The structure of the logia

"A Q that begins with the Inaugural Sermon (Q 6.20-49) is a more coherent text than one that sets out as a narrative gospel but diverts into sayings gospel mode."
Francis Watson in NTS 55 (2009) p.402


The logia was approximately two-thirds of the size of the hypothetical Q as usually reconstructed. It had four main sections, each divided into two equal-sized subsections. Its 72 sayings consist of 36 parallel pairs (as explained on the previous web page). The 36 links are indicated in tabular form on the next web page.
Each of the four tables shown below represents a (major) section. In each section, the two subsections are separated by a blank line. Lk 9:28 hints at the eight subsections. [1]  The Sermon on the Plain makes use of written sayings taken exclusively from section A of the logia.
Parentheses around a Markan text indicate that the Markan version is sufficiently different from that of Matthew/Luke that its common origin as a single saying attributed to Jesus is not immediately obvious. For this reason any such saying would not have been eligible for membership of a doublet.

In the columns headed "Matthew" and "Luke", the only version of the saying referenced is the version which appears to have been derived directly from the logia. Versions dependent on Mark, such as those in the 'triple tradition' in Matthew or Luke, do not contribute to our understanding of the text of the logia and so are not listed.

A: Entering the Kingdom

Mark Matthew Luke id Saying internal links
----- 5:3-8,11-12 6:20-23 A1 Beatitudes the earth
9:50a 5:13bc 14:34-35 A2 Salt the earth; influencing others
4:21 5:15 11:33 A3 Lighting a lamp influencing others
13:31 5:18 16:17 A4 Law God's law persists
----- 5:25-26 12:58-59 A5 Your accuser God's law persists
9:43,47 5:30,29 ----- A6 Hand & eye separation
10:11 5:32 16:18 A7 Divorce separation
----- 5:39b-48 6:27-30,32-36 A8 Love enemies -
----- 15:14 6:39 A9 Blind guide guidance
----- 10:24-25 6:40 A10 Teacher/disciple guidance
10:15 18:3 ----- A11 Be like a child entering the k of G
10:25 ----- ----- A12 Eye of needle entering the k of G; hyperbole
----- 7:3-5 6:41-42 A13 Speck/log criticizing others; hyperbole
4:24 7:1-2 6:37-8 A14 Judge/measure criticizing others; do not...
----- 7:6 ----- A15 Pearls to pigs do not...
----- 7:13-14 13:24 A16 Two gates -
----- 7:15-20 6:43-44 A17 Good tree good & evil
----- 12:34-35 6:45 A18 Good treasure good & evil
11:24 7:7-11 11:9-13 A19 Ask/receive good & evil
----- 7:12 6:31 A20 Golden rule do
----- 7:21-23 6:46;13:26-27 A21 Disowned do; everyone
----- 7:24-27 6:47-49 A22 Rock or sand do; everyone

B: The Mission of the Kingdom

Mark Matthew Luke id Saying internal links
(1:16-20) 8:19-22 9:57-60 B1 Following Jesus discipleship
9:41 10:42 ----- B2 Cup of water discipleship
(4:26-29) 9:37-38 10:2 B3 Harvest framed with B14; send out; worker
1:15b; 6:8-11 10:5b-15 10:4-12 B4 Mission instructions framed with B7; send out; worker; sheep
----- 10:16 10:3 B5 Lambs among wolves send out; sheep
13:13 10:22 ----- B6 Hated/endure all
(13:10) 10:23 ----- B7 Through all Israel all; When ..... for
13:9,11 10:19-20 12:11-12 B8 Formal defence When ..... for; don't worry
4:22; 8:38 10:26-33 12:2-9 B9 Nothing hidden don't be afraid
13:12 10:34-35 12:51,53 B10 Peace or a sword family
8:34 10:37-38 14:26-27 B11 My disciple? Whoever ...; family
8:35 10:39 17:33 B12 Find or lose Whoever
9:37b 10:40 10:16 B13 Welcome Whoever; me
9:40 12:30 11:23 B14 For or against Whoever; me

