Dr. Henry Burton Sharman 

1865-1953

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Jesus as Teacher was written in 1917 by Dr. Henry Burton Sharman (1865-1953). It was first conceived while Sharman was a graduate student at the University of Chicago’s department of New Testament History and Literature. He had been working on a fairly typical Ph.D. thesis — “How Jesus Fulfilled the Jewish Messianic Expectations” — when he found his research led him to exactly the opposite conclusion. 

Rather than being the fulfillment of Jewish messianic expectations, Sharman believed Jesus dismissed the apocalyptic expectations as ungrounded fantasy, and instead focused his ministry on teaching the practical imperative of aligning one’s life with God’s will.

From this new perspective, Dr. Sharman set out to highlight those teachings: what Jesus most likely said and did, and what they likely meant within the context of his times.

Dr. Sharman set out to highlight (…) what Jesus most likely said and did, and what [his teachings] likely meant within the context of his times.

To be as accurate as possible in his research, Dr. Sharman learned Patristic Greek and translated into English for himself the oldest available records of the Synoptic Gospels – Mathew, Mark, and Luke. Setting aside the Book of John—poetic and mystical, it is considered the least historically accurate — he undertook a laborious comparison of the three gospels, subjecting each line to intense scholastic scrutiny. (For more on Dr. Sharman’s methodology, see The Critical Approach) 

An instructor in the Socratic mold, Dr. Sharman wrote his book as a study guide, meant to be explored through group dialogue. It is offered here with the same intent, along with supplemental material readers may find helpful.