Jesus’s Manifesto: The Sermon on the Plain by Roman A. Montero

Forgive/Give ~ digital paint effect

Image by Sharon Tate Soberon via Flickr

by Roman A. Montero
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Oslo, Norway
Roman A. Montero’s blog
May 19, 2019

Originally aired and published by The Beloved Community on KBOO Portland and as a podcast, May 10, 2019.

Roman Montero on May 11, 2019

Interview with Roman Montero about Jesus’s Manifesto on KBOO The Beloved Community 5/10/2019.

Jesus’s Manifesto: The Sermon on the Plain

by Roman A. Montero
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Oslo, Norway
Roman A. Montero’s blog
May 19, 2019

Jesus’s Manifesto: The Sermon on the Plain is my book on Jesus’s thought in the Sermon on the Plain, recorded in Luke 6:20–49, with a foreword written by the great scholar of early Christianity and Christian Origins, James Crossley.

From the back cover:

Jesus’s Manifesto: The Sermon on the Plain is a historical analysis and exegesis of the Sermon on the Plain found in Luke 6:20–49. Going into the historical and literary context of the Sermon on the Plain, it examines how the message fits into the world of Jesus and his audience. Jesus’s Manifesto demonstrates how the Sermon’s ethical injunctions and eschatological message interacted with contemporary ideologies, and how these injunctions were meant to be taken as normative commandments by Jesus in light of his eschatological message. Many have attempted to dampen the ethical teachings of Jesus by trying to relativize them, or by trying to make them compatible with the wider culture and the dominant ideologies; however, when understood in its historical context, the Sermon’s message was not only incompatible with the wider culture and the dominant ideologies, but it stood in opposition to them. Jesus’s Manifesto provides the necessary historical and anthropological tools to fully appreciate the profound and seemingly radical message of the Sermon of the Plain.

Jesus’s Manifesto contributes to our collective knowledge of Christian origins by supplying a close reading of the Sermon on the Plain that proposes the Gospel writer Luke composed a faithful model of the historical Jesus’s sermon. Montero’s discussion of the Sermon’s historical context is equally impressive and educative.”

—Edgar G. Foster, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Lenoir-Rhyne University

“Roman Montero has adopted the position—outlandish for most Christians down the ages—of taking Jesus at his word on matters of wealth, poverty, justice, and political order. For those who would prefer a morality consisting chiefly in personal continence, but making no demands upon their comforts and privileges, nothing could be more subversive or threatening. And yet no unprejudiced reader of this book can truly doubt that it captures something essential to the moral beauty of the gospel.”

—David Bentley Hart, University of Notre Dame

“Montero’s book is not simply another exposition of the ‘sermon’ of Jesus, but an exploration of how Jesus’ ethical teachings compare and contrast with those of major influential figures from the Greek world like Aristotle and Plato, as well as their connections to Israel’s ethical traditions as articulated by figures such as Isaiah and the rabbis of the Mishnah. The result is a powerful historical portrait of Jesus as a teacher in conversation with his contemporaries (as well as the past and longstanding cultural values), offering a radical vision for a community that has love as the ‘central organizing principle’ of its values and its practices.”

—James F. McGrath, Butler University

An additional endorsement:

“Roman Montero, the author of All Things in Common: The Economic Practices of the Early Christians, now goes a step backwards in the history of Christianity. He turns to the core of Jesus’s ethical teachings to investigate the purpose of these ethics within his eschatological horizon. Montero has researched his topic extensively and systematically attempts to dive into the contemporary major ethical systems of both Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds. He succeeds in making his book easy to read, while he provides the required bibliographical support for the more demanding reader.”

—Pavlos D. Vasileiadis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

See also:

Luke 6:20-49

from the archives:

Happy Birthday to Jesus, the Anti-Imperialist Socialist! by The Anti-Social Socialist

The Early Christians and the Military by Roman A. Montero

Roman A. Montero: Early Christian Communism

Jesus and the Abolition of the Courts by Roman A. Montero

Roman A. Montero: Jesus Was A Communist

Jesus against Hillel on Usury by Roman A. Montero

The Early Christian Communists by Roman A. Montero

The Gospel of Luke

12 thoughts on “Jesus’s Manifesto: The Sermon on the Plain by Roman A. Montero

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  4. Jesus lived in a time when people had already been practicing hierarchy and property for 10,000 years, so those two institutions were deeply embedded in the worldwide culture of everyone but a few isolated indigenous tribes. For anyone in the worldwide culture to depart from hierarchy and property was a very radical idea.

    That’s part of what I’ve been saying in my writings lately. Progressives today believe they can practice hierarchy and property “in moderation,” without being corrupted by those institutions. I think they are mistaken. I think hierarchy and property are more corrosive than people in our present culture realize, and moreover the “moderation” is unstable: People who acquire power (in hierarchy and/or property) can and generally do use it to acquire more.

    Of course, I also disagree with Jesus about some things. He was using a promise of heaven as a motivator for good behavior. Modern sociologists have found that rewards for good behavior do not actually motivate good behavior; all rewards encourage is the desire for more rewards. Alfie Kohn is a good writer on this subject.

      • Yes, I also believe this. What made Jesus’ teachings and the behaviors he modeled so radically different (and therefore so threatening to the religious establishment), was his rejection of outer expressions of power. The kingdom Jesus encouraged his followers to embrace was an inner one made real through outer expressions of love, compassion and concern for others, especially in relation to the “least among us” as well as enemies. Not through violence or force or vengeance, nor through economic or military power (capitalism/imperialism) ~ which are the tools empires and rulers of empires depend upon to achieve and maintain power over others.

        Been lurking here for a while now. Just wanted to say thanks for the wide range of (alternative) articles, perspectives and videos on offer in support of peace, social justice, and truth-tellers.

        Thanks also to Roman.

    • With all respect, Jesus did not promote a “do good and go to heaven” ethic, the kingdom of God was meant to be a transformation of the earth and an overthrowing of the powers both cosmic and earthly.

    • I am not a historian; I have no expertise here. I will not speculate about what the historical Jesus actually said, or tried to say. But it is my impression that the hoi polloi, the masses, most people who call themselves “Christians,” believe that heaven is a reward for good behavior. They believe that you should be kind to your neighbor, not because you actually care about your neighbor, but because that’s how you get a ticket to heaven. The tickets each say “admit one (and only one)”; the ticket says nothing about bringing your neighbor along. Thus heaven, like money, actually turns out to be another way to separate you from your neighbor. Not in my mind, but (I think) in the minds of most “Christians.” I would say that this is one of Jesus’s greatest mistakes, but I am not talking about the historical Jesus, the one that scholars think they have figured out. I am talking about the mythological Jesus, the one that many non-scholars believe in.

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