Reading Biblical Literature: Genesis to Revelation [TTC Video]
21 November 2016, 21:02
Course No 6650 | MP4, AVC, 856x480 | AAC, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.7GB
Rightly recognized as one of the world’s most important spiritual texts, the Bible has shaped thousands of years of faith, art, and human history. Yet for all its importance to believers and nonbelievers alike, we rarely engage with the Bible as a collection of unique narratives that were only later united into what we now know as the Old and New Testaments. And these different texts—historical narratives, dramatic visions, poems, songs, letters—speak to a broad range of experience, from joy and wonder to tragedy and mystery.
The diversity of material in biblical books like Exodus, Isaiah, Psalms, Mark, and Revelation that has prompted people throughout history (from religious scholars to celebrated artists to everyday worshippers) to ponder and debate the meaning of these classic texts. To truly understand and appreciate the Bible’s many perspectives on faith, war, suffering, love, memory, community, and other enduring themes, it is enlightening to use a literary approach to reading and thinking about these separate books.
- What do you learn when you consider biblical books with a focus on their settings, narrative structures, characterizations, images, and themes?
- How do various biblical books offer quite different responses to events and issues, challenging readers to think of them in bold new ways?
- How does this respectful perspective help us better understand the early history of Judaism and Christianity, as well as the roots of religious belief?
Enjoy an intellectual adventure like no other in Reading Biblical Literature, which offers a comprehensive, book-by-book analysis of the Bible from the fascinating perspective of literature and narrative. Delivered by religion scholar and acclaimed professor Craig R. Koester of Luther Seminary, these 36 lectures guide you through ancient stories, empowering you to engage with the books of the Bible as richly meaningful texts. From the stories of figures like Moses and King David to the gospel accounts of Jesus and the formation of the earliest Christian communities, this course offers an unforgettably vivid sense of the Bible as a tale filled with complex characters, dramatic conflicts, universal themes, inspirational wisdom, hidden meanings, revolutionary crises, and powerful life lessons. No wonder it’s considered the greatest story ever told.
Begin “In the Beginning…”
Composed over the span of 10 centuries, the books of the Bible are today divided into those of the Old Testament (known to some as the Jewish Bible) and the New Testament (the cornerstone of the Christian faith). But there’s no need to be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Bible. Reading Biblical Literature lets you encounter these books in a manner that’s accessible and engaging.
Professor Koester begins these lectures at the only appropriate place: with the creation of the universe as recounted in the book of Genesis. From there, you’ll plunge into Old Testament plotlines dealing with migration and exile, slavery and deliverance, anticipation and disappointment, conflict and reconciliation. It’s the story of the formation of the people of Israel, and along the way you’ll reconsider your ideas about a variety of biblical figures, moments, and ideas ranging from the familiar to the often overlooked.
- One tower, many stories: At surprising moments in Genesis, God comes to regret ever creating humankind. One instance of this is the famous story of the construction of the tower of Babel. As you’ll investigate, it can be read in different ways: as a sort of folk tale, a critique of ancient society, and a commentary on humanity’s refusal to live within limits. The multiple levels of possible meaning create a more deeply significant story.
- Abraham’s funny fallibility: One aspect that is often overlooked in reading Abraham’s life story is the inherent humor in it. There are certainly points where Abraham is portrayed as faithful and courageous, but he also appears as someone who can be woefully short-sighted, whose actions create as many problems as they solve. And yet this familiar trait makes the biblical patriarch all the more engaging, and all the more human.
- King Saul vs. King Macbeth: The rise and fall of Israel’s first king, Saul, is a tale of ambition and arrogance similar to that of the medieval king Macbeth in Shakespeare’s eponymous play. There are machinations and prophecies of doom, political paranoia and the drive for power, and even a witch. Ultimately, in both worlds, people must deal with the consequences of their actions—and the will of God.
- Words of wisdom: The Old Testament is packed with writings that form the core of the Bible’s wisdom literature, collected in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. The first book offers advice on how to lead a prosperous and meaningful life, the second is an unsettling and thought-provoking reflection on the emptiness of success, and the third challenges the idea that life is fair and suffering is meted out by God in proportion to wrongdoing. Each of these books, you’ll learn, is in conversation with one another on many levels.
