Matthew 5:1-12


Step I - (Initial) Acquaintance
A. Comparison of English or other published translations

"Blessed are those" (RSV, NKJV, NIV) vs. "God blesses" (NLT, JEA)

significant difference in terms of who is the subject, us or God

Blessed vs. happy (WE, JW)

Happy as overly simplistic, emotional state

B. Greek/Hebrew Textual Criticism

2nd century copyists rearranging v. 4 and 5, to create antithesis between heaven and earth?

Back to blessing

Happiness vs. joy/blessing

Who is active here - God or us?

Receiver of blessing - requires context of relationship

C. One's Own Rough Translation

  1. n/a

Step II - Disposition
A. Genre - How the text says what it says

  1. lyrical - poetic
  2. perhaps used liturgically
  3. pronouncement
  4. Jesus proclaims God's favor

Personal Interaction - Questions and observations

  1. Can you be blessed on your own/alone?
  2. Does "blessing vs. happy" matter as much as "active vs. passive" or "subject vs. object"
  3. This is related to the issue mentioned earlier, in terms of the difference in saying "blessed are those" and "God blesses"
  4. In the latter, God is active; in the former, it's less clear
  5. What does seem clear is that we're the emphasis of the pronouncement, rather that the emphasis being on the faithful relationship to God, which may be the true context of blessing
  6. Why are Jesus' first "public" (on a large scale) words about "blessing"
  7. Possibly because blessing requires relationship and Jesus wants to begin with "invitation" into relationship with newcomers/curious followers?

C. Organization - Where the elements of "B" are located

Step III - Composition
A. Immediate Context - preceding/following pericope

  1. After calling of disciples, Jesus' traveling through region preaching/teaching/healing
  2. Before remainder of Sermon on the Mount
  3. Is this a prologue to the sermon - a preparation for the sermon by first establishing the proper/necessary relationship - introduction?

B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

  1. Matthew's "journeys" - going somewhere
  2. Beginning of sermon as invitational introduction to faith journey

C. Issues of Authorship

Step IV - Context
A. Primitive Christianity

  1. Contrast with Luke
  2. Mount vs. plain
  3. Teachings concentrated in one place/time vs. scattered through Luke
  4. Poor in Spirit (Matt.) vs. literally poor, hungry (Luke)

B. Old Testament and Judaism

  1. Similar to Psalm structurally
  2. Jesus sits, opens his mouth
  3. Similar to Rabbinical traditions

D. Hellenistic World

Step V - Distillation
A. Summary of Salient Features

  1. Blessings and relationships
  2. Before we bless, must we be in relationship?
  3. Can we be a blessing to others - is blessing reserved only for God?
  4. Somehow, I think that to get to the bottom of blessing we have to start with the context of the relationship with God
  5. Is that where Matthew would have us start?
  6. Beginning at the beginning

B. Smooth Translation

  1. n/a

B. Hermeneutical Bridge

  1. Tie together concepts of beginnings - relationships - blessings

Step VI - Contemporary Address
A. Description of Audience

C. Intended Goals for the Address

  1. Expand understanding of blessing to more than just passing pleasantness
  2. Contemplate whether or not blessings can take place in the "vacuum" of no relationship with God

C. Address