Prima and I studied these four books carefully. Not as carefully as some, perhaps, but we have noted with hued thread what is unique to each. We placed the books side by side dividing each into its parts. It took more than one copy and many months to complete this procedure. All the parts lie on twelve long tables in the scriptorium here in Corinth at the estate. We could not have done this in our youth, for we were not disposed to cut parchment into pieces. With paper it is feasible. And we instructed the leaving of spaces between words. It reminded us that word order, declensions, or conjugations and tenses are different for each writer. Spaces increased the use of paper, but I insisted the copyists be wasteful for this project. At first, we decided not to reproduce the duplications that arise because of changes in sequence. But this plan would not stand as we divided the text. I found it necessary to extend our work until I had one part for every day of the year!
Now, having laid out the text in its Greek form, I begin to translate. The words in Latin show approximately the differences in vocabulary and construction. The uniqueness of a phrase may be of concept, of language, and of style. If a long section is essentially the same but the language is different, then it is clear from the markings we made. Mark, though awkward in Greek, did not have to let Matthew and Luke do his thinking for him, so frequently his text shows an original construction around the same words and phrases.
I have been tempted at times to correct Uncle Mark and add in the margins the words he left out. Sometimes I can. I see their speech and I want to add to the performance. Sometimes it is very difficult to show what is different in the Greek when writing in your language since it translates different tenses to the same. So for example legei and eipen are different in the Greek though the same root, but I may have had to translate them both as ait, 'he said'.
I look down at the tables as I write. I can see that Mark and John both omit Praefatio as I noted earlier. Also that John has unique material even though we did place some of his sections in parallel with the others. The next section is all gray before me.
The different hued threads of Matthew and Luke show that they each have their own special material sometimes in long sections. These may be unique to them or show influence the one on the other or the two on Mark. On table 6, there is hardly any of Luke’s hue, for he has omitted a great section. And he has 64 sections in a row that are mostly his on table 7. Some few of these are unique, but many have bits and pieces showing words common with Matthew and with Mark. Luke has also the Sermo Domini similar to Matthew's Sermo in Monte, but Matthew's is much longer. All four share Passio and Resurrectio beginning on table 10. Here the hues are greatly varied.
Many in Israel have long texts from memory, for they study Torah and the Prophets and Psalms in Hebrew with the diligence of love. Even though we were born there, we were strangers in that land. Still we loved the ancient texts and we used a translation into Greek which had been prepared in Alexandria many years earlier. Prima, always wanting to teach me everything, showed me both the Greek and the Hebrew letters from before I could walk. There are some who say that every letter is a fire descending from heaven. And so it was for me that I knew both Hebrew and Greek as letters of fire. I saw and felt them with power. I must take care that the power is of the letters and not of a spirit of domination. For love does not work that way.
Mark begins with the prophets (Malachi and Isaiah) and I have added Isaiah the prophet in the margin (as Luke notes). This visible voice crying in the wilderness is at the beginning of the Book of Consolation of the prophet Isaiah. Console my people, says the Lord. Luke writes of Simeon looking for the consolation of Israel. Later we will see that John writes of the Comforter who comes along side us and lives in us. This, Beloved, is consolation, an earnest of our inheritance, not to be ignored.