The Old Testament [TTC Video]
01 January 2017, 02:42
Course No 653 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.45GB
The Old Testament, or Tanakh, was written in ancient Israel over 1,000 years by many authors. What can this book teach us about the ancient Israelites? What does our faith find in new scholarly understanding? As scripture or as the most influential piece of literature ever written, this book is a source of constant wonder, inspiration, and intrigue.
It is cited on the floor of the Senate and from the bench in the courtroom. Contemporary politics is inextricably intertwined with it, from conflict in the Middle East to the claim by many in the United States that a return to "biblical values"is warranted.
The Bible influenced the Pilgrims to leave England in the 17th century; it inspired the founders of the new republic in the 18th; it roused both slave and abolitionist to seek a new Moses and sponsor a new Exodus in the 19th and the Jews to establish a homeland in the 20th.
It has meant more to more people than any other book in history. The influence of ancient Israel's religious and national literature is evident in everything from medieval mystery plays to modern novels, art, music, theater, film, and dance.
As Professor Amy-Jill Levine observes: "The Old Testament is endlessly fascinating because it offers everything to explore: myth, saga, and history; tragedy, comedy, and farce; economics and politics; literature and poetry of surpassing beauty; court intrigue and prophetic morality; heavenly miracles and sometimes heavenly silence; questions of theodicy; answers that satisfy and answers that may not; destruction and rebuilding; despair and hope."
Lively and Learned Commentary on the Old Testament
Professor Levine's commentary thoughtfully explores selected passages from the texts called the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, and the Tanakh. She provides clear examples of how various approaches to biblical research and interpretation can enrich your understanding of this inexhaustibly fruitful and powerful text.
Joseph Hough, the Dean of Union Theological Seminary, says Professor Levine is "the best classroom teacher I have seen in my 35 years in theological education, bar none."
A Conceptual Road Map to Biblical Studies
The Old Testament prophets' poetic calls for personal and social justice continue to urge people and nations to reform their lives, even as biblical wisdom literature challenges our views of God, and the Psalms enrich the prayer lives of millions.
Studded with genres ranging from myth and saga to law and proverb, from military history to love poetry, informed by world-views radically different from yet still fundamental to our own, the Old Testament tells a people's sacred story. It is a narrative of divine action in history that is holy writ to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.
Of course, 24 lectures cannot hope to cover the Old Testament in its entirety. The early parts of the Genesis narrative or the stories of Moses and David alone could easily occupy a whole course.
The method of the course is to discuss especially interesting or prominent passages from a cross-section of all the genres the Old Testament contains, using each passage as an example of how to apply a particular method of interpretation to the Bible.
Often Professor Levine uses representative figures or episodes as a highway into biblical meaning. Whether it's the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis, David and Bathsheba from II Samuel, or the apocalyptic imagery found in the book of Daniel, she brings biblical characters and passages to life and vividly reveals the magnificent artistry that suffuses the Old Testament.
Through these lectures, you will not only probe the content of the biblical books, but you will also explore debates over their meaning, the historical and cultural situations they reflect and address, and the critical methods by which they have been interpreted.
The lectures presuppose only the most general familiarity with biblical figures and themes—the Garden of Eden, Moses and the Exodus, the Ten Commandments, etc.—biblical literacy, sociologists have noted, is on the wane in the West.
Although students do not need to follow the lectures with an open Bible, reading the texts listed at the top of each of the outlines will enhance appreciation for the material.
Writings that Form the Spiritual Bedrock for Millions
Even if you know the Old Testament well, you will find it enlightening to hear Professor Levine discuss how it appears against the larger background of the ancient Near East as revealed by research in archaeology, cross-cultural studies, and comparative religion.
Even were one to argue that the text is divinely inspired or dictated by God, one might still want to know as much as possible about the particulars: Why these words? Why this order? Why this social context? Why this translation?
Although she focuses on historical and literary issues, Professor Levine also provides thoughtful reflections and useful information on the religious questions that arise from these sacred texts, and the lectures do not avoid raising issues of religious concern.
The goal of an academic course in biblical studies, she maintains, is not to undermine religious faith, but to use the best available knowledge and research to give believers richer insight into the writings that form their spiritual bedrock.
Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age [TTC Video]
31 December 2016, 03:57
Course No 327 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.42GB
This series of lectures examines a crucial period in the history of the ancient world, the age ushered in by the extraordinary conquests of Alexander the Great. In all the annals of the ancient world, few stories are more gripping than that of the Hellenistic Age. Between the conquests of Alexander the Great and the rise of Rome, Greek culture became the heart of a world-historical civilization whose intellectual, spiritual, and artistic influence endures to this day.
