Matthew 5:1 & Luke 6:17 - A sermon on the mount or plain?

Matthew 5:1 states that Jesus went up on a mountainside and began to teach. Yet the parallel account in Luke 6:17, states that Jesus went down to a level place or plain. The two accounts appear to contradict each other. However, the translation "up on a mountainside" is too narrow a rendering of the underlying Greek phrase. The word translated "mountainside" can also refer to hilly country in general (In fact the 1978 edition of the NIV translated this same phrase in Matthew 14:23 and 15:29 as "into the hills"). Therefore, Jesus did not so much as go up onto a mountain but went into a hilly region (ie. the hill country west of the Sea of Gallilee). In addition, although the word translated "level place" or "plain" in Luke 6:17 occurs only once in the New Testament, it commonly refers to a plateau in mountainous regions. The same word is used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) in Isaiah 13:2 and is translated "bare hilltop." Therefore, as with all apparent contradictions in the Bible, there is really no contradiction at all!


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