Despite Christianity's sometimes highly tragic history, theologians and critics traditionally have joined in the assertion that there can be no such thing, properly speaking, as ""Christian tragedy"" since Christianity, in its (retrospective) essence, is a religion of optimism. Mr. Cox, in this work, contradicts that belief. He finds two major and uniquely Christian tragedic traditions in European literature: one, Shakespearean, Pauline in origin, is epitomized in such Works as Hamlet, Lear, and Macbeth. The other is expressed in the novels of Dostoevsky and finds its inspiration in the prophetic works of John the Evangelist. The focus for Mr. Cox' efforts is not whether, in fact, the works under discussion are tragedies--the assumption is that they are--but whether they are indeed Christian. And, by drawing upon the New Testament as a literary document rather than as a record of divine inspiration, it is his conclusion that they are inescapably so. Obviously, this is a conclusion of more than passing importance for students of Shakespeare and Dostoevsky. And, even though one may not always agree either with the author's reasoning or with his preliminary conclusions, the fact remains that he opens up interesting new approaches.