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What Did Jesus Mean?
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What Did Jesus Mean?: Explaining the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables in Simple and Universal Human Concepts

Anna Wierzbicka


This book explores the meaning of Jesus’ key sayings and parables from a radically new perspective – that of simple and universal human concepts, found in all languages. Building on modern biblical criticism in general and the vast literature on the Sermon on the Mount and the parables in particular, the author also brings to the task a close knowledge of recent developments in linguistics, anthropology, and cultural psychology. Her explanations of “what Jesus meant” build on her work as the author of many books on cultural diversity and the universals of language and thought.

Keywords: Jewish prophetic speech, linguistic semantics, originality of Jesus’ ethical teaching, prophetic Drohrede, universal human concepts

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2001 Print ISBN-13: 9780195137330
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003 DOI:10.1093/0195137337.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Anna Wierzbicka, author
Australian National University
Author Webpage