The introductory chapter names the general question the book will engage (How do people become able to realize ethical ideals?) and the specific text it will study (the Gospel of Matthew from the New Testament). It explains that the work will focus on Matthew because while that gospel is widely considered ethically formative, descriptions of how it is formative remain vague and that, to offer a more precise description of how Matthew portrays ethical formation, it will examine the gospel’s depiction of regimented practices, specifically its depiction of the function of the sayings collection that constitutes chapters 5–7, the Sermon on the Mount.