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Copyright (c) 2000 Cumberland Law Review
Cumberland Law Review

ARTICLE: Lawyers as Hired Doves: Lessons from the Sermon on the Mount

2000 / 2001

31 Cumb. L. Rev. 27


Mary C. Szto *



The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most popular texts in world literature. Delivered by Jesus Christ and recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, 2 its lessons of love and wisdom have been admired by people of many faiths and nationalities. These include Gandhi, 3 the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 4 and Confucianists. 5 Its appeal to the universal human condition is striking. Gandhi explained that the sermon went straight to his heart. 6 Interestingly, while much of Christ's sermon is an exposition on law, more specifically Jewish law, few lawyers or legal theorists have applied its principles to the practice of law.

This article will discuss why the application of the Sermon on the Mount ("SM" in the theological literature and hereafter) to the practice of law has been sparse. 7 After giving a short summary of the SM, I will examine, in particular, the struggle of the Christian church and other exegetes to interpret the seemingly radical demands of the SM. Theologians have held often opposite views of the SM, ranging from its literal application to its non-application, and from the elimination of law to its irrelevance to law. These theological views have had a profound influence on how lawyers view their profession.

I will then turn to an examination of four particular verses of the SM as a legal text, verses which Gandhi took particular delight in. 8 My thesis is that the SM requires a radical spiritual model of ...
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