Sacred Texts of the World [TTC Video]

Sacred Texts of the World [TTC Video]
Sacred Texts of the World [TTC Video] by Grant Hardy
Course No 6160 | WMV, WMV3, 640x360 | WMA, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 15.73GB

Throughout history, religious expression has been an essential human activity, deeply influencing the development of cultures and civilizations. Today, even after centuries of scientific empiricism, the world’s major religions are as active as ever, continuing to speak profoundly to their believers’ self-conception and ways of living.

With few exceptions, humanity’s religions are grounded in their sacred texts—foundational writings that crystallize the principles and vision of the faiths, forming the basis of belief and action.

The worldwide library of sacred texts is a vast and extraordinary canon that includes a large number of the most impactful books ever written. Beyond the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and Islam’s Qur’an, jewels of the world’s sacred writings include the Hindu Vedas, the Buddhist Sutras, Daoism’s Daodejing, and the Analects of Confucius, as well as the revered texts of traditions such as Zoroastrianism and Jainism, and modern faiths such as Baha’i. These are texts that people around the world live by and, at times, are willing to die for.

Remarkable in their centrality and enduring appeal, sacred writings offer a uniquely revealing window into global thought, culture, and history. A familiarity with the diverse body of world scriptures offers you

  • a penetrating look at how people from different traditions have viewed the cosmos, the world, and human beings;
  • a grasp of the core values and beliefs of the world’s highly influential faiths;
  • a deep sense of the worldview, cultural themes, perceptions, and concerns driving the societies that produced the texts;
  • direct knowledge and understanding of a towering body of world literature, reflecting richly varied traditions; and
  • the words and insights of some of the wisest human beings in history on the self, the mind, ethics, morality, and meaningful living.

At their core, sacred writings take you to the essence of the world’s faiths as they give meaning and inspiration to countless millions of people around the globe. In doing so, the texts provide a significant bridge to understanding other peoples and ways of life, and an opportunity to look at our own traditions and assumptions with fresh eyes and a greatly enlarged perspective.

Now, in Sacred Texts of the World, Professor Grant Hardy of the University of North Carolina at Asheville takes you deeply into the world canon of sacred writings that have played an integral role in human culture and history. Covering a wide spectrum of texts, the course examines the scriptures of seven major religious traditions, as well as nine lesser-known or smaller faiths, including sacred writings from the ancient Egyptian and Mayan civilizations. These 36 lectures provide rich insights into world cultures and the meaning of religious faith.

A Global Richness of Sacred Traditions

Within each faith studied, the lectures provide an overview of the full range of sacred writings, focusing on the texts that are the most significant and relevant for comprehending the tradition.

In addition to extensive study of the scriptures of the Judeo-Christian and Islamic worlds, you’ll discover religious texts from vastly differing cultures, including these iconic writings:

  • The Hindu Upanishads:Within a broad look at the huge Hindu canon, study the spiritual arguments and dialogues of the Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads, core wisdom texts elaborating the underlying unity of brahman (ultimate reality) and atman (the self or soul).
  • The Adi Granth of Sikhism: Unpack this most unusual text, the beloved heart of the Sikh religion; study its precepts expressed in hymns, poetry, and prayers; and learn how devotees treat the book as a living guru.
  • The Buddhist Mahayana Sutras: Among six lectures on seminal Buddhist texts, taste the Mahayana tradition’s Lotus, Diamond, and Heart sutras, and their compelling expressions of emptiness, non-duality, and “no-self.”
  • The Zoroastrian Avesta: Grapple with the challenging theology of this ancient Persian religion, embodied in the Avesta’s hymns, religious codes, and spiritual debates between the priest Zoroaster and the creator god, Ahura Mazda.
  • The Classicsof Confucianism: Delve into the Confucian notions of self-cultivation, right action, and harmony with the cosmos; contemplate texts including the Analects,the Mencius, and the renowned Yijing; and trace their profound influence on Chinese culture.
  • The Mayan Popol Vuh: Uncover this remarkable text of the ancient Mayan culture, comprising creation stories, religious ritual, and sacred mythological narratives.

Scriptural Treasures of the Abrahamic Faiths

Among the major world religions, you’ll devote a full third of the lectures to the emblematic texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Here, the inquiry covers not only these faiths’ most central writings, but other key texts that illuminate the monotheistic traditions.

In Judaism, you’ll study the roots of the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) and the great texts of its constituent parts—the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings—discovering how the ancient Jews, scattered geographically, were bound together by their scriptures. Within Christianity, you’ll trace the complex origins of the New Testament and dig deeply into the Gospels, Acts, and Letters. You’ll also study the formation and contents of Islam’s Qur’an, sampling excerpts of its majestic poetry and diverse suras (chapters).

