WHAT DID JESUS DO?: Gospel Profiles of Jesus' Personal Conduct

F. Scott Spencer, Author . Trinity $19 (267p) ISBN 978-1-56338-392-2

Standing at the intersection of historical-Jesus research and the popular evangelical slogan "WWJD?," this book asks: If we are going to base our ethics on what Jesus would do, wouldn't it help to know what he did? Spencer, who teaches New Testament at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Richmond, surveys the evidence through an innovative set of lenses. How did Jesus treat his family? Not as well as proponents of "family values" might like. How about his friends? Spencer explores how Jesus' willingness to rebuke associates like Peter fit in with ancient ideals of friendship. How did Jesus care for his own body? What were his attitudes towards work, money and sex? Spencer answers by retelling the events of the gospels, informed by an impressive breadth of recent scholarship (though, curiously, Spencer largely neglects the essential contributions of N.T. Wright). If he occasionally lapses into scholastic vocabulary ("open commensality," "supererogatory practices"), most of his prose sparkles with wit and insight, as in this comment on Jesus' kosher observance: "The gospels feature two 'pig tales' involving Jesus, and in neither does Jesus consume any pork or accord the poor pig any dignity." To be sure, Spencer is covering well-trodden ground. But it's hard to think of another book that avoids so well the twin hazards of corrosive irreverence and excessive piety in retelling the unlikely life of Jesus. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/11/2003
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 294 pages - 978-0-567-41904-0
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