Previously: Controversy over which Gospel passages to color "red" in "red letter editions"?

Some editions of the Bible print the words of Jesus in red. Some limit this to the words He spoke prior to His ascension, while others extend it to post-ascension sayings such as those in the book of Revelation.

What I am wondering is whether there are any significant disagreements over which passages in the Gospels to color red (in "red letter edition" Bibles)?

The manuscripts aren't color-coded and don't contain punctuation such as quotation marks, so I'm curious if there are any instances where some translators attribute a passage to Jesus while other translators consider it commentary from the author, for example.

To curb the hasty close-votes, I'm simply looking for a "yes or no" answer with some evidence to back it up.

  • Related, but I think not identical: What are the benefits of a red letter edition Bible? Nov 17, 2012 at 0:24
  • See also: the Jesus Seminar. Nov 17, 2012 at 0:25
  • 2
    I think the answer will turn out to be "Yes", but the evidence will be a bit harder to hunt down. Basically, we need to find at least one instance in gospels where the placement of a quotation mark is not obvious in and around Jesus' words. I don't know of such a passage off the top of my head and I don't particularly care to hunt for one. But if anyone should find one (and then check several printed Bibles for varation) they should be able to answer. I'm not, however, certain what would be gained by the exercise. Nov 17, 2012 at 0:31

1 Answer 1


There is certainly disagreement over whether certain passages are direct quotes of Jesus. For example in John 3, some commentators believes that Jesus speaks the whole of the passage from verse 10 to verse 21, but other believe that Jesus' quote ends after verse 15 and the remainder is commentary written by John. There is also disagreement over whether his next quote ends at verse 30 or verse 36. Because of the absence of punctuation in the original languages there is no way to be definitive about it. The footnoes of the New International Version give some more details. (The choice has little theological significance and doesn't lessen the authority of the passages)

  • Your best source is the footnotes of the NIV. Nov 19, 2012 at 19:39

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