From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity [TTC Video]

From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity [TTC Video]
From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity [TTC Video] by Bart D Ehrman
Course No 6577 | AVI, AVC, 320x240 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 2.23GB

In a world where Christianity has been, in the words of Professor Bart D. Ehrman, "the most powerful religious, political, social, cultural, economic, and intellectual institution in the history of Western civilization," most of us have grown up believing we know the answers to these questions:

  • Were the early Christians really hunted down and martyred, with repeated persecutions for an illegal religion forcing them to hide in the catacombs of Rome?
  • Did the ancient Jews of Jesus' time always believe in a single, all-powerful God?
  • How did breaking away from their Jewish roots make Christians more vulnerable in the Roman world?
  • What were the origins of what we now consider the distinctively Christian liturgical practices of baptism and the Eucharist?

But do we know the answers? As this course shows, the answers are, in fact, quite surprising.

See How Today's Christianity Emerged

The traditional form of Christianity we know today includes beliefs, practices, a canon of sacred scripture, and even its own stated history, but it emerged only after many years of transition and conflict—with Judaism and with what can now only be called the "lost Christianities."

That term, of course, is familiar to anyone who has taken Professor Ehrman's earlier course, Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication.

And now Professor Ehrman, whose previous and popular efforts for The Teaching Company also include The Historical Jesus and The New Testament, has created a course that places those forgotten forms of the faith in an even broader context.

From the Religion of Jesus to a Religion about Jesus

These lectures take you back to Christianity's first three centuries to explain its transition from the religion of Jesus to a religion about Jesus.

It introduces you to lost Christianities and their sacred writings. And it shows how many of those writings were originally proscribed or destroyed, only to be rediscovered in modern times.

You also learn how a single group from among many won the struggle for dominance, which allowed it to:

  • Establish the beliefs central to the faith
  • Rewrite the history of Christianity's internal conflicts
  • Produce a canon of sacred texts—the New Testament—that supported its own views.

From 20 Followers … to Two Billion

These lectures offer a fresh and provocative perspective on what are perhaps the most intriguing questions of all:

How could a movement originally made up of perhaps only 20 low-class followers of a Jewish apocalyptic preacher crucified as an enemy of the state grow to include nearly four million adherents in only 300 years?

And how would it eventually become the largest religion in the world, with some two billion adherents?

To answer those questions, Professor Ehrman examines Christianity from several directions:

  • The faith's beginnings, starting with the historical Jesus and the other individuals and traditions that formed the foundation of the emerging religion
  • Jewish-Christian relations, including the rise of anti-Judaism within the Christian church and the emergence of Christianity as a religion different from and ultimately opposed to the Jewish religion from which it emerged
  • The way Paul and other Christians spread the new faith, including the message they proclaimed and their approaches to winning converts
  • Hostility to the Christian mission from those who were not persuaded to convert and who considered Christianity to be dangerous or antisocial, leading to the persecutions of the 2nd and 3rd centuries
  • Internal struggles within the faith, as Christians with divergent understandings sought to make their beliefs the ones that defined the one "true" faith
  • The factors that led to the formation of traditional Christianity we know today, with its canon of New Testament scriptures, set creeds, liturgical practices such as baptism and the Eucharist, and church hierarchy.

Christianity's Evolution from Judaism

In tracing the process by which Christianity evolved from its origins within Judaism to become something dramatically different, Professor Ehrman discusses how most Jews simply weren't willing to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

Professor Ehrman conveys the Jewish perspective on what the Messiah would be like. And you learn how much of it was based on Jesus' own teachings, which the early Christians were attempting to alter in trying to gain Jewish converts.

But he also explains how early Christianity, even though it was increasingly at odds with Judaism, also found a degree of legitimacy under its umbrella.

Professor Ehrman points out that this was a time when ancientness itself was essential for a faith seeking acceptance. So as Christianity separated from Judaism, it sought a means of asserting ancient roots in its own right.

Learn Christianity's Argument for Its Ancient Roots

Christianity argued its ancient roots by retaining the Jewish scriptures and arguing that it was, in fact, the fulfillment of what those scriptures had promised.