Explore the “New” World of the New Testament
Whereas the Old Testament focused on Israel’s ancestors, kings, and prophets from the second and first millennia BC, the New Testament takes as its predominant focus the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth—as well as his followers and the dawn of the earliest Christian communities in the first centuries AD.
Reading Biblical Literature takes you deep inside this revolutionary moment in human history as it is recounted in the Bible’s pages. Throughout, Professor Koester focuses on enduring themes of suffering, service, death, hope, and rebirth. How does the narrative of Jesus and his follows expand upon, or respond to, similar themes established in the Old Testament? This key question leads you to revisit (or visit for the first time) iconic moments in the Bible in the company of a master scholar.
- One life, four gospels: The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are each devoted to recounting the story of Jesus and his relationship to the God of Israel. Yet each book tells the story in a unique way, and the differences offer an intriguing range of perspectives on who Jesus was. From their accounts of Jesus’s teachings to the drama of his crucifixion and resurrection, each gospel follows a distinctive plotline. Through scenes of conflict and redemption, readers are taken more deeply into the question of Jesus’s identity and impact on those who followed him.
- Apostolic Acts: One book you spend time with in this course is the Acts of the Apostles, which tells the story of the first followers of Jesus and the establishment of the early church. Written by the same person who wrote the gospel of Luke, this book narrates the struggle that early Christians faced as they tried to come to grips with their role in larger Jewish, Greek, and Roman society.
- Pauline correspondence: Paul is considered to be one of the most controversial figures in the New Testament, if not the entire Bible. Professor Koester devotes several lectures to unpacking his letters to Christians in the ancient world, including 1 and 2 Corinthians. One theme in these letters is that of divine love. If love is shown by giving, writes Paul, then Jesus’s crucifixion shows God performing the utmost act of self-giving.
- The end of days: Revelation, the last book of the Bible, uses the stirring visions of conflict and hope as a commentary on the nature of good and evil. Here, God is portrayed as a creator and Satan as a destroyer, a contrast that is essential for the writer’s understanding of evil. The writer of Revelation assumes that God created the world to be good. Therefore, evil is an invading cancer that must be defeated in order to bring new life to the world.
Join an Ongoing Spiritual and Literary Conversation
Adept at explaining each book’s meaning and highlighting its literary beauty, Professor Koester transforms the encounter with these ancient texts into a grand learning experience that’s equal parts educational and entertaining. A biblical scholar and noted author, he brings to Reading Biblical Literature the same incisive insights he’s brought to his academic work, including commentaries on the books of Hebrews and Revelation, as well as major studies of John’s gospel.
While his goal is to uncover and examine the Bible’s multiple perspectives, and to present the books of the Old and New Testament as narratives that can be studied the same way one would study any great work of literature, Professor Koester always highlights the spiritual importance these stories have had for people and communities throughout the world. Engaging in a dialogue with these multiple readings and voices brings a greater appreciation of just how intricate, vibrant, and abidingly meaningful the Bible is.
“My hope with this course is that, by tending to the different viewpoints within the Bible, readers of all sorts might find promising avenues to explore,” he says. “As we share our perspectives with those of others, we join a conversation that’s ongoing. It’s one that I find both challenging and enlivening. May that be true for you as well.”
Becoming a Great Essayist [TTC Video]
21 November 2016, 21:01
Course No 2521 | MP4, AVC, 856x480 | AAC, 64 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 3.12GB
If you have a clever anecdote, an interesting memory, a new way to explain how something works, or an opinion on a social or political issue, then you have an essay in you. Unlike a novel, history book, or scientific publication, essays provide you with the versatility to express all the various facets that make you you. The concise and direct nature of an essay means that you may tap into your sense of wit, share your individual point of view, persuade others to your perspective, and record a part of your memories for future generations in as many distinct essay forms as you wish.
Discover the keys to unlocking your potential in essay writing with Becoming a Great Essayist. These 24 illuminating lectures explore numerous genres or types of essays, challenge you with stimulating writing prompts, and provide insights into how to get to know yourself like never before so that you may write honest, compelling, and GREAT essays. And because essays are so flexible in their style and function, the skills you build writing great essays may be applied to almost all other forms of writing.
