The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most influential portions of the Bible. It is the most studied and commented upon portion of the Christian Scriptures, with every Christian generation turning to it for insight and guidance.
In this volume, a recognized expert on the Gospels shows that the Sermon on the Mount offers a clear window into understanding God’s work in Christ. Jonathan Pennington provides a historical, theological, and literary commentary on the Sermon and explains how this text offers insight into God’s plan for human flourishing. As Pennington explores the literary dimensions and theological themes of this famous passage, he situates the Sermon in dialogue with the Jewish and Greek virtue traditions and the philosophical-theological question of human flourishing. He also relates the Sermon’s theological themes to contemporary issues such as ethics, philosophy, and economics.
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“‘Beatitudes are description, and commendations, of the good life.’23 As prophet and sage, Jesus is offering and inviting his hearers into the way of being in the world that will result in their true and full flourishing now and in the age to come.” (Page 144)
“The argument of this book is that the Sermon is Christianity’s answer to the greatest metaphysical question that humanity has always faced—How can we experience true human flourishing? What is happiness, blessedness, šālôm, and how does one obtain and sustain it? The Sermon is not the only place in the New Testament or whole Bible that addresses this fundamental question. I would suggest that this question is at the core of the entire message of Scripture. But the Sermon is at the epicenter and, simultaneously, the forefront of Holy Scripture’s answer.” (Page 14)
“Namely, the Sermon is offering Jesus’s answer to the great question of human flourishing, the topic at the core of both the Jewish wisdom literature and that of the Greco-Roman virtue perspective, while presenting Jesus as the true Philosopher-King.” (Page 36)
“A macarism is a makarios statement that ascribes happiness or flourishing to a particular person or state. A macarism is a pronouncement, based on observation, that a certain way of being in the world produces human flourishing and felicity.” (Page 42)
“One can only flourish fully as a human when one is in a covenantal relationship with the creator God, which includes both ancient notions of what it means to flourish and a necessary orientation to God’s revelation.” (Page 50)
When it comes to the Sermon on the Mount, many scholars find it difficult to comprehend the Sermon, let alone to make a contribution to the history of Christian thinking about it. Pennington has accomplished both, baptizing this great collection of Jesus’s teachings into the wisdom tradition of human flourishing and virtue ethics. Even where I disagree with Pennington, I have learned from his logical and clear case for the Sermon as a summons to human flourishing. This book will prove to be an exceptional classroom tool as well as a preacher’s steady resource.
—Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary
Is there need for another book on the Sermon on the Mount? Yes, because few others combine the strengths, clarity, pathos, and insight of this one. It is rooted in wide reading across many centuries and traditions. It takes full measure of the range of methods available to shed light on the passage. It is alert to personal transformation as a justified aim in reading. It is balanced, hermeneutically informed, and academically grounded without failing to be pastorally useful as well as theologically responsible. The closing chapter powerfully synthesizes the book’s frequently fresh and always provocative findings. Readers of all stripes will benefit from interaction with Pennington’s expositions and sometimes painfully honest wrestlings.
—Robert W. Yarbrough, professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
Jonathan Pennington’s reading of the Sermon on the Mount is a remarkable piece of work: erudite, careful, balanced, and fresh. Grounded in meticulous historical exegesis but shaped by a distinctive sensitivity to theological hermeneutics, the book succeeds in proclaiming what is often undersold in our evangelicalism--the goodness of the good news by which we come to flourish.
—Grant Macaskill, Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis, University of Aberdeen
In this insightful volume, Jonathan Pennington brings his expertise in the Gospels (and Matthew in particular) to bear on the theological masterpiece that is the Sermon on the Mount. Pennington finds in the Sermon an ‘eschatological, Christ-centered, kingdom-oriented piece of wisdom literature,’ whose unified theme is the goal of human flourishing. I found Pennington’s careful exegesis and balanced conclusions thoroughly convincing.
—Mark L. Strauss, Bethel Seminary San Diego
Dr. Jonathan T. Pennington is the associate professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He also served as a visiting professor at Southeastern Seminary, as well as the Institute of Biblical Studies in Orlando, Florida and Melbourne, Australia.
He earned a BA in history and his teaching certificate from Northern Illinois University, and his MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he also taught Greek for two years as an NT fellow. For five years, he also served as the associate pastor at the Evangelical Free Church of Mt. Morris in northern Illinois.
He holds a PhD in New Testament studies from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland (in St. Mary’s College), where he wrote his thesis, “Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew,” under the supervision of professors Richard Bauckham and Philip Esler. Dr. Pennington is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Tyndale Fellowship (Cambridge), the Institute for Biblical Research, and the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies. He’s published a variety of articles, reviews, and Greek and Hebrew language tools, as well as books like Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew (Brill),Cosmology and New Testament Theology (T&T Clark), and Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction (Baker Academic).