Building on your knowledge of the core scriptures of these faiths, you’ll investigate these important related texts:

  • The Jewish Mishnah and Talmud: Grasp the role and significance of the Mishnah, an elemental text teaching critical thinking, and of the Talmud, a vast literary commentary on Jewish life.
  • The Christian Apocryphal Gospels: Discover four noncanonical versions of the life of Jesus, containing revealing and often provocative stories and teachings.
  • The Hadith of Islam: Contemplate this revered body of texts narrating the actions and sayings of Muhammad as they speak critically to Muslim life and culture.

Expanding the inquiry beyond the most long-standing faiths, Professor Hardy invites your consideration of the sacred writings of more recent religions. Among these, you’ll encounter the Japanese Tenrikyo and its distinctive scriptures of poems, songs, and revelations. You’ll also study the monumentalBook of Mormon and Mormonism’s other core texts, and read foundational Baha’i writings on the oneness of God and the unity of religions.

An Inquiry of Extraordinary Scope and Dimension

As an integral element of this course, Professor Hardy offers thought-provoking perspectives on the meanings of the texts and their cultural roles, and how studying them can bring sharp focus to our own assumptions. In comparing writings of different religious cultures, you learn these distinctions:

  • While Western monotheists have placed great emphasis on printing and translating their scriptures, traditions such as Hinduism and Zoroastrianism have held that holy words must be spoken aloud to be actualized, viewing writing and translation as diminishing what is most sacred.
  • The Western distinction between “religion” and “philosophy” doesn’t apply in some major traditions. Daoism, for example, addresses both political problems—matters of government and leadership—and a path to inward spirituality and transcendence.

In taking you to the heart of the texts, Professor Hardy suggests persuasively that many of the values of China and Japan don’t make sense until you’ve thought carefully about the Confucian Analects and the Daodejing, just as reading the Qur’an critically illuminates what is going on in the Middle East and much of Africa.

Throughout, Professor Hardy illustrates the lectures with striking images depicting religious history and the texts themselves, bringing the story of the writings alive in visual terms. His teaching reflects a remarkably wide-ranging knowledge of the texts and the societies that produced them, and he enriches the inquiry with fascinating and often surprising details of religious culture:

  • The Qur’an is not a book but the spoken words of the text; there is a different word (Mus’haf) for the Qur’an as a physical object.
  • For most of its history, India’s social stability came from the principles advocated in the Hindu Laws of Manu, rather than from external law codes.
  • Christian fundamentalism is a relatively new phenomenon; in past centuries, Christians read their scriptures from multiple perspectives.
  • The earliest collection of women’s literature, from the 5th century B.C.E., is the Buddhist Therigatha.
  • Until 623 C.E., Muslims prayed facing Jerusalem.

In Sacred Texts of the World, you’ll delve deeply into the sacred writings that have shaped the identities, mental worlds, and actions of large segments of humanity—texts that remain a formidable influence in today’s world. These richly informative lectures reveal a global legacy of faith, thought, and spirituality.

Sacred Texts of the World [TTC Video]

Understanding Multivariable Calculus: Problems, Solutions, and Tips [TTC Video]

Understanding Multivariable Calculus: Problems, Solutions, and Tips [TTC Video]
Understanding Multivariable Calculus: Problems, Solutions, and Tips [TTC Video] by Bruce H Edwards
Course No 1023 | WMV, WMV3, 640x360 | WMA, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 13.03GB

Calculus offers some of the most astounding advances in all of mathematics—reaching far beyond the two-dimensional applications learned in first-year calculus. We do not live on a sheet of paper, and in order to understand and solve rich, real-world problems of more than one variable, we need multivariable calculus, where the full depth and power of calculus is revealed.

Whether calculating the volume of odd-shaped objects, predicting the outcome of a large number of trials in statistics, or even predicting the weather, we depend in myriad ways on calculus in three dimensions. Once we grasp the fundamentals of multivariable calculus, we see how these concepts unfold into new laws, entire new fields of physics, and new ways of approaching once-impossible problems.

With multivariable calculus, we get

  • new tools for optimization, taking into account as many variables as needed;
  • vector fields that give us a peek into the workings of fluids, from hydraulic pistons to ocean currents and the weather;
  • new coordinate systems that enable us to solve integrals whose solutions in Cartesian coordinates may be difficult to work with; and
  • mathematical definitions of planes and surfaces in space, from which entire fields of mathematics such as topology and differential geometry arise.

