working together for the future of faith
(2a) 1Q: Luke 6:20 = Matt 5:3
(2b) PolPhil 2:3e
(3) James 2:5
(1) Thom 54
Jesus said, "Congratulations to the poor, for to you belongs Heaven's domain." [Complete Gospels]
(2) The Beatitudes
(2a) 1Q: Luke 6:20 = Matt 5:3
Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
= Matt 5:3
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
(2b) PolPhil 2:3e
"Wherefore, girding up your loins," "serve the Lord in fear" and truth, as those who have forsaken the vain, empty talk and error of the multitude, and "believed in Him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave Him glory," and a throne at His right hand. To Him all things" in heaven and on earth are subject. Him every spirit serves. He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead. His blood will God require of those who do not believe in Him. But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness; "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing," or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching: "Judge not, that ye be not judged; forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you; be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again; and once more, "Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God." [ANF]
(3) James 2:5
/1/ My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? /2/ For is a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, /3/ and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," /4/ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? /5/ Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters, has not God chosen the poor of the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? /6/ But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? /7/ Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? [NRSV]
48. Blessed the Persecuted
59. Blessed the Sad
96. Blessed the Hungry
366. Blessed the Meek
389. Bless the Pure
390. Blessed the Peacemakers
Beatitudes in Jewish and Christian texts
John Dominic Crossan
Stratum: I (30-60 CE)
Common Sayings Tradition: Yes
Crossan treats this saying [Historical Jesus, 270-74] as part of a longer discussion of the divine commonwealth as a "Kingdom of Nobodies." In classic style, Crossan begins:
It is hard to imagine a saying more initially radical ... and thereafter more safely relegated to the confines of normalcy if not banality.
Crossan draws on Aristophanes, Plutus, as the classic text for the distinction between Poverty (penian) and Beggary (ptocheias). The goddess Penia rejects the blurring of distinction between poverty and beggary, insisting:
But the life I allot to my people is not,
nor shall be, so full of distresses.
'Tis the beggar (ptochou) alone who has nought of his own,
nor even an obol possesses.
My poor (penetos) man, 'tis true, has to scrape and to screw
and his work he must never be slack in;
There'll be no superfluity found in his cot;
but then there will nothing be lacking.
[cited in Historical Jesus, 271]
Aristophanes might create a goddess known as Poverty, the divine personification of the deserving and hard-working poor, and so quite properly opposed to the leisured laziness of the idle rich, but he created no goddess known as Beggary, gave no apotheosis to Destitution. That is, however, exactly what Jesus did. He spoke, in shocking paradox, not about a Kingdom of the Poor but about a Kingdom of the Destitute. ... The beatitude of Jesus declared blessed, then, not the poor but the destitute, not poverty but beggary. ... Jesus spoke of a Kingdom not of the Peasant or Artisan classes, but of the Unclean, Degraded, and Expendable classes.
Crossan concludes his discussion with observations about the "almost synonymous" remaining beatitudes: 59 Blessed the Sad [1/3], 96 Blessed the Hungry [1/2] and 48 Blessed the Persecuted [1/3]:
I judge that Jesus said, speaking no doubt from his own experience, something like "Blessed are the abused and rejected," and the early communities said, speaking from their own increasingly dangerous situations, "Blessed are the persecuted." As John Kloppenborg put it, having paralleled that beatitude's acceptance of social abuse with similar Cynic experiences, "those who proclaim, 'Blessed are the poor' will find themselves hated and reviled."
The International Q Project reconstructs the original Q saying as follows:
And [rais]ing his [eyes to] his disciples he said,
"Blessed are <you> poor, for God's reign is for you."
Color Thom 54 3 Q, T 85StM 83 10 0 7 0.90 Red 3 Q, T 86ND 20 56 20 4 0.64 Pink Luke 6:20 3 Q, T 85StM 87 7 0 7 0.91 Red Luke 6:20b 3 Q, T
32 48 20 0 0.71 Pink Matt 5:3 3 Q, T 85StM 23 60 0 17 0.63 Pink 3 Q, T 86ND 0 44 40 16 0.43 Gray PolPhil 2:3b 3 Q, T 86ND 12 44 32 12 0.52 Pink
The commentary in The Five Gospels (p. 290) notes:
The Fellows of the Seminar were virtually unanimous in their view that Jesus is the author of the first three congratulations. They were also convinced that the Lukan versions of those addressed to the poor, the weeping, and the hungry are more original.
Samuel T. Lachs
Lachs [Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament, 70-72] offers several comments informed by rabbinic traditions:
... it is still more likely that Matthew made the term 'the poor' more precise, by the addition of 'in spirit'; than that Luke deleted the latter, although, as we indicate in the text, 'the poor' and 'the poor in spirit' have the same connotation.