Throughout these lectures, Professor Ehrman challenges old misconceptions and offers fresh perspectives on aspects of Christianity and its roots that many of us might have thought we already understood. For example:

  • The five common myths about early Christianity, including that it was illegal in the early empire and that Christians were pursued and persecuted: It was not declared illegal until the middle of the 3rd century, and was tolerated in most places, just as other religions were.
  • The belief that early Judaism was exclusively monotheistic: Although Judaism was unusual in the Roman world in that Jews insisted on worshipping only one god, you learn that there is good evidence that at different periods in history, Jews—like others in those pagan times—believed in the existence of multiple gods.
  • The development of the New Testament canon was as a way to both differentiate Christians from Jews and also create a body of text substantiating their views.
  • The roots of baptism and the Eucharist are in Jewish liturgical traditions and rumors about the alleged licentiousness of the baptism ceremony led apologists such as Justin Martyr and Tertullian to write publicly about those heretofore secret practices.
  • Wild charges of child sacrifices, cannibalism, and licentiousness were often made against Christians, and the persecutions that did occur.
  • Walter Bauer's research revealed that many forms of Christianity deemed heretical were, in fact, the earliest forms that could found in most places.
  • The movement by church scholars of the early 16th century to once again create from surviving Greek texts a New Testament in the original Greek, and how forgery often reared its head.

These lectures are an engaging experience that will increase your understanding of Christianity today. They offer you a scholar's perspective on the origins of what Professor Ehrman describes as the most important institution in Western civilization.

From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity [TTC Video]

The History of Christian Theology [TTC Video]

The History of Christian Theology [TTC Video]
The History of Christian Theology [TTC Video] by Phillip Cary
Course No 6450 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.82GB

Today, his story is known the world over. And yet, more than two millennia later, great thinkers and everyday people still struggle to answer a single question: Who is Jesus?

  • Was he a wise sage who culled powerful teachings from centuries of Jewish tradition to create a new world vision of peace and love?
  • Or was he indeed God himself, the embodiment of divinity on earth, sent to bring salvation and redemption from sin?
  • Did his promise of salvation apply to all humankind or was it limited to only a few followers? And how could one participate in that promise?

Since the earliest days of the faith, questions like these have been at the heart of Christianity. Over the centuries, they have led to fierce debate and produced deep divisions among the faithful. These questions have driven profound acts of faith and worship and incited war and persecution. They have contributed to the building of nations and the shaping of lives and have deeply influenced some of the greatest thinkers of Western philosophy. To ponder questions like these is to understand the very shape of the Western world and to comprehend the remarkable power Christian faith has in the life of believers.

Now, in The History of Christian Theology, you have an opportunity to explore these profound questions and the many responses believers, scholars, and theologians have developed over more than 2,000 years. Through this 36-lecture course, award-winning Professor Phillip Cary of Eastern University reveals the enduring power of the Christian tradition—as both an intellectual discipline and a spiritual path.

Through this course, you will gain thought-provoking insights into a set of teachings that changed the world and discover how, by learning about the diverse beliefs and practices within the wider Christian community, you can enrich your own experience of this great faith.

More Than 2,000 Years of Christian Thought

You trace this epic story as it unfolds through the various teachings and divisions in the Christian faith. The History of Christian Theology begins at the very dawn of Christianity, as you examine some of the earliest examples of scripture recorded by the first communities of the faithful. You see how, over the centuries, these teachings developed into the orthodox teachings of the mainstream church as well as the divergent doctrines taught by splinter groups branded as "heretics."

You explore the causes and outcomes of the split between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church during the Middle Ages and examine the explosion of the many Protestant groups that resulted from the Reformation in the 16th century.

Finally, the course takes you into the modern era, with a survey of the evolution of Christian thought in today's society—the ongoing story of how faith persists in an increasingly secularized world.

In each lecture, Professor Cary illuminates the conceptual structure of Christian theology as it is shaped by particular thinkers and movements and as it is connected to spiritual practices such as prayer, worship, the use of sacraments, and the contemplation of religious icons.

Through his lucid and engaging explanations, Professor Cary provides intriguing analyses of these ideas in their unique historical, social, and biographical contexts to help you understand the power of each tradition within its particular time and place. The result is a sweeping yet in-depth survey that probes some of the most common questions about Christian faith as it has developed over the centuries.

Answers to Your Questions about Christianity

What makes Catholics think differently from Protestants? How do different Christian denominations view the role of free will in salvation? Why did the Eastern Orthodox Church split off from the West? Are the divisions within Christian faith and worship inevitable or can they be mended in the future?

In designing this course, veteran Teaching Company Professor Phillip Cary has sought to address these and other questions about Christian faith in its various forms—questions he received from customers of his previous Teaching Company courses on religion.

