The Sermon On The Mount: Its Wisdom Affinities And Their Relation To Its Structure -- By: Gary A. Tuttle

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 20:3 (Sep 1977)
Article: The Sermon On The Mount: Its Wisdom Affinities And Their Relation To Its Structure
Author: Gary A. Tuttle


The Sermon On The Mount: Its Wisdom Affinities
And Their Relation To Its Structure

Gary A. Tuttle*

One area of Biblical studies in which scholars have exercised themselves recently is concerned with the relationship of the OT wisdom corpus to other portions of the Hebrew canon. The lion’s share of attention has been paid the major prophets,1 though the minor prophets have received a fair share,2 while OT narrative literature has not suffered from neglect.3 nor have extracanonical books.4 Aspects of wisdom literature and the NT have received attention.5 Some work

*Gary Tuttle is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Near Eastern languages and literatures at Yale University.

has been done on the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5–7),6 but apparently nothing that connects the wisdom features to the structure of the discourse. It is this relation we seek to elucidate in this paper.

There can be no doubt that in its present redaction the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew is presented as having a didactic character. The narrator’s introduction (5:1–2) and conclusion (7:28–29) cast the sermon in a didactic framework. The passages read:

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:…

And when Jesus finished these sayings the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

In both cases it is said that Jesus “taught,” and the intervening material is clearly characterized as “teaching.” In prospect and retrospect the sermon is construed as having a didactic function. Such a view motivates an inquiry into the character of this didactic literature and what relation, if any, exists between it and other didactic literature, notably Israel’s wisdom literature. It is our purpose to show not only that features typical of Israel’s wisdom are pervasive in the sermon but that the final call to attention and obedience in 7:24–27 is a wisdom speech and contains a key to the structure of the sermon.

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