Harrisville was educated at Luther Theological Seminary (in Saint Paul, Minnesota), Princeton University, and the University of Tübingen in Germany. He served as a pastor in Mason City, Iowa before joining the faculty of Luther Theological Seminary as professor of New Testament.
Harrisville's view on the nature of scripture and the interaction between human writers and the Holy Spirit helped shape the preaching and theology of Lutherans in North America for over 40 years. His works include The Bible in Modern Culture: Baruch Spinoza to Brevard Childs with Walter Sundberg and Fracture: The Cross as Irreconcilable in the Language and Thought of the Biblical Writers.
- Harrisville, Roy A. (1980). Romans. Fortress Press. p. 263. ISBN 978-0-8066-8864-0.
- De Groot, Christiana; Marion Ann Taylor (2007). Recovering nineteenth-century women interpreters of the Bible. Society of Biblical Lit. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-58983-220-6.
- Lang, Bernhard (2007). Revue internationale des études bibliques, Volume 52; Volumes 2005-2006. BRILL. p. 457. ISBN 978-90-04-15583-1.
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