In his Epistle to the Corinthians, usually dated about AD 95, Clement of Rome made an important reference to the “Gospel,” which was the central message that the apostles had received from Jesus Christ himself and had passed on to their hearers (42). On other occasions, Clement cited various teachings of Jesus which are found in all three synoptic Gospels, introducing them as “the words of the Lord Jesus” and “His hallowed words” (13) or as “the words of Jesus our Lord” (46).

Here we have an early, first century reference either more generally to the teachings of Jesus or to the text of one or more of the canonical Gospels themselves, which were recognized in either case as the words of Jesus.