To answer these questions, Professor Cary weaves together intriguing insights from a wide range of intellectual disciplines, including religion, history, and philosophy. Through this course, you gain these benefits:

  • An understanding of the meaning of faith for today's Christians. The best way to understand one's own faith is to understand the faith of others. In this course, you explore how the differences among today's Christians first arose and why these differences mattered so much to previous generations of believers that they have left their mark on Christian life to this day.
  • A fascinating overview of the history of the Christian church. From the Nicene Council to the Reformation to Vatican II, this course highlights the major events of church history and provides a valuable and enlightening complement to other courses on Western history.
  • An appreciation of the philosophical depth of Christian thought. Professor Cary examines the intellectual rigor that underlies Christian theology and explores the sometimes fruitful, sometimes contentious relationship between religion and philosophy. Through this course, you gain a deeper grasp of the role of Christian theology within the larger intellectual history of the West.

"Outward Words Shape Our Inner Hearts"

As Professor Cary explains, the concepts of Christian theology are more than just words on a page or abstract tenets. They are "outward words that shape our inner hearts."

As you take this journey through the development of Christian thought, you meet the many faithful who have committed themselves to the teachings of Jesus and encounter the diverse ways faith shaped their lives. You see how

  • Christian faith determines not only what we believe, but also what we fear. As Professor Cary explains, our faith shapes our psyches. Catholics worry about whether their "good works" are good enough; Calvinists anxiously seek proof that their faith is real; Lutherans fear they may have already lost salvation. You see how the theologies of these different traditions shape the different kinds of anxiety that Christians experience and how these beliefs are manifested in spiritual practice.
  • Christian faith is a life-or-death issue. For true believers, faith is not just a matter of outward observance or intellectual conviction. With the meaning of their existence at stake, Christian believers will suffer persecution and even death before they will deny their faith. From the martyrs of the early church to the Anabaptists of the Reformation, you witness how Christians throughout history have faced torment, suffered execution, and fled their homelands to preserve their faith.
  • Christian faith is a voice that speaks within. In Christianity, faith is a deeply personal experience. It has been a powerful voice of inner experience, from visionary encounters with Jesus by the 16th-century Spanish mystic Theresa of Avila to the practice of listening to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit that is widespread among contemporary American evangelicals.

Christianity in the Modern World—and Beyond

As you come to understand the complex path of Christian belief throughout the centuries, you contemplate crucial questions about today's Christian church: What will happen to Christianity in the future? Can faith survive in an increasingly secular world? How does theology remain connected to traditions of religious practice?

Professor Cary provides unique insights into the current condition of modern Christian practice—informed by its complex intellectual and social history—and offers a tantalizing glimpse into the future of the faith in which Christians of all denominations grow spiritually by understanding their differences as well as what they have in common.

Join Professor Cary for an enriching and thought-provoking journey into the fascinating and inspiring world of Christian thought. Whether you're interested in a deeper understanding of your own faith or you're curious about the role of Christianity in the larger social and intellectual history of the Western world, The History of Christian Theology will enrich and transform your understanding of this powerful spiritual tradition.

The History of Christian Theology [TTC Video]

The History of Christianity in the Reformation Era [TTC Video]

The History of Christianity in the Reformation Era [TTC Video]
The History of Christianity in the Reformation Era [TTC Video] by Brad S Gregory
Course No 690 | AVI, XviD, 640x432 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.35GB

We are the cultural descendants of the Reformation era, says Professor Brad S. Gregory in these 36 lectures on one of the most tumultuous and consequential periods in all of European history. Regardless of whether we ourselves are religious, says Professor Gregory, our modern preference for belief bolstered by doctrine is "a long-term legacy of the efforts to educate, to catechize, to indoctrinate, that began in a widespread way during the 16th century."

Understanding the Martyrs

But despite these ties, it still takes a major effort of historical imagination to enter the minds of those who were willing to suffer martyrdom or martyr others for what we would regard as minor doctrinal differences.

This course is designed to take you inside the minds of those who supported the Reformation and those who resisted it. It treats the three broad religious traditions that endured or arose during these years:

  • Roman Catholicism, both as it existed on the cusp of the Reformation and as it changed to meet the Protestant challenge.
  • Protestantism, meaning the forms approved by political authorities, such as Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Anglicanism.
  • "Radical" Protestantism, meaning the forms often at odds with political authorities, such as Anabaptism.

The goal is to understand historically the theological and devotional aspects of each of these three broad traditions on its own terms and to grasp the overall ramifications of religious conflict for the subsequent course of modern Western history.

