Is it still nepotism when you look into a dead guy’s book because his brother* was cool? We’re somewhere in that vicinity…Elder John A. Widtsoe’s brother Osborne Widtsoe wrote this 1918 book for the Deseret Sunday School Union, for use as a youth Sunday School course, and I will admit I initially found it through the family name. But the proofreader tells me What Jesus Taught does stand on its own merits.
It includes 40 lessons, each with references and discussion questions. The discussion questions get pretty intense–I’d like to have a youth class today discuss the significance of Napoleon Bonaparte’s testimony of Christ, or the “particular value [of Christ’s] testimony to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.” The book definitely makes for an interesting time capsule of what youth were seeing back in the day.
In Widtsoe’s words:
This little book is an attempt modestly to present in popular form the teachings of Jesus. It is intended for boys and girls of high-school age. It is to be understood, then, that there is here no exhaustive treatise of the teachings of Jesus; nor is there conducted a study and investigation of profound scholarship. Such a work from the Mormon point of view must be deferred, if desirable at all. But it is hoped that what Jesus taught—in part at least—is here presented simply and plainly and truly, so that anyone who reads may understand. It is further hoped that the writing of these lessons has been “moved by the Holy Ghost,” so that those who read them may learn to love the teachings of Jesus, and to know and to love God, and His Son, Jesus, whom He sent to redeem the world. “Worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
So there you go. Happy reading.
*On Elder John A. Widtsoe being cool: his book Rational Theology is my favorite non-scriptural Mormon work and is the reason I got involved in MTP–I read the PG version of Rational Theology, saw the credit line, and wanted more.