The Sermon on the Mount never ceases to challenge readers in every generation. New methods and new insights into new surroundings have to be applied to the most influential speech ever given. In this study, Ernst Baasland takes a fresh look at the history of research done on it, both on its broad influence and on the variety of interpretations. The historical questions are seen from new perspectives. Is orality the key to a better understanding? To what extent can we reconstruct a pre-text and the question of authenticity be answered? These questions are seen through historiographical lenses. The author argues in favour of a universal addressee and maintains that the speech contains radical philosophical thinking. The first audience consisted of Jews, and the religiously based understanding of life is conceived within Judaism. However, its ethics of wisdom is developed in a Hellenistic setting and provides a radical philosophy of life.