Friday, August 10, 2007

"And this is what he had to say..."

Tod Lindberg's new book, The Political Teachings of Jesus, might well be suspect as an effort to recruit Jesus in support of a partisan or ideological agenda. But it isn't. It is, rather, a very interesting effort to discern the principles found in places like the Sermon on the Mount, and what the implications have been, and are, for society. The quotation below is from the first chapter of the book, titled "The Beatitudes," and leads into a discussion of that portion of the Sermon. Much of that chapter has been made available online here, at the Policy Review site.
One finds in these passages of Matthew a sense of mounting excitement: Jesus began preaching and drawing crowds - and this is what he had to say. The Sermon on the Mount has long been rightly understood as both the starting point and a summation of Jesus's teaching. No less than with regard to his religious teaching, the Sermon on the Mount is also the foundation and the first concise summary of the political teaching of Jesus.

The Beatitudes provide a dizzying commentary designed to turn upside down the political and social world of the Roman Empire of Caesar Augustus and of the Jewish religious elite of Judea and Jerusalem. This is the opening move of a more drastic and fundamental reassessment of political and social affairs, applying not only to its own time but to all future times, down to our day. More still: It points to the increasing fulfillment in this world of the promise of the human condition as such and of the struggle against vast and daunting but not insurmountable obstacles that such fulfillment will require.
Hoover Institution - Policy Review - What the Beatitudes Teach

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