last revised: 1/20/00

Literary Structures

Third Person:
Blessed are2 ___________________________Subject Designation3
  'Because' Clause4
Second Person:
Blessed are ___________________________(You)
  'Whenever' Clause5

Jewish Literary Types

Wisdom Beatitude:
This type can occur in either of the above person forms. The distinguishing feature of this type of beatitude is that the verbs in both the main clause and the dependent clause(s) will be in the present tense. Therefore the emphasis in the beatitude is in this life while living on the earth. Many, many such beatitudes are found in the Jewish wisdom literature both inside and outside of the canonical Old Testament. Within the Old Testament most of these (45 in all) are found in the Book of Proverbs and the Psalms. For examples see Prov. 8:34, Pss. 40:4; 127:5. Within the New Testament see Matt. 11:6 (// Luke 7:23); 13:16 (// Luke 10:23); 16:7; Luke 11:27-28; 12:37-38; 23:29; John 13:17; 20:29b; Rom. 14:22b; 1 Peter 3:14a; 4:14; Rev. 1:3
Eschatological Beatitude:
This type can occur in either of the above person forms, though mostly with the Third Person form. It is distinguished from the Wisdom Beatitude above by its focus on the future judgment and coming of the Kingdom of God. This is primarily reflected in the use of the future tense verb in the causal (hoti) clause statement. This form begins appearing in Jewish literature during the interbiblical period when there arose a tremendous emphasis upon the coming of the Messiah. Some faint anticipation of this form can be found in a few instances in the Old Testament; see Isa. 30:18; 32:20; Dan. 12:12. Typical of the interbiblical period of this kind of beatitude are those found in 1 Enoch 103:5; 2 Baruch 10:6-7 etc. Sometimes in this literature the beatitudes are grouped together with its counterpart, the pronouncement of woe in the manner in which Luke 6:20-26 follows. For additional examples of this Eschatological Beatitude beyond the Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament see Matt. 24:46-47 (// Luke 12:43-44); Luke 14:14-15; Rom. 4:7-8 (quote from Ps. 32:1-2); James 1:12; 1:25; Rev. 14:13.

1For helpful introductory discussion of the beatitude with additional bibliographic sources, see Robert A. Guelich, The Sermon on the Mount. A Foundation for Understanding (Waco: Word Books, 1982), 63-66. Also see Lorin L. Cranford, A Study Manual of the Sermon on the Mount (Fort Worth: Scripta Publishing, Inc., 1988), 21-38.

2In the Greek, makarioi.

3The subject designation defines the prerequisite condition necessary for the pronouncement of blessedness to come to pass in the life of the individual.

4The "because" [Gk., hoti] (causal) clause sets forth the foundation upon which the prouncement of blessedness rests. In so doing, it defines the scope of the state of blessedness. Usually there is also an antithetical emphasis to the condition set forth in the Subject Designation. Sometimes this causal statement is omitted.

5The "whenever" [Gk, hotan] (indefinite temporal) clause sets forth the condition which the individual(s) must meet before the prounouncement of blessedness can take place in the individual(s) life. This takes the place of the Subject Designation in the Third Person form of the beatitude. A substitude clause which may show up is the conditional (ei, ean = 'if') clause. See John 13:17. The meaning is very close to the temporal hotan clause.