Gandhi's Interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount

Jeremy Holtom

in The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199204540
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Gandhi's Interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount

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The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most commented upon and interpreted biblical passages, yet in a real sense Gandhi's interpretation of it represents a unique and significant point in the reception history of the Bible as a whole. Here we have a Christian scripture being reverently received and dynamically applied by a man who remained all his life a devoted adherent of the Hindu faith. This article argues that Gandhi's particular responses to the concepts contained in the Sermon on the Mount must be understood not only in the context of his dialogue with Christianity, but in the terms of his own Hindu faith as he understood and lived it. His interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount can only be properly understood through analysis of how he applied it in his political campaigns in South Africa and India. In this context it is important to consider what the text meant to Gandhi himself; what it meant to his, at least nominally Christian, opponents; and how it impacted on the struggle and dialogue between them.

Keywords: Sermon on the Mount; South Africa; India; Christianity; Hinduism

Article.  7073 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Christianity ; Hinduism

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