Dr. Jennifer Cognard-Black, Professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, is your expert guide. Professor Cognard-Black—who is an award-winning author, a 2012 Fulbright Scholar, and a former student of the renowned author Jane Smiley—has an intimate, honest, and direct approach. She teaches you that the versatility and expressiveness of the essay make it an ideal medium for crafting stories and drawing perspectives out of even the most reluctant writers. As Professor Cognard-Black notes, “The essay has no fixed parameters apart from including a first-person narrator who is intent on telling the truth. An essay’s form and style is entirely dependent upon your purpose—and your audience. You get to create a new form, and adopt a new style, with each essay that you write.… Essays explore. Essays imagine. Essays digress. Their structures don’t have to have fixed rules.” The goal of a great essay is to connect a personal experience, an idea, or a memory to the world outside of yourself—and the first step is to look deep within your memories, knowledge, and opinions to find that experience. When mastered, the ability to write a great essay provides a solid foundation that allows you to move into other forms of writing with both confidence and skill.
The first step in your journey with Professor Cognard-Black is to redefine what the essay means. For many, the word “essay” brings flashbacks of the schoolroom. Whether you were the kind of student who couldn’t wait to get started or one who faced each writing assignment with a feeling of dread, this course will change how you think about and approach the essay. From the very first lecture, you’ll see how the five-paragraph essay you might remember is vastly different from the master-level essays you’ll review, analyze, and learn to create. You’ll get instrumental insight into what makes an essay great; learn how to work your own stories, perspectives, and memories into a compelling piece; and investigate what to do once you’ve crafted an essay that you want to share.
Essay Types: From Personal to Public
Since the 16th century, essays have served as a means of connection: a way to persuade others to a certain perspective, a medium to tell a story, and a written record of individual and national histories. The word “essay” comes from the French essai, meaning an attempt or a trial, which speaks to the flexibility of the form in both delivery and outcomes. The essay itself is a thought experiment which can employ a variety of lengths, styles, and genres, including political, personal, humorous, and historical approaches. Further, a well-written essay may evoke an assortment of emotions or reactions. These works, often short yet profoundly poignant, have the power to make readers laugh, cry, think, or change their opinions or actions. Even the delivery platforms are versatile—essays are published in journals and newspapers, anthologies and collections, blogs and web pages, and more.
When it comes to crafting a great piece of writing, Professor Cognard-Black begins with well-established principles derived from Aristotle, who believed that writers are most convincing when they create a strong ethos (or credibility), and then support this ethos with appeals to reason (logos) and emotion (pathos). Similar rhetorical strategies are still utilized today in creating compelling stories and arguments. Most importantly, essays use a convincing and honest first-person voice because the writer has a deep connection to the material that comes from living, witnessing, or caring profoundly about an experience. By merging what Aristotle calls the artistic proofs (the pathos of the essay, or the personal experience and thoughts, and the logos of the essay, or rationality) with the inartistic proofs (or research and data), your essay will come across as credible even to skeptical readers.
Over these 24 enlightening lectures, you’ll delve into the various genres of the essay.
- Epistolary essays originated in the politics, philosophy, and theology of Greco-Roman rhetoricians. Letters or “epistles” are unlike any other means of communication, which is exactly what draws essay writers to them. Epistolary essays adopt elements that define the genre of the letter—its intimacy, immediacy, and materiality.
- Polemical essays are essays that strongly support one side of an argument.
- Historical essays draw from historical artifacts and scholars, as well as a writer’s ideas within her or his own historical moment.
- Humorous essays, more often than not, focus on a predicament or a situation where something goes wrong. As Aristotle noted, laughing at tragedy may be cathartic for the writer and the audience.
- Memoirs recall and meditate on the writer’s past, using that contemplation for self-reflection. A memoir essay must evolve from a writer’s intimate recollections of the past brought together with thoughtful reflections on those memories.
