The author claims that the theme in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the book of Matthew is the major underlying message of the entire Bible, the culmination of many earlier versions of that text. However, its application in today’s world, when supplemented with the account of the sermon as given in Luke, where Jesus seemed to condemn the rich and successful, was challenging to many of Cox’s students, committed as they were to achieving professional success in a material world. Through discussion, however, Cox was able to give the Beatitudes modern relevance. The meek are not passive and weak but faithful and patient, and peace is not necessarily the world of a Pax Romana or a Pax Americana but rather the inner peace of shalom. Therefore the story of Jesus and his stories with their moral center can and have appealed not only to committed Christians but also to many non-Christians such as India’s Mahatma Gandhi.
When Jesus Came to Harvard is a book about morality rather than theology. In it, Cox, a believing Christian, stresses Jesus as an observing Jew, a rabbi who taught the Torah, noting that even the Lord’s Prayer is more traditionally Jewish than uniquely Christian. The stories that Jesus told, the sixty-odd parables, which make up about one-third of the first three Gospels, are not overtly about God but about wedding feasts (guests invited in from the highways), muggings (the Good Samaritan), and the activities...
(The entire section is 478 words.)