Understanding Multivariable Calculus: Problems, Solutions, and Tips, taught by award-winning Professor Bruce H. Edwards of the University of Florida, brings the basic concepts of calculus together in a much deeper and more powerful way. This course is the next step for students and professionals to expand their knowledge for work or study in many quantitative fields, as well as an eye-opening intellectual exercise for teachers, retired professionals, and anyone else who wants to understand the amazing applications of 3-D calculus.

Designed for anyone familiar with basic calculus, Understanding Multivariable Calculus follows, but does not essentially require knowledge of, Calculus II. The few topics introduced in Calculus II that do carry over, such as vector calculus, are here briefly reintroduced, but with a new emphasis on three dimensions.

Your main focus throughout the 36 comprehensive lectures is on deepening and generalizing fundamental tools of integration and differentiation to functions of more than one variable. Under the expert guidance of Professor Edwards, you’ll embark on an exhilarating journey through the concepts of multivariable calculus, enlivened with real-world examples and beautiful animated graphics that lift calculus out of the textbook and into our three-dimensional world.

A New Look at Old Problems

How do you integrate over a region of the xy plane that can’t be defined by just one standard y = f(x) function? Multivariable calculus is full of hidden surprises, containing the answers to many such questions. In Understanding Multivariable Calculus, Professor Edwards unveils powerful new tools in every lecture to solve old problems in a few steps, turn impossible integrals into simple ones, and yield exact answers where even calculators can only approximate.

With these new tools, you will be able to

  • integrate volumes and surface areas directly with double and triple integrals;
  • define easily differentiable parametric equations for a function using vectors; and
  • utilize polar, cylindrical, and spherical coordinates to evaluate double and triple integrals whose solutions are difficult in standard Cartesian coordinates.

Professor Edwards leads you through these new techniques with a clarity and enthusiasm for the subject that make even the most challenging material accessible and enjoyable. With graphics animated with state-of-the-art software that brings three-dimensional surfaces and volumes to life, as well as an accompanying illustrated workbook, this course will provide anyone who is intrigued about math a chance to better understand the full potential of one of the crowning mathematical achievements of humankind.

Understanding Multivariable Calculus: Problems, Solutions, and Tips [TTC Video]
Understanding Multivariable Calculus: Problems, Solutions, and Tips [TTC Video]

Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History [TTC Video]

Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History [TTC Video]
Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History [TTC Video] by Richard Kurin
Course No 8576 | M4V, AVC, 640x360 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 8.14GB

The Smithsonian is a repository of America’s history, achievements, aspirations, and identity. It holds the artifacts of great leaders, and those of ordinary Americans. It houses scientific specimens and technological wonders. It is home to art, music, films, writings—a vast treasure trove of objects of extraordinary beauty and outstanding design. With a collection of some 137 million items in more than two dozen museums and research centers, the Smithsonian brings our national epic to life as nothing else can.

Consider these examples of its riches:

  • George Washington’s simple but elegant army uniform and sword;
  • Thomas Jefferson’s Bible, which he compiled by hand so he could study the Gospels in four different languages;
  • The chairs where Generals Lee and Grant sat when they concluded the surrender that ended the Civil War;
  • Jacqueline Kennedy’s stunning silk gown, worn at the inaugural balls for President John F. Kennedy; and
  • The spacesuit that protected Neil Armstrong when he took his “one small step” on the Moon.

Such outstanding holdings are the reason a tour of the Smithsonian museums is an American tradition—a pilgrimage made by 31 million visitors every year. They come to be enthralled, to be moved, and above all to learn—motivated by the institution’s mission to promote the increase and diffusion of knowledge.

That worthy goal is also the purpose of The Great Courses, and it has inspired a unique partnership: The Great Courses and the Smithsonian are collaborating to bring the Smithsonian museums to you. In an unprecedented move, curators have taken objects out of their cases and brought them to our lecture room to give you special access to treasures that collectively represent the American experience.

Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History showcases 20 authentic historic objects along with detailed replicas and photographs of almost 100 other artifacts and exhibits. Together, these evocative items tell the story of America, its people, and its diverse cultures in 24 lavishly illustrated half-hour lectures.

Your guide is the distinguished scholar, administrator, and bestselling author, Dr. Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian. Among his many responsibilities, Dr. Kurin oversees most of the Smithsonian’s national museums, libraries, and archives, making him the curator of the country’s greatest treasures—and the ideal host for this remarkable survey.

A History Course Like No Other

In addition to historic objects, Experiencing America includes maps, portraits, recordings, videos, and demonstration models. The result is an American history course like no other. Along with history, you get a behind-the-scenes look at the work of curators, conservators, and other professionals who are preserving our nation’s heritage.