And because understanding what makes a great essay requires that you read great essayists, this course also contains a treasure trove of selections from famous and lesser-known writers. You’ll be introduced to some of the greatest essayists of the ages who have pushed the limits of how essays are defined, including:
- Michel de Montaigne, whose 1580 collection Les Essais established the essay as a literary genre
- Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele, 18th-century British wits and protйgйes of Montaigne, who circulated their essays about manners and society in highly popular and somewhat scandalous periodicals
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American philosopher-poet, who wrote some of the first essays on nature and the environment
- Rainer Maria Rilke, an Austrian poet, who created intimate essays through personal letters, often on the topic of what it means to be an artist
- Virginia Woolf, an author who is widely considered one of the finest essayists of the 20th century, who wrote episodic pieces which have a dreamlike quality
- Mary McCarthy, an American author, critic, and political activist, who used essays to articulate sharply observant and often self-scrutinizing points
You’ll also sample contemporary essayists hailing from diverse backgrounds, such as Naomi Shihab Nye, Annie Dillard, Joan Didion, Barbara Kingsolver, David Sedaris, and Maya Angelou. In addition, you’ll have the unique opportunity to dig into the process of essay writing by looking at drafts of works in progress, including some from Professor Cognard-Black’s own students. Finally, each chapter will give you a chance to put into practice everything you’ve just learned.
The Right and Wrong Ways to Write
As you attempt to start writing your own essay, looking at a blank computer screen or piece of paper might be daunting. Professor Cognard-Black invites you to overcome this common stumbling block by considering that, unlike other forms of writing that are often strictly plotted or outlined, essays create their own forms as they go along. Aristotle called this process inventio or invention. This method means that you explore what the essay wants to say as you draft your piece. Rather than focusing on how precisely you want to form your thoughts into a specific structure on the page, you get to discover what happens as you get the raw material down—and this explosion of ideas and words becomes your first draft. As Professor Cognard-Black puts it, “The purpose of invention—of that first attempt to get your thoughts down on paper and give them a shape—is to explore and to discover what your essay wants to be about.”
The process of invention is specific to each writer, and so with each essay, there’s a certain version of truth or memory that is created. But striving for the truth is essential. Sometimes that truth will reveal flaws in a precious idea or shine a light on the imperfect sides of humanity—people you know, people you care about, even members of your own family—but maintaining the intention of honesty will help you create and sustain a strong ethos or credibility. Keep in mind that your truth is only one version of events; each situation you write about contains many possible truths.
Once the central purpose of each essay you write is clear, you then need a sense of direction as you revise. Opening sentences that preview the place, people, perspective, and purpose of your essays give your reader an invitation to join you on a journey into your chosen subject.
While the essay is a very flexible form, there are mistakes that will weaken your writing, which Professor Cognard-Black explains in depth. Known to rhetorical theorists as logical fallacies, these potential pitfalls are easy to fall into and will ruin your essay’s credibility. They include:
- Faulty generalizations: when a writer makes a sweeping comment, reaches a decision based on too little evidence, or makes claims that are impossible to validate
- Ad hominem arguments: its literal translation meaning “against the man,” this fallacy occurs when a writer attacks a person, rather than the idea under discussion, and occurs often in American popular culture and politics
- Appeals to bandwagonism: when a writer attempts to win readers over to a specific opinion by claiming that it’s the most popular position
Another factor to consider is the length of your essay. While essays don’t necessarily have length requirements, they do tend to cut to the chase. To keep your writing concise, clear, and to the point, Professor Cognard-Black recommends cutting everything you’ve written in half between the first and second draft. If your essay is 6,000 words, cut it to 3,000. Don’t discard the excess copy, but do revisit your edited version after a few days. You may be surprised at how often you don’t need that extra text.
As you examine many types of essays, build a toolbox of abilities to help you polish and perfect your writing, and analyze samples of masterfully composed essays, you’ll find yourself exploring your own memories, opinions and stories in an entirely new way. The essay is, above all else, one of the most profoundly personal outlets for writing.
While the goal of this course is to provide you with fundamental abilities that will improve your essays, the skills you will learn also provide a foundation to develop any writing project you undertake. Becoming a Great Essayist is an unrivalled opportunity to advance your critical and creative thinking skills, enhance your ability to master a strong and persuasive style, and most importantly, allow you to get to know your own inner voice.
