Beatitudes Meaning and Structure

The Beatitudes meaning and structure relies upon extraordinary geometry that may provide seekers and students with additional insight. Mathew’s Beatitudes and Luke’s Sermon on the Plain contain some of the most beautiful passages in the New Testament. When we diagram the patterns of Yeshua’s words and phrases, the Beatitudes reveal even more information. We are blessed with a glimpse of the pure genius of Christ—the mind of the Son of God.

Beatitudes Meaning and Structure: Matthew vs. LukeView/Download PDF »        Compare the Texts »

The Geometry of Unconditional Love

A while back I sought a way to determine if a gospel text or recently unearthed manuscript could be said to hold the actual words of Jesus Christ. I diagrammed the geometric structure of several gospel texts, including the Beatitudes. My hope was to identify the Savior’s literary ‘fingerprint.’ I cannot claim to have discovered a provable theorum. But I gained even more appreciation for the Beatitudes and the sheer brilliance of Yeshua of Nazareth.

Many of Christ’s sermons and parables utilize geometric word structures called chiasmus.[1] ‌Chiastic structure makes a text easy to remember and repeat to others. Forward and backward redundancy preserves the meaning of the concepts over centuries of translation. But in my drawings, the geometric structure of the Beatitudes within Luke and Matthew’s texts is very different. What additional truth might be gleaned from this?

Beatitudes meaning and structure reveals eternity.

Each version of the Beatitudes illustrates a different view of eternity. In Mathew we witness stasis: a state of unchanging Blessedness. Contrarily, Luke presents a map of the kingdom that is eternal, but adaptable and subject to change. Together these texts provide a clearer picture of the goal, and Yeshua’s advice on how to reach it.


Chiastic Structuring Primer

Beatitudes Meaning and Structure - Chiastic Structuring

Chiastic structuring is a literary technique used by Christ and other NT authors. A common structure includes two ideas, (A) and (B), together with variants (A) and (B). The wisdom is presented to the reader as ABBA. Continuous, or ring structure occurs when the opening and closing A completes a circle. Example:

(A) Whoever exalts himself (B) will be humbled,
(B) whoever humbles himself (A) will be exalted.

Matthew 23:11-12

To view the Beatitude’s structure, we employ an arch, or keystone technique to identify the condition, outcome and guiding principle(s) of the Gospel texts. From this we can create a geometric view of the entire text at a glance. In the case of the Beatitudes, both texts show 8-sided geometry. This suggests the original author might the same (Jesus Christ). It should also be noted that in Christian numerology, the numeral 888 represents Jesus.[2] ‌


Gospel of Matthew — Sermon on the Mount

Beatitudes meaning & structure - the chiastic geometry of Matthew

The continuous ring structure of Matthew reveals a perfect state of Blessedness. The text contains a set of target concepts to help us attain the state necessary to enter the eternal kingdom of God. For how long can one maintain perfection? So what happens if and when the outcome of our struggle leaves us rich in spirit, no longer hungry or mourning? In this event, would we still be “Blessed”?

Gospel of Luke — Sermon on the Plain

Beatitudes meaning & structure - the chiastic geometry of Luke

Beatitudes meaning and structure in Luke addresses this question. Over time, we shall invariably become “full.” People will praise our goodness. Kingdom seekers must transcend these obstacles at all cost, and continually work to remain hungry. Using both Blessed and Woeful conditions, Luke’s contrasting “X” chiasm depicts a practicable eternity, in which the disciple strives to overcome similar obstacles at ever-higher states of being.

Which one is the real deal?

Which Beatitudes are the Son of God’s? This is likely not the proper question. There is another difference in the texts. Jesus Christ rarely delivers a sermon with only one level of meaning. A single sentence from the Messiah easily gives rise to pages of commentary. Matthew’s view is indeed beautiful and perfect. His text forms a very powerful image. Luke’s structure addresses the ever-ascending nature of spiritual growth. Whenever we gain a new truth or understanding, the same lesson presents again, from another angle, at the next higher level. Yeshua knows our pysche inside out. The Master’s teachings target both our inner saint and sinner.


Beatitudes meaning and structure present in Sheep & Goats.

Parable of the Sheep and Goats[3] contains a contrasting ‘X’ chiasm identical to Luke’s Sermon on the Plain. Here we find both woeful and blessed conditions. Matthew’s use of both types of chiastic structure may suggest that two versions of the Beatitudes were originally delivered by Christ. The currently accepted idea is that each author tailored Beatitudes meaning and structure to suit vastly different congregations. Sheep and Goats shows six conditions as opposed to the Beatitudes’ eight; one possibility may be that the parable is a restatement of Christ’s concepts by Matthew himself.

— Andrew Michael


Footnotes
  1. Chiastic Structuring, an Introduction. (NewTestamentResearch.com)
  2. Dudley, Underwood (1997). Numerology: Or What Pythagoras Wrought, MAA Spectrum, Cambridge University Press, p. 105, ISBN 9780883855249.
  3. Chiastic structure in The Sheep and The Goats. (Matthew 25)

 

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