follow me.   28 And he forsook all, band he arose {crose up} and followed him.

      Now, in this passage we have retained the redundant pronoun "he" in the phrase he Jesus. Where Luke has the phrase named Matthew, Matthew has the variant reading called Matthew. Where Mark says saith, Luke gives the variant said, and where Mark says arose, Luke says rose up. By variant reading we mean one which can not be combined with the other texts so that the combined text will read smoothly.


     Moreover, we have endeavoured to use the fullest form, including the words of those Gospels which have the lesser forms of sentences, except where the sentence ends in a period, in which case have given the least form, so that the larger form of the other Gospels might be made apparent; as, for instance, this sentence, taken from Matt. xii. 47; Mark iii. 32; Luke viii. 20: c20 And it was told him, aBehold, thy mother and thy brethren bseek for thee. cstand without desiring to see thee. aseeking to speak to thee. Here Mark has the short form, Luke a longer form, and Matthew a trifle the longest form; all of which is indicated by the order in which each part is placed, and the several periods which close the thought of each evangelist.

      But in compiling the work we have bound ourselves by no inflexible rule; for to do so would, in many instances, make the reading very complex, whereas our first study has been to make the work simple, and to avoid confusing the mind of the reader


      We have divided the work into sections for analytical purposes, and in order to aid in the work of indexing and giving cross references. We have arranged the sections in what we believe to be the best chronological order, but have not attempted to justify our chronology, because space would not permit. We have also given the time and place of each section, where these things could be ascertained with any degree of accuracy. In this matter, however, we are liable to disappoint many of our readers, because we have been conservative. The dates and places given in similar works are too often more arbitrary assumptions: there being so little ground of reason back of them that they do not even justify one in calling them speculative. Unless we have had some reason for fixing a date or assigning a locality, we have refrained from doing either, though we have found them freely and positively asserted in such places in similar works.


     By the use of pronounced black letter type we enable to reader to follow the Scripture text, omitting the comments if he chooses. But by thus combining the four Gospels and interjecting the comment into the text, we have produced the most labor-saving, time-saving, condensed commentary ever placed before the people. Those familiar with commentaries can best realize what this means. Incidents told in one Gospel are repeated in other Gospels, and when a commentator has given his annotations on Matthew, and comes to the same facts recorded in Mark, or Luke, or John, he wastes his space by printing the duplicate text, and he wastes his reader's time by referring him to his comments in the volume on Matthew. by combining the Gospels for commentary purposes we have saved this space and time.

     Again, in most commentaries a fifth or sixth of the space is taken up in drawing distinctions between the texts of the four Gospels, while in this work these distinctions are placed before the reader's eye, where he can see them for himself at a glance. Moreover, in other commentaries, which give the text, another sixth or seventh of the work is taken up in reprinting in the notes that portion of the text concerning which the commentator wishes to speak. Our interjected method avoids all this needless repetition, and makes it possible for us to present the comment with the least preliminary verbiage or introductory setting. Time is also saved because the reader does not have to look back and forth from the text at the top of the comment at the bottom of the page. Again, other commentaries lose a large amount of space by using the King James text. Those which preceded the revision waste space correcting the translation and modernizing its English: those published since the revision suffer a similar waste by drawing endless comparisons between the two texts. By choosing the American revision as the basis for our work, we have a text which needs but little explanation or apology, and we are thereby enabled to employ the reader's time and strength to his best advantage.


      In preparing this work there has been no sparing of time, labor, or expense. While we have carefully avoided all conceits, quibblings, and useless refinements, and have studied to present only that which was useful, helpful, and practical, we have endeavored to put into the work the results of careful investigation and studious research. Besides theological treatises and works of reference, a full line of commentaries has been used. In some few cases, where the sections have been simple, from thirty to fifty commentaries have been consulted; but in the vast majority of sections between eighty and one hundred commentaries have been searched and sifted. To these painstaking labors of the junior editor, there has been added the results of the wider researches of the senior editor, effected during a half century of continuous Bible study and teaching. We have not aimed to produce a commentary for the textual critic, the theologian, or the professor; but a plain and simple work for all reader's of God's word.


      Moreover, having in view the preparation of a new series of Sunday-school lessons, we have prepared this work as a basis of such series. As the present International Series handles mere scraps of the Bible, it is practicable to print the text in quarterlies; but with a series which deals with the whole Bible, larger portions must be assigned for the lessons, and such printing of the text in the quarterlies becomes impossible. In such a series the pupil must be referred to the Bible itself, and in order that he may have a Bible with comments, we have prepared the present work, intending to follow it with similar volumes until the entire Bible is given to the public in this annotated form, if God permit.


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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton
The Fourfold Gospel (1914)

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