Timeline,  the Sermon on the Mount and history

C.E. or A.D.

This timeline is divided according to the Gregorian tradition of starting the century with year 1 but, defering to modern academic preference, uses B.C.E. (Before Christian Era) and C.E. (Christian Era) rather than B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini=Year of our Lord). The earliest events are listed first as this makes it easier to follow developments in their logical sequence.

Many of the dates given in the detail pages remain speculative, not least because the body of secular evidence, upon which the dating of key biblical events often relies, is not without ambiguities and internal contradictions. 

Summary timeline

Please note, the author is aware that the pages of this timeline are, in places, sparsely or idiosyncratically populated. This is being rectified as time permits.

B.C.E., the first few thousand years - Putting the foundations in place. The development of the Hebrew Bible, as a record of divine judgements and prophetic expectations concerning humanity in general and particularly Israel. The religious and legislative framework formulated over these years provides the foundation for the Sermon on the Mount.

1st to 3rd Centuries - The launch of a new movement in Judah sees Jesus deliver the Sermon during his ministry. Events following his death and resurrection see the gospel’s rapid spread in oral form. Matthew’s Gospel, the Sermon with it, is committed to writing and becomes a reference for the early church.

4th and 5th Centuries - The fathers of the church begin to produce commentaries on the Gospel’s, establishing a traditional pattern for their interpretation.

5th to 17th Centuries - Christianity becomes an established religion in which Church tradition dominates. The Great Schism sees the Roman church separate from the Eastern Orthodox. The dominance of the Rome is challenged by protestantism.

18th Century - The rise of ‘rational’ theories, cutting out the supernatural and leading to the re-interpretation of the gospels according to the spirit of the age. 

19th Century - The heyday of German critical analysis. Archaeological discoveries in the Middle East prompt an interest in the eastern origin of the scriptures and their relationship with the other religions of that region.

20th Century - Many scholars begin trying to rediscover the historical Jesus (i.e. Jesus as his disciples knew him) whilst laterly there is an increasing tendancy for scholars to re-assert traditional values. 

21st Century - The information revolution brings the Sermon to a computer near you.