World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Beatitudes

James Tissot, The Beatitudes Sermon, Brooklyn Museum, c. 1890

The Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Each is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative, "cryptic, precise, and full of meaning. Each one includes a topic that forms a major biblical theme".[1] Four of the blessings also appear in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke, followed by four woes which mirror the blessings.[2]

The term beatitude comes from the Latin noun beātitūdō which means "happiness".[3][4][5] In the Vulgate (Latin), the book of Matthew titles this section Beatitudines, and "Beatitudes" was anglicized from that term.

Each Beatitude consists of two phrases: the condition and the result. In almost every case the condition is from familiar Old Testament context, but Jesus teaches a new interpretation.[6] Together, the Beatitudes present a new set of Christian ideals that focus on a spirit of love and humility different in orientation than the usual force and exaction taken. They echo the highest ideals of the teachings of Jesus on mercy, spirituality, and compassion.[2][6]

Contents

  • Biblical basis 1
    • Matthew 1.1
    • Luke 1.2
  • Analysis and interpretation 2
  • In other religious texts 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Biblical basis

While opinions may vary as to exactly how many distinct statements into which the Beatitudes should be divided (ranging from eight to ten), most scholars consider them to be only eight.[4][5] These eight of Matthew follow a simple pattern: Jesus names a group of people normally thought to be unfortunate and pronounces them blessed.[2]

Matthew

Plaque of the Eight beatitudes, St. Cajetan Church, Lindavista, Mexico

The eight Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–12 during the Sermon on the Mount.[4][5]

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. (5:3)
Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted. (5:4)
Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth. (5:5)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (5:6)
Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. (5:7)
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God. (5:8)
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God. (5:9)
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:10)

In verses 5:11-12, the eight Beatitudes are followed by what is often viewed as a commentary—a further clarification of the eighth one with specific application being made to the disciples. Instead of using the third-person plural "they", Jesus changes to second-person "you":[1]

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

R. T. France considers verses 11 and 12 to be based on Isaiah 51:7.[7]

The Beatitudes unique to Matthew are the meek, the merciful, the pure of heart, and the peacemakers.[6] The other four have similar entries in Luke, but are followed almost immediately by "four woes".

Luke

The Eight Beatitudes. Folio from Walters manuscript W.171 (15th century)

The four Beatitudes in Luke 6:20–22 are set within the Sermon on the Plain. Verse 20 introduces them by saying, "and he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said"

Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.
Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.

Luke 6:23 ("Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.") appears to parallel the text in Matthew 5:11-12, which reads, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you".

The four woes that follow in Luke 6:24–26[4]

Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

The fourth "woe" in verse 26 may be parallel to the commentary in Matthew 5:11-12. These woes are distinct from the Seven Woes of the Pharisees which appear later in Luke 11:37-54.

Analysis and interpretation

Church of the Beatitudes, the traditional location for the Sermon on the Mount

Each Beatitude consists of two phrases: the condition and the result. In almost all cases the phrases used are familiar from an Old Testament context, but in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus elevates them to new levels and teachings. Together, the Beatitudes present a new set of ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction. They echo the highest ideals of Jesus' teachings on spirituality and compassion.[6]

The term "the meek" would be familiar in the Old Testament, e.g., as in Psalms 37:11.[8] Although the Beatitude concerning the meek has been much praised even by some non-Christians such as Mahatma Gandhi, some view the admonition to meekness skeptically. Friedrich Nietzsche in On the Genealogy of Morals considered the verse to be embodying what he perceived as a slave morality.[9]

In Christian teachings, the Works of Mercy, which have corporal and spiritual components, have resonated with the theme of the Beatitude for mercy.[10] These teachings emphasize that these acts of mercy provide both temporal and spiritual benefits.[2][5] The theme of mercy has continued in devotions such as the Divine Mercy in the 20th century.[11]

The term peacemakers has traditionally been interpreted to mean not only those who live in peace with others, but also those who do their best to promote friendship among mankind and between God and man. St. Gregory of Nyssa interpreted it as "Godly work", which was an imitation of God's love of man.[5][10] John Wesley said the peacemakers 'endeavour to calm the stormy spirits of men, to quiet their turbulent passions, to soften the minds of contending parties, and, if possible, reconcile them to each other. They use all innocent arts, and employ all their strength, all the talents which God has given them, as well to preserve peace where it is, as to restore it where it is not.'[12]

In other religious texts

In the Book of Mormon, a religious text of Mormonism, Jesus gives a sermon to a group of indigenous Americans including statements very similar to Matthew 6 and evidently derived therefrom:[13]

Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit 'who come unto me,' for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (3 Nephi 12:3).[14]
And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled 'with the Holy Ghost' (3 Nephi 12:6).[14]

The Bahá'í Lawḥ-i-Aqdas contains the statement:

Blessed the soul that hath been raised to life through My quickening breath and hath gained admittance into My heavenly Kingdom.[15]

The Qur'an quotes the Bible only in Q:21:105 which resembles Psalm 25:13 referred to in Matthew 5:5; but the Qur'an uses "righteous" rather than "meek".[16] The Qur'an (e.g., "say the word of humility and enter the gate of paradise") and some Hadith (e.g., "My mercy exceeds my anger") contain some passages with somewhat similar tone, but distinct phraseology, from the Beatitudes.[17]

The Bhagavad Gita and the traditional writings of Buddhism (e.g., some of the Mangala Sutta) have been interpreted as including teachings whose intentions resemble some of the messages of Beatitudes (e.g., humility and absence of ego), although their wording is not the same.[17][18]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d
  5. ^ a b c d e
  6. ^ a b c d
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ Wesley, J., 'Upon Our Lord's Sermon On The Mount: Discourse Three' (Sermon 23) http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-23-upon-our-lords-sermon-on-the-mount-discourse-three accessed 11 October 2015
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^

References

  • Easwaran Eknath. Original Goodness (on Beatitudes). Nilgiri Press, 1989. ISBN 0-915132-91-5.
  • Kissinger, Warren S. The Sermon on the Mount: A History of Interpretation and Bibliography. Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 1975.
  • Twomey, M.W. "The Beatitudes". A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature. David Lyle Jeffrey, general editor. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992.

External links

Beatitudes
Preceded by
First disciples of Jesus
Gospel harmony
Events
Succeeded by
The Antitheses
in the Sermon on the Mount
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.