No religious text has influenced the world more than has the New Testament's Sermon on the Mount, and yet this crucial text still begs to be more clearly understood. Why was it written? What unifying theme or purpose holds it all together? Should it be called a sermon? Or is it some other kind of composition? How would its earliest listeners have heard its encoded allusions and systematic program? This book offers new insights into the Sermon on the Mount by seeing it in the shadow of the all-pervasive Temple in Jerusalem, which dominated the religious landscape of the world of Jesus and his earliest disciples. Analyzing Matthew 5-7 in light of biblical and Jewish backgrounds, ritual studies, and oral performances in early Christian worship, this reading coherently integrates every line in the Sermon. It positions the Sermon as the premier Christian mystery.
’… gives us a fine reading of the Sermon on the Mount that stresses its covenantal and liturgical dimensions.’ Letter and Spirit ’Behind all this lie still more basic questions… These questions, crucial to the acceptability of the author’s thesis, will linger unresolved in readers’ minds. But this will not prevent them from having been alerted by this well-presented argument to new possibilities of interpretation that seem, in some instances, to have much plausibility.’ Journal of Theological Studies 'This book is a welcome contribution to studies which highlight the importance of the Temple at the time of Jesus.' Journal for the Study of the New Testament '… Welch has produced a profoundly erudite and deeply meditative argument for the Temple as the chief referent behind many of the words, phrases, and longer quotations from the psalms and other (chiefly prophetic) Old Testament books that for the first time unifies this otherwise puzzling and disjointed Matthean piece and accounts for the power and authority in the preaching of Jesus over which the crowds marvel immediately afterwards.' Heythrop Journal
Contents: Preface; The quest for a unifying understanding of the Sermon on the Mount; The temple on the mount; Hearing a temple register in the Beatitudes; The creation of a new covenantal relationship; A higher order of righteousness and consecration; Blessings and consequences of righteousness or unrighteousness; Unifying the Sermon with temple themes and ritual theory; Conclusions and further implications; Select bibliography; Indexes.