Each saying attributed to Jesus is color-coded to indicate its authenticity. In the judgment of the Jesus Seminar Fellows:

  • Only those sayings that appear in red type are considered by the Seminar to be close to what Jesus actually said.
  • The words in pink less certainly originated with Jesus.
  • The words in gray are not his, though they contain ideas that are close to his own.
  • The sayings that appear in black have been embellished or created by his followers, or borrowed from common lore.

Example

29”When someone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well. When someone takes away your coat, don’t prevent that person from taking your shirt along with it.”

30”Give to everyone who begs from you; and when someone takes your things, don’t ask for them back.”

31“Treat people the way you want them to treat you.”

32“If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that? After all, even sinners love those who love them. 33and if you do good to those who do good to you, what merit is there in that? After all, even sinners do as much. 34If you lend to those from whom you hope to gain, what merit is there in that? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to get as much in return. 35But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you’ll be children of the Most High. As you know, he is generous to the ungrateful and the wicked.”

36”Be compassionate in the way your Father is compassionate. 37Don’t pass judgment, and you won’t be judged; don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned; forgive, and you’ll be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you: they’ll put in your lap a full measure, packed down, sifted and overflowing. For the standard you apply will be the standard applied to you.

Read an excerpt from the introduction.