Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad

Narrated by: Mark W. Muesse
Length: 18 hrs and 56 mins
Categories: History, Ancient History
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,362 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

No understanding of human life, individual or collective, could be complete without factoring in the role and contribution of these history-shaping teachers. Now, this 36-lecture series takes you deep into the life stories and legacies of these four iconic figures, revealing the core teachings, and thoughts of each, and shedding light on the historical processes that underlie their phenomenal, enduring impact.

Speaking from multilevel personal experience with these teachings, Professor Muesse leads you in an inquiry with a dynamic double thrust.

First, you'll get the chance to reflect in depth on the most essential values of spirituality and the art of living, seen from four archetypal perspectives. Second, you'll delve into the historical contexts and individual lives of the four sages, and how the religious and philosophical traditions we associate with them came into being. The lectures serve as a unique window on the origins of these traditions, through their focus on the teachings, actions, and historical roles of the sages who inspired them. In uncovering the original wisdom and practices of each sage, you'll grapple with key questions. How did each man understand the nature of the universe? How did each envision the human self? What did they each see as the path to true self-realization? In words reflecting profound and compassionate insight, these lectures bring the teachings vividly alive as they speak to their essential purpose and as they shed light on the choices we all face, moment by moment, in living deliberately and savoring life to the fullest.

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

©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad

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    2 out of 5 stars

Wasn't what I had in mind.

I wanted to learn the teachings of these famous prophets; however, the course was more about their personal lives and how those lives shaped the teachings--each teacher's perspective--than the teachings themselves.

60 people found this helpful

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Great Job...on 3 of Them...

...but if you’re looking for an objective historical account of Jesus, please look elsewhere. It’s not that Professor Muesse shouldn’t have opinions about the divinity of Jesus—we all have them, and to be sure, any historical figure claiming to be GOD probably should be subject to firmer scrutiny by a historian. My complaint is that he should have acknowledged the arguments on both sides of the debate and, like a good historian, stick to the FACTS rather than to opinions.

What really set me off was that he went out of his way to present his own speculations about Jesus as though they were fact (e.g., Jesus “probably” didn’t consider himself God...how can anyone KNOW that? I mean, I don’t presume to know what went on in Jesus’s mind). BUT he did not take the same approach with the other 3 sages.

At one point, Professor Muesse addresses some historians’ claims that Mohammed’s revelations were mere epileptic seizures. He goes on to assure believers that it’s still possible in such a scenario to believe that Mohammed’s seizures yielded revelations from a divine source...which is fine...

...but then he couldn’t make similar assurances about the 4 Gospels in the Christian Bible?? Even though there actually are historians with arguments along this line?

I’m not saying he should be a believer in Christianity to comment on the historical Jesus. But I am saying that he glosses over the utter lack of consensus among historians regarding whether Jesus was God and presents his own views as ultimate fact.

If you want an anti-Jesus skeptic’s view of the man, then you might enjoy this. If you want a Christian view of the historical Jesus, try NT Wright, William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne and Richard Bauckham. If you want an objective, non-biased account of Jesus, which is what I was hoping for, well ...I’m at a loss here.

All that being said, I really enjoyed the rest of the lectures, so it wasn’t a total waste of an Audible credit.

43 people found this helpful

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Brilliant introduction to those 4 great teachers

Any additional comments?

This book's content is really interesting and the author's narration is great. It's a perfect introduction to comparative religion. I enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it to my friends. It might be better to choose another title if you are already advanced in the study of those historical figures though.

30 people found this helpful

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Audible at its best

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.

112 people found this helpful

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A good overview of 4 sages

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

This book covers a massive subject matter which is presented from a secular perspective. This audiobook does a capable job at presenting the main themes and historical background for each of Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad from the author's academic perspective - I am certain that theologians from any of the 4 religions will find many areas / points to disagree with! The book is controversial in places (when compared to mainstream theological understandings, e.g. the deity of Christ and Muhammad's use of war). It does offer an excellent opportunity to expand one's understanding of the 4 "sages" (the author's term) and to understand commonalities and differences between them. I truly enjoyed the audiobook, listened to its entirety, and learned a lot of things I didn't know. I took it for what it is - an academic, historical and sectarian view of the 4 "sages"; so, do not purchase this book if you are looking for a theology course.

Who was your favorite character and why?

All 4 "sages" were pretty interesting to learn about.

What does Professor Mark W. Muesse bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The spoken word reveals emotion and interest in a way a book can't portray.

Any additional comments?

The audiobook was well narrated.

12 people found this helpful

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Intelligent entertaining and unbiased

Intelligent entertaining and unbiased. Highly recommend it. Probably the best audio book I've listened to date.

6 people found this helpful

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Good objective perspective

Though their followers/religions were a great deal of the discussion, this was a thorough look at the 4 men as individuals. Excellent lessons to take away and overall walking away knowing a lot more about the world and the people in it than I did before.

5 people found this helpful

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Was Expecting More

it was interesting, however I did sense the author's bias to Jesus which at the end he stated was based on early childhood recollections from Sunday school. He did not spent the time he spent with the other three describing Jesus's teachings and parables. I also felt with the Buddha he could of spent more time with the techniques used for meditation. I was expecting a more unbiased view which delved into the sages teachings and the effect the have in today's current world and was disappointed that did not occur

10 people found this helpful

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Great overview

What made the experience of listening to Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad the most enjoyable?

Prof Muesse placed the ideas of the 4 in good context. He relayed a lot of historical information.

What other book might you compare Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad to and why?

A history book. Can not think of a good example right now.

