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.
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.
©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses
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.
The build up to the conversion of Constantine and the background for just how improbable it was given the historical record and proceeding events.
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.
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.
I will be seeking out additional lectures from Prof. Harl.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I like to read non-fiction, mostly.
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.
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.
No. Not really.
I have seven degrees. If I took this course as an undergraduate, I would not have graduated.
I expected so much more from the lecture. It was hard not to go to sleep.
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