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Finding the Core of the Historical Jesus

 

 

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The Authentic Parables of Jesus of Nazareth

The following parables are considered to be nearest to the genuine words of Jesus as we can get, according to the Jesus Seminar's scholars.*

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The scholars identified approximately 500 sayings and parables of Jesus, found in the four canonical gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke and John) and the Gospel of Thomas. They then debated the sayings and parables and took a vote on the authenticity of each saying, averaging their votes and then assigning a weighted average between 1.00 and 0.00 (from most to least authentic). Ninety-one of the sayings and parables rated a weighted average of 0.50 or above. The sayings are listed on this page. Click here for the Authentic Sayings of Jesus of Nazareth.

To me, there are three (and possibly four) core sources for the sayings: the Gospel of Mark, the Sayings Gospel Q (which both Matthew and Luke used), and the Gospel of Thomas. Therefore, I've labeled sayings from GMatt and GLuke below as Q. I list the passage cite in parentheses after the saying. The fourth source would be a "proto-Q" or earlier sayings gospel used by Mark. See below for more on that theory. In the case of either Matthew or Luke having a saying that the other does not use, I'm more inclined to think that the saying was in Q, but that one or the other decided for their own reasons not to include it. Therefore, all M and L attributions are shown as Q below.

All the canonical sayings below are taken from the World English Bible, which is a public-domain translation based on the American Standard Version (1901) of the Bible. The Thomas sayings below are taken from the Patterson-Myers translation (the same used in The Five Gospels, but also found at the Gnostic Society Library web site) because there is no public-domain version of the text available.

 

 

Ed. note: It's late and I'm tired. I'll add more of the sayings when I get some more time.

 

* For a more complete explanation of the methodology of the Jesus Seminar, I suggest you get the book, The Five Gospels, edited by Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar (copyright © 1993 by Polebridge Press). The sayings below are NOT taken directly from that book, since that book uses a brand new translation prepared by the Jesus Seminar, copyrighted by them. All I got from that book is the list of sayings. I'm also not showing the color rankings nor the weighted averages with the sayings, since I believe those are also copyrighted facts of the J.S. I have, however, listed below in the same order, most authentic to those somewhat authentic.