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Biblical Studies

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

“Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling.” — Augustus Montague Toplady “Blessed are the poor in spirit” is Matthew’s version of our Lord’s sermon; Luke has simply “Blessed are the poor.” When we lack financial resources, people say we are “needy” and “broke.” When we lack spiritual resources, people says we are “needy” and “broken.”…

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Reading the Beatitudes 2: Helpful Tips

Reading the Beatitudes 2: Helpful Tips

“The Beatitudes of Jesus…are among the literary and religious treasures of the human race…We can savor them, affirm them, meditate upon them, and engrave them on plaques to hang on our walls. But a major question remains: How are we to live in response to them?”—Dallas Willard[1] 12 Helpful Tips For Reading The Beatitudes 1. The Beatitudes seek to fulfill…

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Reading the Beatitudes 1: Hope AND Summons

Reading the Beatitudes 1: Hope AND Summons

“Boussuet remarked that the Sermon on the Mount was a summary of the entire Gospel, and the beatitudes a summary of the Sermon…Here the entire moral teaching of the Gospel is subsumed together with the complete art of Christian living … All the reality of man and God, seeking one another in a world that is capable of the best…

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The Pinnacle of Hope: Ascending the Mountain (Mt 5:1-2)

The Pinnacle of Hope: Ascending the Mountain (Mt 5:1-2)

“So therefore let us too run up to the upward path, so that we may come with Isaiah to the pinnacle of hope, and see from a vantage-point those good things which the Word shews to those who accompany him to the height.”–Gregory of Nyssa[1] When Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) described the first two verses of Matt 5 as a “brief…

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11 Helps In Reading The Sermon on the Mount

11 Helps In Reading The Sermon on the Mount

“[W]e inevitably interpret the Sermon on the Mount for our own time and place. We are neither ancient Jews nor ancient Christians. We do not live within the first-century world of Jesus or Matthew or share in their culture or participate in their forms of government. We live rather in the age of capitalism, democracy, secularization, and technology—modern realities that…

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Beyond the Binaries: A Return To Wisdom And Virtue

Beyond the Binaries: A Return To Wisdom And Virtue

“The Sermon must once again become a basic text and primary source of moral theology, ahead of the Decalogue, natural law, or an assemblage of norms or rights established by pure reason. In the face of the rationalism of our times, this demands of us an audacious faith in the solidarity of the Gospel, both at the intellectual and at…

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Biblical Criticism And The Sermon: “Literal” As Problematic

Biblical Criticism And The Sermon: “Literal” As Problematic

Students today wishing to do graduate study in religion will often find “theology” and “biblical studies” to be two different options, on two different tracks. It is fairly standard these days to ask a professor whether she is a “biblical scholar” or a “theologian.” There is a long answer as to why this is so, and I would love to…

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Protest And Dissent: Reformers Read the Sermon on the Mount

Protest And Dissent: Reformers Read the Sermon on the Mount

What have we learned so far? The earliest Christians read the Sermon on the Mount as “literal when possible.” “Literal” implies a preference for seeing the sermon as injunctions to be obeyed; “when possible” shows a recognition that the sermon does contain some portions which are not to be taken in a literal way. This reading took place within a larger…

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The Middle Ages: Virtue, Vice, Mendicants, & Moral Manuals

The Middle Ages: Virtue, Vice, Mendicants, & Moral Manuals

The church of the first three centuries offers up a reading of the Sermon on the Mount that is “literal when possible.” Jesus offers—to all who hear–commands to be obeyed, but joyfully with anticipation, as part of a larger vision of transformation (through virtue) into a greater and greater likeness of God. Near the end of the fourth century, a…

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Not Problematic…Paradigmatic: Later Patristic Readings

Not Problematic…Paradigmatic: Later Patristic Readings

“Broadly speaking, in the patristic period, both in the East and West, the Sermon was not perceived as problematic. Quite the contrary, the Sermon was seen as paradigmatic and foundational to understanding Christianity itself.”—Jonathan Pennington[1] Daniel Harrington and James Keenan render a service to us all by helping bridge the gap between moral theology and New Testament studies. In their…

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