ProjectJesusworte auf den Wegen antiker Spruchüberlieferung. Untersuchungen zur Eigenart, Komposition und Redaktion…

Basic data

Jesusworte auf den Wegen antiker Spruchüberlieferung. Untersuchungen zur Eigenart, Komposition und Redaktion antiker Spruchsammlungen im Vergleich der Logienquelle und des Thomasevangeliums mit den Sprüchen des Pseudo-Phokylides, Sextus und Epikur
01/10/2016 to 30/09/2019
Abstract / short description:
Collections of sayings by well-known public figures were popular and widespread throughout antiquity. However, the existence of any such collection of sayings attributed to Jesus was long unknown. Such a collection was first postulated only in 1835 by Karl Lachmann, who suggested that a collection of Jesus sayings served as one of the sources of the Synoptic Gospels. Since Lachmann, scholars have largely succeeded in reconstructing most of this so-called Sayings Source Q from the sayings material shared by the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Furthermore, the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas in 1945, in Coptic, at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, provided modern scholarship, for the first time, a virtually intact collection of dominical sayings.
Still, finding adequate criteria for a cogent interpretation of these texts remains an unresolved issue. By virtue of their genre, collections of texts present very diverse material arranged in a more or less loose manner. Since narrative or argumentative coherence is almost entirely absent, the well-proven methods of narrative or discourse analysis fail to work. A biographical outline of the life of Jesus, though not narrated as such, is nevertheless still revealed by Q. The Gospel of Thomas, on the other hand, has resisted all attempts by scholars to identify any comprehensive compositional principles underlying the collected sayings material.
This is where the proposed project seeks to make a contribution, in that it will both nuance and expand the methodologies commonly used to assess these texts. Whereas previous compositional analyses have assumed a uniform textual transmission of the texts in question, this study will look at the diversity among individual textual witnesses and evaluate their relevance for the transmission history of individual sayings. At the same time, the transmission of sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas and in Q will no longer be considered in isolation, but rather within the context of the ancient practice of creating sayings collections – a practice that followed its own rules, though these have scarcely been subjected to study.
The two main objectives of this research project are to isolate, as precisely as possible and on the basis of selected text corpora, those rules that governed the creation of ancient sayings collections and to then to utilize them in the compositional analysis of Q and the Gospel of Thomas. To this end, sayings collections from antiquity will be used that are extant, in their respective manuscript traditions, in significantly different forms. This is the case with each with the collections of sayings attributed to Pseudo-Phocylides, Sextus and Epicurus. At the same time, an advantage of this selection is that it includes a Jewish collection of sayings (Pseudo-Phocylides), a Christian one (Sextus) and a pagan one (Epicurus), all of which date to the Hellenistic-Roman period.

Involved staff


Catholic Seminary
Faculty of Catholic Theology

Contact persons

Eckhard, Stefan
Catholic Seminary
Faculty of Catholic Theology

Local organizational units

Faculty of Catholic Theology
University of Tübingen


Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

will be deleted permanently. This cannot be undone.