Authentic Sayings of Jesus

Critical scholars, using the most rigorous historical-critical criteria, have concluded that the following statements of Jesus from the Synoptic tradition are unquestionably authentic. This is not so say that other materials are necessarily inauthentic, but that these particular sayings are at the core of the unedited tradition. These results are based on the work of Norman Perrin and R. H. Fuller. More recently Dominic Crossan has expanded the list considerably, but eliminated the apocalyptic elements that Perrin and Fuller felt were basic.

The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand. (Mk 1:15a)
But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Lk 11:20)
The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, “Lo, here it is!” or “There!” for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. (Lk 17:20-21)
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence plunder it. (Matt 11:12)

Samaritan (Lk 10-30-36) Demand to say what cannot be said
Unjust Steward (Lk 16:1-9) Demand to applaud what cannot be applauded
Pharisee & Publican (Lk 18-10-14) Reversal of judgement
Wedding Guest (Lk 14:7-11) World turned upside down
Hidden Treasure/Pearl (Mt 13:44-46) Total, radical turn

Leave the dead to bury their own dead (Lk 9:60a)

If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Mt 5:39b-41
For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake [Perrin suggests here the original would have read, “for the sake of the Kingdom of God”] and the gospel’s will save it. (Mk 8:35)
How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! . . . it is easier for a camel (rope) to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Mk 10:23b, 25)
But many that are first will be last, and the last first (Mk 10:31)
Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Lk 14:11)
He who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God. (Lk 9:62)
There is nothing outside a person, which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a person are what defile him. (Mk 7:15)
Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child cannot enter it. (Lk 10:15)
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . (Mt 5:44f)
Swear not at all, let your yes be yes, your no be no . . . (Mt 5:34f)

Some version of divorce teaching: Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

LORD’S PRAYER (Luke 11:2-4)
Father [Abba?], hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come!
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.


Outside the New Testament I would add a few more, from the Gospel of Thomas and the Didache. I particularly think this one has the “Jesus ring” so to speak: “Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give.” Didache 1.6

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