I Remember Now ~ The Beatitudes In Aramaic, An Introduction, ~ Pastor Tim Tengblad Post 34

I’m looking forward to this next series of 9 posts on the Beatitudes, as they come to us in the Aramaic.

The Beatitudes are well known and dear to so many. Which I’ve always found a bit surprising. What I mean is this: The word Beatitude comes from the Latin word beati which means blessed or happy. It also comes from the Hebrew word esher. Esher means to be happy, but also to advance, to make progress, to go forward.

In the English translation many are familiar with, the beatitudes come across as a very strange recipe for happiness in Matthew 5: 1-12). The other gospel the Beatitudes are found in is the much shorter version in Luke 6: 20-22. Also a strange prescription for being blessed. Hmmm. Let me see here. You mean to say Jesus, that I’m blessed or the path to happiness is:

being poor (Luke 6: 20) or poor in spirit (Matthew 5: 3)

mourning (Matthew 5:4) or weeping (Luke 6: 21)

being meek (Matthew 5:5)

being hungry (Luke 5: 21)

and being persecuted, and having people utter all kinds of evil against me falsely in your name? (Matthew 5: 10,11) and Luke 6: 22).

“That’s your idea of being blessed or happy? I don’t think this is going to go over very well, Jesus.” And it really hasn’t.

Yes, we like some of the beatitudes in Matthew 5 that are so tender and compassionate: ”Blessed are the pure in heart”, or “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy”, or “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God”

But, if we were to be honest, very few of us want to live most of them. 

And I believe the reason is this: They are too hard! Too hard to live. And the reason they are too hard is that if we ever try and actually live them, we try and do so from our ego. We treat them as a spiritual accomplishment. It’s like we’re saying, “OK. I’m going to go out there and really try and live these hard teachings, And if I pull them off (to any degree), I’ll feel good about myself. Really spiritual.”

The beatitudes are found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. And the first thing to notice about the Beatitudes is that they precede hard to live teachings of Jesus. And that is an important way to look at them. In Matthew they precede often difficult teachings that are called “The Sermon On The Mount.” (Matthew 5-7)

Why is that important? Because we can then see them for what they are. They show us the way. Which is beyond the ego. They are the foundation to stand on, and to live from. They show us what it takes. They show us what enables a person to grow into living the difficult teachings that follow them in Matthew 5-7. Teachings like:

”You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ (something  that makes perfect sense to the ego).  “But I say to you ‘Do not resist an evildoer. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” (Matthew 5:38,39)  Or

””You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ (also beautiful music to the ego). But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Say what?

In Luke, the beatitudes are the foundation for  some hard teachings of Jesus that follow about loving your enemies and not judging.

Because the Church has called it “The Sermon on the Mount”, it sounds as if all these teachings in Matthew 5-7 were spoken all at one time. But in order for us to have access to all he said during that one time, there would have had to be a person frantically taking it all down on parchment. That’s highly unlikely. “Jesus, I didn’t quite get all of that ‘an eye for an eye’ part. Could you say that again? Maybe talk a little slower?”

No. The Beatitudes came to the Western world via the Greek language. Because of the Greek tense in which the “Sermon” is written in, it’s quite clear that these teachings (beatitudes) were things Jesus repeated over and over again in many settings.

Why is that significant, and why this series on the Beatitudes in Aramaic? For this reason: because the Beatitudes and the teachings that follow were short teachings that he repeated over and over, we can see how important they were to him. 

The beatitudes also wonderfully communicate an important spiritual Truth. That spiritual Truth often comes as paradox.  They seem to be just the opposite of what makes sense. They are counter intuitive. But they are only counter-intuitive to the ego, and how our minds are conditioned to work by this world. An ego which knows nothing of the Truths Jesus is offering us.

However, they are not counter intuitive to the soul. The soul innately and perfectly knows the Truth of what Jesus is talking about. And it is to that, I believe, Jesus was speaking.

Before we begin, let me share a funny story about the Beatitudes. I know, “yet another funny story about the Beatitudes?”, you’re saying. “If I had a nickel for every funny Beatitude story I’ve heard…” Anyway…

Several years ago I was at what is traditionally believed to be the site where Jesus taught this “Sermon on the Mount”. And yes, it is a big hill, in a hilly area near the Sea of Galilee. I had some free time, so I thought it would be great to sit down and read the Beatitudes and the rest of the “Sermon”. I opened up my Bible and the Beatitudes were gone! Not in my Bible. I couldn’t figure it out, and then I realized and remembered why. Shortly before that, back in the States, I had cut out the Beatitudes from this copy of the Bible, for a talk I was giving. Why I did that I have no idea.

So there I sat Beatitudeless on the site where all this was supposed to have happened. The only part missing in the whole Bible that I had with me! I just laughed. “Only you Tim”, and tried to remember as much as I could.

Anyway, let’s remember what the soul already knows, and begin with Part 1….

Pastor Tim Tengblad

I welcome your story, comments, or questions         timtengblad@comcast.net






Tim Tengblad

Read my Bio in Post 1