Interpretative strategies for Jesus' Sermon on the mount (Mathew 5-7)

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Abstract

Well-known or much-loved texts can be every bit as daunting for the preacher as the 'hard sayings of Jesus' or long and obscure genealogies. The 'Sermon on the Mount' (Matthew 5-7, 'the Sermon') - particularly the Beatitudes - is well known and much loved. Diligent preparation on Matthew 5 to 7 might induce 'analysis-paralysis' due to either the volume of commentary or the variety of conclusions drawn. Discouraged preachers might (erroneously) conclude there is nothing left to be said! Matthew's account of Jesus' teaching on the Mount, however, provides a glimpse of the earliest Christian interpretation of Jesus Christ. From the Apostle Paul to the bishop-theologian Augustine; from the reformer Luther to the pacifist John Howard Yoder; and from the German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer to the contemporary Baptist peacemaker Glenn Stassen; each generation has found Jesus' imaginative vision of God's kingdom utterly compelling. Each interpreter has suggested a different strategy, however, for applying Jesus' words for the life of Christian discipleship. This essay briefly identifies the strength in each approach and concludes that Jesus' 'enemy-love' best integrates Jesus' teaching and actions with Jesus' death and resurrection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-28
Number of pages7
JournalSt. Mark's review: A journal of Christian thought and opinion
Issue number227
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014

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