The World of Biblical Israel
11 November 2013, 13:20
Course No 6325 | MP4, 570x320, 1094 Kbps | AAC, VBR, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | 6.08GB
We all have associations with the word “Israel”—a modern-day nation in the Middle East that makes up part of the biblical Holy Land. But how did ancient Israel emerge? Who were the Israelites and where did they come from? What was it like to live in biblical Israel? Before unpacking these questions, it might help to consider how the very meaning of the word “Israel” evolved throughout the Hebrew Bible:
- “Israel” first referred to a person, Jacob, the founding ancestor of the Israelites.
- Jacob had twelve sons whose descendants became the “twelve tribes of Israel.”
- Later, “Israel” became the name of the monarchy headed by King David and his son Solomon.
- When the monarchy divided, the northern kingdom was called “Israel” and the southern kingdom, “Judah.”
- Finally, “Israel” came to refer to the Judeans who survived as a nation in exile during the Babylonian captivity.
In fact, the Babylonian captivity is at the heart of the Hebrew scriptures (known to Christians as the Old Testament) and provides a key to understanding biblical Israel—as a people, a kingdom, and a nation. It was during this period of exile that the Judeans systematically gathered their stories and defined their identity as descendants of Abraham and one of Jacob’s tribes. The act of storytelling helped to create a community in exile, preserving the Judeans’ sense of identity while they were separated from their homeland. This story of exile still resonates with us today, as we have seen numerous modern crises that resulted in the reshaping of national identity.
The World of Biblical Israel takes you on a journey through ancient Israel to introduce you to the world, the people, the challenges, and the triumphs of this ancient land. In 24 captivating lectures, Professor Cynthia R. Chapman of Oberlin College introduces you to the stories of the Judeans in exile and grounds them in their historical context, giving you a grand vision of history as presented in the scriptures. She compares the history in the Bible to the archaeological record, giving you a complete picture of life in biblical Israel.
Along the way, you’ll encounter the richness of the Hebrew Bible, which for thousands of years has been one of the most important literary and religious works in the world, foundational to all three Abrahamic religions. In fact, Judaism has maintained unbroken ties to this text, and studying it sheds light on how the religion is practiced today. Yet it’s not until you view the Hebrew scriptures in the context of the history in which they were written that you see how truly powerful their narratives are.
Experience a People in Exile, a Nation in Crisis
The Hebrew Bible contains some of the most influential stories in Western civilization, and we regularly encounter them today—not just in religious services, but in art, films, literature, political speeches, and more. The World of Biblical Israel takes you inside the stories, introduces you to the characters, and shows you what daily life would have been like for ordinary people. Professor Chapman introduces you to the complete literary power of the scriptures by investigating many of the Bible’s key historical moments:
- The origins of the Israelites: The first five books of the Bible—the Torah—provide the ancestral history of the Israelites and set down a series of laws—many of which continue to be observed today.
- The monarchic period: Under David and Solomon, the state political structure of Israel emerged, and then the kingdom divided under subsequent rulers.
- The age of empires: Neighboring empires, including the Assyrians and the Babylonians, attacked and eventually conquered Israel and then Judah, and the resulting political instability created a tremendous economic and social burden for the Israelites and Judeans who survived.
- The Babylonian captivity: The exilic period inspired the conquered Judeans, who came to see themselves as the remnant of ancient Israel, to reflect on who they were as a people, and it forced them to reconsider their worship practices.
- Resettlement: Cyrus and the Persian Empire freed the Judeans from captivity, but the period of resettlement motivated the community to reexamine its relationship to its God, its land, its religious practices, and its legacy to the children who would become the new Israel.
In addition to learning about the period’s governments, laws, and wars, you’ll take part in the religious debates of the time. You’ll see how the gradual development of monotheism shows up in the language of the scriptures. You’ll also consider the philosophical and theological issues with which ancient Israelites wrestled:
- Why would God allow the Israelites to be conquered?
- How could the Israelites continue their worship after the temple had been destroyed?
- Why does God allow evil in the world?
Explore a Variety of Archaeological Sources
While the Bible provides a wealth of insight, Professor Chapman also delves into the archaeological record and compares it to biblical accounts. For instance, the Bible presents two histories on the return of the Israelites from Egypt—in Joshua and in Judges. You’ll see why archaeological evidence favors the Judges account.
