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What is the difference between 'The Plain' and 'The Mount?'

Did you know…

…that the Beatitudes we hear in this week's gospel from Luke are different than the one's in Matthew? The authors of Matthew and Luke both have Jesus' public ministry start off with a big block of teaching. In Matthew that big block is referred to as the "Sermon on the Mount." In Luke's gospel, rather than go up a mountain to do his teaching, the author of Luke says that Jesus stood on "a level place," and so this big block of teaching in Luke is referred to as the "Sermon on the Plain." Both of these important teaching scenes begin with Beatitudes (i.e. blessings). It is interesting, though, to note the differences between the two. Here are the Beatitudes from Matthew's gospel:

Matthew 5:3-12 (NRSV)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The author of Luke presents these Beatitudes slightly differently:

Luke 6:20-26 (NRSV)

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you[d] on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for

surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.

“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

It is always interesting, when the gospels share stories or teachings, to see how they are presented differently by different authors. What are the main differences you see between these two sets of teachings? Why do you think Luke includes 'woes' rather than just 'blessings' in this week's gospel reading? What is significant about the differences in the ways these two authors present this teaching?

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