Greetings, this is Jeff Riddle, Pastor of CRBC, Louisa,
Virginia and this is a series of readings from and notes and commentary upon
Augustine of Hippo’s Harmony of the Evangelists.
Note: We are resuming this series after a one-year break
(from March 2022).
We are in book 2 of 4. This second book is the longest in this work
with some 80 chapters. It covers the events recorded in the Gospel of Matthew,
with comparison to the other three Gospels, up to the Last Supper. These episodes will only be posted in audio (not video) format.
Augustine begins by noting he intends to look into the four
accounts of Christ in the Gospels and show how they are consistent with one another.
2.1: A statement of the reason why the enumeration of the
ancestors of Christ was carried down to Joseph, while Christ was not born of
this man’s seed, but of the Virgin Mary.
This book begins with an analysis of the genealogy of the
Lord Jesus. Jesus is the Son of Man with respect to his true humanity. Augustine
notes also “the heavenly and eternal generation” of Christ as “the only
begotten Son of God. Matthew begins by tracing out the “human generation” in
the genealogy from Abraham to Joseph, husband of Mary.
He notes that Joseph and Mary were married, though she was a
virgin. They were an “illustrious recommendation” to “husbands and wives that
they may share affections of the mind, with “no connection between the sexes of
the body.” Augustine thus promotes his view that “carnal intercourse” is “to be
practiced with the purpose of the procreation of children only.” Joseph was not
the father of Jesus but had adopted him from another.
Augustine notes the statement from Luke 3:23 that Christ began
his public ministry at “about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the
son of Joseph.” Joseph could be called his “father” only if he was “truly the
husband of Mary, without the intercourse of the flesh, indeed, but in virtue of
the real union of marriage.”
2.2: An explanation of the sense in which Christ is the son of
David, although He was not begotten in the way of ordinary generation by Joseph
the son of David.
He begins by saying that even if Mary did not descend from
David by blood, we could say he descended from David by virtue of his adoption
by Joseph. Given, however, that Paul said, Christ was “of the seed of David
according to the flesh” (Rom 1:3), we know that Mary also descended directly
from David. Given her connection to Elisabeth, she also came from the priestly
line. Thus, Christ came “from the line of the kings, and from that of the
story of Jesus begins with his human genealogy and his virginal conception.