When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Jul 26, 2006 - Religion - 338 pages
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In this urgently relevant, wholly enlightening discussion of modern moral decisions, the Harvard theology professor Harvey Cox considers the significance of Jesus and his teachings today. As he did in his undergraduate class Jesus and the Moral Life—a course that grew so popular that the lectures were held in a theater often used for rock concerts—Cox examines contemporary dilemmas in the light of lessons gleaned from the Gospels. Invigorating and incisive, this book encourages an intellectual approach to faith and inspires a clear way of thinking about moral choices for all of us.
 

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When Jesus came to Harvard: making moral choices today

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In the early 1980s, Harvard was stewing over the fact that more and more of its graduates were ethically deviant and many of its undergraduates were ethically ignorant. To address this issue, the ... Read full review

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A book on ethics rather than religion, When Jesus Came to Harvard summarizes theologian Harvey Cox’s experience of teaching a course entitled “Jesus and the Moral Life” at Harvard for nearly twenty years. Cox stresses that ethical living requires more than a capacity for moral reasoning: more crucially, it requires imagination and the ability to tell and share stories. He makes his point by presenting Jesus as a rabbi immersed in Jewish tradition. Cox reaffirms his lifelong commitment to fleshing out Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s vision of a post-religious Christianity and celebrates the fact that the “church has lost whatever monopoly it once had, or claimed to have, to control interpretations of Jesus” (301), thereby releasing him to the world so that people of all persuasions can claim him. Cox eschews the non-ethical escapism of mystically transcending this world. His readings of the Jesus stories emphasize the pursuit of social justice along lines popularized by Latin American liberation theology. When Jesus Came to Harvard is highly accessible: it requires no specialist knowledge of ethics, religion, or the NT. 

Contents

He Was Then We Are Now
14
Rabbi Jesus on the Scene
23
A World Full of Stones
32
STORIES THEY TOLD ABOUT HIM
47
The Ballad of the Begats
49
Picking Just the Right Woman
57
Exiles from Eden
66
The Gurus and the Usual Suspects
75
Why the Crowds Came
169
The Armageddon Syndrome
185
MORE STORIES THEY TOLD ABOUT HIM
199
The Transfiguration and the Prophets Night Journey
201
Bridge Burning and Street Theater
211
Trial and Retrial
220
Dead Man Walking
228
Reason Emotion and Torture
237

Riffing on Simeon
85
Beat the Devil
93
The Campaign Begins
106
STORIES HE TOLD
115
Jesus Retells His Peoples Story
117
Salt and Lamps
128
The Rabbi Teaches Torah
138
Parables and Zen Slaps
154
The Crooked CEO and the Spoiled Brat
161
It Had to Be Done
245
A World Without God?
259
The Easter Story
267
The Laughter of the Universe
286
Postscript
295
Notes
305
Acknowledgments
317
Index
321
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About the author (2006)

HARVEY COX is the author of the groundbreaking The Secular City and many other books, including The Seduction of the Spirit, which was nominated for the National Book Award. A professor of theology at Harvard Divinity School, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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