Dec 31, 2009

Bailey on the Beatitudes

Concerning the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–12 and Luke 6:20–26, Kenneth Bailey notes the following

1. Luke presents four pairs of blessings and woes. Matthew has nine blessings. Persecution is prominent in each collection.

2. Bless-ed refers to a spiritual condition of divinely gifted joy already present, not a requirement to be fulfilled in order to receive a reward.

3. In the light of Isaiah's usage, the "poor in spirit" are the humble and pious who seek God. The kingdom of God is theirs.
4. God will comfort the bless-ed who mourn.
5. To deny suffering or to find it darkly entertaining are both wrong.
6. Suffering can become a doorway to profound wisdom.
7. The house of mourning can make the heart glad.
8. The righteous mourn over injustice and do not succumb to compassion fatigue.
9. The righteous mourn over their own sin and are comforted.
10. For Jesus, "the land" meant the land of Israel, and only the meek had rights of inheritance, not the violent or the members of a particular clan. The text expanded in the later church to include the whole earth.
11. The meek are those who humbly seek God. They are neither too bold nor too timid.
12. Being meek is in harmony with being angry over injustice inflicted on others.

Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2008), 74–5.

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