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

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195137330

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195137337.001.0001

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You Have Heard . . . But I Say to You . . .

You Have Heard . . . But I Say to You . . .

(p.57) Three You Have Heard . . . But I Say to You . . .
What Did Jesus Mean?

Anna Wierzbicka (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter is devoted to the great antitheses of the “Sermon on the Mount” and tries to identify, in simple words, the meaning of some of Jesus’ key sayings, including “whoever is angry with his brother. . . ,” “whoever divorces his wife. . .,” “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her,” “let your yes be yes, and your no, no,” “turn the other cheek,” and “love your enemies.” By relying exclusively on simple and universal human concepts, it manages to identify Jesus’ teaching in all these areas more clearly and unambiguously than do commentaries relying on complex and culturally shaped concepts like “coveting,” “lust,” “aggression,” “violence,” “nonviolence,” “resistance,” “retaliation” or “submission.” For example, the chapter shows how Jesus’ injunction to “turn the other cheek” is compatible with self‐defense or defense of other people. It also shows how Jesus’ injunctions differed from that of the stoics and the cynics, with which it has often been confused in recent scholarly literature, and it brings into sharper focus the originality of Jesus’ ethical teaching.

Keywords:   lust, nonviolence, originality of Jesus’ ethical teaching, resistance, self‐defense

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