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The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity Lecture

The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity

Explore the dramatic interaction between Judaism, Christianity, and paganism in Rome from the 1st to the 6th centuries. Why did pagan Rome clash with the early Christians? What was it like to be a Jew or a Christian under Roman law? And how did Christianity ultimately achieve dominance in the Roman Empire?Over the course or 24 lectures, Professor Harl enables you to grasp the full historical sweep of this critically important era and its key figures.
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Publisher's Summary

Explore the dramatic interaction between Judaism, Christianity, and paganism in Rome from the 1st to the 6th centuries. Why did pagan Rome clash with the early Christians? What was it like to be a Jew or a Christian under Roman law? And how did Christianity ultimately achieve dominance in the Roman Empire?

Over the course of 24 lectures, Professor Harl enables you to grasp the full historical sweep of this critically important era and its key figures. You'll examine why Christianity was able to emerge and endure and, in turn, spark a critical transition for religion, culture, and politics that underpins much of how today's Western world - both Christian and non-Christian alike - thinks about ethics, sin, redemption, forgiveness, progress, and so much more.

While the Judeo-Christian values that have shaped society's ideas are ones we might today take for granted, their emergence from an ancient era dominated by loyalties to a vast array of gods would once have seemed the most unlikely of narratives. Even after the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in A.D. 312, it would not be until the 6th-century reign of Justinian that medieval Christianity would emerge and this new historical pathway confirmed.

In this magnificent course, Professor Harl brings to life some of the most important and fascinating episodes of the era, taking you on a vibrant trek through the past - one that will lead you to a deeper understanding of the bedrock beliefs of Western culture.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Wesley WEST LINN, OR, United States 12-12-13
    Wesley WEST LINN, OR, United States 12-12-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding and worth every moment"
    What made the experience of listening to The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity the most enjoyable?

    The lecturer told a compelling story drawing from both historical written sources and the archaeological record. The scope was enormous, but the narrative kept me engaged throughout. There was absolutely no way I was going to keep every thread, name or movement completely straight listening to this while driving to work, but the larger story and the dynamics of each historical period were told in such a compelling manner within a structure that I could grasp the broader whole even if I could not recite many of the fine details.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity?

    The build up to the conversion of Constantine and the background for just how improbable it was given the historical record and proceeding events.


    What about Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s performance did you like?

    I found Prof. Harl to be extraordinarily honest with his presentation of materials. This is my second lecture by him (the first with The Vikings) and I appreciate that he will lay out the views of scholars who may disagree with his analysis and then plainly state, "I do not agree with that view ..." He will also clearly state, "We just can't know, but can infer from the limited evidence we have..." He is also a fine storyteller.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It is 30 minute lectures, so while listening to the book in one setting is unrealistic I found myself frequently sitting in the driveway or parking lot for an extra 10 minutes to finish a lecture, wanting to hear the rest of the story and summary conclusions.


    Any additional comments?

    I will be seeking out additional lectures from Prof. Harl.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    "unknown" 02-04-14
    "unknown" 02-04-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating details"

    This course is rich with detail about religion and philosophy during the four hundred years or so that it took for Christianity to engulf the Roman empire. I would so loved to have been a student in this course and participated in the discussion sections!

    The narration is okay, not great. (I quibbled mentally with Prof. Harl's pronunciation on many occasions.) The organization of the material is pretty good. Prof. Harl takes care to remind you of previous lectures, when he references them, and he does a nice job of hinting about interesting topics to be covered later. The timeline of events is fairly clear, although there were some gaps (the entire fifth century, for example) that I don't remember hearing anything about. At any rate, I found myself thinking about the lectures in between listening, and looking forward to my next opportunity to listen.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Bartlesville, OK, United States 09-30-13
    Lee Bartlesville, OK, United States 09-30-13 Member Since 2014

    autodidact wannabe

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not what they told you in Sunday School"
    What made the experience of listening to The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity the most enjoyable?

    I grew up in a very Christian family, but hardly knew anything about the history of my faith. Of course, I was told how the religion started in Sunday School, but years later I have grown to seek accurate information. After years of study, I've realized much of the church history presented in Sunday School is the religious equivalent of urban legends. Religion is a powerful force in our lives, and everyone, religious or not, ought to seek out scholarly works (not apologetics) that throw the light of reason and real facts into our world.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Professor Kenneth W. Harl did a fantastic job of taking all the complex social issues and weaving them into a coherent whole. It does take careful listening, and the professor never talks down to us. Sometimes you can really hear the passion in his voice.