The Irish Identity: Independence, History, and Literature [TTC Video]
19 November 2016, 02:52
Course No 8740 | MP4, AVC, 856x480 | AAC, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.73GB
1902: Yeats’s play Cathleen ni-Houlihan debuts in Dublin, spreading a mythic story that inspires Irish nationalists.
1916: A group of rebels takes over key landmarks throughout Dublin in a failed attempt to spark a revolution across the country.
1916: James Joyce publishes A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a deeply personal reflection of his own exploration of identity, mirroring Ireland’s struggle to define its national identity.
1921: Michael Collins returns from England with a treaty by which the transition to an independent Ireland can finally begin, but back home, nationalists are extremely displeased.
These are just a few of the monumental occurrences and artistic events that rocked the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Ireland gradually shook off the shackles of British rule. Alongside a long and painful political process arose one of the greatest flourishings of literature in modern times—a spirited discourse among those who sought to shape their nation’s future, finding the significance of their bloody present intimately entwined with their legendary past. As nationalists including Charles Stewart Parnell, Patrick Pearse, and Michael Collins studied their political situation and sought a road to independence, writers such as W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, J. M. Synge, Lady Gregory, and many others took a close look at the emerging Irish identity and captured the spirit of the nation’s ongoing history in their works.
The Irish Renaissance—or Irish Revival—that occurred around the turn of the 20th century fused and elevated aesthetic and civic ambitions, fueling a cultural climate of masterful artistic creation and resolute political self-determination reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance. Delve into this remarkable period with The Irish Identity: Independence, History, and Literature. Over the course of 36 enthralling lectures, Professor Marc Conner of Washington and Lee University reveals the multifaceted story of the Irish Renaissance through an exploration of its complex history and remarkable literature.
After laying the groundwork of ancient Irish history and centuries of British rule—from the Norman invasion in the 12th century through the brutal Penal Laws and the Great Famine—Professor Conner brings you inside the Irish Revival, when a group of writers began taking a keen interest in the uniquely Irish culture, from its language to its art to its mythology. This fascination fed into the growing demand for Irish nationhood, for the arts, culture, and politics of the time are inextricable.
Uncovering Ireland’s mythic cultural history worked in tandem with promoting the power of a nationalist political movement. As a consequence of British rule, the Protestant Ascendancy had become the dominant land-owning and political class, leaving Catholics and Irish country folk to nurture their identity, history, and myths under strong—often brutal—oppression. As you’ll discover in these lectures, the formation of the Irish identity in the early 20th century was a fierce struggle—a story clearly captured in the literature of the era.
See How Art Meets Politics in the Irish Revival
The Irish Revival was a literary and cultural movement in which the Irish celebrated their history and heritage through sports, language, and literature. The movement emerged in parallel with the Home Rule efforts to free Ireland from British dominion. You’ll see how politicians such as O’Connell and Parnell pushed for reforms and championed Irish nationalism. Meanwhile, writers including Yeats and Lady Gregory were rediscovering myths and heroes such as Cuchulain and Finn MacCumhaill and bringing them to the center of national consciousness through poetry and plays. The result is some of the world’s most dazzling literature—with Irish political history never far below the surface.
Professor Conner unpacks a wealth of deep insights from this great literature:
- Go inside George Bernard Shaw’s determination to dominate the London stage, and see how he used his platform to satirize British social classes.
- Trace the development of W. B. Yeats, who is certainly the greatest Irish poet of the era, from his early explorations of Irish mythology to his later complex Modernism.
- Find out why Lady Gregory is one of the period’s truly great masters—and consider how she reconciled her background in the Protestant Ascendancy with her love for Irish folk life.
- Visit the Aran Islands with J. M. Synge and encounter the beauty and wonder of Ireland’s rural life that so captivated him—and then find out why Dublin theatergoers were not enamored of his portrayals of Irish country folk.
- Survey the life and career of James Joyce, from his early mastery of the short story to his enigmatic Finnegans Wake. Discover a way into even his most complex works.
