Speaking in Paine Hall yesterday afternoon on the "Actual Teaching of Jesus Himself" Dean W. L. Sperry of the Divinity School said, "Although Jesus was always addressed as teacher, save for one instance, the writing on the ground, he never wrote anything."
"All of his teachings have been put into writing by others in the four Gospels. Nothing else of importance regarding the teaching of Jesus has been found nor is it likely that anything else will be found.
Gospel of John a Different Version
"The Gospel of John represents Christ differently than do the other three since it treats of the eternal life while the others talk of the Kingdom of Heaven and of the ending of this age. There is action in the first three but very little in the fourth."
John's Version is Unreliable
Dean Sperry analyzed the literary structure of the Gospels. In the first, he declared that there were principally parables and short pithy epigrams. John has long discourses, often introspective, which makes it difficult to tell where Christ leaves off and John begins. Consequently very few students depend very much on John any more but use the first three Gospels for their sources.
"Jesus was not a systematic teacher but a prophet. The central idea of his teaching was the Kingdom of Heaven. He does not seem to have been preoccupied with the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God.
Dean Sperry doubted that Jesus had subscribed to the Messianic theory and hopes of the Jews. "If he did He was committed to something that has not happened, but it is more likely that this idea was read into His teachings by his disciples with their Jewish Old Testament ideas and background."
"Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is present and also that it is to come. He asked that people subscribe to the Kingdom of God in its entirety.
"It is clear in the first three Gospels that Jesus did not allow attention to be attracted to himself, in spite of the fact that John gives just the reverse impression. Peter said that He was a Messiah, an annointed and Jesus seems to have consented to this. He questioned, however, whether He was the Messiah. He said that He was imbued with the spirit of God. This identity with the spirit of God idea was an ethical and not an essential teaching.
"Jesus talked very little of worldly institutions such as government and the family. His conception of institutions was that they were made to serve Man and not Man made to serve them.
"In relation to his teachings as to conduct he was thoroughly discontented with the idea of doing one's duty. He had no patience with the Golden Mean. He was interested rather in overgenerosity. He taught the ethics of the Kingdom of God and not those of the state of civilization in which he lived.