Julius Caesar lamented when he was in his early 30s that by his age Alexander had conquered the world, "and I have done nothing."
In just 10 years, this young prince from the small, hill kingdom of Macedon subdued the largest tract of the earth's surface ever conquered by one individual. His vast empire—encompassing all or part of 23 present-day countries—stretched from Mount Olympus and the Sahara Desert to the frontiers of India and Central Asia.
In the opening lectures, we explore the enigma of Alexander, son of a brilliant father, yet always at odds with the man whom he succeeded. We trace his early campaigns against the Persians and follow him to Egypt, where he was acclaimed as the son of god.
We look at his career after this and find in him a blend of greatness and madness as he strove to replace the Persian empire of the Achaemenid dynasty with a new, mixed ruling class of Macedonians and Persians.
Alexander's death in 323 BC ushered in a period of catastrophic change as ambitious warlords carved up Alexander's realm into their own separate empires. It is said that as the 33-year-old Alexander lay dying in Babylon in 323 B.C., he was asked who would inherit his empire. "The strongest," he answered.
Their struggle created three kingdoms, ruled by a small group of Macedonian nobles, that spanned from the eastern Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush:
- Ptolemaic Egypt (323-31 B.C.), whose last ruler was Cleopatra
- Seleucid Syria (323-64 B.C.), whose attack on the Temple in Jerusalem in 166 B.C. led to the Maccabean revolt
- The Attalid Empire in Asia Minor (281-133 B.C.), which, while smaller than the other two, produced a cultural flourishing in its capital Pergamum that rivaled Alexandria in Egypt.
North Africa. In the Nile valley, the Ptolemies played the role of pharaohs and were treated by their subjects as gods. At the same time, however, their capital, Alexandria, was cut off from Egypt and run by Greek bureaucrats. Greek culture thrived here in the museum and library, and the Ptolemies were great patrons of the arts. The library itself boasted half a million books.
The Middle East. In the Seleucid empire, the rulers also built Greek cities, such as Antioch, but in older regions, including Mesopotamia, they too were ready to be worshipped as living gods. On the edges of the Hellenistic world, in places as far away as Afghanistan and Pakistan, Greek cities grew up around trading posts and military settlements. Here, philosophy and literature from old Greece went hand in hand with gymnasiums and theaters to plant Greek culture far from the Mediterranean. By military and cultural conquest, then, much of central Asia was incorporated into the Greek world.
Despite the geographic extent of this civilization, we see that the heartland remained the eastern Mediterranean. It was here, in such new cities as Alexandria and Pergamum and such old ones as Athens, that Greek culture developed its distinctive Hellenistic appearance.
Philosophy. Philosophy became more academic, as different schools of philosophy emerged. Stoicism, epicureanism, and skepticism all looked for ways to teach people to avoid the emotional upheavals of life in an age of anxiety.
Art and Architecture. At the same time, art rejoiced in exploring the very same turmoil of the age. Hellenistic sculptors looked at the old, the young, the ugly, and the tortured instead of merely fashioning images of the perfect athlete. Differing sharply from the Classical art that precedes it, Hellenistic art is gargantuan, often "excessive," and nakedly emotional. It explores aspects of human experience previously outside the concerns of the Greeks.
Literature. Novelists also played with themes of the reversal of fortune in the lives of their characters, because such tumult was part of the experiences of so many people. Piracy, brigandage, physical hardship, and the supreme power of great kings were all realities of the age and left their marks on ordinary people.
Religion and Magic. As we see, these conditions helped spawn a vital interest in magic, spells, and incantations and in religions that offered people the promise of redemption and salvation. The cults of Isis, Serapis, and Cybele all grew in popularity throughout the Hellenistic world. This was the climate of the world in which Christianity was born.
Captured Greece? Captured Rome?
Although the Hellenistic Age would result in some of the greatest accomplishments in Greek culture, especially in the poetry of Callimachus, Theocritus, and Apollonius, the political power of the age was overshadowed by the growth of Rome.
Hence, we conclude the lectures with a study of the growth of Roman power, its expansion into the eastern Mediterranean, and the inevitable clash of Greek and Roman civilizations. We see that Rome conquered, but Rome would be forever changed by the contact with Greek culture. In the words of the Roman poet Horace, "Captured Greece took captive her captor."
America and the World: A Diplomatic History [TTC Video]
31 December 2016, 03:41
Course No 8598 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.46GB
It was a transformation unprecedented in global history. In barely more than two centuries, the United States evolved from a sparsely settled handful of colonies whose very survival was in grave doubt into the most powerful nation the world has ever known-militarily, economically, technologically, culturally, politically, and even ideologically.