But The World of Biblical Israel is about more than the sweep of history. Professor Chapman zooms in on the daily life of ordinary Israelites. From the family compounds to the battlefields and from the kitchens to the temples, she puts flesh on the bones of the biblical stories.
- Learn about marriage and the role of women by studying Eve, Dinah, Ruth, Jezebel, and others.
- Reflect on social inequality in the story of Naboth’s vineyard as well as the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah.
- Meet judges such as Deborah, Jephthah, and Gideon, and trace the development of law and society.
- Study the importance of literacy, as indicated in the books of Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Daniel.
- Find out what the story of Jacob and Esau has to do with the later period of exile.
An Ancient Civilization Comes to Life
You’ll look at the art, relief sculptures, writing, and administrative records, not only from the Israelites but also from the Assyrians, the Persians, the Egyptians, and other peoples to see how they viewed ancient Israel. This method gives you a balanced, historical look at a truly fascinating time and place and puts you in the role of a history detective uncovering how life was lived in biblical Israel. Additional elements such as maps, family trees, and timelines provide an even more detailed visual representation of the people, their relationships, and the sites they occupied.
This course is such a treat because it provides the full historical context for the Hebrew Bible. You’ll enjoy Professor Chapman’s lively storytelling and clear examples, and you’ll be surprised by her grand vision of the scriptures—as if the history you’ve known all your life suddenly came into brilliant focus. Spiritually engaging and historically fascinating, this course is unlike any other—and it will give you a new appreciation both for ancient history and for the foundation of the Abrahamic faiths.
Course Lecture Titles:
- Biblical Israel—The Story of a People
- By the Rivers of Babylon—Exile
- Ancestor Narratives in Genesis
- Moses—The Torah’s Central Hero
- Becoming the Nation of Israel
- Kinship and Economics in Highland Villages
- Three Weddings and a Funeral
- Political Power Bases in Early Israel
- Kingdoms and King Making
- Politics and Economy of a Centralized Cult
- Worshipping Locally
- Lives of the Rich, Lives of the Poor
- Assyrian Incursion into Israel and Judah
- Life under Siege
- Religious Debates and Preserved Text
- Ezekiel—Exilic Informant
- Life in Exile, Life in Judah
- Literacy and Education
- Religious Developments of the Exile
- The New Israel—Resettling the Land
- Food and the Family Meal—Boundaries
- National Identity—Intermarriage
- National Identity—Twins and Enemies
- Loss and Restoration—Two Biblical Stories
The Dead Sea Scrolls [TTC Video]
18 October 2013, 12:25
The Teaching Company | Course No 6362 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3@128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | 4.58GB
The year: 1947. A Bedouin shepherd tracks one of his stray goats into a cave mouth above the shore of the Dead Sea at a desolate place named Qumran. Inside, he discovers a pair of tall, thin clay pots. And what he finds when he opens those pots will be nothing less than the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century: the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Soon enough, archaeologists began swarming the dusty cliffs of Qumran in search of more caves and more scrolls. In time, the original 7 scrolls this Bedouin shepherd haphazardly uncovered grew to 930 scrolls; some of them complete, others merely fragments.
In the 60 years since their dramatic discovery, excavation, reassembly, and translation, the Dead Sea Scrolls have provided us with these and other fascinating insights:
- Our oldest biblical manuscripts, including all of the book of Isaiah, portions of virtually every other book in the Hebrew Bible, and other texts esteemed by ancient Jews
- An unprecedented window into two great monotheistic traditions in the pivotal years before and after the time of Jesus, offering insights into Jewish history, culture, and religion, as well as the growth of early Christianity out of Judaism
- Evidence of both the theological stance and ritual practices of the Yahad, an Essene group that had authored the scrolls and that, thousands of years later, have given scholars a fresh perspective on rival sects like the Sadducees and Pharisees
- The remarkable consistency in wording and meaning between the biblical texts discovered at Qumran and the great medieval codices that form a part of the spiritual lives of millions of Jews and Christians
- Enhanced knowledge of how the Bible was transmitted across the ages
Whether complete or only fragmentary, the 930 extant Dead Sea Scrolls irrevocably altered how we look at and understand the foundations of faith and religious practice.
Now you can get a comprehensive introduction to this unique series of archaeological documents, and to scholars' evolving understanding of their authorship and significance, with The Dead Sea Scrolls. Taught by Professor Gary A. Rendsburg, a dedicated Dead Sea Scrolls scholar who has spent decades immersed in the study of this amazing find, these 24 lectures will tell you what the scrolls are, what they contain, and how the insights they offered into religious and ancient history came into focus.
