Coming to grips with Christianity means coming to grips with Paul. There is no figure aside from Jesus himself who is more important to the history of this world religion, and no figure from the age of the early church about whom we know more or of whom we have a more rounded view.
Historian Luke Timothy Johnson, the best-selling author of The Real Jesus, offers a fresh and historically grounded assessment of the life and letters of Christianity's "apostle to the Gentiles" in this 12-lecture series.
"One of the most fascinating, important, and controversial figures in the religious history of the West, Paul the Apostle continues to find champions and detractors, sometimes in surprising places," says Professor Johnson.
This course addresses many questions concerning Paul's embattled life and work:
You consider his letters to the Thessalonians, Corinthians, and Galatians. You explore his religious commitments as a member of the Pharisaic movement, his persecution of the Christian sect, the dramatic experience that changed him into an apostle, and his work as a missionary and church founder.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses
Absolutely, a very objective and insightful survey of a significant historical figure.
Since Paul's letters do not provide an obvious narrative, it was interesting to see how the lecturer approached the subject and the various themes he distilled out.
His cadence and inflection added a lot of meaning to what would come off as very dry and abstract on the page. Like the letters themselves, meant to be spoken and not read!
There is plenty of content here for someone without prior reading or lectures on Paul. The lectures revealed a large amount about him as a man which has helped me feel closer and understand where he is coming from in his writings. This made the experience worthwhile and enjoyable for me.
When it really sunk in that Paul truly did expect Jesus Christ to return in his lifetime. It's obvious in his letters that he believed this but it never really clicked until I could visualize him better as a once living, breathing man and less as a slightly vague character in writings from 2000 years ago.
This was the first course that I have listened to from Professor Johnson. His performance was overall enjoyable to listen to. I have heard more energetic and charismatic presenters in The Great Courses lectures but I would not hesitate to buy another course taught by Mr. Johnson.
Not necessarily a moment but all of the insight into Paul as a man. Even someone that was so important to the spread of Christianity didn't have all of the answers and had his own personal struggles. The way he is presented here just helps bring him to life whereas in the New Testament people can seem more like characters in a story rather than individuals that lived, breathed, loved, and mourned.
Professor Johnson holds a different view on the commonly held scholary belief that most of Paul's writings were actually not his at all. His reasoning behind attributing all of these writings to Paul allow for me to believe without just blind faith and accepting church tradition that Paul truly did write the letters or in some instances gave his approval on letters written by people under him therefore taking responsibility for the content. This, he believes, is the reason for variations in writings styles found in the different letters. He also points out that the letters were never intended by him to be church doctrine by being included in a bible, so he would have been slightly less careful in making sure that all letters complimented one another seamlessly. Not to mention his personal ups and downs over the years and the fact that the audiences of the letters had very different cultures from one another all affected the different styles and wording of his writings. All in all, these lectures gave me peace of mind in accepting his traditionally accepted writings as truly being his, whether he personally penned them or not.
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