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Biblical Studies

Literal When Possible: The Sermon’s Earliest Reception

Literal When Possible: The Sermon’s Earliest Reception

In 1978, Robert M. Grant argued persuasively that the earliest Christians read the Sermon on the Mount as “literal when possible,” regarding them as commands to be obeyed. Grant’s excellent Semeia chapter, buried in an older volume, is a bit hard to find for the average reader. As we look at the reception history for the Sermon on the Mount,…

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The Devil’s Masterpiece

The Devil’s Masterpiece

In the history of interpretation, few passages have spawned more theories and garnered less agreement than the Sermon on the Mount. One commentator said the history of scholarship on the sermon might be called “Versions and Evasions of the Sermon on the Mount.”[1] For this reason, Luther memorably named the interpretive confusion “the devil’s masterpiece”: Christ here deliberately wanted to oppose…

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Conversation Partners For Reading The Sermon

Conversation Partners For Reading The Sermon

Before we dive into the history of interpretation on the Sermon on the Mount, let me introduce you to my main conversation partners. READING THE BIBLE WITH THE DEAD (Who, Though Dead, Yet Speak) Clement of Alexandria (150-215): Stromateis Book 4, Chapter 6. Tertullian (160-220): Four Books Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter XIV. Origen (184-253): Commentary on Matthew & On First…

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Calling All Neurotics

Calling All Neurotics

I am ready to leave the “introductory remarks” to the Sermon the Mount, and begin the second phase of our study: a deep dive into the scholarly background and history of interpretation. But one last introductory post is needed. Since I have argued that the Sermon on the Mount paints a new vision, sets out a new lifestyle, and invites…

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The Cost Of Apprenticeship

The Cost Of Apprenticeship

Allow me to take stock of where we are.  To help us get our bearings, I am introducing some key “starting points” for understanding the Sermon on the Mount. First we saw that happiness is found in Jesus Christ, but involves a radically different way of seeing the world (and ourselves). Christ came to offer abundant life–the life of the…

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A Change Of Desire

A Change Of Desire

Lord my desire is to be like you To say the things you say, and do the things you do O, help me hear your still voice through all the other noise So that I can be just what you want me to be. – Randy Butler In his book The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard helps set the table for…

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New Things To Love

New Things To Love

“What do you want?” These are the first words of Jesus in the Gospel of John (John 1:38). What a challenging question! And to you and me, the reader, he asks it again and again–in a number of ways. To a man in need of sight (Mk 10:51; Lk 18:41), and to disciples who struggled with spiritual vision (Mt 20:32;…

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Life With A Capital ‘L’

Life With A Capital ‘L’

“A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:13 MSG). The good life. We all want it. But we don’t know where to find it. The greatest temptation, to borrow from the Ballad of Jed Clampett, is…

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The Complete Art Of Happiness

The Complete Art Of Happiness

[Today I begin a series of blog posts reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount. I am spending the summer reading this fascinating and challenging text for three reasons: 1) to prepare for my Christian Ethics course this fall, 2) to prepare for a Sunday night sermon series at Cloverdale, and 3)…to be fully transparent…to resist the forces of culture…

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My Favorite Online Lessons (6): Biblical Text

My Favorite Online Lessons (6): Biblical Text

BIBLE SURVEY Craig Koester, Luther Seminary (20 OT & Intertestamental; 10 New Testament) Biblical Studies lecture series (with some very good presenters) Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ Bible Studies (led by Austin Grad School of Theology professors) George B. Caird, New Testament Theology lectures, University of Oxford (1979-1983). OLD TESTAMENT TEXTS NEW TESTAMENT TEXTS Gospel of Matthew Craig Keener series…

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