An insightful critique of “Red Letter Christianity”

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.


  • Don Johnson

    The idea that the so-called Red Letters of what Jesus said and what he did not say (really what is not recorded) somehow form a canon within the canon is false from the premise. One reason is one cannot really tell in all cases where what Jesus says ends, there were no quote marks so it is a matter of interpretation in some cases where a quote ends. So the “Jesus canon” Is not even well defined.

    The other point about what (supposedly) Jesus did NOT say (really what is not included in what he said) is that Jesus was Jewish and furthermore was declared to be without sin. This means quite a few things about what is not recorded him as saying, because it implies he believed the Tanakh and correctly interpreted it and lived it. This means he did not need to say a lot of things, it was just implied. It also means that some text in the NT about Jesus cannot contradict the Tanakh is another point, but I will just mention that here.

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.