Vantage Point: Using Narrative and Discourse Analysis of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount to Improve Discipleship Outcomes
Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Steve Dangaran, PhD
Roger Nam, PhD
When the narrative and discursive aspects of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (SOTM) are divorced from their cultural and rhetorical context, traditional historical-critical methods of exposition miss important contextual applications. Originally delivered as a live discourse to an audience of first-century Jews, the text and circumstances of the SOTM are recorded in Matthew 5-7 by one of Jesus’ followers as an embedded discourse within the larger framing narrative of the first gospel.
However, the dynamics of interactive discourse are quite different than what contemporary readers experience with printed text on a page. Absent that live exchange and its embedded cultural and rhetorical context (both Jewish and Rabbinic), it is easy to miss key truths and applications, thereby reducing our ability to see its counter-cultural implications for today. The inevitable result is that church attenders become more knowledgeable about the Bible and its words, but have difficulty appreciating its countercultural applications and applying its counter-cultural message to their lives.
The Sermon on the Mount is replete with meanings and implications which would have been self-evident to the original audience but which are not necessarily clear to later readers apart from a careful analysis of their rhetorical significance by analyzing the interplay of the recorded discourse, the rhetorical context, and the narrator’s focalization of it. Using insights from Bakhtinian dialogism, perspectives from semiotics and communication methods, and tools from narratology and discourse analysis, this dissertation re-engages those cultural and rhetorical insights to enable pastors and teachers to discern its counter-cultural message, and ultimately to resolve the disconnect between believers’ lifestyle (discipleship) & Jesus’ expectations. Since our hermeneutical methods potentially shape our teaching and preaching, this research analyzes the core and essence of Jesus’ most important teaching to consider important ramifications for how we communicate discipleship and holiness expectations today.
Swisher, David J., "Vantage Point: Using Narrative and Discourse Analysis of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount to Improve Discipleship Outcomes" (2017). Doctor of Ministry. 238.