How could such an implausible metamorphosis have occurred? In a world where power and the willingness to wield it had always determined the fate of nations, what factors enabled our young nation to successfully navigate the corridors of diplomacy and foreign policy from the outset, ensuring not only survival but also eventual status as a superpower?
America and the World: A Diplomatic History addresses these and other penetrating questions. In 24 insightful lectures, award-winning Professor Mark A. Stoler of the University of Vermont-a scholar acknowledged for his expertise in U.S. diplomatic and military history-offers you a fresh view of America's shift from the periphery of international politics to its very center.
Enhance Your Understanding of the History Taking Place Right Now
Although the specifics naturally change as time advances, the basic elements that make up diplomacy's causal machinery are always in place. Throughout history, diplomacy has resolved international disputes and helped chart new directions for political, economic, and cultural growth.
Studying how American diplomacy works not only strengthens your understanding of why the nation's history turned out the way it did but also adds immeasurably to your interpretation of present-day events. Whether reading a newspaper, listening to a news broadcast, or evaluating the assertions of a political leader or candidate, you will find that the story told in America and the World enhances your perspectives on the history taking place right now.
As he guides you through America's ascendancy, Professor Stoler shows that causal machinery at work as he explores the key components of American diplomatic history:
- The origins of American beliefs about our "mission" and proper place in the world
- The expansion of the original United States across the North American continent through war and treaty
- The acquisition of a formal overseas empire in the late 19th century and the subsequent addition of an informal empire
- The achievement of victory in two world wars and participation in limited but bloody conflicts in Korea and Vietnam
- The course of-and victory in-the 45-year cold war with the Soviet Union
- The origins and evolution of famous or significant pronouncements and policies, including Washington's Farewell Address, the idea of "Manifest Destiny," the Monroe Doctrine, the Open Door policy, isolationism, the Marshall Plan, and the "containment" of Communism
Of course, policies and actions are decided by the people whose decisions unleash them, and these lectures bring into clear focus the leaders whose judgments shaped America's path
Learn How and Why Diplomatic History Happens
Presenting history's events as only a single part of a much broader whole, Professor Stoler adds the "how" and "why" to the "what" of American diplomatic history. You learn
- how America's influence has been shaped and expanded by events and ideas;
- how key personalities-whether America's own national leaders or those of other nations-have influenced American diplomacy and its practice in the international arena;
- the key beliefs Americans have developed about international relations and their role on the world stage; and
- how those beliefs have shaped America's actions through both war and peace.
It's an approach that enhances your grasp of not only the substance of events and their multiple causes but also the implications for the next potential sequence of events.
The course offers an excellent perspective on the many lines of causality that converged to create those historical moments and consequences, including the backgrounds and personalities of foreign policy decision makers, national beliefs, geopolitical strategies, and military situations.
Fresh Perspectives—Even on Familiar Names
Even when the names are familiar, the new perspectives and fascinating episodes offered by Professor Stoler deepen your insight into the careers of these diplomats:
- John Quincy Adams: Considered by many historians to have been America's greatest secretary of state, Adams was responsible for an extraordinary series of major foreign policy successes—including primary authorship of what came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted the independence of the Western Hemisphere from further European colonization or interference.
- John Jay: One of the three authors of the Federalist and the nation's first chief justice, Jay was also a major diplomatic figure. The treaty he negotiated with Great Britain in 1794 aroused so much controversy that Jay claimed he could have traveled the entire coastline by night, navigating by the light of the burning effigies of him.
- James K. Polk: One of the least known of America's presidents, Polk was also one of the most important in the history of the country's expansion—and one of the most controversial.
- Woodrow Wilson: Although tremendously respected across the political spectrum, Wilson failed to achieve his most important foreign policy goals.
An Engaging, Informative Instructor
Professor Stoler has devoted more than 30 years to the study of U.S. diplomatic and military history. A prolific author of books on American foreign policy and the recipient of numerous teaching awards from the University of Vermont, Professor Stoler imbues these lectures with an enlightening depth and breadth.
Professor Stoler's expertise makes America and the World an engaging look at a unique facet of American history. Weaving together events and personalities, he shows you how and why America gained its current station.
Whether exploring events as diverse as the impressment of American seamen by the British in the early 19th century, the development and execution of the Marshall Plan, or the Cuban Missile Crisis, America and the World presents watershed moments in history through the perspective of foreign policy and diplomacy.
The result is an entertaining course that will not only deepen your outlook on American history but will also prove that not all history is made on the battlefield.