Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

The Sermon on the Mount & James

Posted by Jim F. on November 16, 2007

James Lucas has put together my summary of Arthur Bassett’s comparison of the Sermon on the Mount and James, on the one hand, and Jack Welch and John Hall’s material from Charting the New Testament, and he has added a few comments of his own. The result is an excellent comparison: Sermon on Mount & James.

4 Responses to “The Sermon on the Mount & James”

  1. cherylem said

    Jim,
    This is very interesting. Why the similarity? What does this say about the origin of both documents?

  2. JWL said

    It is reasonable to assume that Jesus gave the teachings contained in the Sermon on the Mount on more than one occasion (for at least one other instance see the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6). If the tradtional attribution and date of the Epistle to James the brother of Jesus in the decade of the 40s CE is correct, we may have in the Epistle a formulation of these teachings which precedes that written in Matthew’s Gospel.

    This does not mean that Matthew’s recital is inaccurate. It would only mean that Matthew and James are reflecting Jesus’ teachings as heard on different occasions. The Gospels tell us that Jesus’ family did not immediately accept Jesus’ ministry, so James might not have been present at the Sermon on the Mount and instead received the teachings on other later occasions.

    What is most interesting is that the teachings in the Epistle do not track the Sermon on the Mount in either wording or order but are in agreement as to substance. This makes it unlikely that either the Epistle or the Gospel were written sources for each other. However, it also makes it likely that both authors were the recipients of orginal instruction in the substantive principles from Jesus. My take-away from this is that the Epistle serves as an example of incorporating the meaning of Jesus’ teachings into our own lives and manner of expression rather than simply reciting by rote the words of one particular formulation, as beautiful as it is in Matthew’s account.

  3. cherylem said

    Thanks JWL!

  4. Jim F. said

    JWL, thanks. You’ve said more than I could have, and it is helpful. I especially like your “take-away.”

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