Parallel passages,  multiple witnesses

Many sections of the synoptic gospels occur in identical or very similar form in different gospels, sometimes in different contexts and sometimes more than once. Many of the Sermon’s sayings fall into this category.

A typical set of parallel passages

The Sermon on the Mount’s saying concerning the lamp (Matt 5:15) finds its closest parallel in Luke combined with other sayings from the Sermon, but in the entirely different context of Jesus rebuking a crowd (Luke 11:33-34). On the one hand Matthew has:

14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. 15 Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. 16 Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

(Matt 5:14-15 WEB)

On the other Luke gives us:

33No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, that those who come in may see the light. 34 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness.

(Luke 11:33-34 WEB)

Luke also reports Jesus using the same saying on an earlier occasion and in a completely different context (Luke 8:16). This context here is the same as that in which the passage occurs in Mark (Mark 4:21), suggesting that Jesus used the saying on two occasions, yet the detail of Mark’s text agrees not with Luke’s earlier version, but with his later version. On the one hand Luke has:

16No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a container, or puts it under a bed; but puts it on a stand, that those who enter in may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden, that will not be revealed; nor anything secret, that will not be known and come to light.”

(Luke 8:16-17 33 WEB)

In Mark we find the saying has been truncated, but that which remains has become more wordy.

21 ‘He said to them, “Is the lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it put on a stand? 22 For there is nothing hidden, except that it should be made known; neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light.’

(Mark 4:21-22 WEB)

Comparison with the Sermon on the Plain

Parallel passages from the Sermon on the Plain are included in the list below, but a separate page is devoted to comparing the Sermon on the Mount with the Sermon on the Plain.

List of parallel passages

The list below identifies, for each section of the Sermon, the relevant parallel passages, both within the synoptic gospels and the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas. Other closely related passages are shown in square braces. It also illustrates how a two-source theorist might assign these passages to various source traditions (this is included for completeness, although it is not the author's favoured approach):

The decomposition into ‘sayings’ and the assignment of these to source traditions follows Vermes (2004). The relevant page numbers are shown in parentheses. Note how few of the sayings with parallels in Thomas also have parallels in Mark. 

List of parallel passages