"A diligent and carefully argued exercise in the historico-critical method, Hans Dieter Betz' Essays present the Sermon on the Mount (SM) as a pre-Matthean composition coming from a Jewish-Christian community engaged in the polemical process of constructing an identity vis-a-vis mainstream Jewish (Pharisaic) groups on the one hand and emerging Gentile Christianity on the other. It is this process that prompts the SM compiler(s) to rethink and rework the inherited Jesus tradition. Since the first appearance of the Essays in 1985 - the classic Hermeneia commentary on the SM by the author would be published in 1995 - they have remained essential reading for students of the New Testament and its Hellenistic and Jewish settings. Today, the exciting new ways of reading the Sermon suggested in Betz' seminal work continue to inform our search for a fuller and clearer grasp of the multi-faceted and dynamic world of nascent Christianity, as well as the ongoing quest for the historical Jesus." -Serge Ruzer Hebrew University of Jerusalem "The perspective that unifies these essays is the assertion that the Sermon on the Mount should be recognized and studied as an independent composition that was compiled prior to its incorporation into the Gospel of Matthew. . . . Betz argues that the Sermon on the Mount is an epitome, that is, a condensation of the teachings of Jesus, collected for the purpose of brevity and precision. Such a genre was useful, because it encouraged a follower or disciple to keep the teacher's entire system in mind." -Theology Today HANS DIETER BETZ is Professor Emeritus of New Testament at The Divinity School, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of the Hermeneia.
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