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The teaching of Jesus about the future according to the synoptic gospels

by Henry Burton Sharman

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This was Sharman's doctoral thesis from the University of Chicago. Edgar DeWitt Burton (his friend, mentor, and thesis advisor) encouraged him to publish it. Sharman had used Burton's terminology from "Some Principles of Literary Criticism and Their Application to the Synoptic Problem" (see: http://historical.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/cul.cdl/docviewer?did=cdl053 ) but maintained his thesis did not depend solely on Burton's analysis. Sharman meticulously compares every reference to the future that Jesus made in the synoptics, to discover which sayings were original, which contrived, which misinterpreted.

This book, and his later book 'Son of Man and Kingdom of God', are the only two books of Sharman's that reveal Sharman's own views. The other books are books of questions without answers, where Sharman's own belief is deliberately hidden, scrubbed or erased.

The book is an attempt to reclaim Jesus from the eschatological elements of first century Judea, and to put these ideas squarely on the shoulders of Jesus' earliest disciples (most of whom were drawn from the ranks of the John the Baptists' followers). These disciples admittedly were expecting something other than the Kingdom Jesus presented. Sharman was also trying to reclaim Jesus from the eschatology of his own age: John Mott and the Student Volunteer Movement (from whose ranks Sharman was banished) were trying to usher in the last days by way of 'Evangelization of the World in this Generation'.

I had read this book completely before I discovered that stuck in the endpaper at the back of the volume, Sharman has left several pages of documents. These are reconstructions of the 'sources' of the Synoptics, which Burton called P, G, M and MK (all of these add up to what scholars, ignoring Burton, have come to call Q and Mark).

Having re-read this book now two or three times, I admit there are places in it that leave me unconvinced. Sharman's analysis of the editorial rules used by the authors of Matthew and Luke would constitute a doctorate in its own right, but here it seems merely glossed. Because the work aims to be comprehensive, it is dense.

'The Teachings of Jesus About the Future' will have something to say to the evangelical movements in our own time who seem to be willing to push their version of religion on others, to the point of war, for the sake of their version of the coming Kingdom. I feel Sharman has introduced enough proof here that Jesus' method advocated peace.

Now available ONLINE at internet archive (except for the reconstructed documents that the scanner missed in the end flyleaf):
http://www.archive.org/details/theteachingsofjes00sharuoft ( )
  rob_miller_cellarguy | Feb 23, 2007 |
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