“The Sermon on the Mount” is as well known as “The Ten Commandments”. Both show us how we can live in peace in this world with God and man and ourselves. The two do not stand against each other, but just here it becomes clear how the Old and New Testaments shake hands. I won’t go into a comparison, because anyone who knows “The Ten Commandments” will immediately notice the parallels. The Jew Jesus was a child of his time, that means he has quasi absorbed the Old Testament “with his mother’s milk”. But Jesus did not uncritically swallow the religiousness of his time, but critically questioned the Jewish tradition, thus his own, and exposed its core. The question about the highest commandment, he answers with (Mk 12: 28ff):
Love God and love your next.
Jesus reduces the Jewish tradition to the essentials because he knows the essence of God, who he calls his father, and embodies him as his son. That is of course already a statement of faith that has arisen from my study of the biblical texts.
I studied theology over 20 years ago. I honestly admit, that meanwhile I have difficulties to understand the complicated language of theology. I noticed this when I was engaged in the theological literature. When I quote a book, that doesn’t mean that I agree with everything the authors write there. I don’t want to get involved in a theological discussion either, my time is too precious for that. With this book I do not want to place myself in the theological specialist world, but simply to reflect how I understand the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount for today.
Isn’t it a paradox? Jesus spoke to ordinary people, and we think we have to read 100 books first to understand their essential statements. Through my long theological abstinence, I have almost regained a lay understanding of the Sermon on the Mount, and am now convinced again, the theologians may now smile, that the Bible, if you read it with an open heart, is in its essential meaning understandable even without theology. Even if you are not reading this book, and you are studying the Sermon on the Mount without prejudice, it will greatly add to your life. (Volker Schunck)