Which character – as performed by Professor Mark W. Muesse – was your favorite?

I thought he description of the life and works of Confucius was the most in depth and interesting.

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

To much info for that

Any additional comments?

One of my favorite "Great Courses" books.

10 people found this helpful

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Excellent overview of a complex subject

An exceptional course filled with a huge body of information and rich insight. Muesse’s presentation is direct, organized, to the point but with enough interesting detail to make the lectures engaging. His mastery of the subject matter is clear. I enjoyed the hours spent listening to the series and now have a grasp on these four sages and the belief systems/ religions that grew from their teachings. I highly recommend this course.

2 people found this helpful

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  • C. Wilson
  • 06-16-14

Fascinating

If you could sum up Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad in three words, what would they be?

I am really glad I bought this. I can not put it down so to speak. I am almost at the end but just thought I would highly recommend this book to anyone whose interests fall in these areas.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Shahriar
  • 08-01-16

simply wonderful

state of excellence like his other works. Academic world should be proud of having people like him around.

4 people found this helpful

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  • APE
  • 04-03-18

Easy to follow<br />

Pretty interesting. I have rounded out some long held thought due to this course. its seem this sages were wise but the more there years move on the more so called followers pervert great intentions.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Arvin Seeva
  • 09-06-16

A fantastic theological insight.

I found this as a very interesting material that balanced theological, historical and religious studies complemented with some critical analysis.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Stephenodonnell
  • 05-19-15

Compelling

Could not put this book down, the lectures are amazing and informative as well as balanced.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Benyamin
  • 10-17-18

best book on the religious society

this was the best book on the subject, very unbiased professional approach, I would recommend it to anyone.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Edward Longford
  • 04-27-18

Simplistic Overview

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Better for Islam:

In the Shadow of the Sword The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World
By: Tom Holland
In God's Path
The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire
By: Robert G. Hoyland

Better for Christianity:
Anything by Richard Carrier or Bart D. Ehrman

What does Professor Mark W. Muesse Ph.D. Harvard University bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I can see why he is a popular lecturer at universities, certainly better than some I had (!).

Any additional comments?

Simplistic overview, heavily reliant on religious sources (and now outdated view that there is a Q source for the Gospels). Ignores any possible negative in the teachings of any of these religious leaders (and there are more than a few to say the least).

7 people found this helpful

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  • danhaddock
  • 03-19-18

Excellent and enlightening

I liked these lecture but felt that they could have done a better job of mentioning their sources for the information about each of the religious figures.

A lot of the information just seemed to be something overheard.

Great delivery and insightful look at the similarities and difference between all the 4 religious characters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-23-20

Great Audio

really enjoyed this audio book, well structured and explained. I would listen to this audio again in the future.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris
  • 08-14-20

fell asleep

I didn't listen for long, the drawling accents and pretentious language with copious references to others work told me this isn't an original or interesting work.

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  • Michael
  • 05-15-15

Excellent course!

A most enjoyable course of discovery about these amazing men and their teachings. The lectures are interesting, informative and unbiased. As a person of no religious persuasion I was interested in learning about the men who have shaped humanity without the secularism often associated with this subject. I was very pleasantly relieved to discover a lecturer with the ability to approach this course with an analytical mind without losing the "humanism" that any discussion of these four incredible human beings deserves. Brilliantly done!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel A.
  • 05-15-17

great learning

This series was very informative, non-biased and a great source of information on the topic. I found it very eye opening and will probably listen to it more than once

2 people found this helpful

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  • adam
  • 04-30-17

A really fascinating account

What made the experience of listening to Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad the most enjoyable?

Muesse delivers the content in an interesting and engaging manner. Even though this audiobook was 28 hours, I never felt uninterested in the lectures.

What did you like best about this story?

The content on the Buddha in particular gave left me with a much greater respect of Buddhism and its practices.
I felt that the story focussed purely on the positive aspects of the sages and I think it would have gained a lot from also discussing the negative aspects of each character.

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

No, you need time to process all of the information between sittings. There is a lot of content.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Christaki
  • 09-25-19

An information packed introduction

I have always wanted to know more about these 4 great sages, and the book delivered. It is so information packed you can expect to want to “read” it more than once.
Even so, I would have liked more information, but that’s not the point. The book has whet my appetite for further exploration of the great teachers of whom I want to learn more.
I just discovered PDF that you can download which is handy to be able to focus in on certain topics and let them “settle in your mind” before moving to the next point.
In summary, in was a very worthwhile and enjoyable book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jeff
  • 02-12-17

a well informed view

this is a well informed opinion of the many lessons we can learn of the great historical figures. it was a great insite into the misconceptions that religion offer on all platforms of religion.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Duaine
  • 10-07-16

informative

great book. Professor Mark W. Muesse is very well informed and articulates his works perfectly

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dainjah
  • 08-07-19

Loved it

I enjoyed the journey and challenge to norms and a different view to what is often told.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-15-19

Enlightening

An informative course on 4 different philosophical spiritual beliefs delivered in a unbiased manner which gave the listener an insight into the basic foundations of the teachings of these 4 great men. Prof. Mark W. Muesse’s delivery of the course was not only inspirational but very inclusive in that I felt he was talking with me personally.

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  • jack
  • 08-31-18

Explicit and interesting

Loved that the book labelled what is likely factual and likely mythical for the sake of all comparisons and left the discussion neutral. Great discussion of the context of each Sage and on what grounds their reputation was built and the religions that formed around them without the untouchable hoo-hah in modern religious groups. Probably goes an extra few hours longer than it should but never boring.