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chronology, rethinking, textual criticism

What happened to the sermon on the mount in the gospel of Luke?

It’s interesting to note how Luke takes various portions of the “Sermon on the Mount” and scatters them all throughout his gospel. What Matthew presents as a single message spoken by Jesus on a hillside in Galilee (see Matt. 5-7) Luke relates as coming from the Lord at many different times and places (see Luke 11:33-36, 12:22-34, and 14:34-35, for instance).

The casual reader of scripture may never notice this, as I didn’t for a number of years. It’s the kind of thing textual critics love to point out, though, making Luke’s discrepancy with Matthew out to be one more reason why we can’t believe much at all of what the Bible says to be true or factual.

This is hardly the case, in my opinion. In the event of the sermon on the mount, at least, I believe it’s taking too narrow of a view to demand that it be an “either/or” kind of scenario. Far more likely that it was “both.” What do I mean? Well, I can see Jesus saying everything he said in Matthew 5-7 in a single setting on a hill in Galilee, and I can see him echoing those exact sentiments-even saying the same exact things-at various other times in his ministry as well. And why not? Have you ever known a teacher of any sort who did not repeat himself-especially his very best material-many times before various audiences?

It’s only logical if you think about it, and quite commonplace. No discrepancy whatsoever. Just another case of two different guys writing their own respective accounts of an incredible man bringing an incredible message.

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About Joshua

Writer, husband, father, friend.

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