No religious text has influenced the world more than has the New Testament's Sermon on the Mount, and yet this crucial text still begs to be more clearly understood. Why was it written? What unifying theme or purpose holds it all together? Should it be called a sermon? Or is it some other kind of composition? How would its earliest listeners have heard its encoded allusions and systematic program? This book offers new insights into the Sermon on the Mount by seeing it in the shadow of the all-pervasive Temple in Jerusalem, which dominated the religious landscape of the world of Jesus and his earliest disciples. Analyzing Matthew 5-7 in light of biblical and Jewish backgrounds, ritual studies, and oral performances in early Christian worship, this reading coherently integrates every line in the Sermon. It positions the Sermon as the premier Christian mystery.