C: The coming Kingdom

Mark Matthew Luke id Saying internal links
11:25 6:7,9-13 11:2-4 C1 Kingdom come! "many" is not enough
----- 22:14 ----- C2 Called or chosen "many" is not enough
----- 6:22-23 11:34-35 C3 Eye as lamp -
12:17 ----- ----- C4 Caesar or God ruler
8:12 12:38-42 11:16,29-32 C5 Request for a sign ruler(s) & prophet(s)
----- 13:16-17 10:23-24 C6 What you see ruler(s) & prophet(s); blessed; hear
(3:31-35) ----- 11:27-28 C7 Womb blessed; hear
----- 18:15,21-22 17:3-4 C8 Forgiveness sin
9:42 18:6-7 17:1-2 C9 Millstone sin
9:35b;10:42b-44 23:11 ----- C10 Ruler/servant high/low status
----- 23:12 14:11; 18:14b C11 Humble exalted high/low status
9:1 ----- ----- C12 Some standing ... sky to earth
----- ----- 12:54-56 C13 Weather signs earth & sky
4:30-32 13:31-33 13:18-21 C14 Mustard & yeast earth to sky; man&woman
----- 18:12-13 15:4-5a,7-9 C15 Sheep & coin numbers; one; man&woman
----- 6:24 16:13 C16 Two masters numbers; one
11:23 17:20 17:6 C17 Mulberry tree -
(10:17-22) 6:19-21 12:33-34 C18 Treasure in heaven possessions
----- 6:25-33 12:22-31 C19 Food & clothing possessions; will be given
4:25 25:29 12:48b C20 More given will be given
(10:29-30) 19:28 22:28-29,30b C21 Thrones rewards at the coming
10:31 20:16 13:30 C22 Last or first rewards at the coming

D: The Hindrances to the Kingdom

Mark Matthew Luke id Saying internal links
----- 23:13 11:52 D1 Hinder entrance woe to Pharisees
----- 23:25-26 11:39-41 D2 Clean cup woe to Pharisees; blind
----- 23:23-24 11:42 D3 Tithe mint woe to Pharisees; blind
12:38-39 23:6-7 11:43 D4 Best seats woe to Pharisees
----- 23:27 11:44 D5 Whitewashed tombs woe to Pharisees
----- 23:4 11:46 D6 Burdens woe to Pharisees
----- 23:29-36 11:47-51 D7 Memorials woe to Pharisees; prophets
13:22 24:11 ----- D8 False prophets prophets
13:21 24:26 17:23 D9 Look he is ... "they" refers back to D8
----- 24:27 17:24 D10 Lightning visible from afar
----- 24:28 17:37 D11 Vultures visible from afar
----- 24:37-39 17:26-27,30 D12 In the days of Noah sudden coming
----- 24:40-41 17:34-35 D13 Taken or left sudden coming
13:33,35,37 24:42-44 12:39-40 D14 Keep awake sudden coming

More about the structure

The gap in the middle of each displayed section is to highlight the fact that each appears to be subdivided into two equal halves, though the divisions are not equally apparent in all the sections. The first half of A opens with a saying about the poor; the second half opens with a saying about the rich. (The author of Mathew's gospel may have recognized this division, for sayings from the first half of A only appear in what we know as chapter 5, and sayings from the second half of A only appear separately in what we know as chapter 7.) The first half of C opens with an expression of hope for the coming kingdom; the second half opens with a confident prediction of its coming. The first half of B comes to a climax in 'Through all Israel'. But it is in section D where the division is clearest: the first half being woes, and the second half looking forward to the coming of the Son of Man.

Treatment by the later synoptic writers

Matthew's rearrangement of the sayings.

Matthew has kept the sayings, except for those in section C, in substantially the same order.
Matthew retained the logia's four sections. A became the Sermon on the Mount, B became the discourse on mission (9:36-10:42), C was developed into the parables of the kingdom (13:1-52), D became the discourse on judgement (23-25). To mirror the five books of Moses, Matthew added a fifth discourse (Mt 17:24-18:35) concerning the Church (18:17, c.f. 16:18).
Matthew wanted to keep the positions of section A's opening and closing pericopes, so when he enlarged this section to make his Sermon, he did it partly by taking five sayings from C and placing them all in the middle, which came to be known as chapter 6.

Luke's rearrangement of the sayings.

Luke has rearranged the sayings more extensively, c.f. the hint about order in Lk 1:3.
The only logia sayings in the Sermon on the Plain are from A. With regard to the seven woes, Luke displaced the first (Lk 11:52) so that the dinner scene (Lk 11:37f.) would start with the more appropriate saying about cups and dishes.


1. Lk 9:28, in which Luke altered Mark's "six days" to "about eight days", is placed immediately after Luke's version of saying C12. In the logia, C12 is the opening saying in the sixth of the eight subsections! The unnecessary editorial addition of μετα τους λογους τουτους ("after these sayings") confirms that Luke had the logia in mind here. Independent evidence that Luke knew about the subsections can be found in Luke's different placements of the two halves of section D, c.f. also his placement of the two halves of section B.