cover image WHEN JESUS CAME TO HARVARD: Making Moral Choices Today

WHEN JESUS CAME TO HARVARD: Making Moral Choices Today

Harvey Cox, . . Houghton Mifflin, $25 (338pp) ISBN 978-0-618-06744-2

Ever since his groundbreaking study of religion and society (The Secular City ) more than 40 years ago, Cox has devoted his work to a fascinating array of topics: Pentecostalism, interreligious dialogue, liberation theology and Eastern religions. Now, after more than 20 years of teaching a course on Jesus and the moral life to Harvard undergraduates, he shares his experience. He admits honestly that he initially failed to see the value of such a course in a pluralistic religious university setting. Once he began to teach it, however, students filled the lecture hall, and small discussion groups crackled with open and hard-hitting questions about the relationship of Jesus and morality. With sparkling prose, Cox organizes the book around the New Testament stories told by and about Jesus to demonstrate the ways that each can be used to inform moral choices. For example, one of his students made the connection between the Lukan stories about Mary's choice to give birth to Jesus and the ethical decisions that Harvard female undergraduates confronted in advertisements that offered them cash for their fertile eggs. Above all, Jesus emerges as an elusive figure whose actions and words are, according to Cox, harder than ever to pin down. (Dec. 3)