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Tad Davis

Tad Davis Philadelphia, PA USA Member Since 2005
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  • "Brilliant"

    Overall

    I'd read a little bit about Alexandria (mostly in Stacy Schiff's book on Cleopatra), but I never dreamed its history was so intimately connected with such vast stretches of the intellectual, political, and religious history of the ancient world. Pollard and Reid spin a fascinating yarn that unites Alexander the Great, the Septuagint, maps of the world, clocks and odometers, Cleopatra, the steam engine, animatronics, and the brutal killing of Hypatia in a single overarching narrative. And when I mention those items of particular interest (to me), I'm only scratching the surface. A brilliant history with an unusual approach, and (as usual) impeccable narration from Simon Vance.

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    The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern Mind

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Justin Pollard, Howard Reid
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (518)
    Performance
    (256)
    Story
    (258)

    Founded by Alexander the Great and built by self-styled Greek pharaohs, the city of Alexandria at its height dwarfed both Athens and Rome. It was the marvel of its age, legendary for its vast palaces, safe harbors, and magnificent lighthouse. But it was most famous for the astonishing intellectual efflorescence it fostered and the library it produced. If the European Renaissance was the "rebirth" of Western culture, then Alexandria, Egypt, was its birthplace.

    Jeffrey says: "A good listen"
  • "Vivid and well-researched"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Reza Aslan has tackled a big project in this book: not just a biography of Jesus, but also a recreation of life in first-century Palestine, combining anecdotal evidence from the New Testament and other writings with the latest evidence from archaeological and sociological investigations. For the most part he succeeds brilliantly. It's one of the most vivid books on this subject I've read in nearly 40 years of study.

    I might not feel so positively toward it if his take on Jesus was too far removed from my own. But it isn't. Aslan leans toward the Bart Ehrmann school of thought rather than the NT Wright or Jesus Seminar approach. His Jesus is an apocalyptic prophet who goes to Jerusalem with every expectation that God will intervene in history in a spectacular and visible way; but the Kingdom of God that he's spent a couple of years preaching and predicting (and possibly much of his life preparing for) fails to materialize.

    This is not to say his take on Jesus is one of complete skepticism. More rationalist / humanist readers may be surprised at the weight he gives to the miracles of Jesus. Here he seems to most closely reflect the views of John P Meier, who points out that the standard historical criteria for New Testament research - the criteria of multiple sources, dissimilarity, and the like - when applied to the question of Jesus' miracles, lead to the conclusion that he was, in fact, a "doer of mighty deeds" - or at least that the people who knew him, friends and enemies alike, never questioned that he was a healer, exorcist, and wonder-worker.

    The same is true of Aslan's discussion of the resurrection. There are no eyewitness accounts and no physical or archaeological evidence for the resurrection, and so it can't be evaluated by historical methods; but it's clear that "something happened." Of all the people who proclaimed themselves Messiah during this period - and Aslan gives a great deal of attention to the other messianic figures - Jesus is the only one whose followers remained devoted to him, who continued to proclaim his messiahship (and later his divinity) long after the crucifixion.

    Aslan describes three types of messiahs that appear in Jewish literature leading up the the time of Jesus. The most obvious one is the kingly messiah, the descendant of David who would restore the twelve tribes of Israel; but there were also messiahs-as-liberators like Moses, and messiahs-as-prophets like Elijah. He evaluates the evidence for and against and suggests that, even though he was reluctant to proclaim it openly, Jesus thought of himself as the kingly Messiah. His choice of twelve disciples to "rule the twelve tribes of Israel" is only one piece of evidence to that end. There is also his many references to himself as "the Son of Man," which Aslan connects to the kingly figure depicted in the book of Daniel.

    Aslan also gives remarkably full coverage of the early church, up to the time of the writing of the Gospels. Peter is here, as is James, the brother of Jesus, and Paul: and in the controversy that plagued the relationship of James and Paul, it probably comes as no surprise that Aslan believes James was closer to what Jesus actually proclaimed. One of the big problems of the early church, as Aslan describes it, is explaining how, if Jesus was crucified, he could have been the kingly Messiah he thought of himself as being. Aslan's conclusion, like that of many mainstream scholars, is that the disciples resolved the problem by redefining the Messiah as a suffering servant who would one day return in glory to judge the living and the dead. It can be defended with reference to different parts of scripture, but it doesn't reflect any concept of the Messiah that preceded the crucifixion of Jesus.

    Aslan narrates the book himself. I'm not a great fan of self-narrated audio books, and there are times when I think he emphasizes the wrong word in his own sentence; but he is an enthusiastic reader who carries the narrative momentum forward with clarity.

