Luke 6:22-23 ~ Mt 5:11-12
The Beatitude for the Persecuted
This is the last of the nine Matthean Beatitudes which open the Sermon on the Mount,, and the last of the four Lukan Beatitudes which open the Sermon on the Plain. The IQP Critical Edition renders its text of their reconstruction of the Q version of this passage as follows (compare the respective Mt and Lk versions which are given following):
IQP. Blessed are you when they insult and [persecute] you and [say every kind of] evil [against] you because of the son of humanity.  Be glad and [exult], for vast is your reward in Heaven. For this is how they [persecuted] the prophets who <were> before you.
- Mt 5:11 (ASV): Blessed are ye when [men] shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.
- Lk 6:22 (ASV): Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you [from their company], and reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.  Rejoice in that day, and leap [for joy], for behold, your reward is great in Heaven, for in the same manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
Comment. The chief points at which Mt and Lk differ are marked in bold. The two are essentially similar, and imply general antagonism toward the Jesus community, but of them, Mt implies greater severity ("persecute you"). Further, Mt ("against you") seems to envision false accusations at law, whereas Lk ("separate you") seems to have in mind social shunning. Luke is closer in tone to James 1:2 and 1:12, but readers of this comment may not have seen the page where it is argued that James is an early Christian exhortation. As things stand with just these two passages, and assuming increasingly severe persecution of the Jesus communities, Matthew might be said to reflect a slightly later situation. That is at best a gossamer indication, but if we include the previous three Lukan Beatitudes, which are probably part of the same problem, it becomes obvious that Luke refers to real poverty ("poor") and suffering ("hunger"), whereas Matthew has consistently spiritualized the situation ("poor in spirit," "hunger and thirst after righteousness"). Mk thus seems to be adapting a consolation of the poor to the needs of a socially wider audience. In the Beatitudes taken together, then, we would have a strong probable Lk > Mt directionality.
Authenticity. This Beatitude is likely to refer to the fortunes of the Jesus community after Jesus's death (the only question is, how long after), and to that extent is unlikely to be a saying of Jesus. It is advice, and indeed consolation, offered to the later churches, and was probably invented for that purpose.
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