Tour of Christian History
van de Sandt, Huub, & David Flusser. "Chapter 6: The Two Ways and the Sermon on the Mount." The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and Its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002, 193-237.
Van de Sandt and Flusser recognize that the Sermon on the Mount has some similarity to the Two Ways. In Matthew 7:13-14 we are presented with a way which leads to destruction and a way which leads to life (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 193). There are also numerous elements which the Sermon and the Two Ways have in common from an ethical perspective.
As they begin their analysis of the issue, van de Sandt and Flusser make it clear that there opinion is that Jesus had some intentions in his speech that would not be understood correctly by Matthew, and that "not every part of the Sermon can be traced back to the historical Jesus" (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 184). Their presupposition is that Q material contained a more accurate record, and was mostly adopted in Luke rather than Matthew (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 195). Van de Sandt and Flusser attempt to reconstruct the source material based on the premise that the Sermon on the Mount is a ring composition based on the Derekh Erets and Jewish Two Ways materials.
After a very brief introduction to the Sermon in Matthew 5:1, the sermon is introduced by the Beatitudes (5:3-12) and the comments on "salt" and "light" (5:13-16) (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 197). Van de Sandt and Flusser observe that this material is similar t o material in the Derekh Erets literature. The body of the sermon starts and ends with a reference to Law and Prophets. There are three paragraphs with similar structures, about charity, prayer, and fasting, then three additional clusters of ideas. There is then a Golden Rule statement (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 198).
While there is a clear parallel between Matthew 7:13-14 and Luke 13:23-24, van de Sandt and Flusser note that Matthwe develops his idea with materials they consider derived from the Two Ways (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 201). The vocabuluary and the either-or choices suggest material from elsewhere than Matthew' s normal source.
Van de Sandt and Flusser also find strong parallels between Matthew 5:17-48 and the Greek Two Ways 3:1-6 (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 204) One significant challenge in the passage is Jesus' repeated statements apparently overriding the Law, but his affirmation of the Law. Van de Sandt and Flusser resolve this tension with an appeal to multiple sources and layers of redaction (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 205). They do conclude that the apparent dispute Jesus has is not with theLaw, but with certain interpretations of it. The arguments used are typical of Jewish rabbinic debates (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 213). The antitheses, further seen to be derived from traditional teaching were possibly interjected here from another source (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 214). This applies particularly to those not found in Luke. Jesus' affirmation of the Law and his statement about "the least of these commandments" recalls the Jewish idea of some small sins leading to others which are more serious (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 220).
Van de Sandt and Flusser also consider particular parallels of Matthew 5:21-48 and Didache 3:2-6 (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 226). The various prohibitions are not only consistent in their ethic, but they are presented in a similar order (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 227). The lesser sins lead to the greater, so both are to be avoided.
A challenge which strikes van de Sandt and Flusser is the fact that the statements in Matthew which are apparently based on the Greek Two Ways add additional requirements. The rigorous attitude is a challenge (van de Sandt & Flusser 2002, 234). A rigorous attitude was also present among the hassidim, which suggests that Jesus, as Matthew protrays him, would not have been outside of normal bounds in his application of the Law.