Cover image for What did Jesus do? : gospel profiles of Jesus' personal conduct
What did Jesus do? : gospel profiles of Jesus' personal conduct
Spencer, F. Scott (Franklin Scott)
Publication Information:
Harrisburg, PA : Trinity Press International, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 279 pages ; 23 cm
First questions first -- Family ties -- Friendship bonds -- Body treatments -- Money matters -- Work ethic -- Honor codes -- Last things first.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BT299.3 .S67 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What would Jesus do? Despite the popularity of that phrase in many Christian circles, religious education is dominated by the study of what Jesus said. Using the Gospel of John and the synoptics, Spencer seeks a wide-angle view of Jesus' behaviour, compares it with his teaching, and then draws parallels to what we should do today.

Author Notes

F. Scott Spencer is Professor of New Testament at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia, and is the author of The Portrait of Philip in Acts- A Study of Roles and Relations and Acts.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Spencer (New Testament, Baptist Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA; The Portrait of Philip in Acts) turns the popular phrase "What would Jesus do?" around to ask, "What did Jesus do?" He examines Jesus' personal actions in detail as portrayed in the four canonical gospels. His profile studies such topics as Jesus' relationships with his family and colleagues and his actions concerning personal possessions and his body. Avoiding shallow, two-dimensional stereotypes, Spencer presents Jesus in frequent conflict with family and friends, comfortable in the inherently erotic situation of a woman anointing his feet with expensive ointment and drying them with her hair, and always exhibiting honesty, humility, and dignity. The work avoids a fundamentalist, literalistic approach, instead employing the historical/critical techniques of such theologians as Raymond E. Brown. Spencer concludes that there are no easy answers to the question, "What would Jesus do?" but that in studying Jesus' actions we might gain insight into how to conduct best our own lives. Primarily for specialized and academic collections.-Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., Bakersfield, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

A lucid, engaging look at the personal life and conduct of Jesus of Nazareth, this book plays off the popular "what would Jesus do" question. Spencer (Baptist Theological Seminary) offers an informed, honest, and challenging alternative: "What did Jesus do?" Spencer limits the search to the four gospels. He uses a good range of contemporary New Testament scholarship to buttress his arguments, with each chapter tracing an interesting aspect of Jesus' conduct. Spencer examines the issues of family ties, friendship, body treatments, money matters, work ethic, and honor codes. He does think that Jesus can be a model and guide for contemporary behavior. This image of Jesus, however, needs to be grounded in a careful reading of the gospels. The gospel image is often at variance with a popular, superficial, cultural image. Spencer provides substantial footnotes that add depth to the book. Additionally, he includes a helpful recommended reading section and a useful index of names and topics. This book will be an effective resource for classes in both biblical studies and ethics. It also could be used in adult church educational contexts. ^BSumming Up: General readers; lower-level undergraduates, faculty, and professionals. A. L. Kolp Baldwin-Wallace College

Table of Contents

1 First Questions First
2 Family Ties
3 Friendship Bonds
4 Body Treatments
5 Money Matters
6 Work Ethic
7 Honour Codes
8 Last Things First