Jesus Seminar believes that Parable of the Empty Jar in Gospel of Thomas is authentic saying of Jesus:

The kingdom of the father is like a certain woman who was carrying a jar full of meal. While she was walking on the road, still some distance from home, the handle of the jar broke and the meal emptied out behind her on the road. She did not realize it; she had noticed no accident. When she reached her house, she set the jar down and found it empty. - Gospel of Thomas 97

Now, I am not an expert (and I am aware of many flaws of Jesus Seminar), but I think arguments for authenticity of this parable are good.

However, what I want to ask is: Is there any other saying or parable of Jesus that is not recorded in the New Testament, but is remembered in the tradition? Do some Church Fathers quote some words not found in the New Testament, but attribute them to Jesus?

  • 1
    This is a matter of Textual Criticism. The 'Patristic Citations' are the recorded scriptures (which would include all the sayings of Jesus ever recorded) and these Patristic Citations (Dean John Burgon, for example, collected 96,000 in his lifetime) are they which are part of the vast volume of evidence gathered (by dedicated and competent experts) into the canon of scripture. That which is not included in scripture has been deemed (by those experts) to be unworthy of inclusion because they are, at worst, demonstrably false and harmful or, at best, lack sufficient support to be relied upon.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 14, 2020 at 11:59
  • Hmm, I see. Do you know any other experts who thing parable of empty jar is authentic?
    – curious
    Feb 14, 2020 at 12:08
  • I cannot comment on that myself, not being an expert in the field. I only know that it is not included in the canon of scripture and having a little knowledge of what has been done over the centuries (I am referring to the Textus Recpetus personally) I am content with what has been delivered to me by those whom I trust and respect in that field of knowledge and endeavour.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 14, 2020 at 12:12
  • Asking if any other sayings are "considered" authentic is really just an invitation for opinions. But if this was limited to church fathers from a finite period then that could be answered objectively.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 14, 2020 at 12:20
  • 1
    curiousdanni Well, that is what I am actually asking. Are there any early Church Fathers who quoted something Lord didn't said in the New Testament, but attributed it to Him?
    – curious
    Feb 14, 2020 at 13:20

2 Answers 2


There is a well-researched 2016 article from National Catholic Register Blog addressing precisely your question, which also includes "extra credit" by describing a Catholic framework for evaluating the credibility of "lost sayings" of Jesus: Are There "Lost Sayings" Of Jesus?

The technical term is Agrapha, and the wikipedia entry has candidates for consideration (under the section "Patristic Citations"):

Clement of Rome, First Epistle of Clement, 13: "For thus He spoke: 'Be ye merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you; as ye do, so shall it be done unto you; as ye judge, so shall ye be judged; as ye are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you; with what measure ye mete, with the same it shall be measured to you.'"

Polycarp of Smyrna, Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, 2, "but being mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged; forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you; be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again;' and once more, 'Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.'"

Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 47: "Wherefore also our Lord Jesus Christ said, In whatsoever things I apprehend you, in those I shall judge you."

Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, I, 24, 158: "For ask, he says for the great things, and the small shall be added to you."

Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, I, 28, 177: "Rightly therefore the Scripture also in its desire to make us such dialecticians, exhorts us: Be approved moneychangers, disapproving some things, but holding fast that which is good."

Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, V, 10, 64: "For not grudgingly, he saith, did the Lord declare in a certain gospel: My mystery is for me and for the sons of my house."

Origen, Homily on Jeremiah, XX, 3: "But the Saviour himself saith: He who is near me is near the fire; he who is far from me, is far from the kingdom."

  • Now, this is what I thought that doesn't exist. Thank you:)
    – curious
    Feb 20, 2020 at 17:13
  • @curious Great. If this answers your question you can Accept it, or please let me know if you need me to improve it. God bless! Feb 20, 2020 at 20:03

Here is another example. It's either an allegorical parable or a literal eschatological prophecy of intensely flavored, micro-sized, grapes being giving sentient attributes:

  1. The elders who saw John, the disciple of the Lord, remembered that they had heard from him how the Lord taught in regard to those times, and said,
  2. The days will come in which vines will grow, each one having ten thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand twigs,
  3. and in each true twig ten thousand shoots, and in each shoot ten thousand clusters, and on each cluster ten thousand grapes.
  4. Each grape, when pressed, will give twenty-five measures 9 of wine, and when any one of the holy ones takes hold of a cluster, another will cry out,
  5. ‘I am a better cluster, take me! Bless the Lord through me.’” - From Irenaeus, Against Heresies V 32. Citing Papias, Fourth Book of the Expositions on the Sayings of the Lord. Fragment 4:9-10 have parallel (with slight variations) in Hippolytus, Commentary on Daniel 4.60, which have been woven into the text.
  • Welcome to the site Jess. Could you please add links to your source when you have an occasion. It would improve the quality of your posts.
    – Ken Graham
    Aug 12, 2021 at 21:00
  • Ok, I'll work on it! Right now a lot of my quotes are from books that are not online.
    – Jess
    Aug 13, 2021 at 0:07

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