Experiencing America is ideal preparation for anyone planning to visit the Smithsonian. And for those who can’t make the trip, this course brings the Smithsonian to you, providing an immensely rewarding twelve-hour journey through the past. It starts more than 15,000 years ago with some of the oldest human artifacts found in North America. Your tour continues to Plymouth Rock, the Pacific Northwest with Lewis and Clark, the Moon and back, and even to the Land of Oz, thanks to Dorothy’s famous ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 movie.

The showpieces of the course are a selection of original artifacts, which Dr. Kurin presents after donning a pair of archival gloves. These historic treasures include:

  • Star-Spangled Banner: Dr. Kurin shows and discusses a fragment of the renowned flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem. The original flag measured 30 by 42 feet and is now on display at the National Museum of American History.
  • Slave shackles: The new National Museum of African American History and Culture has a pair of iron shackles that were used to restrain enslaved Africans on their ocean passage to America. The set held by Dr. Kurin is unusually small because it was worn by a child.
  • Bell telephone: Dr. Kurin demonstrates how an early cup-shaped telephone was used as a transmitter by speaking into it and as a receiver by then holding it to the ear. Along with many other inventions, it resides in the National Museum of American History.
  • Sitting Bull's drawing book: The victorious Indian chief at the Battle of Little Big Horn made a book of drawings that depict his deeds as a warrior. This fascinating set of sketches is housed at the National Museum of Natural History.
  • Apollo 8 glove: The first humans to travel beyond Earth’s orbit were the three astronauts who orbited the Moon aboard Apollo 8 in 1968. Dr. Kurin shows a spacesuit glove worn by one of them. It resides in the National Air and Space Museum.

And Dr. Kurin brings out more than a dozen other original items, each telling an exceptional story.

Nearly Limitless Treasures

Many people are surprised by the number of facilities that comprise the Smithsonian—from the museums lining the National Mall, such as American History, Natural History, American Indian, Air and Space, and African American History; to those beyond, including the National Portrait Gallery, National Zoo, American Art Museum, and the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Experiencing America draws on all of these resources and more. For example, from the National Museum of American History, you focus on such items as these:

  • Sutter’s Mill gold flake: Weighing less than 0.09g, this tiny gold flake found at a California sawmill in 1848 launched the California Gold Rush—a great wave of migration that opened a momentous new chapter of American history.
  • Lincoln’s hat: Our tallest president, Abraham Lincoln, liked to wear a stovepipe hat that increased his height even more. Tragically, the hat in the Smithsonian’s collection was worn by Lincoln on the night of his assassination at Ford’s Theater.
  • Bugle from USS Maine: The Spanish-American War was incited by the mysterious explosion of the U.S. warship Maine in Havana harbor in 1898. Among the recovered artifacts, the Smithsonian has a bugle, possibly the one playing “Taps” moments before the blast.
  • Berlin Wall fragment: The Cold War that pitted the Soviet bloc against the democratic West lasted from 1945 until 1989, when the symbol of communist tyranny, the Berlin Wall, was dismantled by protestors. The Smithsonian has a piece.
  • Julia Child’s kitchen: When renowned chef Julia Child retired in 2001, the Smithsonian acquired her kitchen—sink and all! The meticulously recreated room is popular with cooking enthusiasts, who admire its well-equipped but homey character.

From the National Museum of Natural History, you learn the story of Martha, the last surviving passenger pigeon, who died in 1914. You also chart the glittering career of the Hope Diamond, which arrived at the Smithsonian in 1958 inside an ordinary U.S. Mail parcel like the one Dr. Kurin proudly displays.

He also shows Marian Anderson’s mink coat, which is in the collection of the Anacostia Community Museum. A virtuoso African-American singer, Anderson wore the coat for a celebrated 1939 performance that took place on the National Mall when she was denied a concert hall in segregated Washington, D.C. You also see portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, including those of Pocahontas, George Washington, and Frederick Douglass.

Among the objects you explore from the National Museum of the American Indian is a towering totem pole carved by a contemporary Native American artist. And you discover that the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum on Manhattan’s upper east side is itself an artifact—the mansion of steel baron turned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

The treasures are almost limitless, and so is the deeper insight you gain into American history. But the most moving moment in Experiencing America comes when Dr. Kurin turns to relics from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The objects include a crash-scarred logbook owned by a flight attendant aboard one of the hijacked airliners; the crumpled door of a New York City fire engine, found in the rubble of the World Trade Center; and a fireman’s crowbar, also recovered from the site.

“Simple object, but part of a big story,” reflects Dr. Kurin. “And when you’re in intimate proximity to one of these objects, as I am now, you have a link to that sweeping story. History is not distant. It’s not a stranger.”

Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History [TTC Video]

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