Karen Swallow Prior has an insightful article about “red-letter Christianity”—a movement that gives hermeneutical priority to Jesus’ words (the so-called “red letters”) over the rest of the words of scripture. Her bottom line says it all:
All of the words of Jesus come through the narrators of the Bible. If the black letters of the narrators are reliable, so too are the red letters of Christ. If the narrators are unreliable, however, then the words of Christ they convey are untrustworthy as well. The only way to the red letters is through the black letters.
It’s a really helpful article dealing with the question from a literary perspective. Read the rest here.