The Layman's Gospel Harmony


Overview and Summary of Research



Organizing the Complete Texts of the Four Gospels

into a Single, Plausible, Calendar-Based, Historical Time Line


Thereby Establishing:


Christendom's New Standard for Historical Gospel Education

Chronicling:


About 36 Years, Spring to Spring, 7 BC to 30 AD
From the Magi's Heavenly Signs to the Christ's Ascension

As Reported By:
Mark 1-16     Matthew 1-28     Luke 1-24     John 1-21

Consisting of:
  The Total 3,779 Verses and 83,898 King James Version Words

Organized in The Layman's Gospel Harmony into:
 10 Life & Ministry Periods Consisting of 40 Acts, 200 Scenes, and 404 Distinct Text Blocks

Revealing:
A Fully Harmonized Four Gospel Historical Narrative
of 99.31% Non-Conflicted Order

Proving Only 26 Verses in Luke as Presenting Minor,
Inconsequential Reversals of Event Order

Affirming the Classic Christian Doctrinal Declarations of
Jesus the Foretold Jewish Christ

and

Articulating in Unprecedented Detail in the History of Gospel Chronology Research
the Didactic, Non-Chronological Structure of Matthew's Thematic Galilee Array (MTGA)
(Matthew 4:23 - 13:58), Purposed by Matthew to Herald the Sermon on the Mount
(Matthew 5:1 - 8:1), Christ's Paradigm-Shifting, Foundational Statement of
Divine Grace Superseding Divine Law Which Inaugurates
the New Covenant Between God and Humanity

A Comprehensive Demonstration of
the Gospels as Accurate, Reliable, Historical Accounts
Graphically Visualized as Follows:



Re-framing the Gospels as Histories -- The Knowledge Foundation of Faith:

As classical Christianity enters its third millennium, a looming question begs to be asked: What path into the future shall the Christian faith, and individual Christians, take to effectively witness of Christ to the world?

Should the classic faith, grounded in the declarations of the early Church Councils, continue down the 500-year-old trail blazed by the epistle-driven doctrine of Luther's Reformation? Can that spiritually rich tradition, a paradigm shift in its medieval era, effectively empower Christianity's witness of Jesus the Christ amidst the rapidly, radically evolving state of the human condition on Planet Earth? The clear evidence of the Church's marked decline in Europe and America, once the vibrant seedbed of reformed and evangelical ideals, suggests a new focus for the faith is already long overdue.

What, then? Might Christianity's future spiritual direction be found on a branching, less traveled road? A road less "doctrinal" and more "relational"? That is, a path of discipleship with Jesus the relational Christ of history, as was revealed in the Gospels. For who is Jesus the Christ if not a relational being? Was he not, as articulated in classic Christian theology, the infinitely relational God/Man evoking radical forgiveness and acceptance from upon the Cross?

The Layman's Gospel Harmony, a twice award winning devotional and critical work created during a five year contemplation of the Gospels, offers third millennium seekers after Christ a first step onto such a less traveled path of discipleship with the relational Christ: A thorough intellectual grounding in the historical time line existing within the Gospels which declare Jesus God.

But, one might ask, what is the Christian faith's need in a grounding intellectual knowledge of the Gospels as accurate histories? The needs are many, presently urgent, and undoubtedly will intensify in the future.

For instance, disciples with classical Christian beliefs will increasingly need to reckon with the ongoing philosophical war against Jesus as God. The flashpoint in the assault of anti-God ideas they'll face most frequently manifest in an attack on the historical reliability of the Gospels. Since the Enlightenment, critics of the classical faith have derided the Gospels as mere fictions cobbled together from folktales, legends, hearsay, and spiritual flights of fancy. Such criticism asserts that Jesus was merely an itinerant first century rabbi whose social ethic, not his supposed divinity, should be embraced. Such ideas are often declared by self-identified Christians claiming good intentions for all of humanity. However without exception these revisionist positions categorically reject the classical Christian premise of a canon of scripture which is divinely inspired, authoritative, and inerrant. Christianity is reduced to a free form philosophical platform for advancing private social re-engineering agendas, media-age notoriety, and financial gain.

