2014-09-08

The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew’s (not Jesus’) Creation

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

I’m continuing here with John Drury’s analysis of the parables in the Gospels.

Anyone paying attention to the previous posts (What Is a Parable? and Jesus Did Not Speak In Parables – the Evidence) knows that the meaning of “parable” in the Gospels derived from its usage in the Septuagint (Greek) Old Testament. It could range from riddles and metaphorical sayings through to allegorical narratives.

According to Drury Matthew’s special teaching contains four themes:

  • Christian discipleship,
  • Judaism (in relation to the Church),
  • Eschatology
  • and Christology.

This post highlights his emphasis on discipleship and what is required to be a good follower of Christ. His concerns are the spiritual and moral virtues of the members of the Church. This comes through most loudly in the Sermon on the Mount; the parables of the lost sheep, of the two debtors, of the labourers in the vineyard, of the marriage feast, and more. (From Drury, Parables in the Gospels: History and Allegory)

Salt

After the Beatitudes that open the Sermon on the Mount Matthew tells us that Jesus drew an analogy with salt:

5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men. (All Bible quotations from KJ21)

Matthew has taken this salt simile from Mark 9:49-50

49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost his saltness, with what will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”

  • Mark’s “everyone shall be salted with fire” alludes to persecution and Matthew’s saying on salt segues from the Beatitude speaking of persecution of Jesus’ followers.
  • Matthew strips away the obscurity and awkwardness in Mark’s saying: “Have salt in yourselves” is transformed into a less cryptic phrase that is more clearly pushing one of Matthew’s constant themes, discipleship: “You are the salt of the earth”.
  • Another idea uppermost in Matthew’s mind (it recurs frequently throughout his gospel as the finale of parables) is the casting out of evildoers in the day of judgement and here he adds it to Mark’s saying: “Good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot”.

The evidence for Matthew’s sayings of Jesus being an adaptation of Mark’s is strong.

Light

Matthew’s metaphor of light follows: Continue reading “The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew’s (not Jesus’) Creation”


2007-08-09

Victimhood and the Sermon on the Mount

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

There is another more subtle way that the Sermon on the Mount has the potential to cripple true believers psychologically. (I have already addressed the self-absorbed, fear-driven, irresponsible submissiveness that its supposedly noble teachings actually promote.) Some of its most exalted sayings are really guidelines for anyone taking them seriously to go through life playing the victim game. (But firstly, I am well aware that there are two types of victims: there truly are those who have been cruelly victimized, but there are also many who find the victim game an alternative to getting on with more positive and productive mentality. Unfortunately few among one of those types can tell the difference.)

Blessed are the poor, the mourners, the meek, the merciful, the pure . . . . Continue reading “Victimhood and the Sermon on the Mount”


2007-08-06

The questionable ethical standard of the Sermon on the Mount

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Why is the Sermon on the Mount so often upheld as the ultimate in ethics? Surely we have progressed ethically in 2000 years. Continue reading “The questionable ethical standard of the Sermon on the Mount”