- Witness the founding of the Abbey Theatre and see how a national theater empowered playwrights such as Synge, Sean O’Casey, and many others.
- Meet Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney, and other post-Revival poets who understood the intricacies of Irish history but who had different views of national identity that in some cases ran completely against the project of Yeats.
Great art is historical, and while this survey of great writers goes deep into both ancient myths and the modern aesthetic, this course presents historical context you wouldn’t find in an ordinary literature class. Likewise, this literary vantage presents a unique view of history that facts and figures alone wouldn’t cover.
Survey the Political and Aesthetic Quest for an Irish Identity
One central tension Irish writers faced was what language to write in. Did they express national solidarity by writing in Irish, and risk a career of provincial obscurity? Or did they choose to reach a wider audience in English, the language of the conqueror? This choice is fraught with complex political questions about freedom and identity—a long and complicated battle over many decades.
Here, Professor Conner unpacks the quest for an independent identity and introduces you to many of its key figures.
- Meet Wolfe Tone and the other early revolutionaries who saw independence as a worthy goal.
- Encounter Daniel O’Connell as he succeeded in achieving Catholic emancipation but failed to secure a repeal of the Act of Union.
- Follow the rise and fall of Charles Stewart Parnell and his Home Rule Bill.
- Witness James Connolly, Patrick Pearse, and other revolutionaries stage the Easter Rising of 1916.
- Watch as Michael Collins led a guerilla campaign culminating in a treaty that laid the groundwork for a free Ireland.
- Find out how Eamon de Valera re-entered politics after the Irish Civil War and eventually led the country to a complete break with Britain.
The literature of the period presents a unique window into this captivating story, because while the political leaders and revolutionaries were acting to carve out an Irish identity on the world’s stage, poets, playwrights, and novelists were creating the Irish identity in their works and capturing the essence of this epic struggle. For instance, Yeats’s great poem “Easter 1916” contains the famous lines, “All changed, changed utterly: / A terrible beauty is born.” Find out what Yeats meant and how he viewed the political turmoil of his day.
Another masterful Irish author, James Joyce, spent his career largely in exile and is often viewed as a primarily European-Modernist writer. But as you’ll discover in this course, it is impossible to separate his Irish identity from his fiction. The struggle for independence underlies all of his great works, from the citizens’ paralysis in the stories of Dubliners to the domestic concerns of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man to his new notion of heroism in Ulysses. Stepping into the events contemporary with their writing deepens our understanding of these books, and engaging with these books deepens our understanding of history.
Gain New Appreciation for the Irish Identity
The course of Irish history is often a story of conflict, but it is also the story of endurance. The people of Ireland persevered through a centuries-long pursuit of independence, and the culmination of their political fight for self-determination also coincided with the flowering of their quest to define cultural identity.
Whether you’re studying the Dublin lockouts and Bloody Sunday or re-thinking the definition of heroism in Ulysses (written against the backdrop of World War I), the Irish Renaissance is a powerful, complex period—and Professor Conner’s unique approach in The Irish Identity: Independence, History, and Literature brings this riveting history to life.
“Many monumental occurrences and artistic events rocked the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Ireland gradually shook off the shackles of British rule. Alongside a long and painful political process arose one of the greatest flourishings of literature in modern times—a spirited discourse among those who sought to shape their nation’s future, finding the significance of their bloody present intimately entwined with their legendary past.
- 1902: Yeats’s play Cathleen ni-Houlihan debuts in Dublin, spreading a mythic story that inspires Irish nationalists.
- 1916: A group of rebels takes over key landmarks throughout Dublin in a failed attempt to spark a revolution across the country.
- 1916: James Joyce publishes A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a deeply personal reflection of his own exploration of identity, mirroring Ireland’s struggle to define its national identity.
- 1921: Michael Collins returns from England with a treaty by which the transition to an independent Ireland can finally begin, but back home, nationalists are extremely displeased.
As nationalists including Charles Stewart Parnell, Patrick Pearse, and Michael Collins studied their political situation and sought a road to independence, writers such as W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, J. M. Synge, Lady Gregory, and many others took a close look at the emerging Irish identity and captured the spirit of the nation’s ongoing history in their works.”