Tragically, classical Christianity has on the whole failed to successfully engage and counter such criticism, not only in Sunday sermons before congregations but in the global forum of ideas. Is it any wonder church attendance is in decline? Or that the average Christian is functionally illiterate of the Gospels as accurate histories?

The Layman's Gospel Harmony declares a devotional, faith-affirming alternative to modern deconstructionist cynicism. This twice award winning book, grounded in classical Christian theology, focuses solely on demonstrating the convincingly plausible historic time line embedded in the Gospels. As a "Cross-denominational" study, this book uplifts and affirms traditional Christian faith in Christ by providing an under-girding foundation of knowledge and thoroughly researched, definitive answers to the most challenging questions about Gospel historicity.

A Devotional, Critical, Contemplative Inquiry into Gospel Truth -- the Method:

The Layman's Gospel Harmony is neither innovation nor reinterpretation of the Gospel accounts of Jesus. However it explores the Gospel texts from a fresh, revealing, and much needed perspective to reaffirm the classical Christian declaration of Jesus as the foretold Jewish Christ. It's premise is driven by three related questions:

1. Does a systematic method of literary and chronological analysis reveal an intentional, detailed, historically oriented narrative within all four Gospels?

2. Can the historical narrative element in the Gospels support the faith's declaration that the Gospels accurately preserve the oral testimonies of the eyewitnesses to Jesus, his teachings, healings, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension?

3. Will the demonstrated plausibility of the Gospels as reliable histories sufficiently uphold the classical Christian declaration that Jesus was the incarnation of the atoning Jewish Messiah foretold to come throughout the body of Old Testament texts?

The Layman's Gospel Harmony answer to all three questions is a strongly compelling "Yes!"

Beginning as an act of devotional, critical contemplation of the Written Word, the book's research method carefully interweaves the complete texts of the four Gospels into a single "super-narrative." Retaining traditional chapter and verse notation, the four texts are divided into short sections reporting specific events. Similar reports are then collected in groups called "Scenes" of from one to four accounts depending on which Gospels report. Scenes are conformed to the narrative order of Mark's Gospel, which serves as the equivalent of a "control group" in a classic comparative analysis study. The interwoven texts form a unified super-narrative of 200 Scenes. For example, "Scene 77 -- Jesus Walks on the Water" is comprised of reports by Mark, Matthew, and John (Luke offers no report, an interesting point of study). The interwoven super-narrative is then explored chronologically at a deep and unprecedented level which is, nonetheless, biblically, doctrinally, and scientifically sound in its approach.

The Historic Gospels Rediscovered -- The Jewish Calendar "Sacred Time" Connection:

Integrating data from authoritative ancient and modern sources, the 200-Scene super-narrative is synchronized with the ancient Jewish religious calendar cycle Jesus would have observed since childhood. The result is a wondrous, suppositional exploration into the most plausible years, months, weeks, days, and sometimes even hours of historic time in which Gospel events most likely took place. Devotional riches emerge from the Word through this calendar based narrative study. The reader's experience of the Gospels is transformed. New doors of relation with Christ open.

For example, classical Christian doctrine declares that the foretold Jewish Christ had been revealed on the stage of human history when Jesus materially "fulfilled" the Passover symbol with his crucifixion. But The Layman's Gospel Harmony analysis allows the reader to explore and contemplate how Jesus repeatedly revealed himself as the foretold Christ with multiplied fulfillments of the entire Jewish calendar cycle of holy Feast symbolism throughout a 3.5 year ministry and, amazingly, in his birth narrative revealed in the harmonized accounts of Matthew and Luke. An astonishing convergence of Jewish prophecy, Gospel history, and classic Christian theology emerges from the Gospels themselves as never before documented.