And in following the extraordinary story of how the scrolls were acquired and ultimately published—a story fully 40 years in its unfolding—you'll also gain a fascinating peek behind the scholarly curtain to see the rivalries, setbacks, and drama surrounding that process.
Follow a Tale of Scholarly Intrigue
Few areas of historical scholarship can match the Dead Sea Scrolls' combination of intellectual excitement, novel-like intrigue, and curiosity-satisfying forays along fascinating side trails. Organizing his lectures both chronologically and topically, Professor Rendsburg draws on history, religion, archaeology, close textual analysis, linguistics, and other key disciplines to help you share in this excitement.
What kinds of continuities have these ancient scrolls established between periods in ancient history? How can they authenticate biblical texts for both believers and skeptics?
These are just a few of the many provocative questions whose answers you'll uncover in The Dead Sea Scrolls.
An Unlimited Treasure Trove of Insights
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has offered scholars what seems an almost unlimited treasure trove of new facts and insights, which this course shares. You'll learn about these and other topics:
- The only historical instance of the Jews ever forcibly converting a conquered people to Judaism, which happened when the Hasmonean king John Hyrcanus brought the vanquished people of Idumea (the biblical land of Edom) under the rule of Judea
- The three key sects of Judaism as observed by the great Jewish historian Josephus: the priestly Sadducees and their lack of belief in the immortality of the soul and in fate; the Pharisees, whose monopoly on historical perspective would eventually be shattered by the Dead Sea Scrolls; and the Essenes, whom most scholars regard as including the Qumran sect
- The rare stroke of scholarly fortune represented in the discovery of the first seven scrolls sealed in jars, and the triumph of recovering more than 900 documents from the ravages of 2,000 years of exposure
- The extraordinary intrigue (sometimes spanning generations) that overlays the story of the scrolls, such as the tale of Professor Eliezer Sukenik—who purchased three of the original seven scrolls disguised as an Arab—and his son, Yigael Yadin, who later purchased the remaining four scrolls through a classified advertisement in The Wall Street Journal
- The ways that parchment scrolls of the time were made and written upon
- The great lengths to which some ancient Jews went to ensure their adherence to the strict interpretations of halakha, or Jewish law
These stories and many more are brought vividly to life by Professor Rendsburg, whose knowledge of and enthusiasm for his subject are enhanced by decades of study and repeated visits to the Qumran site.
Develop an Appreciation for an Unprecedented Find
At the heart of The Dead Sea Scrolls are the documents themselves. Throughout the course, you spend a wealth of time reading parts of the actual scrolls in English translation. Professor Rendsburg continually trains your eye to uncover the salient religious practices and intriguing theological ideas expressed in these documents.
In addition, his specialized knowledge in the history of the Hebrew language and his skilled literary approaches to the Bible show through in every lecture of this wide-ranging exploration of the Dead Sea Scrolls and their invaluable importance. By the conclusion of the final lecture, you'll have developed a newfound understanding and appreciation of an unprecedented historical find and its enduring influence on the way we think about—and talk about—ancient Judaism and Christianity.
Course Lecture Titles:
- The Discoveries and Their Significance
- The First Seven Scrolls
- Opening and Reading the First Scroll
- The Historical Backdrop of Ancient Judaism
- The Rise of the Jewish Sects
- The Dead Sea Site of the Qumran Sect
- The Emergence of the Rabbinic System
- A Dead Sea Scroll from Medieval Cairo
- Pesher Interpretation—Prophecy Read Anew
- The War Scroll and Other Apocalyptic Texts
- Biblical Manuscripts at Qumran
- Alternative Views of Qumran and the Scrolls
- Stops and Starts En Route to Publication
- The Qumran Vision for a New Temple
- Daily Life at Qumran
- The Halakhic Letter—Rituals Define the Sect
- The Qumran Biblical Canon
- The Qumran Calendar
- Jewish Scholars and Qumran Ritual Practices
- Prayers, Hymns, and the Synagogue
- Qumran Hebrew as an Anti-Language
- The Enigma of the Copper Scroll
- Connections to Christianity
- Scroll Fragments and a New View of Judaism
The Secrets of Mental Math [TTC Video]
01 October 2013, 18:05
The Teaching Company | Course No 1406 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3@128 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x 30 mins | with PDF Guidebook | 2.54GB
Quick: What's 25 × 45? How about 742 × 300? Or 4821 ÷ 9? Most of us, when faced with math problems like these, immediately reach for a calculator or a pen. But imagine if you could perform these and other seemingly difficult—but surprisingly easy—calculations right in your head. Seems like an impossible feat? It's not.
