John Dominic Crossan
Unlike his peers in the Jesus Seminar for which he was co-chair, Crossan considers this saying to be authentic and locates it within Jesus engagement in a social program that involved sending his followers out to announce and implement the "open secret" by offering forgiveness and healing in exchange for hospitality and meal. (See Historical Jesus, esp. pp. 332-53)
International Q Project
IQP reconstructs the original Q saying as follows:
He said to his disciples: The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
So ask the Lord of the harvest to dispatch workers into his harvest.
The following passages were all voted Black by the Seminar:
The commentary in [The Five Gospels] suggests that the Fellows voted this saying black for the following reasons. First, the theme of harvest is commonly an eschatological interest, and not something typical of Jesus. Secondly, the saying was judged to come from the early Christian movement where missionary activity was common.
The Seminar's view that Jesus was not an apocalyptic prophet seems to have skewed its capacity to recognize any eschatological element in Jesus' sayings and acts, despite the central place given to the imperial rule of God. Unlike Crossan's more carefully nuanced position (see, for example, Birth of Christianity, 239-89) that distinguished between apocalyptic eschatology, ascetical eschatology, and ethical eschatology, the Seminar as a whole seemed unable to integrate an eschatological dimension into their view of Jesus. As noted above, Crossan also located the missionary activity of the earliest Jesus communities in the conscious social program of Jesus as an indigenous healer.
Lüdemann [Jesus] (164) judges the saying to derive from the early community and not from Jesus.