The expression 'poor in spirit,' which would be aniye ru'ah, is not found either in the MT or in rabbinic literature. The Qumran War Scroll, 1QM XIV, however, has the reading v'aniye ru'ah in the statement, 'blessed be the Lord God of Israel ... giving ... vigor to the shoulders of the bowed ... And [...] to the lowly spirits, firmness to the melting heart.' The poor, Gr. hoi ptochoi, is either the Hebrew aniyim or the Aramaic anaya. the Hebrew ani is represented 38 times in the LXX by ptochos. There is a third possibility—that it is anaw, 'humble,' for in the MT there is great confusion between ani and anaw.
In Judaism of the last two centuries BCE the term was practically a synonym for hasid, 'pious' or 'saintly' in the best senses. So, for example, Pss. Sol. 10.7 'The saints also shall give thanks in the assembly of the people and God will have mercy on the poor in the (days of) gladness of Israel.
Poverty in Jewish thinking is not in itself a virtue or a virtuous state, nor is the poor man considered to be happy or fortunate because of his poverty. Here, too, in Matthew, the poor are not happy because they are poor but because the Kingdom of Heaven awaits them. Poverty, however, can be instructive, challenging, and sobering as a test of character.
In discussing Luke's version of this saying, and the Beatitudes in general, Luedemann [Jesus, 297] concludes:
The earliest stratum of the beatitudes goes back to Jesus. This judgment is based on two observations: (a) the beatitudes form a much longer series in Matthew and there consist of ten individual blessings (Matt. 5.3-12); here we can already note processes of growth within the tradition (cf. Matt 5.7-9). (b) Luke 6.22/Matt 5.11-12 (cf. Thomas 68.1) are focused on the situation of the post-Easter community and are clearly of later origin.
[After a paragraph on the "spiritualization of the beatitudes in Matthew" (but note the contrasting view by Lachs above) he continues:]
Around the historical nucleus we have two rings of expansions in Q (vv. 22-23) and the expansion by Luke himself (vv. 24-26), neither of which, like the introduction (v. 20), has any claim to historicity. By contrast the criteria of growth, offensiveness and difference support the historicity of vv. 20b-21.
Meier argues for the dependence of Thom 54 on Matthew and Luke [Marginal Jew II,333]. This is one element of his extended treatment of the beatitudes (pp. 317-336).
Meier's use of possible linguistic parallels from Qumran is a classic example of the maximalist use of scanty evidence. Compare his "However, it must be noted that 'poor in spirit' or a close equivalent is found more than once at Qumran." (p. 321) with the more measured tone of the details at n. 121 on p.380.
On balance, Meier concurs that the Lukan form of this saying is most likely closer to the original forms of the tradition than Matthew's list with its "tendency to spiritualize, moralize, and generalize the beatitudes."
Muslim Jesus Traditions
Tarif Khalidi [The Muslim Jesus] provides the following traditions relevant to this cluster. While there are no direct parallels, they provide evidence that early Muslim traditions included memories (possibly sourced from Christian traditions brought into early Islam by converts) of Jesus as someone with a distinctive attitude to the poor.
/13/ Jesus said, "There are four [qualities] which are not found in one person without causing wonder: silence, which is the beginning of worship; humility before God; an ascetic attitude toward the world; and poverty." [8th C]
/37/ God revealed to Jesus: "O Jesus, I have granted you the love of the poor and mercy toward them. You love them, and they love you and accept you as their spiritual guide (imam) and leader, and you accept them as companions and followers. These are two traits of character. Know that whoever meets me on Judgment Day with these two character traits has met me with the purest of works and the ones most beloved by me. [mid-9th C]
/49/ Jesus used to prepare food for his followers, then call them to eat and wait upon them, saying: "This is what you must do for the poor." [mid-9th C]
/70/ No word spoken to Jesus was dearer to him than "that poor man." [mid-9th C]
/75/ The Israelites chided Jesus for his poverty. He said to them, "Wretched people, you have been led astray by riches. Have you ever seen anyone who disobeyed God in seeking poverty?" [mid-9th C]
/94/ [Jesus said:] "At the end of time, there will be religious scholars who preach abstinence but do not themselves abstain, who encourage yearning for the afterlife but do not themselves yearn, who forbid visits to rulers but not themselves desist, who draw near to the rich and distance themselves from the poor, who recoil from the lowly and fawn upon the mighty. They are the tyrants and the enemies of the Merciful God." [late-9th C]
/105/ Jesus said, "As God is my witness, the world has not dwelt in the heart of a servant without his heart attaching itself to three things in it: labor, whose burden is never alleviated; poverty, which cannot be surmounted; and hope, which cannot be fulfilled. The world is both a pursuer and a thing pursued. It pursues him who seeks the afterlife until his term of life comes to an end, whereas the afterlife pursues him who seeks this world until death comes and seizes him by the neck." [late-9th C]
/245/ Jesus said, "I have two loves—whoever loves them loves me, and whoever hates them hates me: poverty and pious exertion." [early-12th C]
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