One key to improving and expanding your math potential—whether you're a corporate executive or a high-school student—lies in the powerful ability to perform mental math calculations. Solving basic math problems in your head is a gateway to success in understanding and mastering higher mathematical fields such as algebra, statistics, and calculus. It's a skill that offers other lifelong benefits, including
- giving you a competitive edge in school or at work;
- keeping your mind active and sharp at any age;
- improving your performance on standardized tests; and
- learning to solve problems by using a variety of methods.
Mental mathematics also is valuable when you're shopping for groceries or figuring out how much to tip at a restaurant. And perhaps the best part? Learning how to do mental math can be fun—especially when you're learning in the company of Professor Arthur T. Benjamin of Harvey Mudd College, one of the most engaging and entertaining members of The Great Courses faculty. The Secrets of Mental Math, his exciting 12-lecture course, guides you through all the essential skills, tips, and tricks for improving and enhancing your ability to solve a range of mathematical problems right in your head.
Mental Math—Made Simple
Mental math, as Professor Benjamin demonstrates, is not as daunting as it may seem. In fact, it's an ability you already have—you just may not know it. Performing calculations in your head is all just a process of breaking down a large problem into simpler and simpler problems until it's finally reduced to a single answer.
Assuming no detailed knowledge of mathematics other than what you learned in elementary school, Professor Benjamin has designed The Secrets of Mental Math to be accessible to anyone looking to tap into or strengthen his or her mental calculating skills.
In the first part of the course, you focus on specific strategies for performing the basic nuts-and-bolts operations of mental mathematics.
- Adding any two numbers up to three digits
- Subtracting any two numbers up to three digits
- Multiplying any two numbers up to two digits
- Dividing any number by a number up to two digits
Dr. Benjamin fills each lecture with a wealth of practice problems to follow along with and get you engaged in the joys of mentally solving math problems.
Once you've gotten these four fundamental operations down, you then branch out into some interesting directions that continue to hone your mental math skills. Among the exciting skills you'll develop are
- how to find approximate answers using the art of "guesstimation";
- how to quickly find squares and square roots;
- how to improve your memory for numbers (including phone and credit card numbers) by using a simple phonetic code;
- how to approach enormous calculations with increased confidence and accuracy;
- how to mentally determine the day of the week of any date in history; and
- how to do rapid pencil-and-paper mathematics in ways seldom taught in school.
And his accompanying course guidebook is filled with additional problems you can use to practice your newfound skills.
Discover Valuable Mathematical Tips and Techniques
Throughout The Secrets of Mental Math, Professor Benjamin leads you through some fun—and memorable—techniques for tackling specific mathematical calculations. Here's an example of one strategy he calls "Create a Zero, Kill the Zero," helpful for determining the divisibility of any odd number that doesn't end in 5.
Is 1232 a multiple of 7?
- Start by adding or subtracting a multiple of 7 to create a 0 at the end (1232 + 28 = 1260).
- Kill the 0 from the new number (1260 becomes 126).
- Add or subtract a multiple of 7 to create another zero at the end (126 + 14 = 140), then kill the 0 at the end.
- Determine whether the new number is a multiple of the original divisor (yes, it's 14).
- Thus, 1232 is a multiple of 7.
An Encouraging, Rewarding Look at Numbers
But you'll get more than just fun strategies to help make mental math easier. Learning with Professor Benjamin is like having a supportive coach right by your side—someone to encourage you, challenge you, and instill mathematical confidence in you. It's this same teaching method that has won him a host of prestigious awards from the Mathematical Association of America, including the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.
So prepare yourself for an unforgettable adventure in mental mathematics. Enjoyable, eye-opening, and immensely rewarding, The Secrets of Mental Math makes basic math quicker and easier than ever before. And it's a powerful way to take your first, more confident steps into the intriguing—and undeniably fun—world of numbers.
Course Lecture Titles:
- Math in Your Head!
- Mental Addition and Subtraction
- Go Forth and Multiply
- Divide and Conquer
- The Art of Guesstimation
- Mental Math and Paper
- Intermediate Multiplication
- The Speed of Vedic Division
- Memorizing Numbers
- Calendar Calculating
- Advanced Multiplication
- Masters of Mental Math