The scope and 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
  1. The scope of the logia

    In the page 'Pericopes wrongly assigned to Q' I argued that Luke took from Matthew some of the material usually allocated to Q. This included the following pericopes: Mt 3:7-12; 4:1-11; 8:5-13; 11:2-19; 20-23; 25-27; 12:22-32; 43-45; 22:1-10; 23:37-39; 24:45-51; 25:14-30. [1] The remaining double tradition material was by default assigned to the logia. The non-doublet sayings in this remaining material can be shown to be stylistically and theologically consistent with the source doublets presented on the previous page. We can therefore be confident that they belonged to the logia.
    However there are indications that the source also included a few other sayings rejected by either Matthew or Luke or both, in other words, not included in the Double Tradition [2] when they were editing it, but which were preserved by at least one synoptic author. Any such saying to be assigned to the logia must be stylistically and theologically coherent with the doublets template, it should not show significant signs of redaction, there should be plausible reasons why Luke or Matthew or both omitted it, and it should preferably be amongst the logia material in a least one gospel. [3] This gospel could be Mark. Thus for instance Mk 9:33-10:45 has variants of 8 sayings usually assigned to Q, framed by variants of 'Ruler/servant': 9:35b & 10:42-44. This sayings block, apart from the passion prediction in 10:32-34, [4] appears to be wholly based on 13 primitive sayings. All 13 are here taken to have been in the sayings source. Each of the five non-Q sayings from this block is marked with an asterisk in the section below.
    When editing Mark, Matthew retained more than Luke. Thus there is an a priori expectation that the same will have applied when editing the logia, and we should expect (against most Q scholars) to assign to the sayings source more  Sondergut from Matthew than from Luke.

  2. Pericopes from outside the Double Tradition

  3. The structure of the logia

    The logia was approximately two-thirds of the size of the hypothetical Q as usually reconstructed. The logia had four main sections each divided into two equal-sized subsections. Its 72 sayings consist of 36 parallel pairs. The 36 links are indicated in tabular form on the next page of this web site.
    Each of the four tables shown below represents a (major) section. In each section, the two subsections are separated by a blank line. The author of Luke-Acts has given us unmistakable hints about some of its structural features. Lk 10:1 hints at the 72 sayings arranged in pairs. [7]  Lk 9:28 hints at the eight subsections. [8]  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
    ----- 5:39-42,44-48 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/swine 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 Asking/receiving 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/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 Sheep/wolves send out; sheep
    13:13 10:22 ----- B6 Hated/endure all
    (13:10) 10:23 ----- B7 Through all Israel all
    13:9,11 10:17-20 12:11-12 B8 Formal defence 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 Division family
    8:34 10:37-38 14:26-27 B11 My disciple? Whoever ...; family
    8:35 10:39 17:33 B12 Save/lose Whoever
    9:37b 10:40 10:16 B13 Welcome Whoever; me
    9:40 12:30 11:23 B14 For/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/chosen "many" is not enough
    ----- 6:22-23 11:34-35 C3 Eye as lamp -
    12:17 ----- ----- C4 Caesar/God ruler
    8:12 12:39-42 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 15:4-9 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 22:28-30 C21 Thrones rewards at the coming
    10:31 20:16 13:30 C22 Last/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 23:6-7a 11:43 D4 Seats/greetings woe to Pharisees
    ----- 23:27 11:44 D5 Unmarked graves 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/left sudden coming
    13:33-37 24:42-44 12:39-40 D14 Watch/thief sudden coming

  4. More about the structure

    The first saying in each section indicates that section's overall theme:
    A Who can enter the kingdom (Mt 5:3)
    B Proclaiming the kingdom (Lk 9:60) [9]
    C The coming kingdom (Lk 11:2c)
    D Those who hinder entrance to the kingdom (Mt 23:13) [10]

    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.

  5. The order of the sayings

    The order in the logia.

    The proposed order of the sayings indicated above has been determined by a combination of criteria.

    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. Although substantially composed by Matthew, two of the passages seem to have been built around logia sayings. 12:22-32 is built around 12:30. 25:14-30 is built around (and probably inspired by) 25:29.
2. Most scholars dismiss out of hand the possibility of recovering any sayings rejected from Q by both Matthew and Luke, see e.g. C.M.Tuckett, Q and the History of Early Christianity (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1996) 95, n41. But such saying(s) could have been preserved in Mark!
3. These criteria are broadly similar to the four accepted by Tuckett (Ibid, 95).
4. Besides a suspicion of Markan theological motivation, the fact that this is the third passion prediction suggests a different origin from the rest of the sayings in the block.
5. W.D.Davies & D.C.Allison, The Gospel According to Saint Matthew (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988-1997) II, 756.
6. S.G.F.Brandon, Jesus and the Zealots (Manchester University Press, 1967, 346f.)
7. In Lk 10:1 the "seventy-two" (so correctly, NEB, REB, c.f. NA27) who are sent out "two by two" have a metaphorical second meaning, hinting at the 72 paired sayings of the logia.
8. 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.
9. The words "but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God" are not in Matthew. But "go ... bury ... my father" nicely parallels "go ... proclaim ... the kingdom of God". Also the Markan author seems to have known the full pericope as in Luke. For Mk 1:17a (Follow me) echoes Lk 10:59a; Mk 1:20 (left their father) echoes Lk 9:59b,60a; Mk 1:17b (mission) echoes Lk 9:60b .
10. Luke does not have the word "kingdom". But Matthew preserves the original word here because "enter" corresponds to the kingdom, not to the key of knowledge - J.Gnilka, Das Matthäusevangelium 2 (Freiburg: Herder, 1988) 283.