Central Characters

The Reformation era produced many influential figures, including:

  • Erasmus (c. 1466-1536): The leading Christian humanist of the early 16th century, whose "philosophy of Christ" sought the gradual moral improvement of Christendom.
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546): An obscure monk and professor in 1517, but by the spring of 1521 he had defied both the pope and Holy Roman Emperor on behalf of his understanding of Christian faith and life. The reaction of the Church drove him to more and more radical positions.
  • Charles V (1500-1558): Holy Roman Emperor from 1519 until 1556, and staunch defender of Catholicism and opponent of Protestantism. In 1521, he issued the Edict of Worms condemning Luther.
  • Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531): The reformer whose influence was responsible for the abolition of Catholicism and the adoption of Protestantism in the Swiss city of Zurich. His sharp disagreement with Luther over the nature of the Lord's Supper found dramatic expression in the Marburg Colloquy of 1529, preventing a political alliance between Zwinglian and Lutheran cities and setting the Lutheran and Reformed Protestant traditions on divergent paths.
  • Thomas Müntzer (c. 1490-1525): An apocalyptic reformer who preached violent revolution during the Peasants' War of 1525. Originally sympathetic to Luther, Müntzer progressively moved away from and ridiculed him as a panderer to princes. In 1525, he led several thousand underarmed peasants into battle at Frankenhausen, where they were slaughtered. Shortly thereafter, Müntzer was captured and executed.
  • Henry VIII (1491-1547): The English king at whose behest the country severed its longstanding institutional links to the Roman Catholic Church and created a separate national church under royal control.
  • Ignatius Loyola (1491?-1556): The founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), the most important Catholic religious order of the Reformation era.
  • Jan van Leiden (1509-1536): The self-proclaimed prophet-king and ruler of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Münster in 1534-1535. Under van Leiden, the "New Jerusalem" practiced communal ownership of goods and polygamy. A siege finally broke the regime in 1535, and Jan was executed.
  • John Calvin (1509-1564): The leading reformer and theologian in the second generation of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion is the single most important Protestant theological work of the Reformation era. Calvinism became the most dynamic, influential form of Protestantism in Europe in the second half of the 16th century.
  • John Knox (c. 1514-1572): An impassioned, uncompromising Calvinist reformer who played a leading role in the Scottish Reformation.
  • Menno Simons (c. 1496-1561): The most influential Dutch Anabaptist leader in the wake of the ill-fated Anabaptist Kingdom of Münster.
  • Henry IV (de Navarre) (1553-1610): The French king whose conversion from Calvinism to Catholicism in 1593 helped bring an end to the French Wars of Religion with the Edict of Nantes in 1598.

Questions to Ponder

Throughout, Professor Gregory raises questions that any student of the period must ponder. Here are a few:

  • Was the late medieval Church vigorous or, as Martin Luther and others came to insist, horribly corrupt?
  • How did Renaissance humanism shape such towering figures of the age as Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and Ignatius Loyola?
  • What factors caused Protestantism to take hold in some places but not in others?
  • How did the Reformation produce not only Protestantism but also modern Catholicism?
  • How do the events of the Reformation reveal the shifting balance between religious and secular authorities?
  • Does it make sense to speak of a single Reformation, or were there several?
  • Did the Reformation(s) succeed or fail?

A Rewarding Scholar and Teacher

Professor Gregory received his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He is currently the Dorothy G. Griffin Associate Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Notre Dame. He has also taught at Stanford University, where, in 1998, he received the prestigious Walter J. Gores Award, Stanford's highest teaching honor. At Stanford he also received the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2000.

His award-winning book, Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (Harvard University Press, 1999), reflects many of the themes introduced in this course. In a review, The Times Literary Supplement (U.K.) wrote: "Salvation at Stake is a book which nobody working in the field of Reformation and early modern history can afford to pass over. And it is not just required reading; it is rewarding, too."

Thoughts on the Reformation

"This is an extraordinarily important period for understanding the modern world and its characteristic assumptions," says Professor Gregory. "Part of my goal is to show the ways in which this distant world has impinged on our own.

"The lectures will consider the three broad traditions of the Reformation—Catholicism, Protestantism, and 'radical' Protestantism. Until recent decades, the dominant way of approaching this period was through confessional or Church history, which in America and much of Europe tended to be written from a Protestant standpoint.

"In this course, by contrast, I will examine all three of these traditions equally and evenhandedly under the inclusive rubric of 'early modern Christianity.'

"The approach in this course, then, will be deliberately cross-confessional and comparative, attempting to understand the men and women in these traditions on their own terms, and in relationship and conflict with each other. This will enable us to grasp the significance of early modern Christianity as a whole in ways that I do not think are possible if we focus primarily one tradition, or if we favor one of the three traditions over the other two.

"The long-term payoff will be a better understanding of the relationship between the world of early modern Europe and our world, to which it gave rise."

The History of Christianity in the Reformation Era [TTC Video]

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