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This Sunday’s Gospel – for those of us not blessed with Septuagesima Sunday – is the Beatitudes as presented in the Gospel of Luke – in the context of a Sermon on the Plain, rather than a Sermon on the Mount as in Matthew.
Those of you who have studied or taught anything about Scripture, including these passages, know that one of the things Scripture teachers love to do – especially at non-specialist levels – is to have you compare versions. Compare and contrast the Infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke! Compare and Contrast the telling of the Parable of the Sower! The Transfiguration! The Passion Narratives! The Resurrection Appearances!
Make - Charts - Draw - Conclusions - Evangelists
Make charts! Draw conclusions about each Evangelists’ perspective and intended audience! Jew? Gentile! Mixed!
This is fine. Sure. Hey, I’ve done it. Why do we do it? Besides the fact, of course, that it provides an easy framework for assessment. There’s that. Well – it’s true that the approach does indeed, offer important insights, helps us establish context, and yes – the differences are hard to miss, even for the casual reader – I’m reading about the Nativity in Matthew – wait, where are the shepherds? – but I’ve always had a problem with making that kind of distinction-noting a core of Bible study. It plants seeds of skepticism. It puts the Gospel writer at the center of our consciousness rather than Christ.
Fundamentalist - Readings - Sort - Focus - Center
I’m not arguing for fundamentalist, out-of-context readings. I’m just saying that at least when I was teaching, that sort of focus was the center, even of high school Bible courses, and I don’t think, in the end, it helped students approach Scripture as God’s Word, powerful and effective in their lives.
And as I listened to the Gospel reading yesterday evening, I was reminded of one of my odd ideas, that I...
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