The result is convincing evidence that the four Gospels are not merely human accounts but truly God-breathed histories: nothing less than exactly the written portrayals God the Father intended, rendered by the Holy Spirit through willing human hands, in praise of his Son, "the brightness of his glory" (Hebrews 1:3). They are the Father's divine histories of Jesus the foretold Jewish Christ, the Suffering Servant -- humble in his full humanity, ineffably majestic in his full divinity -- enduring unto the end in incorruptible love to fulfill his cosmic destiny as interceding High Priest and relational Kinsman Redeemer of all souls and the fallen Creation.

The Foundations of Gospel Historicity -- Synching the Big Picture in Calendar Time:

The Old Testament, of course, is where The Layman's Gospel Harmony embarks into it chronological exploration of the Gospels. The Old Testament is replete with references and allusions to the future atoning Christ, particularly in the Pentateuch (the Torah), the Psalms, and the four major and 12 minor prophets. Most of these messianic images contribute to the Old Testament's venerable body of visionary, poetic, and symbolic literature, such as Isaiah's epic "atonement" Chapter 53. But the controversial book of the prophet Daniel includes prophetic visions with literal chronological, historical time content relating specifically to the Jewish Christ's advent in human history.

It begins with a cryptic prophecy by the 7th-6th century BC prophet Jeremiah concerning a foreseen 70 year Jewish captivity in Babylon. The Bible records several waves of captive Jews returning to the Holy Land commencing after 70 years with the proclamation of Persian King Cyrus (see Jeremiah 25:11 and 2 Chronicles 35:21-23). However, the prophet David, as a member of the Jewish community captive at Babylon, has a staggering visionary experience upon contemplating the mystery of Jeremiah's prophecy (Daniel 9:2). In this vision Daniel learns (Daniel 9:24-27) from the Archangel Gabriel that Jeremiah's 70 year prophecy has an even more profound secondary meaning as a sabbatically structured 70 "weeks" of years, or 490 years. The 490 year period commences in a specific historic year when a royal decree commands the restoration of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25, discussed below). More importantly, the 490-year period of divine reconciliation culminates in the advent and atoning sacrifice of the Jewish Messiah, after which the restored Jerusalem and Temple will again be destroyed (Daniel 9:25-27). Daniel reports confusion and deep trauma after other of his visions. But in this case, the enigmatic proportions of the vision and its explanation leave Daniel without words. Daniel knew Jerusalem and the Temple had been destroyed once. He could hardly have envisioned Jerusalem and the Temple being destroyed a second time. But that is exactly what history shows did happen.

Daniel's Vision in the Historic Time Context, Reaffirming the Christ's First Advent:

In classical Christian theology (but not in modern innovations -- see below) beginning at a precise historic year, Daniel's foreseen 490 years of divine reconciliation becomes a literal countdown to the advent of the Messiah and his sacrificial atonement. The first 483 years (Weeks 1-69 of the reconciliation period) must transpire, after which the Messiah must be "cut off" during the 70th week (Daniel 9:26). The historic context for this narrative is as follows:

  • History shows that during the first 483 years of the reconciliation period several waves of captive Jews return from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. This period is recounted in the Old Testament historically oriented books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

  • In the 484th year, as the seven years of the final 70th week begins, the advent of the Messiah is to commence. The Messiah's witness and great act of sacrificial atonement end "in the midst (middle) of the week" of seven years (Daniel 9:27). Based in the Jewish year format, that atonement would occur at the middle of the 487th year. The Passover Feast week is the middle of the Jewish year, when classic Christian doctrine declares Jesus was crucified.

  • Daniel's envisioned 490 year period of divine reconciliation ends 3.5 years after the Messiah's great atonement upon the Jewish new year commencing the 491st year.

The 3.5 year messianic witness element in Daniel's 490-year period of divine reconciliation is the critical linchpin which confirms the historicity of Jesus the Christ's advent. The 3.5 year period is reconfirmed in another of Daniel's startling, exhausting prophetic visions (Daniel 12:7). In that instance, Daniel sees the Messiah himself, walking on water, declaring that a momentous sacrificial atonement will be accomplished at the end of 3.5 years. (Note that Harmony Scene 77 referenced above, with its three Gospel reports of Jesus walking on the water, illustrates just one of many examples of an Old Testament messianic image which Jesus "fulfills" in historic time as recorded in the Gospels.)