    I recommend the book highly. I've already listened to it twice (the second time, granted, at double-speed for the sake of review), and I plan to listen to it many timesa in the future.

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    Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Reza Aslan
    • Narrated By Reza Aslan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1036)
    Performance
    (932)
    Story
    (924)

    From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history's most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor.

    Tad Davis says: "Vivid and well-researched"
  • "Authoritative"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you've read Reza Aslan's book on Jesus, or Bill O'Reilly's, and want to see a recognized expert on the historical Jesus at work, check this out. It's not current; comments on the audio make it clear that it was recorded pre-2000; but it's aged well, and to date remains the most comprehensive summary of the subject available on audio.

    Bart Ehrman has strong opinions on the subject, and he's not shy about voicing them here. But he returns again and again to the historical evidence and to the methodologies historians have developed for dealing with that evidence. These are the footnotes Aslan left out (and the ones Bill O'Reilly, in his rush to market, never bothered to look up). Ehrman's lectures are solidly grounded and delivered with the enthusiasm of someone who loves what he's doing.

    About those strong opinions. Jesus was, says Ehrman, a millennial prophet (that was, in fact, the title of one of his first books on Jesus). Jesus expected God to intervene in history in his own lifetime and bring about the Kingdom, a Kingdom in which Jesus himself expected to play a prominent role. He expected his 12 disciples to play significant but subordinate roles: in Ehrman's view, statements made by Jesus about his disciples judging people from the four corners of the earth are to be taken literally as a description of his agenda. Unfortunately - says Ehrman - Jesus was wrong, and his mission was a failure.

    This isn't the Jesus most believers want to hear about, but it's the Jesus who appears from a dispassionate examination of the evidence. It's the Jesus most consistent with the work of John the Baptist who preceded him and the apostle Paul who followed him. It's the Jesus of mainstream New Testament scholarship and has been so for a hundred years.

    Traditionalists aren't the only ones whose ox is gored by Ehrman. The Jesus Seminar - a group that argued Jesus was an inoffensive philosopher of the Greek Cynic persuasion - comes in for a strong dose of forensic dissection. John Dominic Crossan's reliance on the gospels of Thomas and Peter is discussed and criticized at length. Scholars who argue for a multilayered "Q" document, earlier layers of which are non-millennial, are resoundingly refuted. Over and over again, Ehrman demonstrates how the view of Jesus as a millennial prophet makes better sense of more evidence than any of the rival views.

    Every statement Ehrman makes in this "great course" is backed up by citations of evidence, a clear explanation of pros and cons, and careful reasoning. I'm not sure this is the first place to look if you want an easy introduction to the subject, but if your appetite is already whetted, Ehrman will give you a well researched and coherent vision of Jesus.

    (Last time I'll say this, though: Great Courses - please - enough with the canned applause already.)

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    The Historical Jesus

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Bart D. Ehrman
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    From the late Roman Empire all the way to our own time, no continuously existing institution or belief system has wielded as much influence as Christianity, no figure as much as Jesus. Worshipped around the globe by more than a billion people, he is undoubtedly the single most important figure in the story of Western civilization and one of the most significant in world history altogether.

    Tad Davis says: "Authoritative"
  1. The Rise and Fall of Alex...
  2. Zealot: The Life and Time...
  3. The Historical Jesus
  4. .

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cliff's greatest hits:
  • Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad

    "Audible at its best"

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    Where does Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In the top five. The course was perfect for me. I subscribe to Audible mainly for the non-fiction. The new Great Courses section is now my favorite.I fell short of an AA degree after the Army because I had to return to work. With the Great Courses option, I can now get up to speed on what I am most interested in, and be in a much better place when I return to school. This course - Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad was an excellent way to begin Great Courses. It was Taught and Narrated so well. There were very few - if any - areas that I wanted to speed threw. In-fact I hit my 30 sec. back button hundreds of times. The subject matter was perfect. It was taught in such a way that I can return to this course over and over, without the dread. We are lucky and blessed to now live in a time that a common laborer can continue to labor at his or her job, yet be able to study these Great Courses at the same time,satisfying our minds while at the same time satisfying our work ethic.I will now keep my eye on any and all of Professor Mark W. Muesse's courses.


Stephen

Stephen Enumclaw, WA, United States 08-29-13
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  • "The long view of Western history"

    10 of 11 helpful votes

    The serious student of Western history will probably not learn anything terribly revealing from this course, but it provides an excellent context and perspective on the subject. The focus is on daily life of common people, though it provides an overall survey of life among the wealthy as well, in order to fill out the picture.

    The lectures are clearly understandable in terms of the material presented and the performance is magnificent. Professor Garland speaks with real passion and emotion that helps one develop a clear image of the message. Most importantly, Professor Garland's analysis is conducted in the context of the times, rather than the context of some modern ideology.

