096 Commentary

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This page forms part of the resources for 096 Blessed the Hungry in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

Crossan Inventory | 096 Literature | 096 Parallels | 096 Commentary | 096 Poetry | 096 Images


See also: 043 Blessed the Poor | 048 Blessed the Persecuted | 059 Blessed the Sad | 366 Blessed the Meek | 389 Blessed the Pure | 390 Blessed the Peacemakers

John Dominic Crossan

Crossan treats this saying as part of a longer discussion Historical Jesus (270-74) of the divine commonwealth as a "Kingdom of Nobodies." As Crossan considers 059 Blessed the Sad [1/3], 096 Blessed the Hungry [1/2] and 048 Blessed the Persecuted [1/3] to be "almost synonymous" with 043 Blessed the Poor, see the notes at that item for his views.


The International Q Project reconstructs the original Q saying as follows:

"Blessed are <you> who hunger, for <you> will eat <your> fill.

Jesus Seminar

The commentary in [The Five Gospels] (290) notes:

The Fellows of the Seminar were virtually unanimous in their view that Jesus is the author of the first three congratulations. They were also convinced that the Lukan versions of those addressed to the poor, the weeping, and the hungry are more original.

Samuel T. Lachs

Lachs [Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament] (74-75) offers several comments informed by rabbinic traditions:

The Lukan parallel ... deals only with physical hunger; the "now," however, strengthens the eschatological aspect of "shall be satisfied," perhaps implying a messianic banquet.
Matthew has reworded the original, adding "thirst," possibly influenced by Isa 55.1, Amos 8.11, or Sira 24.21; ps 42.3, 107.9, all of which take "hunger" and "thirst" metaphorically, the object of which is righteousness, Matthew's second addition. Clearly "thirst" is an addition.
There is no rabbinic parallel to this beatitude but the following seems to be of the same genre: "R. Tanhum b. R. Hanilai said: 'Whoever starves himself for the sake of the words of Torah in this world, the Holy One, blessed be He, satisfies him in the world to come, as it is written, they feast on the abundance of thy house, and thou givest them drink from the rivers of thy delight [Ps. 26.9].'"

Gerd Luedemann

In discussing Luke's version of this saying, and the Beatitudes in general, Luedemann [Jesus] (297) concludes:

The earliest stratum of the beatitudes goes back to Jesus. This judgment is based on two observations: (a) the beatitudes form a much longer series in Matthew and there consist of ten individual blessings (Matt. 5.3-12); here we can already note processes of growth within the tradition (cf. Matt 5.7-9). (b) Luke 6.22/Matt 5.11-12 (cf. Thomas 68.1) are focused on the situation of the post-Easter community and are clearly of later origin.

After a paragraph on the "spiritualization of the beatitudes in Matthew" he continues:

Around the historical nucleus we have two rings of expansions in Q (vv. 22-23) and the expansion by Luke himself (vv. 24-26), neither of which, like the introduction (v. 20), has any claim to historicity. By contrast the criteria of growth, offensiveness and difference support the historicity of vv. 20b-21.

Muslim Jesus Traditions

Tarif Khalidi [The Muslim Jesus] provides the following traditions relevant to this cluster. While there are no direct parallels, they provide evidence that early Muslim traditions included memories (possibly sourced from Christian traditions brought into early Islam by converts) of Jesus as someone with a distinctive attitude to the poor.

182 Jesus used to say: "Too much food kills the soul, just as too much water kills a plant." [11th C]
183 Jesus said to his companions, "Leave yourselves to hunger and thirst, go naked and exhaust yourselves, that your hearts might know God Almighty." [11th C]
189 If you wish, you may repeat what the Possessor of the Word and the Spirit [of God], Jesus the son of Mary, used to say: "Hunger is my seasoning, fear is my garment, wool is my clothing, the light of the dawn is my heat in winter, the moon is my lantern, my legs are my beast of burden, and the produce of the earth is my food and fruit. I retire for the night with nothing to my name and awake in the morning with nothing to my name. And there is no one on earth richer than me. [11th C]
295 Jesus stood up to preach to the Israelites. he said, "O Israelites, do not eat until you are hungry; and when you are hungry, eat but do not eat your fill, for if you eat your fill your necks will grow thick, your sides will grow fat, and you will forget your Lord." [18th C]
296 Jesus said, "There is no graver disease of the heart than cruelty, and there is nothing more unbearable to the soul than lack of hunger. These two act as bridles of [divine] banishment and abandonment." [18th C]