Harvey Cox on getting to grips with the Bible

By Anne Robertson
September 10, 2010

Eminent theologian and long-time Harvard Divinity School professor Harvey Cox will give the Massachusetts Bible Society's 2010 Harrell F. Beck Lecture Series entitled "Coming to Grips with the Bible".

It consists of five lectures in five locations across Massachusetts: Newton Centre, Stockbridge, Weston, Worcester, and Boston.

The 2010 Harrell F. Beck Lecture series will kick off on Monday, 20 September 2010. This initial lecture, entitled "Moses, the Exodus and Archaeology", will take place at Andover Newton Theological School's Wilson Chapel.

On 4 October the series moves all the way to the First Congregational Church in Stockbridge where Dr Cox will deliver the second lecture in the series, entitled "Jeremiah, Job and the Biblical View of Suffering".

"Jesus in Jerusalem: The Gospels and the New Research" (Lecture 3) will be given on 18 October at First Parish in Weston, and "Where Paul Stands After the New Scroll Finds" (Lecture 4) will take place on 25 October at Salem Covenant Church in Worcester.

The Beck Lectures will then wrap up at the historic Old South Church in Boston on 1 November with "Rescuing Revelation from the Religious Right". All lectures will begin at 7:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Harvey Cox is Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard, where he began teaching in 1965. An American Baptist minister, he was the Protestant chaplain at Temple University and the director of religious activities at Oberlin College, an ecumenical fraternal worker in Berlin, and a professor at Andover Newton Theological School.

Dr Cox's research and teaching interests focus on the interaction of religion, culture, and politics. Among the issues he explores are urbanisation, theological developments in world Christianity, Jewish-Christian relations and current spiritual movements in the global setting. He has been a visiting professor at Brandeis University, Seminario Bautista de Mexico, the Naropa Institute, and the University of Michigan.

Harvey Cox is a prolific author. His most recent book is The Future of Faith (HarperCollins 2009). His Secular City, published in 1965, became an international bestseller and was selected by the University of Marburg as one of the most influential books of Protestant theology in the twentieth century.

His other books include When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Decisions Today, Religion in the Secular City, Common Prayers: Faith, Family, and A Christian's Journey Through the Jewish Year, as well as many others.

In recent lectures at the Pontifical Institute in Rome, dealing with relations between Christians and Muslims, and in meetings with Muslim leaders in Istanbul, Harvey Cox has taken careful note of the different ways sacred scriptures are understood and used among the monotheistic religions.

Those familiar with only one of these faiths may assume that scripture functions the same way everywhere. But there are significant differences in this regard between Christianity and Islam, between these religions and Judaism, and even within Christianity's many branches. Cox will point out these differences, and their consequences, in the Beck Lectures as he goes about explicating five great texts in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament.

The Massachusetts Bible Society (http://www.massbible.org/), founded in 1809, is a Christian organisation that exists to promote biblical literacy, understanding, and dialogue that is grounded in scholarship, socially relevant, and respectful of the many voices within the Bible and all those who turn to the Bible in faith.

MassBible's Beck Lectureship, held annually in the fall, was started in the early 1990s by the Rev Dr Donald Wells, then Executive Director, and is named in honour of the late Boston University theology professor, Dr Harrell F. Beck.


Anne Robertson is chief executive of the Massachusetts Bible Society.

Also on Ekklesia: 'The Cross, the mosque and Ground Zero' (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/13067) and '‘US Bible society will give away two copies of Qur'an for every one burnt’ (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/13064).

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.