    It was a joy to listen to.

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    The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

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    Look beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Garland covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages.

    Mark says: "Tantalizing time trip"

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    Even today, the influence of Ancient Rome is indelible, with Europe and the world owing this extraordinary empire a huge cultural debt in almost every important category of human endeavor, including art, architecture, engineering, language, literature, law, and religion. At the peak of its power, Rome's span was vast. In the regional, restless, and shifting history of continental Europe, the Roman Empire stands as a towering monument to scale and stability, unified in politics and law, stretching from the sands of Syria to the moors of Scotland. And it stood for almost 700 years.In this series of 48 spirited lectures, you'll see how a small village of shepherds and farmers rose to tower over the civilized world of its day and left a permanent mark on history. In telling Rome's riveting story, Professor Fagan draws on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, including recent historical and archaeological scholarship, to introduce the fascinating tale of Rome's rise and decline, including the famous events and personalities that have become so familiar: . Horatius at the bridge . Hannibal crossing the Alps during Rome's life-or-death war with Carthage . Caesar assassinated before a statue of his archrival Pompey . The doomed lovers Antony and Cleopatra . The mad and venal emperors Nero and Caligula . The conversion of Constantine The course also addresses one of history's greatest questions: Why did the Roman Empire fall? And you'll learn why most modern scholars believe that the empire did not "fall" at all, but, rather, changed into something very different-the less urbanized, more rural, early medieval world.

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    • By The Great Courses
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    Performance
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    • By Will Durant
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
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    • By Edward Gibbon
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    In Volume Three, Gibbon picks up his story with the chaotic events following the retreat of the Eastern Roman Empire from the Italian peninsula in the seventh century. As the German conquerors settle into the new territories they took from the old Roman Empire, Islam suddenly emerges on the Arabian peninsula and sweeps across North Africa and into Spain. Muslim forces move north and threaten Constantinople itself.

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    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Irving Finkel
    • Narrated By Irving Finkel
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    In The Ark Before Noah, British Museum expert Dr Irving Finkel reveals how decoding the symbols on a 4,000 year old piece of clay enable a radical new interpretation of the Noah's Ark myth. A world authority on the period, Dr Finkel's enthralling real-life detective story began with a most remarkable event at the British Museum - the arrival one day in 2008 of a single, modest-sized Babylonian cuneiform tablet - the palm-sized clay rectangles on which our ancestors created the first documents.

  • 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Eric H. Cline
    • Narrated By Andy Caploe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (26)

    In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the "Sea Peoples" invaded Egypt. The pharaoh’s army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians.

    Jacobus says: "The next "Best Popular Book on Archaeology" award?"
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    • By Bertrand David, Jean-Jacques Lefrere
    • Narrated By Jason Culp
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Thirty thousand years ago our prehistoric ancestors painted perfect images of animals on walls of tortuous caves, most often without any light. How was this possible? Scholars and archaeologists have for centuries pored over these works of art, speculating and hoping to come away with the key to the mystery. David and Lefrre give us a new understanding of an art lost in time, revealing what had until recently remained unexplainable - the oldest enigma in humanity has been solved.

  •  
  • How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Bart D. Ehrman
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (29)
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    In a book that took eight years to research and write, leading Bible scholar Bart D. Ehrman explores how an apocalyptic prophet from the backwaters of rural Galilee crucified for crimes against the state came to be thought of as equal with the one God Almighty Creator of all things. Ehrman sketches Jesus's transformation from a human prophet to the Son of God exalted to divine status at his resurrection. Only when some of Jesus's followers had visions of him after his death - alive again - did anyone come to think that he, the prophet from Galilee, had become God.

    Darwin8u says: "Wishing for a bit more meat on the bones"
  • Hitler Homer Bible Christ: The Historical Papers of Richard Carrier 1995-2013

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Richard Carrier
    • Narrated By Richard Carrier
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    Richard Carrier, Ph.D., philosopher, historian, blogger, has published a number of papers in the field of ancient history and biblical studies. He has also written several books and chapters on diverse subjects, and has been blogging and speaking since 2006. He is known the world over for all the above. But here, together for the first time, are all of Dr. Carrier's peer reviewed academic journal articles in history through the year 2013, collected with his best magazine articles, research papers, and blog posts on the same subjects.

  • A History of Rome

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Cyril Edward Robinson
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
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    A History of Rome is the story of a tiny market town on the Tiber, its rise to world domination, and then its slow, terrible plunge to utter ruin. The rise and fall of Rome is the most thrilling event in world history. And in the hands of master historian Cyril Robinson we hear the narrative of this incredible story in unsurpassed, brilliant, and eloquent language.

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