The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary - eBook
The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary - eBook  -     By: Jonathan T. Pennington
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The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary - eBook

Baker Academic / 2017 / ePub

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Product Information

Format: DRM Protected ePub
Vendor: Baker Academic
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 9781493406630
ISBN-13: 9781493406630

Publisher's Description

The Sermon on the Mount, one of the most influential portions of the Bible, is the most studied and commented upon portion of the Christian Scriptures. Every Christian generation turns 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.

Author Bio

Jonathan T. Pennington (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is associate professor of New Testament interpretation and director of research doctoral studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction and Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew.

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  1. Paul Smith
    1 Stars Out Of 5
    Disappointed
    October 27, 2017
    Paul Smith
    Quality: 3
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    Spoiler alert - this is a minority response, so please consider other reviews.

    To begin, I am extremely apprehensive when someone declares that he/she has discovered a mistake that hundreds of scholars over multiple centuries have failed to notice. So, when Pennington bases his "theological commentary" on his assertion that scholars have mistranslated the words "makarios" and "telios," but that he has discovered a more accurate translation, I am highly dubious. His reasoning for rejecting "blessed" and for substituting "flourishing" are, to me, unconvincing. Perhaps I would be more open to his proposal if he explained in detail what he means by the word "flourish," but he never does. He comes close in the final chapter, but by then I feel it is too little, too late.

    In order to fully accept Pennington's argument you have to accept the proposal that the Greek words "makarios" and "telios" have been mistranslated in the majority of English Bibles. I believe he fails on exactly this point. The biblical concept of "blessing" or "blessed" has a far deeper and richer connotation than the wretched translation "happy," and I fear that for far too many people the synonym "flourishing" is simply another way to communicate the Duck Dynasty concept of the "be happy attitudes" - that Christianity is all about being "happy, happy, happy."

    If you can accept Pennington's proposal - and a great many individuals have - then his "theological commentary" will probably be of great value. For me, however, it was a great disappointment. I believe that Glen Stassen provided a far better handling of the sermon in his "Living the Sermon on the Mount" and Stassen and David Gushee provide a far better treatment of Christian behavior in "Kingdom Ethics." (I note with some dismay that Stassen translates the word "makarios" as "joyful," but he clearly distances the meaning from being "happy.") Having read Stassen, I was perplexed that Pennington references Stassen's work in some footnotes, but never engages Stassen's work interpreting the Sermon. I believe Stassen (following Davies and Allison's magisterial commentary) does a far better job of defending his position vis a vis the "common" or "standard" interpretation of the Sermon (i.e., that it is all about impossible commands). Finally, I also suggest Dietrich Bonhoeffer does a much better job than does Pennington in his book "Discipleship" and in his magnum opus, "Ethics."

    In a more erudite review of this book, a scholar opined that Pennington is NOT a virtue ethicist, but to my (admittedly limited) understanding of virtue ethics, I have to disagree. His constant references to Jesus as continuing the wisdom/virtue ethics of his day convinces me that Pennington is, at least significantly, a virtue ethicist, and I reject the suggestion that Jesus was simply promoting Aristotelian virtue ethics. Perhaps I am misreading Pennington, but at the very least he teeters on the precipice of turning the words of Jesus into just another way to be "happy, happy, happy," or as Pennington would translate, "flourish, flourish, flourish."
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