[An important note on interpreting Daniel: The four verses Daniel 9:24-27 are perhaps the most abused, misused verses of the Bible in the modern era. The Layman's Gospel Harmony adheres to the classic, orthodox Christian interpretation of Daniel's 490-year divine reconciliation period as transpiring in contiguous time without breaks or pauses, and with Christ's advent, atonement, and the birth of the primal Christian Church all occurring in the last seven years (the 70th Week) of the reconciliation period. This classic interpretation must NOT be confused with contemporary "End Times" theories which declare "Daniel's 70th Week" as a separate, futurized prophecy period concerned not with the advent and atonement of the Jewish Christ but with the advent of the antichrist of Revelations. Ironically, pseudo-historical End Times skeins, of 19th century British origins, are now heavily promoted within American Christian marketing culture to generate financial gain in the guise of "evangelical" witness. These fringe theories and their marketing savvy purveyors unwittingly contribute to the deconstructionist attack on traditional Christianity as described above, denigrating traditional Christianity and Gospel historicity before the world in the process. These theories are the modern day equivalent of heretical medieval superstitions. Let the believer of classical Christian faith beware of these theories and those that promote them.]

Countdown to the Advent of the Christ:

Unbelievable though it may sound, once the correct historic year of the foretold royal decree to rebuild Jerusalem can be determined and the chronological elements of Daniels exotic vision are correctly synchronized to a plausible historic time line, determining the Christ's advent becomes a matter of simple math.

Just as amazing is the fact that the Bible itself provides the clue to the historic year of the regal decree to rebuild Jerusalem that triggers Daniel's 490-year countdown to the Messiah. The key biblical text is not prophetic in nature but an explicit historic reference made in the book of Ezra (7:7-8).

Ezra, a captive Jew of priestly lineage, leads one of the waves of Jews released from captivity to rebuild Jerusalem after Persian King Artaxerxes I writes such a decree in the seventh year of his rule. A consensus of independent historical research confirms the seventh year of Artaxerxes I's rule corresponds to the Jewish year ending in the fall of 457 BC. Therefore, upon the Jewish civil new year that fall, the 490 year countdown begins. Simple subtraction of the 483 intervening years from the fall of 457 BC advances the time line to the fall of 26 AD: [-457 + 483 = 26]. Therefore the 484th year of the Messiah's advent commences with the Jewish new year in the fall of 26 AD.

If the Gospels are accurate histories, this means that shortly after the Jewish new year in the fall of 26 AD, Jesus, "about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23), was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River to begin his 40 day wilderness test. According to The Layman's Gospel Harmony calendar-based birth narrative chronology, upon his baptism Jesus most probably was about 29 years and nine months old -- virtually 30 years old -- confirming the historical accuracy of Luke's account. If Daniel's prophecy is true, the Christ's 3.5 year messianic witness and great act of sacrificial atonement were then completed in 30 AD in the period between his crucifixion at Passover and his ascension from the Mount of Olives 40 days later.

The remaining 3.5 years of Daniel's 490-year prophecy ended upon the Jewish new year in the fall of 33 AD. It is in this period that the Christian Church is born. Just before his ascension, Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem to be anointed in spiritual power (Luke 24:49). This anointing took place about a week later during the holy Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:2). Authorities date Stephen's stoning (Acts 7:58-60), the conversion of Paul (Galatians 1:11-16), and the outbreak of the Church from Jerusalem into the Mediterranean world, all between the years 33-36 AD.

See following website pages here of Harmony Periods 1-10 for sectional summaries of The Layman's Gospel Harmony's fully integrated chronology based on the time line described above and incorporating Christ's birth narrative chronology with a proven 3.5 year ministerial chronology as foretold in Daniel's vision.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." -- Luke 2:14