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Catholics can benefit from Protestant Scripture scholar's latest book


This is the cover of "How to Read the Bible" by Harvey Cox. The book is reviewed by Mitch Finley. (CNS)

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"How to Read the Bible" by Harvey Cox. HarperOne (San Francisco, 2015). 250 pp., $26.99.

Something of a theological superstar in the late 1960s and early 1970s, thanks to his mega-best-seller "The Secular City," retired Harvard University theologian Harvey Cox here turns his attention to the Bible and how to read it with the brain in gear that God gave you.

Ordained an American Baptist minister in 1957, Cox's fundamental perspective, we must presume, is Protestant.

It's unclear to what extent Cox embraces the classical Protestant principle of "sola scriptura" -- which insists that the Bible is the only valid source of revelation; still, he clearly eschews biblical fundamentalism.

Thus, Catholic readers will find much in "How to Read the Bible" they can accept and from which they will benefit. Just don't expect Cox to say anything about the relationship between Scripture and tradition.

Following an introduction in which he discusses how his own understanding of and approach to reading the Bible developed over the years, Cox has organized his book around specific books of the Bible and literary styles. Thus the books of Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Job, Amos and the prophets and the Gospels -- except John, which he skips -- were included, while others were rejected -- "the long, loopy story of canonization," the Pauline epistles and the Book of Revelation.

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