‘Unbekannte Jesusworte’ Comes of Age

greek-apocryphal-gospels-fragments-and-agraphaIn 1963 Joachim Jeremias published one of the most interesting contributions to New Testament / Early Christian studies when he  published his Unbekannte Jesusworte.  It was a remarkable achievement and as late as the late 80’s when I was myself in grad school it was required reading for our Synoptic Gospels Seminar.

It has come of age.  Rick Brannan has taken the concept so brilliantly executed by Jeremias and improved it.  High praise indeed I realize but completely justifiable- for in the soon to be released Logos edition titled Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha Brannan offers the Greek texts of the ‘sayings of Jesus’ which are found outside the Gospels (in the letters of Paul and other New Testament texts along with extracanonical early Christian literature) along with introductions and translations.  He also provides the more important ‘gospels’ which didn’t make the canonical cut, again in both the original Greek editions and in translation.

Here are a few illustrative snippets:

First, Brannan’s comments concerning the text:


Bezae as well as manuscripts that reflect the Old Latin tradition have this instead of “For everyone will be salted with fire.” Some other manuscripts, including Alexandrinus, include both forms: “For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be salted with salt.”

Mark 9:42–49 is about withstanding the temptation to sin. Jesus states that it is better to lose the offending body part than to succumb to sin (43–47). Fire is introduced with the notion of being in hell, “where the worm does not die and the fire is not extinguished” (48), a quotation of Isa 66:24. After this comes the saying about salt. The version in Bezae recalls Lev 2:13, “Also all of your grain offerings you must season with salt; you must not omit the salt of your God’s covenant from your offering,” focusing on the salt and recalling sacrifice. The canonical version instead focuses on the believer and foresees persecution (fire).


As mentioned above, the version in Bezae may be a recollection of Lev 2:13. Evans notes that Ezek 43:24 mentions similar things (salt and burnt offering).


For every sacrifice will be salted with salt. (Mk 9:49 Brannan)

And now the original:


9 πασα γαρ θυσια αλι αλισθησεται.

Brannan’s selection of texts is sensible and it has to be, or at least should be said that these materials are worth reading and understanding both in their own light and for the light they shed on the earliest stages of Christian thought.

Well done, Rick.  Well done.  You have done Jeremias proud.

One thought on “‘Unbekannte Jesusworte’ Comes of Age

  1. Pingback: Rick Brannan Apocryphal Gospels for Logos

Comments are closed.