INTRODUCTION to The Synoptic Gospel
The New Testament Greek word euangelion (evangel) means good message, which became gospel in Old English meaning god term or god-spell, and is most commonly referred to today as good news.
Since at least the Latin Vulgate Bible of 405 CE the canon of the Christian New Testament has opened with the four Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, each of which records a version of the good news of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Each Gospel account was written by a different man, and told to a different audience, from a different point of view; and each narrative has a slightly different emphasis, focus and reason why it was written.
While the four Gospel accounts are generally united in their overall theme and storyline, they each also contain unique sayings and stories which when taken together provide a more complete, composite picture of the teachings and personality of Jesus Christ.
Within the four Gospels there are many instances where the same saying, teaching or story is recorded in two or three of the accounts, while some sayings and events from the life of Jesus are mentioned within all four. In the many places where more than one Gospel account is describing the same event, those verses are thought of as "parallel", in that their content is the same or similar, occasionally even using identical wording.
Because there is so much material shared between the four Gospel accounts, particularly Matthew, Mark and Luke, they are often referred to as "synoptic" which is a Greek compound word that means "seeing together" or "seeing as one". In this case, synoptic means seeing the four Gospel narratives of the New Testament as one single record of the things that Jesus Christ said and did and taught.
In the many places where the Gospel stories closely parallel each other, there are almost always also differences in the wording and specific details that each account records. While these differences are usually minor and inconsequential, they sometimes produce contradictions, and occasionally even apparent conflicts.
Despite their differences, because there is so much similarity and overlap shared between the four New Testament Gospels, they have long been used together, both as a harmony which displays the Gospels in columns side-by-side, and as a merger (also known as a synopsis) which eliminates the duplication between the sections of parallel verses, and combines the remaining words to produce one single, complete version of each saying and event.
The FIVE COLUMN Four Gospel Harmony was compiled to provide a complete, chronological record of all of the sayings and events that are contained within the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament. With all of the events arranged in order, the parallel and overlapping sections of verses were reconciled, and merged into the fifth column on a word-for-word basis using a system of precise notation, which was part of a harmonization and unification process that involved sixteen steps. The unified text that is produced in the fifth column of FIVE COLUMN is known as The Synoptic Gospel.
The main consideration of this work ensures that every detail from each of the four Gospel texts is included or accounted for, and that not one single word is unnecessarily omitted. The process of removing the duplication between the parallel sections of words and verses reduced the word count from the 83,680 words of the New American Standard Bible (NASB) version of the four Gospel accounts, to the 65,776 words of The Synoptic Gospel unified text, which is almost 22% shorter compared to reading each of the four individual Gospel accounts back-to-back.
While eliminating both the confusion caused by the differing chronologies of the four Gospels, and resolving the wording differences within their many sections of overlapping and parallel verses, this work produces an easy to follow narrative that preserves the full detail of every word, teaching, and miracle of Jesus Christ, as found within the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament.
May God continue to Bless and Inspire all who seek to know and understand the teaching Life and healing Ministry of Jesus Christ, The Son of God.