Jesus’ most famous sermon, recorded in Matthew chapters five through seven, is often quoted. However, there is much diversity among its various interpretations. The reasons for this variety are many and complex. Still, I believe that a better grasp of the historical background of the Sermon can help us to sift through the different approaches to its interpretation.
I’ve never really enjoyed the book of Esther. I’m not exactly sure why that is. Maybe it’s because I haven’t heard any teaching on it outside of children’s Sunday school. My daughter suggested that it’s because of the Veggie Tale version (Warning to all parents: Apparently the tickle torture in it creates lifelong nightmares in some children). The bottom line is that I’ve just never “gotten” it . . . until this week.
While the exegetical and theological practices of the Church Fathers differ in many ways from that of moderns, it must be remembered that the inspired word of God was still the core of their teaching. Their writings and preaching evidence a desire to both explain the text in the context of the Church, and to demonstrate how the theology of the Church informs how one reads Scripture.
I know the reality of ministry and the number of directions one gets pulled, but considering all of the time, energy, and money spent to learn Greek, I am determined to retain what I’ve learned.
Approaching these texts from an oral perspective honors the oral nature of the society from which the gospels emerged. They were written at a time when fewer and fewer eyewitnesses were alive to validate the oral traditions of the gospel accounts. The gospels represent the solidification of these traditions into a written form, preserving the accounts for future generations.