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AlexIndia Fort Worth, TX, United States 03-08-15
    AlexIndia Fort Worth, TX, United States 03-08-15 Member Since 2011

    I am a national speaker on the relationship between the ancient western civilization and present day politics. Follow me!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Thorough review of this period"

    The lecture was very good. It covers the detail of each reign of each emperor involved with the empire's creep toward Christianity from Platonism and varied pagan religions. I would suggest a good understanding of Roman history and some familiarity with the emperors. I listened to the lecture covering all of Rome be for this one. I plan to move on to the three lectures on the Middle Ages next.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shane ENCINITAS, CALIFORNIA, United States 09-19-14
    shane ENCINITAS, CALIFORNIA, United States 09-19-14 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An excellent and thought provoking series"
    Which scene was your favorite?

    The "what if" moment of Julian the Apostate. Here was a pagan emperor who was born as a Christian, and attempted to turn back the clock on the Christian revolution. He knew what was necessary for a neo-pagan resurgence, and had he lived it might have worked.This lecture in particular opened my eyes to the realization that the history of the West and possibly the whole world didn't have to turn out the way it did.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 03-27-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Course; Lives up to the name."

    Excellent delivery by a dedicated professor. LOTS of material (years, names, places, etc.) covered over any 600 years. So my brain glazed over at times. Prof. Harl pulled it all together for me. Outstanding course.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David United States 02-06-16
    David United States 02-06-16 Member Since 2012

    Hellicopter Man

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best of its type."

    Just about anyone will benefit from this course. The presentation is energetic and the content is broad and well developed both in topic selection and chronological sequence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Keller Pennsylvania 09-23-13
    K. Keller Pennsylvania 09-23-13 Member Since 2015

    I like to read non-fiction, mostly.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I Had to Abandon This"
    What disappointed you about The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity?

    The lecturer was VERY knowledgeable. But so much so that he went all over the map, time-wise, and assumed a lot of previous knowledge. I found myself often confused. "Wait, WHEN is this?" At first, I thought it was me. I thought I had too little knowledge of the classics. But I sallied forth, and finally, just over halfway through, got discouraged enough to abandon it, entirely. Frankly, I just got bored.

    I hesitated to write a negative review, because I always assume that the problem is me. BUT... I recently took up TWO other Great Courses, one in history and one in science, and I love them both. So, in this case, sadly, I must blame the lecturer.


    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

    Absolutely. I consider this negative review to be an anomaly. I have been very satisfied with The Great Courses from Audible, and the ones previously purchased from the Great Courses catalog.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s performances?

    No. Not really.


    5 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas 01-05-15
    Douglas 01-05-15

    Love a good story that takes me outta my day to day life.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Enlightening"

    Loved how this shines an objective light on the ridiculous controversy that clown Dan Brown tried to stir up with the Da Vinci Code.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beverly United States 09-14-13
    Beverly United States 09-14-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "So disappointed"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Kenneth W. Harl?

    I have seven degrees. If I took this course as an undergraduate, I would not have graduated.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    I expected so much more from the lecture. It was hard not to go to sleep.


    6 of 54 people found this review helpful
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  • Ed Kingsley
    1/26/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Daunting title. Captivating analysis"
    If you could sum up The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity in three words, what would they be?

    Clear reasoned humble


    What did you like best about this story?

    Professor Harl is passionate about his subject and delivers a compelling and poised appraisal of a complex process that he sees as descernible in shape speed and direction.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Professor Harl is careful to keep the listener away from presumptions drawn from the modern world but rather to configure the story of this transformation by careful analysis of culture economics and politics of the time.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, there is too much material. I have listen to this book twice and will undoubtedly do so again. In addition it pays to read other authors too to see that this is a contribution to the profession of history more than an asserted viewpoint. There are other writers such as Bart Ehrman who I would read after reading Professor Harl


    Any additional comments?

    Professor Harl is particularly knowledgable about coinage which adds an element I have not encountered before

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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